The Episcopal bishop of eastern Massachusetts gave permission Sunday
for priests in the region to officiate at same-sex weddings.
“The time has come,’’ Bishop M. Thomas Shaw III told The Boston Globe. “It’s time for us to offer to gay and lesbian people the same sacrament of fidelity that we offer to the heterosexual world.’’
Shaw made it clear that any priest is free to decline to perform a same-sex marriage.
“We know that not all are of one mind and that some in good faith will disagree with this decision,’’ Shaw wrote in a letter to Episcopal parishes under his authority. “Our Anglican tradition makes space for this disagreement and calls us to respect and engage one another in our differences. It is through that tension that we find God’s ultimate will.’’
An Episcopal bishop in Ohio, Bishop Thomas E. Breidenthal, made a similar pronouncement in early November, and priests in his part of the state will be able to bless same-sex unions starting in April.
Both decisions come after the Anglican denomination announced at its convention in July that bishops, particularly in jurisdictions where gay marriage is legal, should "provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church," reports the Los Angeles Times.