A Sexual Showdown

Will the bishops of the Episcopal Church tacitly embrace the new morality?

Never underestimate the power of sex to rile even such a relatively unflappable body as the Episcopal Church. The influential 2.5 million-member denomination has tolerated more progressive behavior than most Protestant groups; some liberal dioceses have held same-sex marriages and ordained gay clergy. Yet official church doctrine has always opposed such practices. Now a hot debate is erupting over a proposed "pastoral teaching" that would give liberationists more leeway than ever before.

The document, produced by a panel chaired by New York City's Bishop Richard Grein, uses carefully vague language aimed at mollifying conservatives. Yet it avoids endorsing a 1979 resolution,...

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