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ALBANY: Bishop Love Explains His Actions in Rejecting Resolution B012

ALBANY: Bishop Love Explains His Actions in Rejecting Resolution B012
"If I have to decide between following God's Holy Word or what I believe to be a "flawed" General Convention resolution that contradicts God's Holy Word, there is no question. God's Holy Word "trumps" everything."
The true enemy and instigator of division is not the person who believes differently than you regarding issues of human sexuality and marriage -- it is Satan.


By David W. Virtue, DD
January 16, 2019

VOL obtained an exclusive interview with the Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. William H. Love, following his partial inhibition by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry.

VOL: You have been "partially inhibited" by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. Can you explain what exactly that means as opposed to say a full inhibition?

LOVE: The Title IV Disciplinary Canon of The Episcopal Church (Canon IV.7.3) empowers a Bishop Diocesan, or in this case the Presiding Bishop, "if he or she determines that a Member of the Clergy [Bishop] may have committed any Offense, or that the good order, welfare or safety of the Church or any person or Community may be threatened by the member of the Clergy, the Bishop Diocesan [Presiding Bishop] may, without prior notice or hearing, (a) place restrictions upon the exercise of the ministry of such Member of the Clergy or (b) place such Member of the Clergy on Administrative Leave." As can be seen, this Canon gives Presiding Bishop Michael Curry the authority to take any number of actions against me, ranging from doing nothing; to partially restricting / inhibiting my ministry (prohibiting certain actions or aspects of ministry); to placing me on Administrative Leave / full inhibition of ministry (prohibiting me from functioning in any capacity as a bishop) until formal charges are made and dealt with in the Title IV disciplinary process. In my particular case, the Presiding Bishop has chosen to partially restrict / inhibit my ministry only as it pertains to my ability to bring disciplinary actions against a clergy person who chooses to take advantage of Resolution B012 and perform a same-sex marriage in violation of my November 10th Pastoral Directive and Canon 16 of the Diocese of Albany which upholds the Church's traditional understanding of marriage (as outlined in the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer) and prohibits same-sex marriages from taking place in the Diocese of Albany. It also prohibits me from participating in or acting in any manner which could be perceived as acting negatively against any clergy, lay person, or church involved in same-sex marriages. In taking the action that he has, Presiding Bishop Curry is allowing me to continue in all aspects of ministry as Bishop of Albany with the exception of the above restrictions. Unfortunately, the above restrictions open the door for same-sex marriages to occur in the Diocese of Albany, denying me the ability to do anything about it during the appeal process.

VOL: You have committed a "canonical offense" according to Bishop Curry. The nature of that offense is for violating your ordination vows and for conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy. Do you believe you have committed such an "offense"?

LOVE: In his letter, Presiding Bishop Curry does NOT say that I have committed a "canonical offense," but that my "conduct in this regard 'may' constitute a canonical offense..." That is still yet to be determined. In regard to the nature of the offenses for which I "may" have committed -- violation of my ordination vows and conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy; I hope to prove in the ultimate trial that will take place, that I am NOT guilty of either offense, but just the opposite. In the actions I have taken in regard to Resolution B012, I am trying to be faithful to my ordination vows and the ministry entrusted to me as a bishop of this Church. In regard to my Pastoral Letter, I tried to be very careful in what I said and how I said it. Unfortunately, despite how careful I may have tried to be in what was said, I can't control the "life filters" used by all the people reading or listening to the letter, or the false assumptions people may make about things they think I said, rather than what I actually said and meant. That is evidenced by the wide variety of responses expressed in the hundreds of emails, texts, letters and phone calls I have received from all over the world.

VOL: The official language of B012 requires same-sex marriage ceremonies to be held within all dioceses regardless of the will or conscience of the local bishop -- a "compromise" policy requires an objecting bishop to invite bishops from other dioceses to "provide pastoral support" to homosexual couples seeking to be civilly married in an Episcopal Church ceremony. You objected to this, saying, "By God's grace and the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, I have tried throughout my 12 years as Bishop of Albany, to be faithful and obedient to the Great Commandment, to God's Holy Word, and to my ordination vows and the responsibilities entrusted to me..." TEC has said in effect that a General Convention resolution trumps God's Word. Is that your understanding?

