Consecration of gay bishop did violate Church law, says United Methodist court

The consecration of a gay bishop violated church law, according to a decision by the top court of The United Methodist Church.

However, the bishop 'remains in good standing,' the Judicial Council said until an administrative or judicial process is completed.

Bishop Karen Oliveto at a meeting of the United Methodist Judicial Council.UMNS

Rev Karen Oliveto, who is in a same-sex marriage, was consecrated as the episcopal leader of the the Mountain Sky area by the US Western Jurisdiction in July last year.

However, her election was challenged in a petition to the denomination's Judicial Council, according to the United Methodist News Service.

The issue was seen as a test case for the Church, whose statutes prohibit the ordination of 'self-avowed practising homosexuals' but many of whose clergy and members take a more liberal line.

Church law requires all clergy persons to dedicate themselves to 'the highest ideals of Christian life,' the decision said, including 'their commitment to abide by and uphold the church's definition of marriage and stance on homosexuality. An openly homosexual and partnered bishop is in violation of those minimum standards.'

The court – which decided against her by 6-3 – declined to remove her as a bishop, sending that decision back to the jurisdiction that elected her. However, it said that an openly homosexual and partnered bishop may be charged with disobedience to church law, along with other bishops and clergy who consecrated her.

'Self-avowal does not nullify the consecration and cause removal from episcopal office but is a sufficient declaration to subject the bishop's ministerial office to review,' the decision said.

Oliveto could face suspension or a church trial.