US Church to discipline bishop who refused to permit same-sex marriage blessings

The Bishop of Albany William Love(Photo: Facebook/The Diocese of Albany)

The US Episcopal Church has ruled against a bishop who refused to allow same-sex marriage blessings to be held in his diocese.

The Bishop of Albany, William Love, said he was "very disappointed" by this week's ruling from the disciplinary panel, which followed a trial earlier in the summer.   

In its verdict, the disciplinary panel said the bishop's refusal to enforce Resolution B012, requiring all Episcopal dioceses to allow same-sex marriage blessings, was a violation of the Church's canon law. 

"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)," the judgment reads. 

The panel justified their decision on the basis that Resolution B012 allows for traditionalist bishops and clergy to be exempt from the mandate as long as a replacement can be found to carry out the blessing. 

"Importantly, an accommodation is offered to diocesan bishops who oppose same sex-marriage to invite another bishop into the diocese to provide pastoral support for same-sex couples who seek to be able to utilize the rites in their local congregation or worshipping community," continued the panel.

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

"The expression of love changes dramatically when it is recognized, welcomed and witnessed. The loss of a public ceremony impacts the couple, the family and friends and the community."

An additional hearing is to take place in the coming weeks to determine the disciplinary measures that will be taken against Bishop Love.

The bishop said the panel's ruling will "seriously impact" the Church. 

"Unfortunately, given the nature of this case, I have no reason to believe that appealing the Hearing Panel's Decision would result in any different outcome," he said. 

"Whatever the final outcome, it will severely impact not only me and the ministry entrusted to me as Bishop of Albany, but it will also seriously impact the life and ministry of the Diocese.

"I continue to pray that somehow God will use all of this for His purposes."