Douglas LeBlanc: Requests for APO leave ECUSA guessing
Requests for alternative Primatial oversight leave ECUSA guessing
By Douglas LeBlanc
SIX DIOCESES in the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA) have sought alternative Primatial oversight, . In two of the dioceses - Fort Worth (Texas) and San Joaquin (based in Fresno, California) - the bishops do not ordain women to the priesthood, but in the other four they do.
The size of the dioceses varies: 10,000 baptised members in San Joaquin, 18,000 in Fort Worth, 20,000 in both Pittsburgh and Springfield (Illinois), 30,000 in South Carolina, and 44,000 in Central Florida.
They object to the beliefs expressed by Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop-elect, both in her voting record on human sexuality and in her first sermon to General Convention, with its reference to Jesus as Mother. And they express concern about what message ECUSA may have sent to the Anglican Communion by electing a woman Primate.
The Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt Revd Jack Iker, wrote to his diocese on 28 June: “No one is going to take from us our faith or our beliefs, our buildings or our prayer books, our scriptures or our creeds, our clergy or our bishop.”
The requests have been criticised. The Presiding Bishop, the Most Revd Frank Griswold, borrowed the Windsor report’s language of “walking apart” to suggest that the dioceses had schismatic intentions.
Some Episcopalians have asked what alternative Primatial oversight would mean, since US Presiding Bishops exercise little oversight as such. They may plead with a bishop who is deeply at odds with a diocese, or may intervene in cases of misconduct, but they generally enjoy only as much deference as a diocesan is willing to offer.
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