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Episcopal Bishops Declare Communion Broken With Pro-homosexuality Bishops


5 April 1999

We, the undersigned bishops of the Episcopal Church, do hereby declare that we regard those bishops of ECUSA who have signed the Koinonia Statement (prepared by Bishop John Spong of Newark in 1994), or who have knowingly ordained noncelibate homosexual persons or condoned the blessing of same sex unions in their dioceses, to have broken Communion with all those who confess the Catholic faith. We have waited, hopefully, to hear that the deliberations and resolutions of the 1998 Lambeth Conference had led these bishops to return to a Catholic understanding and practice of human sexuality, but this does not seem to have happened.

We, therefore, will not in the future knowingly receive the Holy Communion from their hands, nor receive in those Celebrations in which one of those bishops is the Celebrant, until that bishop reaffirms the Biblical and traditional understanding and practice of human sexuality.

This Declaration is made with heartfelt regret, but it is our way of witnessing to the fact that these bishops, many of whom we regard as long time friends and colleagues, have by their actions departed from the clear message of Holy Scripture, not simply from a few isolated verses as some like to claim, but from an overriding theme throughout the Old and New Testaments. This theme begins with the Creation story in Genesis, that God created the human race, as male and female, and that a man shall leave his father and mother and take unto himself a wife, and the two shall become one flesh. The theme is restated and reinforced again and again throughout the Bible, in over 100 references to adultery and fornication, (meaning genital sexual relations outside of the bonds of marriage) which is declared wrong in the sight of God. Furthermore, as recorded in Acts 15, at the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem, the momentous decision was made that Gentiles could be baptized and admitted to the Church. However, a restriction was stipulated by the Apostles, which was that all persons so admitted were required to abstain from fornication, meaning genital sexual relations outside of marriage, a restriction apparently regarded as essential by the Apostles. In light of this compelling evidence, we declare that if homosexual behavior can now by the Church be reconciled with Holy Scripture, we cannot imagine what teaching from the Bible could not be similarly reinterpreted , revised or rejected.

In rejecting Scripture, these bishops have also unilaterally discarded the profound moral doctrine that has been the teaching of the Catholic Church for 2,000 years, that all persons shall abstain from genital sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage. This moral teaching continues to be overwhelmingly upheld by the rest of the Christian world, by Roman Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, and particularly by the rest of the Anglican Communion, whose bishops reaffirmed it overwhelmingly in August of 1998. Indeed the actions by these revisionist ECUSA bishops are now straining the bonds between the Episcopal Church and the other Provinces of our Communion.

We who sign this Declaration have no intention of leaving the Episcopal Church. It is our every intention to participate as fully as we are able in the life of the Church, including the deliberations of the House of Bishops and General Convention, but within the limitations posed for us by this grievous state of broken Communion which these bishops have inflicted upon the Church by departing from its traditional Apostolic and Catholic teaching and practice.

We implore them, in the Name of Christ, to reverse their course, and to reaffirm a Biblical and Catholic understanding and practice of human sexuality. Until they do, we shall continue to love them and to pray for them, but we also shall sadly declare that they have broken Communion with the Catholic faith, and thereby with us.

In Christ Jesus,

  • Maurice M. Benitez Bishop of Texas, Retired
  • Alex D. Dickson Bishop of West Tennessee, RetiredSc

"For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but so that through him the world might be saved." ( John 3.16-17 NJB)

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