The Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles said he would stop blessing same-sex unions in an attempt to win back three breakaway Southern California parishes and appease conservative critics--but he also said his priests would be free to continue officiating at union ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples. Bishop J. Jon Bruno, of the six-county Los Angeles diocese, also called Tuesday for an international church summit in Los Angeles. He asked that it include African bishops who have claimed jurisdiction over the three parishes that bolted in mid August from the Episcopal Church because of differences over Scripture and homosexuality.
The parishes--St. James Church in Newport Beach, All Saints' Church in Long Beach, and St. David's Church in North Hollywood--said they had placed themselves under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Church in Uganda. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Bruno's proposals were rejected hours after he made them by Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, primate of the Anglican Church in Uganda, and Bishop Evans Kisekka of the diocese of Luweero in Uganda. "Our churches in Los Angeles came to us like children who were running away from home, and we have offered them a safe place to be," they said in a letter faxed to Bruno. "We will not relinquish them into a spiritually dangerous situation." The letter also called on Bruno and the Los Angeles diocese to repent from "your participation in and promotion of unbiblical behavior and teaching."
Bruno was among the majority of U.S. Episcopal bishops who consented to the election of V. Gene Robinson--a gay priest in a relationship with another man--as bishop of the diocese of New Hampshire. Bruno also presided at the blessing of the union of a gay male couple, one of whom is a senior priest. "I wish for you to know that I regret any confusion, hurt, or offense any of my actions may have elicited in other members of our church or in the Anglican Communion," Bruno wrote.
An Anglican Communion commission appointed by the archbishop of Canterbury last month proposed such expressions of regret by the American church for elevating Robinson. It also suggested a moratorium on the blessing of same-sex unions. Other Episcopal bishops, including the presiding bishop and primate of the national church, the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, have offered similar expressions of regret. But their expressions have not satisfied conservatives, who want declarations of repentance and promises not to ordain noncelibate gay priests as bishops and not to bless same-sex unions.