Sunday, April 8, 2007

Bishop Bob Ihloff of Maryland's Retirement

Head of the state's Episcopal fold retires
By Liz F. Kay
Baltimore Sun
Originally published April 7, 2007

Amid the heated national and global conflicts of the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Robert Wilkes Ihloff has managed to keep the calm in Maryland.

Retiring this weekend after a dozen years as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, Ihloff is proud to have worked through many of the tensions that have beset the church elsewhere, from female clergy to the place of gays and lesbians.


Ihloff said he is also satisfied that the diocese has supported diverse viewpoints.

"We have tried to say to people within the diocese, 'We will respect your theological perspective,' " the bishop said, even if it's not the majority one.


The diocese does have openly gay and lesbian clergy, some of whom are in long-term, committed relationships, but Ihloff has refused to authorize blessings of same-sex unions within the diocese. The global Anglican Communion has asked that none of its national counterparts, such as Episcopal Church in the United States, do so, he said.


Since 2003, some parishes have broken away or aligned themselves with bishops outside the United States who share more conservative views on scripture. Now, the House of Bishops has until September to respond to a communique from the communion's primates that called for changes such as creation of a council of Anglican bishops to oversee more conservative dioceses within the United States.

Ihloff said that would give a foreign bishop power over the Episcopal Church, which violates its canons, he said.

Despite the tension, the bishop said he felt positive after a March meeting in Texas, where the House of Bishops rallied to back the communique.

Though there had been more alienation along liberal-conservative lines over the past few years, "I feel there has been real healing," the bishop said.

Click here to read the rest.


John Clinton Bradley said...

Many years ago, I was elected as a lay deputy from the Diocese of Washington to Province 4. During my first provincial synod, I was the only out gay deputy. Some conservative deputies were clearly uncomfortable with my presence. The newly consecrated Bisop Ihloff was in charge of organizing the closing Eucharist. He asked me to read one of the lessons. He didn't say anything more than that, but I'm sure he intentionally picked me. I'll always be thankful to him for this simple act of inclusion.

John Clinton Bradley said...

One reader says...

"If the church were to get out of the civil part of marriage entirely, and would refuse marriage blessings for hetroids as for same-sex couples, such a policy would not be unjust.
But to bless the different-sex couples and not the same-sex couples is a disaster pastorally and keeps us gays as second class as we have been all along in the church. I see this as a matter of justice and of failing to follow the examples and words of Jesus."

John Clinton Bradley said...

Steven Shore (who is a member of Diocesan Council in the Diocese of Maryland) writes...

The article makes a point which is somewhat misleading. While Bishop Ihloff did not see himself as having the authority to authorize the blessings of same sex unions, he had no objections to clergy choosing to administer such blessings.

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