It isn’t often that someone in a clerical collar and pectoral cross is caught in a flat-out, bold-faced, demonstrable whopper. Such, however, was the fate of Los Angeles Episcopal Bishop Jon J. Bruno at a press conference in New Orleans last night. Here’s the exchange between Bruno and a New York Times reporter:
NYT: How is the [Dar es Salaam] communiqué different from the desires of conservatives who wish for you to reverse course on sexuality issues. Doesn’t the communiqué ask you to reverse course in the same way. How can you distinguish between what the conservatives want you to do and the Communique asks you to do?
Bruno: You have asked whether we will continue the process of General Convention. The fact is that we have never authorized same sex unions.
NYT: it happens on the diocesan level all the time.
Bruno: Not in my diocese. It does not happen with my permission.
NYT: But it happens in many dioceses on a private level. How do the questions of the communiqué differ from what conservatives want?
Bruno: I’ve answered it as best I can. If I were to answer it any more clearly we would break the promises we made in the house.
The Times reporter was probably really baffled by this response because of something that appeared in her paper on Sunday:
Robert Walter Stanley and Robert Karl Marohn celebrated their union yesterday at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills, Calif. The Rev. Gabriel Ferrer led the commitment ceremony. The Rev. Maryetta Anschutz, also an Episcopal priest, participated.
This is only the latest, of course. StandFirm this morning offers a whole slew of public same-sex blessings that have taken place in the Diocese of Los Angeles, including one in which Bruno himself participated:
On May l6, 2004, Bishop Bruno of Los Angeles blessed the union of Malcolm and Mark Thompson in a ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral, on the 20th anniversary of their life partnership. Mark, former cultural editor of the Advocate newsmagazine, is a therapist, photographer, activist, editor of “Long Road to Freedom: the Advocate History of the Gay and Lesbian Movement,” and author of a famed trilogy: “Gay Spirit,” “Gay Soul” and “Gay Body.”
It is not known whether Bishop Bruno gave himself permission to take part in this blessed event. It is certainly possible that, like all the others happening in his diocese, this one was a rogue operation by an out-of-control cleric.
UPDATE: Bruno has apparently learned a thing or two from Richard Nixon. According to the Rev. Susan Russell, president of the gay caucus Integrity and an occasional performer of same sex blessings in DioLA:
When contacted by The Living Church, the Rev. Susan Russell, associate rector at All Saints’ Church, Pasadena, and president of Integrity, clarified the apparent contradiction.
“Same-sex blessings occur in the Diocese of Los Angeles all the time,” she said listing several parishes including her own at which same-sex blessings had recently been performed. “We don’t ask for permission because Bishop Bruno has told us that he cannot give it until General Convention approves an official liturgy. He has told us that we are free to exercise appropriate pastoral care” for parishoners.
Yeah, and I’ll bet she and Bruno never bought it when Nixon did it.
UPDATE: The Times reporter in question is Neela Banerjee, who is female. I’ve corrected the pronoun above to reflect that. (Hat tip: Irenaeus.)