LOVE: Within the polity of The Episcopal Church, General Convention has the right to pass resolutions on any number of different matters. That is the manner through which decisions are made and actions are carried out. With that said, there are different types of resolutions and some have more authority than others. One of the things I will be challenging is exactly what type resolution is B012. While there is no question as to the intent of B012, there is a real question as to whether it has the legal authority to carry out its stated intention, and whether or not it is even constitutional, because it essentially negates or contradicts the existing rubrics and catechism of the Book of Common Prayer regarding marriage. There is also a question as to which has more authority when it comes to a General Convention resolution -- vs -- a Diocesan canon? Resolution B012 is in direct contradiction to the Diocese of Albany's Canon 16 on marriage. Finally, and most importantly, that brings us to the question of which should be followed -- a General Convention resolution or the Bible. Ideally, no General Convention resolution should ever contradict the Bible -- "the revealed Word of God." I am sure that those who voted in favor of B012 would try to argue that the Bible isn't really clear about homosexual behavior in a "committed loving monogamous relationship," or that we have misunderstood what God has said, and because this is seen as a "justice issue", it is not in opposition to God's will and therefore should be followed. While I understand the argument, I do NOT agree with it. While 21st Century cultural norms may have changed, God's Word has not changed. I believe God is quite clear about the inappropriateness of same-sex sexual behavior and we do our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ a great disservice (jeopardizing their physical and spiritual health and wellbeing) when we ignore it, regardless of how well-intentioned one may be. As for me, if I have to decide between following God's Holy Word or what I believe to be a "flawed" General Convention resolution that contradicts God's Holy Word, there is no question. God's Holy Word "trumps" everything.

VOL: In your letter to the diocese, you called what the bishops passed as "satanic" and said their decision would, in time, kill off the church. Ironically, outgoing Georgia Bishop Scott Benhase echoed similar words. Tough words. Do you regret having said them?

LOVE: In my Pastoral Letter, I made three references to Satan; never did I use the word "satanic" in reference to anyone or their actions. Unfortunately, many in the media have tried to sensationalize the story by taking what I said out of context, causing many to misunderstand the point I was trying to make. In my first reference to Satan, I stated the following: "While I don't question the sincerity or the well intentions of many in the Episcopal Church who believe the best way to love and minister to our Gay and Lesbian Brothers and Sisters in Christ is to embrace them in their sexuality and make provisions for their same-sex marriage rites, I do believe they have been deceived into believing a lie that has been planted in the Church by the 'great deceiver' -- Satan." This was followed by my reference to (Ephesians 6:11-13) in which the Apostle Paul states: "...stand against the schemes of the devil..." My second reference to Satan stated, "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..." In my final reference to Satan, I stated: "There is no doubt The Episcopal Church and now the Diocese of Albany are in the midst of a huge storm that can rip us apart if we are not careful. That is exactly what Satan wants. We don't have to play his game." The main point I was trying to get across in my references to Satan was to help all of us understand who the true enemy and underlying source of division is within the Church. The true enemy and instigator of division is not the person who believes differently than you regarding issues of human sexuality and marriage -- it is Satan. Satan is real and he is intent on causing confusion, misleading and dividing brothers and sisters in Christ, turning them against one another. He will use anything and everything he can to destroy the Church and separate us from one another and, most importantly, from God. In the current crisis, he is using issues of human sexuality and same-sex marriage quite effectively against us and will continue to until we recognize what is going on and stop playing into his hand. I don't regret making references to Satan in my Pastoral Letter. I believe what I said is true. I do regret the point I was trying to make was misunderstood by some and was seen to be hurtful.

VOL: You wrote and said you planned to send a letter to the diocese in response to the Presiding Bishop's announcement. You also said you plan to appeal the disciplinary action taken against you as well as challenge the legality of B012. Based on TEC's history in disciplinary matters, there seems little chance you will win. The institution and General Convention resolutions now trump Scripture, history and tradition.

LOVE: I realize I am very much a minority voice within the House of Bishops and current leadership within The Episcopal Church on issues regarding human sexuality and marriage. Resolution B012 demonstrates a clear intent by the majority to force same-sex marriage on the entire Episcopal Church despite the beliefs of those of us who still believe that marriage is intended by God (as evidenced by Holy Scripture and over 2000 years of Church teaching and tradition) to be between a man and a woman, and that the gift of sexual intimacy is to be confined to a husband and wife within marriage. I don't know how my trial/appeal process will ultimately go. One could argue that given the current dynamics within TEC, my odds of succeeding in overturning B012 are slim, but not impossible. I pray whatever the outcome, God will use all of this for His purposes and that ultimately His will be accomplished. Right now, it is important to let the process take its course and we will see what the Lord does. I trust in His time, God will reveal to me how and where I can best serve Him and His Church. In the meantime, I am very appreciative to everyone who has been holding me, my family and the Diocese of Albany as well as the Presiding Bishop and Episcopal Church up in prayers. Please keep praying.

VOL: Thank you, bishop.

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