The Episcopal Church, casting aside warnings about further alienating conservatives within its ranks, on Tuesday lifted a de facto ban on the ordination of gay bishops and is continuing to weigh a measure that would sanction blessings for same-sex couples.
Bishops, clergy and lay leaders voted overwhelmingly at the denomination’s General Convention in Anaheim to open “any ordained ministry” to gays and lesbians.
The liberalized policy represents a reversal from guidelines adopted by the church at its last convention in 2006 that effectively prohibited the consecration of bishops whose “manner of life” would strain relations with the 77-million member Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the communion.
The new approach is likely to deepen theological fissures that led some traditionalist Episcopal congregations and dioceses last month to form a rival church. And it is almost certain to trigger a backlash among conservative Anglican leaders who have urged the U.S. church to refrain from relaxing ordination and marriage standards. ...
“Being an Episcopalian means you can disagree and still worship together,” said the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles. “We’re going to leave the door open for all those who disagree with us to find a place here and peace here.”