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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 15, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 28
New York Bishop orders Gay clergy to marry
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New York Bishop orders Gay clergy to marry

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Long Island Episcopal Bishop Lawrence Provenzano has ordered Gay priests in his jurisdiction to marry their partners or stop living with them. br />
'I need to be mindful that the church has always asked people to live in committed monogamous, faithful relationships. I won't allow heterosexual clergy to live in a rectory or church housing without the benefit of marriage. When one puts it in that context, then you see how it all begins to make sense,' Provenzano told The Christian Post newspaper on July 19. br />
The new same-sex marriage law takes effect in the state of New York on Sunday, July 24. br />
Gay priests will have nine months to comply with his order, Provenzano said. br />
'No one will be disciplined for failing to meet the deadline,' he added. br />
Unlike Roman Catholic priests, who are required to remain celibate, priests in the Anglican Communion, which includes the Episcopal Church in the U.S., may marry. In fact, most Anglican clergy are married. br />
Ordaining Gay men - and women of all sexual orientations - as priests is controversial in Anglican churches, and has resulted in the defection of some churches in the U.S. and Africa, but it is allowed. br />
The problem for church authorities is what Gay priests are expected to do with their partners. The fact that same-sex couples can now marry in a number of U.S. states as well as several countries only complicates the problem. br />
The Rev. Jeffrey John, Dean of St. Albans in England, has chosen to live in a celibate domestic partnership. br />
The Rev. Colin Coward, another English priest, caused a furor last year when he entered into a civil partnership - later sanctioned by a church 'blessing' ceremony - with his model boyfriend. Coward explicitly said he would not be celibate after the ceremony. br />
Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire lives in a non-celibate monogamous relationship with his partner. br />
The Rev. Christopher Hofer, rector of the Episcopal Church of St. Jude in Wantagh, New York, said he thought Bishop Provenzano's order was reasonable. br />
'I think his statement was not only fair, but beyond generous. It gives people time, acknowledging that there's a financial component involved and recognizing that some may not choose to live together,' Hofer said. br />
'Now that the state is recognizing civil marriage, we as priests, perhaps deacons too, who are in committed relationships, have a choice: we either live what we preach to become civilly married or we live apart,' he added. br />
According to SRN News, a Christian news service, no other Episcopal bishops in states with same-sex marriage have set an explicit deadline for Gay clergy to marry their partners. br />
It is not clear what Bishop Provenzano would do if priests wished to live with their unmarried same-sex partners in private housing, rather than a church rectory.

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