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FLORIDA: Episcopal bishop under fire over implementing B012

FLORIDA: Episcopal bishop under fire over implementing B012
Accusations of intimidation fly from pro-homosexual priests who say Bishop John Howard is not honoring GC resolution

By David W. Virtue, DD
February 3, 2019

Is the Episcopal Bishop of Florida, the Rt. Rev. John Howard, having a conscience attack over implementing Resolution B012 which mandated that any priest may perform a homosexual marriage with the consent of their diocesan bishop?

Resolution B012 has not gone down well with the handful of Communion Partner bishops who have tried to thread the needle by saying that while they believe marriage is between a man and a woman, they would allow alternative oversight from another bishop if a priest or priestess requested homosexual marriage.

Only one bishop, William Love of Albany refused to cave in to the General Convention resolution saying that it violated the vows he took as a bishop to safeguard the doctrine and teaching of the church. "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."

For his "sin" of commission, he was "partially inhibited" by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry for his disobedience to General Convention's "progressive" sexual tyranny. The quisling CP bishops quickly folded their cards and, in Pilate-like fashion, washed their hands, handing the matter over to a revisionist bishop with no biblical conscience on the matter.

Enter the Bishop of Florida, Samuel Johnson Howard, another Communion Partner Bishop.

He's been accused of not honoring the same-sex marriage resolution. An article in the latest issue of Episcopal News Service indicates that Howard wants his cake and to eat it too.

His desire to give same-sex couples unfettered access to same-sex marriage, has been called into question by a number of his priests and they complained in a letter to Bishop Michael Curry about it. But Howard says that's not true, calling his process one of "collaboration and transparency." Howard even went so far as to reject an Episcopal News Service request to clarify how the process works.

So, Howard refuses to be bullied by pro homosexual Episcopalians and repeated requests for clarification from ENS and, in turn, intimidates those who want to perform these marriages.

Howard went on the offensive and said that a rector wishing to officiate at same-sex marriages must meet with him and bring the parish's wardens to the meeting. Then he said this, [I] "further require the rector to look into [my] eyes and tell [me] he/she is defying [my] pastoral directive."

Then, according to the letter, another bishop will be made available to provide pastoral support to the couple, clergy and congregation. The petition says the congregation must pay the alternate bishop's stipend for expenses incurred in giving that support.

Howard's plan is an "intimidating, unduly cumbersome process and unfair to our brothers and sisters in Christ who seek to be married in this church," the letter says.

"After meeting with the rector or priest and wardens, Resolution B012 puts another burden on me, another job on me," Howard said. "I need to find another bishop willing to undertake pastoral oversight for them in accordance with the provisions of B012."

Howard said during his diocesan address that he opposes same-sex marriage. "Don't talk about it a lot, talk about it very seldom, wish I could talk about it even less but that's a fact," he said. "This morning, I hope that one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit moving in us and through us in our churches is that we won't, one more time, permit this issue to divide us."

The bishop had said during the House of Bishops' debate on B012 at General Convention that, after the 2003 meeting of General Convention consented to the election of Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire, "My diocese became the epicenter of warfare within the church over those issues of a partnered gay man becoming a bishop of the church, and became a place where open warfare, even in the floor of convention and in parish halls, occurred."

So now we get to the nub of the issue. Howard can still feel the pain of deposing 42 orthodox priests starting in 2004 up till 2008 (to his mind a 'fruit of the Spirit') following the debacle over the Robinson consecration. He does not want a repeat of that with fleeing priests, this time from the other side of the aisle.

Furthermore, Howard wants to control the process and not General Convention or the Presiding Bishop, or dissenters in his diocese. This is about process, not theology or ecclesiology, as Bishop Bill Love made it to be. Might there be a tinge of conscience here? His diocese has never recovered from all those fleeing priests who took thousands of dues paying parishioners with them.

Dissenters wanted Howard to know how the resolution is going to be implemented in the Diocese of Florida and "our belief that this is not in keeping with spirit of the resolution."

In his convention address, Howard specifically rejected the notion of DEPO for Florida parishes that wish to solemnize same-sex marriages. "I could never do that. I won't do that," he said. "I love my relationship with you, with the churches you represent and with your clergy, too much to ever do that.

"I assure you that I will cling to you and love you and serve you in every way I can, which principle will permit."

At the end of the day, Howard will succumb as have all the other Communion Partner bishops with the exception of Bishop Love of Albany. For him it is about theology and the doctrine and discipline of the Church that he swore to uphold when he became bishop; for Howard it is about process, control and intimidation.
For the faithful Love, it is his ticket to heaven, for the unfaithful Howard, it is a ticket to the other place.


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