A bishop at the Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese confirmed on Tuesday that he presided over the blessing of a same-sex union, becoming the first sitting bishop to take such action since the Episcopal Church USA gave an ambiguous approval of the “blessings” last summer, June 1, 2004.
On August 2003, the bishops of the ECUSA passed an wooly measure that allowed local bishops the jurisdiction to bless same sex unions but not same sex “marriages” in the church.
Abiding by this tacit approval, the Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the six county diocese of Los Angeles, blessed the union of the Rev. Canon Malcolm Boyd, 80, and his partner Mark Thompson, 51 on May 16.
Bruno, who shrewdly avoided using words such as “marriage” or “wedding” during his blessing ceremony, claimed that he had no political motive in his action.
"I did it because it was the blessing of two human beings who have lived in a faithful relationship. If I trust that gay people are fully enfranchised members of our church ... I have to offer the same rite of blessing to these people when I am asked as I would do for any other human being," he said Tuesday.
However, the conservative Anglican American Council asserted that Bruno, as well as the bishop of Washington who publicly announced that he would preside over a similar ceremony on mid June, did indeed have a political agenda.
“We are deeply saddened that two ECUSA bishops have defied this primatial plea for restraint. Bishop Jon Bruno, Diocese of Los Angeles, recently presided over the same sex ceremony of the Rev. Canon Malcolm Boyd, poet laureate of LA, and his long-time “partner”. Bishop John Chane has announced plans to preside at the same sex blessing of former President of Integrity Michael Hopkins and his “partner” June 12, 2004,” the AAC wrote in a statement released on May 30.
“The fact that these bishops not only authorized, but also chose to preside at the “blessings,” of such high profile individuals is particularly significant. Are the bishops sending a message to the Primates?” the statement read.
In the same statement, the AAC lamented the decision of the ECUSA to give local authorities the green light to same-sex “blessing” ceremonies.
“Since General Convention 2003, the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) has faced an unprecedented crisis. The unilateral actions of confirming the election of an active homosexual as well as the equivalent of local option for same sex blessings have resulted in 21 provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion declaring either impaired or broken communion with ECUSA. The Lambeth Commission was charged with making recommendations to the Primates on how to deal with the fallout. Both Archbishop Rowan Williams and Archbishop Robin Eames have asked for restraint during this period,” they wrote.
The AAC then urged bishop Chane to refrain from taking any action that would further sunder the worldwide body of Anglicans.
“These unilateral actions clearly signal a deplorable lack of respect for the request of the Anglican Communion Primates. These actions also demonstrate that the arrogance of revisionist ECUSA bishops knows no limits as they put the homosexual agenda before any hope of unity in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. While it is too late for Bishop Bruno, we call upon Bishop Chane to reconsider his decision.”