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A Letter from the Bishop of Rio Grande to his Clergy

Sunday, September 23, 2007 • 8:00 am


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,
+Jeffrey Steenson


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Comments:

This is HUGE.

More to follow?????

[1] Posted by bigjimintx on 09-23-2007 at 08:07 AM • top

Catholic Church with a big “C”?

[2] Posted by wildfire on 09-23-2007 at 08:10 AM • top

Yes, this is very big news. A bishop of great integrity, gentleness and courage and dear friend of Anglican orthodoxy has written a letter to the clergy of his diocese. The letter, from Bishop Steenson, indicates that he will depart for Rome at the end of the year.

[3] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 09-23-2007 at 08:13 AM • top

hmmmmmmm. Let’s pray for the other bishops in ECUSA as well. If more were this honourable and honest, we would have a much easier time sorting all the nonsense out.

[4] Posted by soundbytes on 09-23-2007 at 08:15 AM • top

I made the jump principally because the ECUSA refused to deal with Bishop Spong’s heresies.

[5] Posted by Jeremiah on 09-23-2007 at 08:22 AM • top

+Steenson has done this graciously and humbly. Pray for him and his flock.

[6] Posted by R. Scott Purdy on 09-23-2007 at 08:25 AM • top

Yes, this is very big news. A bishop of great integrity, gentleness and courage and dear friend of Anglican orthodoxy has written a letter to the clergy of his diocese. The letter, from Bishop Steenson, indicates that he will depart for Rome at the end of the year.

But does it?  Does “Catholic” mean Roman?

I had the priviledge of sitting in a seminar with then-Canon Steenson literally days before his consecration and found him to be all that you describe (and brilliant as well).  It is truly a great loss.

Prior to becomming Canon to the Ordinary to former Bishop Kelshaw Bishop Steenson served as Rector of both St. Andrew’s, Fort Worth (very Protestant, Low Church, 1928 BCP with MP as usual service in an Anglo-Catholic Diocese) and Good Shepherd, Rosemont, Pennsylvania (Anglo-Catholic parish until recently in a revisionist diocese).  The difference in churchmanship at the two is, to say the least, ecclectic!

But I still wonder if “Catholic” necessarily means Roman.

[7] Posted by Drew on 09-23-2007 at 08:26 AM • top

Drew, it does mean Rome. This has been confirmed.

[8] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 09-23-2007 at 08:30 AM • top

Bishop Steenson is among the finest…  Kind, faithful, gracious, loving…yet full of conviction and integrity.  My prayers are with him and his family…

In Christ,

David Roseberry

[9] Posted by DHR on 09-23-2007 at 08:34 AM • top

This is so sad.  I am happy that he has served so wonderfully and is such a true man of God, but this is a huge loss to Anglicanism.  Blessings to him as he goes where he is called, and prayers for all those in Rio Grande.

[10] Posted by Spencer on 09-23-2007 at 08:47 AM • top

ROBBO the Llamabutcher started it!  Actually, +Steenson joins Albany’s +Herzog in swimming the Tiber.  And I’m sure many others are considering it.  Wonder if there will be a sale on swimming suits.  But not for us L2.

[11] Posted by The Lakeland Two on 09-23-2007 at 08:54 AM • top

Pray for his parishes too - including the ones he “oversighted” - one in Arizona, one in California - God please provide for them, and bless the faithfulness of this gentle bishop

[12] Posted by Eren on 09-23-2007 at 08:56 AM • top

What a mess!!!

[13] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 09-23-2007 at 08:57 AM • top

Do you think any of it has to do with that sale of the Cathedral?  I am sure 815 was very unhappy with that.

N

[14] Posted by nette on 09-23-2007 at 09:00 AM • top

I’m shocked.  Our former asst in MD and his family left MD on 9/10, so looking forward to having a faithful bishop to work with. 

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_87489_ENG_HTM.htm contains this gem:


(Bonnie) Anderson drew applause when she promised that “the leadership of the Episcopal Church will never leave you alone, remember that.”
At the same time, she urged, “when Bishop Steenson tells you that he is not going to remove the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande out of the Episcopal Church, try to believe that.”


