same-sex unions

Methodists Resolve Gay Marriage Complaint Against 36 Pastors Without a Trial

Clergy and faith leaders gather in support of gay marriage. Photo by Mike DuBose, United Methodist News Service/RNS.

United Methodists in Pennsylvania have agreed to resolve a complaint filed against three dozen clergy who blessed a gay wedding without taking the case to trial.

A complaint was filed against 36 United Methodist pastors who officiated at a Nov. 9, 2013 wedding for two men at Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia. On Oct. 3, Philadelphia Area Bishop Peggy Johnson announced that the complaint had been resolved.

The resolution calls for the officiating clergy to acknowledge that they violated rules of the United Methodist Book of Discipline, which includes the denomination’s constitution. In return, the complaint will be withdrawn.

“Though I may sympathize with the pastoral concerns of the respondents, it is unacceptable to disregard and disobey the Book of Discipline,” Johnson said. “I pledge that, in future cases where clergy within my jurisdiction officiate or host a same-gender ceremony, any complaints that I receive will be handled swiftly and with significant and appropriate consequences, which may include a trial, involuntary leave of absence without pay, or other significant consequences, in accordance with the Discipline and in consultation with the Board of Ordained ministry and the clergy session of the annual conference.”

Poll: Americans See Gay Marriage as Inevitable

Same-sex marriage is inevitable, nearly two-thirds of Americans say. Photo courtesy Religion News Service/shutterstock.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe legalized same-sex marriage in the U.S. is inevitable, according to a study by LifeWay Research, a Nashville polling firm with ties to the Southern Baptist Convention.

But for some respondents, inevitability doesn’t equal approval.

According to the findings, 64 percent of American adults believe same-sex marriage will become legal, whether or not they believe in it.

Vatican Backtracks On Support for Gay Couples

Photo by Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty Images

Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia attends 'Che Tempo Che Fa' Italian Tv Show in 2010. Photo by Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty Images

VATICAN CITY — A top Vatican official blamed the media for “derailing” his recent remarks on possible legal protections for unmarried couples, while reaffirming his support for British and French bishops who have been vocal opponents of same-sex marriage.

Speaking at a Vatican press conference on Monday, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, had acknowledged that nations could find “private law solutions” to protect the rights of unmarried couples — including, potentially, gay and lesbian couples.

Paglia also said the church should support the repeal of laws that criminalize homosexuality in various countries.

His remarks were widely repeated, with some interpreting it as a softening of the Vatican’s stance just as bishops in France and Britain are furiously opposing the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Despite Doubters, Mainline Protestant Churches Poised for Success

Religion News Service photo courtesy Donovan Marks/Washington National Cathedral

Maryland Episcopal Bishop Eugene Sutton. RNS photo courtesy Donovan Marks/Washington National Cathedral

Conservative commentators like Rupert Murdoch's stable and Ross Douthat of The New York Times are feasting on what they perceive as the "death" of "liberal Christianity."

They add two and two and get eight. They see decisions they don't like — such as the Episcopal Church's recent endorsement of a rite for blessing same-sex unions. They see declines in church membership. They pounce.

Such "liberal" decisions are destroying the church, they say, and alienating young adults they must reach in order to survive.

Never mind that surveys of young adults in America show attitudes toward sexuality that are far more liberal than those of older generations. Never mind that conservative denominations are also in decline.

Never mind — the most inconvenient truth — that mainline denominations began to decline in 1965, not because of liberal theology, but because the world around them changed and they refused to change with it.

Britain Begins Talks on Legalizing Gay Marriage

Wedding cake topper photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.

Wedding cake topper photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.

CANTERBURY, England — The British government on Thursday launched a 12-week consultation that is widely expected to lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage in England and Wales, despite strong opposition from Catholics and some Anglicans.

"Should two people who care deeply for each other, who love each other and who want to spend the rest of their lives together be allowed to marry?" Home Secretary Theresa May wrote in The Times of London.

"That is the essential question behind the debate over the government'splans to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples."

The coalition government led by Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy, Nick Clegg, has made it clear that it wants to see a same-sex marriage law before the next general election in 2015. It is also supported by the New Labour opposition leader, Ed Miliband.

The consultation will also include an option of retaining the status quo and that has met with the approval of senior church figures, as well as a number of Conservative lawmakers.