The Bishop of Milwaukee has granted permission to bless same-sex couples in civil marriages, but has joined the Bishop of Pittsburgh in critiquing the rite written by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. In a two-page letter, the Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller gives a brief summary of his concerns about Resolution A049 of the 77th General Convention and about the provisional rite [PDF] it authorized.
Bishop Miller lists four concerns about the resolution:
- In seeking to create “justice” for one group of people (gays and lesbians) it creates an injustice for another group (those who cannot marry because they would suffer dire economic consequences).
- A049 creates a second class of citizens in the church: those who can marry and those who cannot.
- A049 obscures this Church’s teaching that the proper place for sexual intimacy is marriage.
- A049 assumes a trajectory of the actions of previous General Conventions that places consensus resolutions clearly on one side of the issue.
Miller praises the Rt. Rev. Dorsey McConnell “for his well-reasoned critique of the rite, which I commend to you. This critique articulates some of my own rationale in not authorizing the rite in its entirety.”
Bishop McConnell’s critique is available on the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s website.
Bishop Miller adds:
As chief pastor, I have to balance my own theological conviction with humility, and a willingness to create space for those who disagree with me. I must also consider what is best for the diocese. My personal position is that, given the disputed witness of Scripture and Tradition in this matter, I see the blessing of same-sex couples by the Church as a pastoral provision, informed by modern insights into human sexuality and human development, not unlike the blessing of marriages of persons who have been divorced.
Therefore, after much prayer, consultation, and reflection I am willing to allow clergy of this diocese to bless the marriages of same-sex couples who are civilly married. An appendix accompanying this letter outlines the guidelines for such blessings, and sets forth a form I have approved for use in these instances. Officiating at such blessings is contingent upon both following the guidelines, and using the modified form.