__Try__ to believe your bishop, but if you can’t, yeeeeeee-hawwwwww!  815 to the rescue!!!!  Ride ‘em, Cowgirl!  (or maybe it shd be “Fly ‘em, Cowgirl”?)  TEC leadership will never leave you.  (Somehow, I find more comfort in the idea of God never leaving me, how ‘bout you?)  I can’t draw my way out of a bag, but the cartoon vision of Schori in her plane, buzzing Rio Grande, Pgh, et al, w/ her stole and mitre a la WWI pilot, comes to mind. 

Good Shepherd, Rosemont, Pennsylvania (Anglo-Catholic parish until recently in a revisionist diocese). 

Is Good Shepherd no longer A-C?  Or has it somehow left PA?  When was +Steenson there?

[15] Posted by maineiac on 09-23-2007 at 09:06 AM • top

If I were clergy in the Diocese of Rio Grande, I would be devastated by the loss of this Bishop, as I am sure the laity will be as well.  What I do question is his inviting the PB to attend the conference.  If he can’t go where TEC is going, why influence those he is leaving by this invitation?  I am sincere in asking this question and I would appreciate sincere answers.

[16] Posted by Dee in Iowa on 09-23-2007 at 09:11 AM • top

Makes Sarah Hey’s interview with
Bp. Steenson from Friday even more interesting.

[17] Posted by tdunbar on 09-23-2007 at 09:11 AM • top

On September 30 I celebrate my last day at Christ Church in Paradise Valley, AZ, a parish under Bishop Steenson’s good care.  The parish will split and a good number of faithful people will be realigning on October 1 with another province in the Anglican Communion.  After threats from the diocesan, the faithful decided not to fight for the property but to leave it and move on. 

On October 1 I begin as priest in charge of Holy Faith parish in Santa Fe.  I was so looking forward to serving under Bishop Steenson.  My heart is broken—not just for him, but for the diocese he has led so faithfully and with such grace.  I can’t say I am sorry to miss the clergy conference this week as I am packing to leave Arizona.  The PB has nothing to say to me.  Pray for the Church.

[18] Posted by Kenneth Semon on 09-23-2007 at 09:20 AM • top

God bless and prosper your ministry, Kenneth.  And that of faithful people all around the Southwest.

[19] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 09-23-2007 at 09:24 AM • top

Dee in Iowa,  I wondered exactly the same thing.  I saw the interview with Sarah Hey and thought he was a very nice man to maintain such composure while in the middle of that storm.  Generally, I think bishops should maintain the comittment they made to their flock at their consecration—not wander off on their own into some new area.  There are plenty of Anglican traditionalists who could benefit from association with a bishop like him.  Why doesn’t he stay and help us?

[20] Posted by GB on 09-23-2007 at 09:33 AM • top

GB, it is a tough one.  I think it was +Duncan who said something like, “If I weren’t a bishop, I would have left TEC long ago.”  Parish clergy feel the same thing - if not for the souls of parishioners, why stay and put up with an awful diocese and denomination?

At the same time, what +Steenson says is absolutely true: there comes a point where one’s values are so different from an organization that there is not choice but to leave.  Neither party benefits from such an unhealthy arrangement.  The dissonance it creates ultimately confuses and fails the lay people.

Now I’m rambling and arguing both sides - but that is the confusion that TEC’s corruption creates, and why we need to be merciful to those who stay and those who leave.

[21] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 09-23-2007 at 09:42 AM • top

I am so sorry, Fr Semon, to hear about Christ Church - a beautiful parish, it is heartbreaking to learn this. But nothing that diocese does surprises me and I’ve never regretted leaving it.

I will pray for you and your new parish and the diocese itself.

[22] Posted by Eren on 09-23-2007 at 09:42 AM • top

GB, one more thought (really a question): to what extent did the traditionalists in that area organize and reach out to +Steenson for support?  I know his diocese was largely supportive…but what about others who were inactive or in Common Cause groups?

Too often, orthodox clergy get “supportive” notes like, “I left TEC and it is about time someone spoke up for orthodoxy.  Now, I’m too old/tired/busy to get involved, but I’m glad you spoke up and if you get a church started, let me know.” 

I know of at least one very orthodox TEC congregation in the SW where a priest and a small group (less than 20) left to go AMiA.  In terms of supporting guys like +Steenson, that’s about as helpful as…well, Bonnie Anderson’s visit.

[23] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 09-23-2007 at 09:50 AM • top

Timothy Fountain—well, I would say that if Bishop Steenson had decided to leave TEC anyway, he could have gone to AMiA with the group of 20!  That’s what I would have done—and have done twice before in my life.  It’s worth the effort.

