September 21, 2007
To the Clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This is a very difficult letter to write as your bishop and colleague in the ordained ministry, and I hope that you will receive it in the prayerful spirit in which it is offered. A pastoral letter to the people of the diocese will follow in a few days. At the House of Bishops meeting about to be convened in New Orleans, my intention is to ask them for permission to begin the process to resign as diocesan bishop. The bishops must give their consent, and then I will step down by the end of the year.
The reason for this decision is that my conscience is deeply troubled about where the Episcopal Church is heading, and this has become a crisis for me because of my ordination vow to uphold its doctrine, discipline, and worship. An effective leader cannot be so conflicted about the guiding principles of the Church he serves. It concerns me that this has affected my ability to lead this diocese with a clear and hopeful vision for its mission. I also have sensed how important it is for those of us in this position to model a gracious way to leave the Episcopal Church in a manner respectful of its laws.
I believe that God’s call to us is always positive, always a to and not a from. At the clergy conference next week I hope to be able to share something of this. Many of you already know of my love for the Catholic Church and my conviction that this is the true home of Anglicanism. I will not dwell on this, however, so as not to lose sight of my responsibility to help lay a good foundation for the transition that you must now lead.
I also want to acknowledge with gratitude the pastoral support I have received from the Presiding Bishop and her office during this time. She has offered to visit, and I have invited her to be with us at the clergy conference the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 26, and perhaps also for that evening, for mutual conversation and the opportunity to know each other better in this time reserved for the clergy. I hope that you all can be present.
This has been an extraordinarily difficult decision to make because of the bonds I share with you and the people of this diocese. It has indeed been a privilege to serve alongside you these past seven years. With deep feelings I write, with regret for how this may complicate your own ministry, with profound gratitude for your prayers and support, and with much love for you. I pledge to you my prayers and friendship in these days to come.
Your brother in Christ,