Episcopal bishop investigated over refusal to allow same-sex marriages announces resignation

Bishop William Love

A bishop in the US Episcopal Church has announced his resignation after a disciplinary panel found him guilty of violating canon law over his refusal to permit same-sex marriage blessings in his diocese. 

The panel concluded last month that the Bishop of Albany, William Love, violated Resolution B012, a measure passed by the Church in 2018 requiring all Episcopal dioceses to permit same-sex marriage blessings.

Soon after the resolution was passed, Love responded by instructing clergy in the Diocese of Albany that they were not to perform same-sex blessing ceremonies. 

"Jesus is calling the Church to follow His example. He is calling the Church to have the courage to speak His Truth in love about homosexual behavior — even though it isn't politically correct," his 2018 letter stated.

"Sexual relations between two men or two women was never part of God's plan and is a distortion of His design in creation and as such is to be avoided."

Bishop Love was subsequently investigated, and disciplinary hearings were held into his actions earlier this year. 

Issuing their verdict last month, the disciplinary panel said: "Love's actions in issuing a Pastoral Direction to his clergy that they refrain from performing same-sex marriages violated the Discipline and Worship of the Church as Bishop Love promised in his ordinal vows. His actions, therefore, constitute a breach of Canon IV.3.2(a)." 

It also said: "Depriving same sex couples of access to matrimony materially and substantially impacts their spiritual, emotional and physical well-being as people of God."

Although the panel issued its judgment against the bishop, it was due to meet again on Monday to decide which disciplinary measures would be taken against him. 

Bishop Love confirmed his resignation in an address to the Diocese of Albany synod on Saturday "recognizing that whatever disciplinary action would be offered would not be anything I could in good conscience agree to," Anglican Ink reports

He told synod members that he was "very disappointed" by the ruling and "strongly" disagreed with the panel's conclusions.

He added, however, that he did not believe an appeal would be successful. 

"Unfortunately, given the nature of this case, and the Episcopal Church's demonstrated intent to ensure all dioceses (where civil law permits) allow for same-sex marriages, I have no reason to believe that appealing the Hearing Panel's Decision would result in any different outcome," he said. 

His resignation takes effect on 1 February 2021.