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Statements by the House of Bishops

Marriage

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America, issues the following unanimous statement:

October 14, 2012

Since the beginning of human history, marriage has been the institutional building block of society. And since the beginning of human history, marriage has been between a man and a woman, male and female. The Book of Genesis testifies to this for Christians and Jews. Aristotle (ca. 350 BC) adds his own secular testimony. “The dual purpose of marriage is unitive and procreative. It provides a structure for raising children. The political state will not be healthy without health citizens, and healthy citizens come from healthy families, comprised of mother, father and child(ren).”

Our Creator made us male and female, with the result that the physical union in marriage is a reality. Male and female really unite in a way that is impossible for members of the same sex, and that union is open to the possibility of procreation in a way that no “same-sex union” could possibly be.

Romantic “love,” we agree, is not the concern of the state. But the crux of the issue is whether marriage serves society and conforms to the will of our Creator. Gay unions do not conform to the way in which human beings were created by God.

There is an order to all things; there is a natural law-a law of reason, received from our Creator. Through this law man can comprehend his ultimate end, and the way he must live to fulfill it. God will not be mocked. To disdain his law is inevitably to invite disaster, both personal and social.

While the Anglican Church in America, part of the worldwide Traditional Anglican Communion does not support discrimination in any fashion against any human being and upholds the dignity of all, neither do we believe that the state has any right to change the definition of a sacramental gift from our Creator.

Presented and approved by the House of Bishops, Anglican Church in America.

ACA and the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter

10 January 2012

To the Bishops, Clergy and Laity of The Anglican Church in America

Dear Friends,

As most of you now know, the American Ordinariate was erected on January 1, 2012. Ordinariates have been established by the Vatican to receive Anglicans who wish to convert to the Roman Catholic Church while retaining elements of their worship. Some within our jurisdiction have sought entry into the Ordinariate and have been accepted. Clergy, for example, who have received nulae ostae will now begin the process toward Ordination in the Roman Catholic Church. Lay participants will complete catechetical instruction in preparation for Confirmation according to the requirements of that jurisdiction. We wish those who will become part of this new structure within the Roman Catholic Church all the best.

      Almost two years ago, in anticipation of the erection of the American Ordinariate, the House of Bishops of The Anglican Church in America authorized the creation of an entity styled the Patrimony of the Primate. This entity was designed to be a temporary structure, something of a “holding tank,” for those parishes, clergy and people who desired entry into the Ordinariate. It was agreed that the Patrimony of the Primate would cease to exist once the Ordinariate was established. Given that the American Ordinariate was erected on January 1, 2012, the term of the Patrimony of the Primae has thus lapsed. Those who were formerly part of the Patrimony of the Primate must now make a decision regarding their future jurisdiction. Anyone, whether clergy or laity, who may now wish to return to the Anglican Church in America, should do so by contacting the diocesan bishop in their area.

      In a separate but related matter, an entity called the “Pro Diocese of the Holy Family” is operating in the southeastern part of the United States. To the best of our knowledge and belief, this body exists outside any official jurisdiction. The Anglican Church in America does not recognize or maintain any relationship with this organization. It is also not sanctioned by a College of Bishops meeting of the Traditional Anglican Communion. From information available to us, it appears that the Roman Catholic Church also has no relationship with this body. Accordingly, the Anglican Church in America and, by extension, the Traditional Anglican Communion, disavows any connection to this errant organization.

     Now that the circumstances regarding the Ordinariate have been clarified, we welcome those who wish to return to the ACA and encourage them to communicate directly with their ecclesiastical authority. The process of return is designed to be as simple as it is pastoral. But, in any case, the Patrimony of the Primate has, with the erection of the Ordinariate, ceased its operations within the United States as of January 1, 2012.

Faithfully,
+Brian R. Marsh
Presiding Bishop


The Moral Implications of Suicide

Adopted by the House of Bishops 14 February 1996

The Episcopal Diocese of Newark has entered a growing national debate by proposing quite irresponsibly:

1. That self-killing (suicide) is a "moral choice" for the terminally ill, and for those living in persistent and/or progressive pain (i.e., with severely reduced "quality of life");

2. because "nowhere in the Bible does it say that there is a value to suffering simply for the sake of suffering;"

3. and that therefore we need to "redefine" what we mean by "life" (assumedly to provide a rationale for destroying what now should be held to have no value).

Quite obviously, suffering is not a good in itself. Yet it is not only a truth, but the central truth of Holy Scripture, that suffering can be and was accepted by the Son of God as the means of bringing about our redemption, the ultimate good for all mankind. Scripturally, life is identified as a good in itself. "Therefore choose life." To reject this good in order to eliminate suffering is a form of false compassion, for it encourages accepting an absolute evil (self-killing) in order to end a relative one (suffering) at great peril to one's soul.

Unquestionably there are cases, such as that of a person in severe and unremitting pain who seeks death to escape it, in which responsibility may well be mitigated by a resultant impairment of the ability to arrive at reasoned decisions. The problem in such cases is not to "redefine life," but to exercise discrimination and charity.

There are also cases, such as those of Christian martyrs, where death has been accepted willingly in order to avoid the greater evil of apostasy, but was neither sought nor chosen as a means to anything. These are not cases of suicide.

Suicide, the act of killing oneself as a deliberate choice deemed preferable to alternative courses, is always a grave offense (and an irreversible one) against the Lord of life from whom we have life as a gift. Neither the act itself, nor assisting and abetting it, can be morally justified.

The difficulty of judging those who have taken their life cuts two ways. People who have killed themselves cannot be judged absolutely without full knowledge of all the facts (including those involving the person's psyche), and are not (by those left behind) to be with finality condemned or despised. Moreover, it is the pastoral duty of the Church to minister supportively and with discernment to those who have been involved in acting to end a human life, often under severe and debilitating emotional distress, especially as they come to the beginnings of a realization of the enormity of what they have done. At the same time, it is an extreme and culpable dereliction of pastoral duty to presume to "reassure" those who are contemplating suicide that such a deed would carry no grave moral responsibility.

Adopted unanimously at the House of Bishops meeting on 14 February, 1996.

 

 
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