[24] Posted by GB on 09-23-2007 at 10:00 AM • top

I could hear his anguish in the interview that Sarah did with him.
He is a kind, gentle faithful man of God and he is correct in realizing there is no place for someone with his convictions in TEC. I wish he would stay and help to rebuild orthodox Anglicanism in North America, but I am sure God is guiding the decision he has made.  Wherever he goes, he will be a blessing to the flock of Jesus Christ put in his care.

[25] Posted by BettyLee Payne on 09-23-2007 at 10:02 AM • top

This letter is what I found in my mailbox yesterday afternoon. This is what I wrote a close DRG clergy friend who also feels angry.

+Jeffrey was elected to lead in holding us together and now he has chosen to fold and walk away. I feel betrayed.

This announcement and forthcoming action will exacerbate the simple fractures to come into compound fractures. It wont be pretty, probably starting with clergy conference. Only a miracle in NO can change the unfolding script. Without
that???

IMO, To bring ++KJS in without facing us first as clergy alone in conference is a bad mistake. She will not have as full a house as might have been possible at a later date. The other woman isn’t welcome in the house the week after dad has announced he’s moving out.

[26] Posted by Bob Maxwell+ on 09-23-2007 at 10:05 AM • top

Again - I am sincere - I don’t question his leaving and his destination is of his choice, but why, oh why did he invite the PB to a clergy conference?  Is he trying to control the diocese though he is leaving?  He promised to not take the diocese out of TEC, is this his way of making sure they don’t leave even after he is gone?  The old sayings - letting (by invitation) the fox into the hen house - comes to mind.

[27] Posted by Dee in Iowa on 09-23-2007 at 10:10 AM • top

This is very sad news - Bishop Steenson is my DEPO bishop in San Diego. I’m not sure where that leaves us now.

[28] Posted by Branford on 09-23-2007 at 10:10 AM • top

Is this just battle fatigue or just the slow drip of forty years of poison?  Without a shepherd the sheep will scatter and then the wolves will come and destroy them.  Arise, O Lord and defend your elect and raise an army of defenders to destroy the enemy and his henchmen.  Kyrie Eleison!

[29] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 09-23-2007 at 10:18 AM • top

This puts rather a new light on the departure of <a >St. Clement’s</a>.

Recall that +Steenson, consecrated as coadjutor in January ‘05, was working on a <a >Virginia Protocol-type policy</a> for parishes wishing to leave back in the fall of 2006.  Then of course came the New Years’ crackdown from 815.

But once he decided to resign, 815 no longer had any power over him, so he could sign St. Clement’s manumission papers with no fear of reprisal.  A fitting final Godly gesture from a Godly bishop.

[30] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 09-23-2007 at 10:18 AM • top

I would say that if Bishop Steenson had decided to leave TEC anyway, he could have gone to AMiA with the group of 20!

I do not know Bishop Steenson personally and do not know his mind and heart.  But I do know that deciding to enter full communion with the Catholic Church is not like joining a different denomination.  I am quite confident that Bishop Steenson is not just leaving the Episcopal Church because of his disagreements with the present direction of the Episcopal Church.  He is leaving TEC because he has finally become so convinced of the truth of the Catholic claims that he can no longer in conscience remain separated from the Bishop of Rome.

[31] Posted by FrKimel on 09-23-2007 at 10:27 AM • top

As a former ECUSA Priest and one who has given up on TEC and crossed the Tiber about a year ago, may I say that I was too bound by blind pride too see the obvious. Catholic does mean Roman, despite the many voices who gainsay it. What a joy it is now for me to follow Christ rather those who reappraise his Truth. May God save the brave Bishop and preserve him from all harm.

[32] Posted by Gone missing on 09-23-2007 at 10:31 AM • top

Good Morning!

As the leaves are beginning to turn on a crystal clear day in Southwest Vermont, I can’t help but having my faith strengthened by what I see out the window.  There is an old saying that God works in mysterious ways.  I’m hopeful that, someday, there will be an explanation of just why not only the Anglican Communion but all of Christianity has to witness what TEC leadership is doing to a church that all of us admire and respect, or we did anyway.  A church that has guided our nation since and before the American Revolution and has provided us and the world with such great leaders.

