Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thursday March 22: A.M. Press Roundup re: Bishops' meeting

Kendall has posted a bunch of stories from the U.S. and the U.K. concerning the U.S. House of Bishops meeting. Here they are:

USA Today: Episcopal bishops reject ultimatum
March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:48 am

Through a spokesman Wednesday, [Arhcbishop Rowan] Williams called the bishops’ resolutions “discouraging” and added, “No one is underestimating the challenges.”

Williams had urged the House of Bishops to take action promptly without waiting to consult the second half of the U.S. church’s legislature, the House of Deputies. The two houses don’t meet again until the 2009 General Convention. U.S. bishops said they would not act without the convention.

At Wednesday’s news conference, Jefferts Schori called for the bishops to spend the summer in a churchwide discussion “about our identity as a church and as a member of the Anglican Communion.”

But to conservatives and liberals alike, the resolutions seemed clear.

Telling the Archbishop and the primate “to go take a walk is just astounding. It’s the clearest message I’ve seen that the Episcopal Church really does intend to walk apart from the Communion,” said the Rev. David Anderson of the American Anglican Council, which works with churches that dissent from the Episcopal Church.

But the Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints in Pasadena, Calif., president of the gay and lesbian group Integrity, saw the resolutions as “good news … for the whole church.”

Read it all.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Episcopal bishops reject Anglican demands

March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:45 am

The Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan Jr., bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese, attended the Texas meeting but did not respond to a request for comment.

[Bishop]… Duncan is leader of the Anglican Communion Network, an association of theologically conservative dioceses and parishes dissatisfied with recent actions by the Episcopal Church. The 2003 consecration of openly gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson has been the most divisive of those.

In a news conference yesterday after the meetings in Navasota concluded, the presiding bishop said the resolutions would be taken up by the Executive Council, a group of lay and clergy leaders that oversees the church.

The Rev. J. Robert Wright, historiographer of the Episcopal Church, called the resolutions “a very careless kind of statement” for their lack of specificity.

“What the resolutions do say is that what you, the primates, have proposed for us to do, we cannot see how to do it nor do we believe we should do it,” he said.

The Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, president and CEO of the conservative American Anglican Council, said the resolutions showed that the Episcopal Church was not willing to be a part of the wider Anglican Communion.

“The bishops’ rejection of the primates’ pastoral scheme is in fact further proof that such a plan is now needed more than ever to intervene on behalf of the orthodox in America,” Rev. Anderson said.

“A default on the part of the House of Bishops and her presiding bishop should not delay the implementation of the relief effort.”

Read the whole piece.

BBC: US bishops refuse Anglican demand

March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:42 am

US bishops have refused demands by the worldwide Anglican Communion to create a parallel church for those upset by its stance on homosexuality.

The Anglican bishops’ decision may move the American church significantly closer to splitting from the communion.

In a statement, the bishops said they wished to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

The American Episcopal Church ordained an openly gay bishop in 2003, sparking dozens of its own parishes to leave.

Last month, Anglican leaders threatened the Americans with expulsion unless they agreed to the appointment of a separate leader for the traditionalist wing.

Under the Anglican Communion’s plans, the separate church would have catered for traditionalist congregations, including seven entire dioceses.

It was to have its own version of an archbishop, answerable to the Communion itself.

Read the whole piece.

From the Newark Star-Ledger: U.S. Episcopal bishops reject call for a second leader

March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:38 am

The controversy dates to 2003, when the Episcopal Church approved an openly gay man, V. Gene Robinson, as New Hampshire’s bishop and authorized blessings for same-sex unions in dioceses where bishops allow them.

Since then, Anglican conservatives in America and abroad — especially in Africa — who oppose gay ordinations have criticized or moved to break ties with the Episcopal Church.

“The bishops’ rejection of the primates’ pastoral scheme is in fact further proof that such a plan is now needed more than ever to intervene on behalf of the orthodox in America,” said the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council, a traditionalist Episcopal group that opposed Robinson’s ordination.

The archbishop of Canterbury has been trying to keep the peace. Yesterday Williams released a statement saying he found the bishops’ resolution “discouraging.”

David Steinmetz, a Christian- history professor at Duke University Divinity School, said: “The archbishop of Canterbury is trying to hold everything together. The difficulty is, … holding everything together means there would be a certain kind of split in the American church, with a primatial vicar who would be the leader of a conservative wing of the church, and then the current presiding bishop (Schori) who would be in charge of the rest of the parishes and dioceses.”

Several observers of church politics said they were surprised the bishops acted so far in advance of the Sept. 30 deadline.

The controversy dates to Lambeth 1998, please remember that. Read it all.

