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Religion: The Lesbian Priest

1 minute read

The Episcopal Church, which has just begun ordaining women as priests, added a new twist to that innovation last week. New York City’s liberal Bishop Paul Moore ordained the Rev. Ellen Barrett, 30, the denomination’s first openly committed homosexual priest of either sex. In an unusual last-minute plea to prevent the action, Colorado’s Bishop William Frey had wired Colleague Moore: “Ordination of practicing homosexuals does not represent the mind of the church and is plainly contrary to the teachings of Scripture which we have all sworn to uphold.”

During Barrett’s ordination service, another priest, James Wattley, spoke out against it as a “travesty and a scandal.” Moore answered that “many persons with homosexual tendencies are presently in the ordained ministry,” and that Barrett was “highly qualified intellectually, morally and spiritually to be a priest.”

Barrett, who has been studying for a doctorate in social ethics at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, goes somewhat beyond “homosexual tendencies.” She has said candidly that her relationship with her lesbian lover “is what feeds the strength and compassion I bring to the ministry.” She also believes that “homosexuality is an alternative life-style that can be a good and creative thing.”

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