No matter what your branch of Christianity, I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say Bishop Steenson is that rare individual who not only practices what he preaches, but obviously had the calling to serve others and does so unselfishly.  I, and I know all of you, pray for him and I know that Our Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit will continue to guide him.  As a born and baptized Roman Catholic, who was educated in Episcopal schools, I understand his decision to join the Catholic Church.  We’ve all had issues with our faiths.  Mine was the priest abuse scandal that has tarnished so many good priests who have done their jobs and served God.  Wherever he goes, I hope he finds peace, faith, love and has a sense of accomplishment.

Perhaps I am a bit harsh, but I find great fault with R.C. bishops who covered up abusers and made excuses.  I also find great fault for TEC leadership including Bishops Schori, V. Gene Robinson and far too many others, who have put their own agenda, gratification and desires far ahead of their duties to serve God and their flocks.  This should by no means be taken as slight or slap at our LGBT brothers and sisters.  I make the statement in great sadness as TEC continues to self-destruct and seems more interested in earthly possessions (i.e. real property of congregations they have driven out of TEC).  I salute all of you here who have had the courage to return to and keep the Anglican faith as it has been handed down for centuries.  The Anglican Catholic, CANA and others offer hope for the future.  It is my great hope that as the leader of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury will have the strength to either bring TEC back into the fold or sever the ties to the Communion.  This is no time to be a mugwump.

I have no hatred for those who have ignored the scriptures, ten commandments and centuries of doctrine.  Just a great sadness at what has transpired.  My prayers are with all of you and I hope yours are with me as we try to move forward as Christians as our Lord, Jesus Christ, has not only taught us but by his sacrifice and love for us.  Peace on the glorious autumn day.

[33] Posted by JWM on 09-23-2007 at 10:34 AM • top

Perhaps I missed something in Sarah’s interview with Bp Steenson, but I thought him to have been an evangelical. If it is in fact certain that he is going with Rome do you honestly think that they will recognize his orders? He will most likely get the same reception as did Bp Herzog. I do not pretend to know what is in the man’s heart; but I cannot believe that God is “calling” anyone to cross the Tiber. To go from one Church that is in error to the Mother Church of error makes absolutely no sense.

[34] Posted by RMBruton on 09-23-2007 at 10:41 AM • top

I am fairly choking with grief at this news. DRG has been a refuge, an oasis in the SW between so-called moderate dioceses. I know it was a shelter for the [beautiful beyond words] parish in Arizona and can only imagine it was the same for the California congregations.

I am newly amazed at TECUSA’s capacity for destruction. I repent of my bitterness and pray that the Lord will take it, forgive me, and grant me the grace to forgive TECUSA. I left once as a child, I should never have gone back. I pray for all of you who may feel called to stay in Egypt, but it has become unbearable for me.

[35] Posted by Enough on 09-23-2007 at 10:46 AM • top

Branford:

I believe we are in the same parish.  This is hard news for me as well, but I have some sense that this may be good for us.  I think many will now realize that we can no longer simply be in a holding pattern.  And I pray that God will use this to form us into a stronger family.

[36] Posted by young joe from old oc on 09-23-2007 at 10:51 AM • top

I too am disappointed in Bp Steenson.  I had hoped he would demonstrate his leadership and take his diocese to a better place.  I understand his frustration, but why the invitation to KJS?  Why, dear God did he do that?  What now happens to the faithful in Dio. of Rio Grande?  Without a strong leader, who there will stand up for them against the heretics at 815?  South Carolina at least has a strong leader in waiting.  We don’t need our leaders to quit!  We need them to lead.  To be “honorable” and resign when the goal is in sight is tantamount to capitulation.  Lets call a spade a spade, shall we—this is nothing more than cowardice.  May God have mercy.

[37] Posted by Donal Clair on 09-23-2007 at 11:07 AM • top

For myself, I cannot (at least as yet) go to Rome. BUT, I do have this to say:

Rome may be wrong on ” Papal inerrancy”, purgatory, asking the saints to intercede, etc.  BUT, whether we like it or not, WE STAND ON THEIR SHOULDERS.

If there hadn’t been a Catholic Church way back when, if there hadn’t been Catholic popes (wrong or right), and if they had not paved the way for us, there might not be a Christian church of any kind.

I am so sick of RC bashing, at times we are such ungrateful wretches.

And, whether we like it or not, RC is “home”, and all the criticism in the world won’t do away with that fact.

One might look at it like some of us see our parents.  Until we realize they did the best they could with what they “knew” we cannot forgive them for perceived wrongs.  And, I know that from personal experience.

