An expose in this month's issue of Penthouse alleging sexual misconduct by priests in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, New York, may bolster a drive within the church to limit sexual relations to heterosexual marriage.
The article claims that, as rector at Saint Gabriel's Church in Brooklyn, Lloyd Andries engaged in repeated homosexual relations in the church's sanctuary, provided illicit drugs, traded housing for sex with young Brazilian men, and "married" one of them. He has resigned in the wake of the allegations.
Andries, who is planning a libel suit against the magazine, denies allegations of sexual activity in the sanctuary, cocaine use, and orgies. He confirms, however, that he was in a homosexual relationship.
"The church is not facing a single scandal," says Todd Wetzel, executive director of the conservative Episcopalians United. "It is facing many, of which this is the most lurid."
In the wake of the scandal, Long Island's Episcopal Bishop Orris Walker took sabbatical leave after acknowledging a "drinking problem." The denomination's national office and Long Island diocese both have authorized investigations.
Spokesperson James Solheim says the national office is involved because of Howard Williams, denominational director of children's ministries. Williams, now on administrative leave, allegedly traveled to Brazil with Andries but was not involved in the sexual activities.
Conservative Episcopalians are saying the denomination has lost credibility by failing to state clearly church doctrine on sexuality. In the dismissal of heresy charges against retired Bishop Walter Righter for ordaining a homosexual deacon (CT, June 17, 1996, p. 57), an Episcopal court ruled the denomination had no "core doctrine" limiting ...