Friday, June 23, 2006

Religion & Ethics Newsweekly: Episcopal Church Convention Aftermath

(posted for Kendall -- he doesn't yet have a separate login to post on this backup site.)

BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: At its General Convention this week, the Episcopal Church elected as its leader, for the next nine years, Katharine Jefferts Schori, now Bishop of Nevada. She becomes the first woman to be chosen presiding bishop in any part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Meanwhile, Episcopalians remain sharply divided over ordaining as a bishop anyone who is gay. They tried again this week to find an agreement but seemed to satisfy no one, as Kim Lawton reports from Columbus, Ohio.


LAWTON: Clergy and lay representatives here spent nine days in protracted, often painful, debate about how the Episcopal Church should respond to worldwide concerns about issues of homosexuality.

The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the 77-million-member Anglican Communion. Many Anglicans were outraged in 2003 when the last General Convention approved the consecration of Gene Robinson, an openly gay bishop, and voted to permit the blessing of same-sex unions. An emergency Communion report called on the U.S. to impose a moratorium on gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions until some new consensus emerges.Church leaders here were deadlocked over how to respond. On the last day of the General Convention, the outgoing Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, visibly frustrated, urged the adoption of a compromise resolution in order to maintain unity. His successor-elect supported that, even as she endorsed the full inclusion of gays in the church.

Bishop JEFFERTS SCHORI (to delegates): I don't find this an easy thing to say to you, but I think that is the best we're going to manage at this point in our church's history.

LAWTON: In the end, the convention approved the measure, which calls on the church not to consecrate any bishops "whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider Church." It doesn't mention same-sex blessings.

Bishop FRANK GRISWOLD (Presiding Bishop, Episcopal Church, at press conference): What I term the "diverse center" has finally found its voice. We are going to stand together in all our diversity as one church committed to one mission.

LAWTON: Many gay and lesbian Episcopalians felt betrayed.

Reverend SUSAN RUSSELL (President, Integrity): And, I think Jesus is weeping at this moment, not only for the gay and lesbian people who've been told yet again that they're second-class Christians. No matter how you couch it, that's what got said in there.


LAWTON: Conservatives also criticized the resolution, saying it didn't go far enough.

Canon KENDALL HARMON (Diocese of South Carolina): So this is a church that's using weak words to try to paper over a big chasm and did this last-minute gesture that falls far short of what we're asked. I think you saw an American church that wanted to go its own way.

Read it all. and don't miss all the related materials and links at the bottom of the page.


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