Toronto bishops issue statement in support of Kevin Robertson and same-sex spouse

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Bishop Kevin Robertson, area bishop of York-Scarborough. Photo: Michael Hudson/diocese of Toronto

The same-sex spouse of Kevin Robertson, area bishop of York-Scarborough in the diocese of Toronto, will go to England at the time of the Lambeth Conference in 2020, though it’s as yet unclear to what extent any of the spouses of Toronto bishops will participate, the diocese’s College of Bishops said in a joint statement released March 25.

“All of our spouses, including Mohan [Sharma], will be going to England in 2020 in the spirit of mutual support and love,” the statement by the five-member group of bishops reads. “The degree to which each will participate in the conference is yet to be determined.”

The Lambeth Conference gathers Anglican bishops from across the world every 10 years. Preparations for next year’s conference have been attracting international media attention since the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, announced in a blog post that, because of the Communion’s position that marriage is a lifelong union of a man and a woman, same-sex spouses would not be invited.

Robertson, who was married to Mohan Sharma Dec. 28, 2018, in the diocese’s Cathedral Church of St. James, told a U.K. newspaper he thought homophobia was behind the decision. The spouses of bishops who had been divorced and remarried, he said, had been invited despite the Communion’s position on marriage being a lifelong union.

In their statement, the Toronto bishops called the decision not to invite same-sex spouses to the conference “troubling.”

“While we recognize that the issues involved in a decision of this nature are many-faceted, we wish to express our dismay and sadness at the pain that this causes all of us within the College of Bishops, but in particular Bishop Kevin and Mohan as our friends and co-labourers in the gospel,” the bishops said.

The bishops also said they expected the matter would be discussed at the meeting of the Anglican Church of Canada’s House of Bishops, which is meeting this week. They added that they “are united and stand in solidarity as sister and brother bishops in care and love for Bishop Kevin and Mohan,” and that they would all accept the invitation to attend Lambeth.

Meanwhile, the University of Kent, which is hosting the conference, said it had “received a large number of concerns raised by staff, students and members of the public” about the exclusion of same-sex spouses at the conference. In a joint statement, the university’s vice-chancellor and chair of council said the decision was “contrary to the values” of the University of Kent and that they hoped to meet with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and other organizers to discuss the issue.

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Tali Folkins
Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

6 COMMENTS

  1. And this is why (homophobia) I don’t attend the Anglican church any longer. Good luck to a dying church too afraid to truly follow the example of Christ.

  2. I think some people will leave the ACC if it does decide to condone sinful relationships in church, as they did after the decision to bless same-sex relationships. If you’re practicing an immoral way of life, why would you flaunt it at a convention of Christian leaders? Would a married bishop bring his mistress too?

  3. Well, Ian, the history of the church is rife with condoning sinful relationships and changing its mind on moral vs. immoral. Once upon a time (read Hippolytus of Rome, Basil of Caesarea, Martin of Tours, et alia), being in the military was considered incompatible with being a Christian and resignation from it was a prerequisite for baptism. Now the church accepts it without question, sometimes even honors it. Ditto for charging interest on money (a no-no until John Calvin changed that), remarriage after divorce, birth control… Seems the church changes its mind on many a thing over time. A married bishop bringing his mistress is an ad hominem non sequitur… We’re talking about legally married bishops here.

  4. I think the reason some churches who chose to believe in Biblical, Orthodox Christianity lost church buildings and land because of Orthodoxophobia. Orthodoxophobia is a growing trend in the U.S., and very alarming.

  5. What I cannot believe in this, my 80th year, is that any God-loving/ respecting individual has not recognized that the Creator created homosexuality with a purpose. That we have as yet – even after all these centuries – to understand why such was created and accepted that such is a gift through Nature, not a perversion or SIN of any kind, should not discourage us from embracing this reality nonetheless. And when in the course of the life of a man or a women so blessed with such an identity, he/she falls in love in the name of his/her faith and is prepared to commit that life THROUGH LOVE to another without reserve, surely the ‘home’/that ‘community’ where he/she celebrates should respond joyfully and in partnership. Really, we are talking about a same-gender union, not a flagrant sexual relationship. Bear in mind so much of the negative reaction to the very idea of a same-sex union is predicated for many on their being uncomfortable with that single word, SEX, perhaps without knowing it. I can only imagine how Jesus would respond to this concept of a same-GENDRE marriage…. WITH UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND BLESSINGS… Not with anger and prejudice and lack of understanding – that Jesus who was one of the world’s greatest teachers, leaders, and friends.

    • The bible is a revelation of God to us , the law is a revelation of God character which does not change. That makes it clear that homosexuality is a violation of His character. God established the framework for marriage in Gen.2 which Jesus reconfirmed in the gospels ,marriage is only between a man and a woman . Yes God is a God of Love but His love does not violate His Holiness, ….ever

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