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Royal Wedding bishop Michael Curry condemns exclusion of same-sex couples

Nick Duffy March 18, 2019
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby with American bishop Michael Curry at St George's Chapel, Windsor, ahead of the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 18, 2018 in Windsor, England.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby with American bishop Michael Curry at St George's Chapel, Windsor, ahead of the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 18, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Steve Parsons - Pool / Getty)

Bishop Michael Curry, who delivered the sermon at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, has criticised exclusion of same-sex spouses from an Anglican gathering.

The 2020 Lambeth Conference, which will bring together Anglican bishops and their spouses from across the world, has been facing criticism after Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby banned same-sex spouses from attending.

The decision has sparked anger in the US Episcopal Church, after New York Episcopal bishop Mary Glasspool revealed she was personally contacted by Welby and warned not to bring her wife and partner of 30 years, Becki Sandler, to the once-in-a-decade summit.

Bishop Michael Curry ‘aggrieved and distressed’ by ban on same-sex spouses

At an Episcopal House of Bishops meeting on Friday (March 15), Bishop Michael Curry said he would make clear to Welby that the church “would like [the ban] to be reconsidered if there is any way that it can be.”

A joint statement in support of Bishop Glasspool says: “Bishops are aggrieved and distressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to exclude same sex spouses of bishops from participating in the Lambeth Conference.

“[We are] concerned by the use of exclusion as a means of building communion.”

American bishop Michael Curry at St George's Chapel, Windsor, ahead of the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 18, 2018 in Windsor, England.
American bishop Michael Curry at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, ahead of the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 18, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Steve Parsons/Getty)

Bishop Glasspool said her wife was “shocked, hurt and enraged” by the decision to explicitly exclude her from the conference.

However, she opposed a boycott of the event, adding: “I really believe that it is better to be at the table when you’re on the menu.”

Glasspool also praised Curry for “incredible leadership of these crazy Christians in the Jesus Movement.”

The spouses of Episcopal bishops also released their own statement, which expresses “disappointment and dismay at the exclusion of same gender spouses from the invitation to Lambeth Conference.”

It continues: “We especially stand with our fellow spouse, Becki Sander, spouse of Bishop Mary Glasspool, who is one of the spouses being excluded.”

The statement says that “exclusion of same gender spouses… seems like a simplistic reaction to [a] complex issue,” adding: “It saddens us that all are not welcome to walk, listen, and witness with us, and that all voices will not be heard at this gathering.”

Anglican leaders claim same-sex spouses are ‘inappropriate’

A Canadian Anglican bishop, Kevin Robertson, was also personally contacted by Welby and urged not to bring his husband to the Lambeth Conference.

Robertson attacked the decision, which he says was driven by homophobia.

The decision to bar same-sex spouses from the Lambeth Conference appears intended to quell dissent from anti-LGBT church leaders within the Anglican Communion, which faces an increasingly fractious split between LGBT-inclusive and anti-LGBT churches around the world.

Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, claimed in a February blog post that the decision was made “to take account of the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage, which is that it is the lifelong union of a man and a woman.”

He added: “It would be inappropriate for same-sex spouses to be invited to the conference.”

Welby has not responded to the criticism of the decision to bar gay spouses from the £4,950-a-head event.

The summit is due to be held at the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus in July 2020.

More: bishop, Gay, LGBT, Michael Curry, Religion, Royal wedding, US

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