From the Houston Chronicle: Episcopal bishops spurn demands from Anglicans

March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:35 am

The bishops also called for an urgent, face-to-face meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the titular head of the 77 million-member worldwide church.

There was no immediate response to their request, but Williams issued a statement calling the actions of the House of Bishops “discouraging.” He indicated a need for further discussion. However, he told U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori last month that his calendar was booked for the rest of the year, she said.

The U.S. bishops are facing a Sept. 30 deadline set by the leaders of the Anglican Communion to agree not to authorize any rites of blessings for same-sex unions and not to consecrate any bishop who is living in a same-sex relationship.

Bishop Mark Sisk of New York said they did not discuss the moratorium request. But Bishop Ed Little of Indiana said there was widespread agreement that gays and lesbians were welcomed and beloved as members of the church.

In their closing statement, the bishops proclaimed belief that “all God’s children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church.”

Jefferts Schori said the bishops discussed the strains within the communion. She said U.S. bishops would spend the summer listening to church members’ concerns about the issues, then meet again in September.

“These issues are not going to go away,” she said of the sexuality debate. “In large part it’s been this church’s gift to keep the conversation going. I think it’s a part of us, however much some of us would prefer that we not have to do it. It’s God’s gift to us.”

Read it all.

From the NY Times: Episcopal Church Rejects Demand for a 2nd Leadership

March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:33 am

The primates had also asked the Episcopal Church to pledge not to consecrate partnered gay bishops, and to stop authorizing blessings of same-sex couples. The bishops, while not addressing those demands for a moratorium directly, reiterated their commitment to the full inclusion of “all God’s people,” including gay men and lesbians, in church life.

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, said the bishops would spend the summer consulting with church members to develop a more complete response to the primates by September.

She said that she had previously asked the archbishop of Canterbury to visit the United States and been told that his calendar was full, but that she would ask him again.

“There is some belief in this house that other parts of the Communion do not understand us very well,” she said at a news conference after the bishops’ meeting.

The archbishop of Canterbury issued a two-sentence response on Wednesday, saying that the bishops’ statement was “discouraging and indicates the need for further discussion and clarification.” He added, “No one is underestimating the challenges ahead.”

What really agitated the American bishops was the primates’ insistence that the Episcopal Church accept a parallel authority structure composed of a “primatial vicar” and a five-member “pastoral council,” a majority of whose members would have been appointed by the primates. Bishops said they had a sense of urgency because names of potential pastoral council members were already being proposed.

Read it all.

From the Washington Post: Episcopal Bishops in U.S. Defy Anglican Communion

March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:31 am

In Tanzania, the primates gave the U.S. bishops until Sept. 30 to meet their demands or face unspecified “consequences,” which could include not being invited to the next worldwide gathering of Anglican bishops at Britain’s Lambeth Palace in 2008.

Jefferts Schori joined the other primates in issuing the Tanzania communique. But she said yesterday that her agreement consisted only of a promise to bring it back for consideration. She described the bishops’ action as a recommendation to the entire U.S. church, and noted that the bishops will meet again in September.

Chane, who is widely viewed as a liberal bishop, said the primates’ demands “galvanized” his colleagues. “I think the primates underestimated how the bishops would respond, because until now we’ve been rather passive,” he said. “My personal feeling is, they overplayed their hand.”

Martyn Minns, bishop of a Virginia-based mission of the Church of Nigeria and a leading U.S. conservative, said that after Tanzania, “I thought there was some genuine hope that we’d find a way forward, and this has upset that quite significantly.”

Read the whole article.

From the LA Times: Episcopal-Anglican rift deepens

March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:29 am

The Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, who attended the Texas meeting, said the bishops’ discussions were thoughtful and without rancor.

“The attitude of the House of Bishops was the best I’ve seen it in a long time,” Bruno said in a cellphone interview as he left the meeting.

“We were all working together, people of progressive and conservative stances.”

Bruno also said the bishops intended by their action to make it clear that despite the primates’ directives, the bishops would not take action on their own.

Significant decisions in the U.S. church, unlike those of Anglicans elsewhere, are generally made at conventions that include all orders of the ministry — bishops, clerics and laity — or by the executive council, which also includes all orders.

“We are giving our thoughts to the executive council of the church,” Bruno said. The council, on which Bruno sits, is scheduled to meet in New Jersey in June, with another meeting of the Episcopal bishops set for September.

Also Wednesday, New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, whose consecration as the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop sparked worldwide controversy, said the meeting in Texas had been calm and peaceful.

In the letter, Robinson said, the majority of the bishops, both progressive and conservative, saw the primates’ demand for a special vicar as “an unfair, illegal and wholly unprecedented assault” on the governance and “internal integrity of the Episcopal Church.”

Read it all.


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