We are not all made for battle, especially the older folk. We fight as long as possible, but sometimes it is too much to ask. And, sometimes the “battle” came upon us unaware.

Please, no more RC bashing, here or elsewhere.  Do you believe our Roman friends are NOT Christian?  Well they are, and we claim to be.
Sorry for the “rant” but its been on my mind for a while.

God Bless this dear, Christian, man, Via Con Dios.
Grannie Gloria

[38] Posted by Grandmother on 09-23-2007 at 11:28 AM • top

[Also posted on T19:]

Ouch—-and ouch again! Once for Bp. Steenson’s resignation. Once for losing him to Rome.
_ _ _ _ _ _

Bp. Steenson’s interview with Sarah Hey stands out as the most edifying thing I have seen or heard during this meeting of the House of Bishops. ECUSA’s dissimulations (predictable as they were) have left me so exasperated that I’ve stopped commenting at times rather than say more than I should. Bp. Steenson’s loving serenity answered this turmoil perfectly.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Who’s to know if prompt international Anglican discipline of ECUSA (e.g., in 2003-05) would have let Anglican Christianity retain people like Bp. Steenson.

But Abp. Williams—-with his chronic dithering, his repeated thwarting of primatial discipline, and his raft of unfulfilled reassurances to faithful orthodox leaders—-should recognize his own role in bringing matters to this point.

Departures like this impoverish us. With every month and every meeting in which Canterbury delays and derails international discipline of ECUSA, we lose more of our catholicity. I doubt we will get it back.

[39] Posted by Irenaeus on 09-23-2007 at 11:31 AM • top

Pray for Bishop Steenson.  One thing that troubles me is his invitation for Mrs. Schori to be present at his clergy conference.  For him to decide in good conscience that he must enter into full communion with Rome is one thing, to invite in a false teacher as he leaves is quite another.

[40] Posted by Phil on 09-23-2007 at 11:32 AM • top

My prayers go out to all of you in Rio Grande.  I can well imagine the hardships that await you.  I wonder—are there enough of you to either stand your ground and fight, or else abandon TEC, and leave it a “diocese” of empty buildings?  I ask this question in all charity, knowing nothing of your situation (and coming from a diocese where many of the remaining faithful are afraid of their own shadows!).  It would be a great act of witness.  May God be with you all.

[41] Posted by In Newark on 09-23-2007 at 11:37 AM • top

I don’t know this man.  I watched Sarah’s interview and thought he was in pain.
I now weep for this tragedy. 

Satan has a lot to answer for.

[42] Posted by naab00 on 09-23-2007 at 11:39 AM • top

At this stage +Steenson has not made any intimation that he will be seeking ordination within the Catholic Church. Regardless Rome will not recognise his Episcopal orders ( I do not know if he has the “Dutch Touch”, but all this would mean is that if he did seek ordination it would be conditional rather than unconditional ). With relation to drawing a comparison with Rome’s reception of +Herzog, there is a qualitative difference in circumstance - Herzog was originally a Catholic and converted to Episcopalianism. In Romes eyes he always remained a married Catholic layman and as such he could not seek ordination within the RCC even if he wanted to. The Pastoral Provision is not available to him.

[43] Posted by Conchúr on 09-23-2007 at 11:40 AM • top

I would add to what Grannie Gloria said: I have my issues with their dogmas too but criticizing Roman Catholicism from the standpoint of today’s TECUSA is swallowing camels while straining at gnats.

[44] Posted by Eren on 09-23-2007 at 11:45 AM • top

Even though I understand clearly what Bishop Steenson has done and I beleive him to be a godly man.  I too am disappointed he did not lead his flock to a better future than TEC.  This is not on the same trajectory set by the leadership of Bishop Kelshaw.

[45] Posted by David Wilson on 09-23-2007 at 11:45 AM • top

Donal Clair,  We do have faithful leaders that are standing as they have always stood.  (See the recently posted here interview on Anglicantv.org with Bishop Duncan). Praise God for those who at tremendous cost (not bloodshed, as Bishop Duncan points out as has happened to our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world) but still tremendous cost, are moving forward in Spirit and in truth to continue this blessing God has given to us in faithful Anglican Christianity. I wish Bishop Steenson would stay and be a leader for us in this, but pray that he will find peace in the way he has chosen. For those in his diocese and under his oversight, perhaps this is the moment when difficult choices must be faced to seek faithful leadership where many of us have found it, in those standing firm in “faith once for all entrusted to the saints” of the Global South.

