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Lesbian Episcopal Clergy Married by Massachusetts Bishop

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion & Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- The marriage of two lesbians, both high-profile Episcopal priests in Massachusetts, has spotlighted anew the long-running controversy over same-sex unions in both the U.S.-based Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion with which it is affiliated.

The Rev. Mally Lloyd, a ranking official of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, married the Rev. Katherine Ragsdale, dean and president of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, on New Year's Day in Boston, according to the Patriot-Ledger. Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, the state's highest ranking Episcopal prelate, presided. Ragsdale has been a controversial figure in the 2.1 million-member denomination for both her outspoken affirmation of same-sex "marriage" and homosexual clergy, as well as her unqualified defense of abortion as a "blessing."

Bishop Shaw has also openly supported gay marriage for years. Shaw gave his parish priests permission to perform same-sex marriages soon after the 2009 Episcopal General Convention voted to allow "generous pastoral response" in such situations.

Jeff Walton, spokesman for IRD's Anglican Action Program, commented:

    "Much like the consecration of openly partnered homosexual Bishops Gene Robinson and Mary Glasspool, the Episcopal Church’s embrace of same-sex unions continues to drive a wedge between liberal Anglicans in the U.S. and traditionalists in the Global South.

    "Ultimately, this is a dispute about scriptural authority, with liberals following what they attest to be widening human experience about sexuality, while traditionalists appeal to historic teachings of the Church and a plain reading of Scripture.

    "The majority of the Episcopal Church is increasingly practicing a separate faith from what most Anglicans practice worldwide."
Alan Wisdom, IRD Vice President for Research and Programs, commented:
    "The Scriptures consistently teach that marriage is instituted by God as a gift to all humankind, and that we are to honor that gift.

    "Shall we assert the right to redefine marriage to suit our own contemporary notions of justice? Shall we treat marriage as if it were no different from other sexual relationships? Or shall we reaffirm the vision of an exclusive, lifelong, one-flesh union of the two complementary sexes created by God? Only the latter option is faithful to the Scriptures and the worldwide Christian tradition."
Alan Wisdom's paper 'Is Marriage Worth Defending?" is viewable on the IRD website.