Episcopal priests have blessed same-sex unions for years. But Friday the bishop of the Los Angeles diocese, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, said officiating such unions is official church policy. From the LA Times:
Bruno’s declaration is not expected to have a major effect on Episcopal churches in Southern California. Many have been blessing gay unions for years. But he has now made it official.
“The practice has not changed. The policy has. . . . It’s sort of like ‘coming out,’ ” said the Rev. Susan Russell, a lesbian priest at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. Russell also is president of Integrity USA, a group representing the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in the Episcopal Church.
The rite endorsed by Bruno also allows the blessing of other relationships, such as those between two senior citizens who do not wish to legally marry because they might lose health insurance or Social Security benefits.
Church officials also noted that, unlike communion, the rite is not mandatory. Clergy may choose not to perform it.
Diocese representatives also passed a resolution at their convention calling on the Episcopal Church to let gays and lesbians become bishops.
The L.A. diocese is expected to elect two suffragan, or assisting, bishops in 2010, and some say it is possible a gay or lesbian bishop could be nominated from among qualified candidates around the world
I can’t help but think this has something to do with last week’s announcement that conservatives were finally breaking from the Episcopal Church over the denomination’s liberal treatment of homosexuality.