[46] Posted by BettyLee Payne on 09-23-2007 at 11:47 AM • top

Amen! Grandmother aka Grannie Gloria. I fight RC bashing more than I would thing I’d have to.

[47] Posted by southernvirginia1 on 09-23-2007 at 12:08 PM • top

JWM and RM Bruton:

If Rome is in error, it is in error only a number of secondary matters, and not on core issues of doctrine and Faith.  Our current Anglican core doctrine and tradition (and I speak of the Communion’s core teaching as it is expressed in our formularies, our historic though murky commitment to the Church Fathers and in the resolutions of Lambeth conferences - not of episcopalianism, which has no core doctrine that has not been muddied and for which no discipline can be brought to bear) may soon have clear parameters, but for now is only theoretical.  If one can in good conscience accept papal infallibility and primacy (which is about the only central Roman Catholic teaching that is murky), then I would dare not stand in the way of that one whose heart has been drawn to find the fullness of apostolic wisdom and grace in its catholic fullness. 

I don’t accept the papal doctrines, but what is superior to them in our Anglican system of leadership?  It is not enough to simply claim that Holy Scripture is our standard, because Scripture always requires an authoritative interpreter to hold the church together.  The Articles do reserve that authority for the church, but even in the day the Articles were formed, the meaning of both “authority” and “church” was left to be determined not by those who held the highest spiritual offices in the English church, but to the Crown and Parliament.  As time has gone on, the real doctrinal power and leadership of the Church of England and the Communion has, in order to placate certain extreme evangelical and broad church sensibilities (and in the case of England, political leaders as well), really been left to local perspectives and priorities and ultimately, intellectual and theological trends and trendiness, and never to those who should have it, i.e., the faithful orthodox bishops working in concert with all of the faithful who have gone before them. 

My own sense of where that fullness lies is a more communitarian and conciliar one, and therefore, if I were to leave my beloved Anglican tradition, I would go further Eastward.  But how can we discourage someone from going where the creedal faith as it was received from the Apostles and fathers of the Church has always been upheld and taught?  Yes, dangerous doctrines have often been taught alongside of it in many parts of Roman Catholicism, but that Faith and especially the saving Power and the Lordship of Christ have never been diminished in Rome’s official teachings.

I agree that American Roman Catholicism has leadership problems almost as serious as ours, but its leaders are not allowed to play with those things that God uses to form the Life of Christ and the joy and wonder of the Holy Spirit within us.  Bishop Steenson will now be able to guide his flock through the gate without always having to make plans to find a new way to thwart and feed the wolves.

[48] Posted by young joe from old oc on 09-23-2007 at 12:40 PM • top

BettyLee Payne:  I concur that there are faithful leaders in various diocese and parishes in TEC.  God bless them!!!  I am just disappointed with Bp. Steenson because I thought he was one of them.  That he is orthodox is beyond question.  That he could have been so much more is the point that I make.  We need his leadership.  We are desperate for it.  Perhaps he is too old for the fight, perhaps a younger more energetic Bishop would/could lead the Diocese of Rio Grande to a future home outside of TEC.  I would welcome such a leader and pray that God will now deliver one soon.  I am anxious to see this through.  Years of waiting, talking hasn’t convinced TEC of their apostacy.  Everyone is tired of posturing.  Lets move on.  The moment is at hand - the GS are poised to act—who now will lead Dio. of Rio Grande?  We need Steenson.  We know it!  He knows it!  And now, he runs away?  Why???

[49] Posted by Donal Clair on 09-23-2007 at 12:41 PM • top

“Is Good Shepherd no longer A-C?  Or has it somehow left PA?  When was +Steenson there?”

Steenson was Rector from 1985 to 1989.  Hr preceded the current Rector, the Rt. Rev’d David Moyer, and succeeded Fr. Andrew Meade, who went on to be Rector of the Church of the Advent in Boston and is now Rector of St. Thomas, Fifth Avenue, in New York City (which is not too far, in turn, from the RC Blessed Sacrament parish, where Meade’s predecessor at Rosemont, Fr. George Rutler, is now the parish priest).

Good Shepherd, Rosemont, seceded from ECUSA and the Diocese of Pennsylvania in 2004.  A lawsuit over the property has been impending for some time, but it has been held back by Bishop Moyer’s ongoing lawsuit against PA Bp. Bennison for unfair and illegal dismisal from the clergy of his diocese, without any form of canonical process and trial.

