Bishop O'Neill responds to temporary Episcopal Church sanctions by the Primates of the Anglican Communion

The Episcopal Church in Colorado, Communications Office
Friday, January 15, 2016

The Primates of the Anglican Communion decided yesterday to limit the Episcopal Church's participation in some of the decision-making bodies of the Anglican Communion for the next three years. The decision was taken in response to last summer's decision by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church to approve the blessing of same-sex marriages.  

The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion, a global body of thirty-eight provinces or national churches who trace their origins to the Church of England and share share a common heritage and commitment to the authority of scripture, tradition, and reason.

The Right Reverend Robert O'Neill, Bishop of The Episcopal Church in Colorado, reports: "None of us should be surprised that some of our sisters and brothers in other parts of the world are challenged or disagree with our Church's decision to bless same-sex marriages. Nor can we deny that people of good faith in our own diocese hold different points of view on these matters." Bishop O'Neill noted that in spite of the differences and conflict we have experienced in our own life in Colorado, "we have done good and faithful work that has allowed us to continue to walk together faithfully as sisters and brothers in Christ." He stated that "this really is the invitation that has come out of the Primates meeting: to 'walk together in the grace and love of Christ-while faithfully and prayerfully recognizing our differences.'"

Although some of the Primates of the Anglican Communion disagree with The Episcopal Church's position on blessing same-sex marriage, the primates collectively condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against gay and lesbian people. The Primates also expressed their profound sorrow for the ways in which Churches in the Anglican Communion have often acted in ways that have caused deep hurt to people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

In spite of some media reports to the contrary, Bishop O'Neill stated "The fact is that The Episcopal Church remains in full communion with the See of Canterbury and that The Episcopal Church remains a constituent member of the Anglican Communion."  He stated that he does not believe yesterday's statement will have any significant or direct impact on the life and work of The Episcopal Church in Colorado.

"It is extremely important," the Bishop stated, "that we keep in mind that our sisters and brothers in Christ in other parts of the world bear witness to the gospel under circumstances and conditions that we in the developed world cannot begin to imagine or comprehend-unconscionable violence, gross economic disparity, lack of access to the most basic needs of human life, political chaos and instability, religious and racial conflict, and so on. Our sisters and brothers around the world not only need our continued prayers and support. We need them. We in this western developed world have so much to learn from others around the globe with regard to what it means to stand for justice, healing, and reconciliation. I remain unconditionally and fully committed to all of our global partnerships."

Bishop O'Neill serves on the Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue as an American participant in a gathering sponsored by the Anglican Church in Canada.   This body brings together Anglican bishops from Africa, Canada, and the United States with the express purpose of building common understanding and deepening missional partnerships. He has also been active in numerous other gatherings of Anglican Bishops and Primates here and abroad.

The Episcopal News Service reports that before the vote, The Right Reverend Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, told the primates gathering in Canterbury, England, that the statement calling for the sanction would be painful for many in the Episcopal Church to receive.

"Many of us have committed ourselves and our church to being 'a house of prayer for all people,' as the Bible says, when all are truly welcome," Curry said in remarks he later made available to Episcopal News Service.

"Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all.  While I understand that many disagree with us, our decision regarding marriage is based on the belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians are true for the church today: All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ."

"I ask for your prayers for the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion," Bishop O'Neill says. "This decision does not change the dynamic of who we are as the Episcopal Church in Colorado and it does not change the important work and ministry we will continue to do together."

Full statement from The Right Reverend Michael Curry >

The Episcopal Church in Colorado
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