The Episcopal Church's election of a gay bishop has done what the Cold War could not do: sever ties between ECUSA and the Russian Orthodox Church. In a statement released yesterday the Orthodox church said, "The 'consecration' of a gay priest has made any communications with him and with those who consecrated him impossible. We shall not be able to cooperate with these people not only in the theological dialogue, but also in the humanitarian and religious and public spheres. We have no right to allow even a particle of agreement with their position, which we consider to be profoundly antichristian and blasphemous."
The statement also said the church desires to maintain contact "with those members of the Episcopal Church in the USA who clearly declared their loyalty to the moral teaching of the Holy Gospel and the Ancient Undivided Church."
It also noted the friendly relations between the churches in the past, even during the Cold War, "when Christians had mutual understanding and supported one another in the world divided into the confronting military blocs." In the 1990s, particularly warm relations were established "when a Joint Coordinating Committee for Cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Episcopal Church in the USA was set up. The Committee prepared and carried out three theological conversations, successfully implemented common social and educational projects and arranged visits to one another."
The Russian Orthodox Church referenced the many verses in Scripture forbidding homosexual behavior, and it disagreed with "liberal" interpretations saying such verses should not be taken literally. "The biblical texts about the condemnation of homosexualism are clear and unequivocal. … The negation of the direct meaning of the words of St. Paul contradicts the centuries long Christian tradition of the comprehension of these texts and is contrary to common sense."
At the same time Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was visiting the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, said the Associated Press. Williams "expressed hope Monday for eventual unity of Christian churches, but acknowledged the Anglican flock faced "difficult questions" from within." And Bartholomew I "warned against taking steps that could hurt traditionally warm relations between Anglican and Orthodox churches."
In news of other severed ties, Bishop John Howe of Central Florida resigned his position on the bishops' theology and pastoral letter committees because of the consecration of Gene Robinson as the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire. "I have no interest in trying to speak for a House that has abandoned any recognizable commitment to the authority of Holy Scripture," Howe wrote to Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, saying Griswold had betrayed his trust.
This morning, the Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court, the state's highest court, ruled that gays should be allowed to marry under the state's constitution; however, the court did not provide for marriage licenses to be issued to the seven gay couples who brought the suit.
The court ruled 4-3 in favor of the couples and ordered the legislature to come up with a solution within 180 days. The ruling was similar to a Vermont ruling that led that state's legislature to approve civil unions, but in Massachusetts the Speaker of the House Tom Finneran has endorsed a proposal to amend the state constitution legally define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
According to the AP, "Gov. Mitt Romney has repeatedly said that marriage should be preserved as a union between a man and a woman, but has declined to comment on what he would do if gay marriages are legalized. On the campaign trail last fall, Romney said he would veto gay-marriage legislation. He supports giving domestic benefits such as inheritance and hospital visitation rights to gay couples."
CTreported earlier that overturning the ban on same-sex marriage could have national implications forcing other states to recognize gay marriages. Weblog will provide a roundup of responses to the ruling tomorrow.
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