Bishop cleared of gay ordination 'heresy'

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Bringing to a close a controversy that was painfully dividing its membership, the American Episcopal Church has decided not pursue heresy charges against a retired bishop who ordained a non-celibate homosexual man in 1990.

The decision, announced by a court of the church, is likely to reverberate throughout the protestant church, including that in England, where a similar debate has arisen over the admission by Lord Runcie that he knowingly ordained gay men while he was Archbishop of Canterbury.

The court ruled that Bishop Walter Righter, a retired bishop of Iowa, had not violated the church's "core doctrine" when he ordained the Reverend Barry Stopfel as a deacon in the Diocese of Newark six years ago. A charge of heresy had been filed against him by 10 of his fellow bishops.

In its decision, the court stated that there was "no core doctrine prohibiting the ordination of a non-celibate, homosexual person living in a faithful and committed sexual relationship with a person of the same sex".