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Episcopal bishop
in Connecticut OK's same-sex blessings

Episcopal bishop
in Connecticut OK's same-sex blessings

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Alexandre Bricio/PixaBay

Episcopal parishes in Connecticut may bless same-sex couples, the state's bishop announced over the weekend in Hartford.

Episcopal parishes in Connecticut may bless same-sex couples, the state's bishop announced over the weekend in Hartford. Bishop Andrew Smith's decision does not create an official prayer service for the blessings and does not allow Episcopal clergy to officiate at civil unions. But it allows parishes to acknowledge gay and lesbian couples who have had a civil union granted by the state. ''What I have permitted is a pastoral ministry of blessing, which does not mimic a wedding ceremony,'' Smith said Saturday after the diocese's two-day annual convention ended. Smith said he acted because Connecticut began recognizing civil unions last year and the national Episcopal Church had done nothing in response. Each diocese handles the issue differently, with some allowing parishes to decide on their own whether they should bless gay couples and others prohibiting the practice. At the heart of the matter is whether the church will ''bless persons who are homosexual and partnered as cherished and fully accepted members of the body of Christ,'' Smith told the convention. Smith's decision was greeted with joy by the Reverend Pat Gallagher, who leads St. Paul's Church in Willimantic. ''I couldn't be happier,'' she said. ''I'm just so excited about it. It's a right we should have.'' But the Reverend Christopher Leighton, rector at St. Paul's Church in Darien, called Smith a ''perpetrator of false teaching'' and said his decision defies ''Scripture and worldwide Christianity.'' The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of Anglicanism. The global Anglican Communion is struggling to stay unified despite deep divisions over how to interpret the Bible on many issues, including gay clergy and same-sex relationships. The 2003 election of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, caused an uproar among overseas Anglican leaders, who have asked the U.S. denomination to stop ordaining gay bishops for now and to temporarily refrain from developing official prayer ceremonies for same-sex couples. (AP)

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