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NY Episcopalian bishop plans to appeal his punishment for refusing to allow gay marriages

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Bishop William Love issued a ban on same-sex marriages despite the church's decision

Image source: WTEN-TV video screenshot

An Episcopal Church bishop in New York who was punished for refusing to allow same-sex marriages in his diocese said he plans to appeal the church's decision.

Bishop William Love of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany was placed on a "Partial Restriction on Ministry" after he issued a ban on gay marriages in his congregations despite the National Church's Resolution B012, the Christian Post reported.

The resolution reaffirmed same-sex rites and called for all bishops to "make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies," according to the Episcopal News Service. Conservative clergy would be allowed to recuse themselves from performing gay wedding ceremonies.

"During the period of this restriction, Bishop Love, acting individually, or as Bishop Diocesan, or in any other capacity, is forbidden from participating in any manner in the Church's disciplinary process in the Diocese of Albany in any matter regarding any member of the clergy that involves the issue of same-sex marriage," presiding Bishop Michael Curry, head of the Episcopal Church, said in a statement issued Friday.

"Nor shall he participate in any other matter that has or may have the effect of penalizing in any way any member of the clergy or laity or worshiping congregation of his diocese for their participation in the arrangements for or participation in a same-sex marriage in his diocese or elsewhere," Curry said.

Gay marriage was originally approved by the church in 2015.

What's the back story?

Last July, at the 79th General Convention, the church approved Resolution B012, which makes marriage available to gay couples in all dioceses, including those where bishops theologically object. Clergy would still be allowed to recuse themselves from performing same-sex weddings but they would also be required to call in another clergy member to provide support and perform the ceremony.

Bishop Love wrote in a letter Nov. 10 that his diocese would not allow same-sex wedding ceremonies, despite Resolution B012.

"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," Love wrote.

"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. To engage in sexual intimacy outside of marriage between a man and women, is against God's will and therefore sinful and needs to be repented of, NOT encouraged or told it is OK.

"The Episcopal Church and Western Society have been hijacked by the 'Gay Rights Agenda' which is very well organized, very strategic, very well financed, and very powerful. Satan is having a heyday bringing division into the Church over these issues and is trying to use the Church to hurt and destroy the very ones we love and care about by deceiving the leadership of the Church into creating ways for our gay and lesbians brothers and sister to embrace their sexual desires rather than to repent and seek God's love and healing grace.

"B012 plays right into this."

What did Love say about his appeal?

In an official letter issued Friday, Love stated that he would challenge the action taken against him.

"I have already verbally informed the Presiding Bishop's Office of my plans. This will soon be followed by an official written appeal as required by the Canons," Love wrote.

He said he would respect the partial restriction during the appeal process and added that the punishment has "not changed my understanding or teaching regarding the sacrament of Holy Matrimony."

Love went on to say that he would also attempt to overturn the resolution passed last summer.

What do some other clergy say?

The Rt. Rev. George Sumner, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, described Resolution B012 as "flawed" in a previous interview with Christian Post, but he also considered it "a good-faith effort to maintain unity amid strong theological difference."

"We are doing our best to implement it as we are required to do, and three of our rectors have requested to receive alternative episcopal oversight," Sumner said.

"While we do not agree with the Presiding Bishop [Michael Curry] on the marriage issue, he has been a friend to traditional Episcopalians. Meanwhile, the Book of Common Prayer, our standard of doctrine, remains unchanged," he continued.

The Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins, bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, told the outlet that it would be "preferable to General Convention simply making no provision at all for dioceses that retain the traditional Christian teaching on marriage."

"But it deeply undermines the relationship between a bishop and the parishes of that bishop's diocese. It hampers the bishop's ability to be the chief teacher and chief liturgical officer in a diocese."

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