“There are plenty of Anglican traditionalists who could benefit from association with a bishop like him.  Why doesn’t he stay and help us?”

and

“I would say that if Bishop Steenson had decided to leave TEC anyway, he could have gone to AMiA with the group of 20!  That’s what I would have done—and have done twice before in my life.  It’s worth the effort.”

Bishop Steenson is, and has long been, an Anglo-Papalist.  If you do not know that, then you know nothing about his ecclesiological beliefs and committments.

“Perhaps I missed something in Sarah’s interview with Bp Steenson, but I thought him to have been an evangelical.”

You thought wrong.  He is an Anglo-Papalist Anglo-Catholic —and, I might add, a firm opponent of WO (despite a letter Fr. Fr. Maxwell that made the rounds some months ago making claims to the contrary).  The fact that the majority of ordinands “in the pipeline” in his diocese are “orthodox” Evangelical women was an agony to him, as he respected their integrity, but felt unable to “ordain” them or to accept the “Orders” of those already “ordained.”

“... but why the invitation to KJS?  Why, dear God did he do that?”

Because, like it or not, she is the embodiment of what the Episcopal Church has become.  If I were in his shoes I would have done precisely the same thing—to bring home to his flock that she is their future if they remain in ECUSA; and indeed their present, since she will most likely consecrate whatever successor the diocese elects.  More “subtly,” perhaps, her presence will serve as a “wake-up call” that “the fort is betrayed, even of them that should defend it” and that those Rio Grande churchfolk who want to be “orthodox Anglicans” (whatever that means, since there are various and incompatible versions of “Anglican orthodoxy”) will have to leave TEC and preserve it elsewhere.

And finally, WELCOME HOME, BISHOP STEENSON!

[50] Posted by William Tighe on 09-23-2007 at 12:43 PM • top

And I think you are spot on William Tighe! And that w/o knowing the bishop or much about him. This is the way this business is seeming to play out.

Folks: get with the programme ECUSATECinc is PB Schori’s group and all that entails.

[51] Posted by southernvirginia1 on 09-23-2007 at 12:55 PM • top

Dr. Tighe:
I think your point regarding Dr. Schori is a good one.  However, I’m not sure that this is Bishop Steenson’s intent, especially in that he expresses gratitude for her “pastoral support”.  For a man who is finally breaking free, I would find this language a bit too diplomatic.

[52] Posted by young joe from old oc on 09-23-2007 at 12:57 PM • top

Nobody on this thread can doubt +Steenson’s sincerity, courage, or integrity.  There is an old proverb (I think it is Jewish) that states, “To thine own self be true.” 

He quite clearly stated the reasons for his resignation.  He cannot keep the vows he made as a bishop in a church that has veered so far from the path of truth.  We should be praying for God to give him the strength he is going to require for the upcoming months. 

Thank you, Sarah, for getting the interview that revealed this man’s heart.

[53] Posted by terrafirma on 09-23-2007 at 01:00 PM • top

Sad, sad, sad.

Here is a post from a faithful blogger in Alabama to her church, sent out just this morning with a link to the wonderful Steenson/Sarah Hey interview (with no knowledge of Steenson’s resignation):

“Dear Friends,
Do yourself a favor and listen to this 20 minute interview with Bishop Steenson from the diocese of the Rio Grande.  Sarah Hey asks some great questions and, especially when you get toward the end, you’ll find yourself smiling.  In my opinion, if men like
Bishop Steenson and Bishop Salmon, and well, Frank Limehouse and Walter Little are still in this fight, then I should be too!”

So very sad that we have lost this great voice on the side of Anglican orthodoxy….

[54] Posted by HeartAfire on 09-23-2007 at 01:01 PM • top

There are clearly some who believe that Anglicanism stands on the shoulders of Rome; I maintain that if it is to stand it must be on the shoulders of the English Reformers and those who paid with their lives such as Ridley and Latimer.

[55] Posted by RMBruton on 09-23-2007 at 01:10 PM • top

William T—I will admit I see your point about Schori. If this is Steenson’s thinking, it is a brilliant stroke. I would be gnashing my teeth in New Mexico.

[56] Posted by Gator on 09-23-2007 at 01:13 PM • top

Ken Semon—Best wishes and prayers for your move. I hope you have plenty of time for ski patrol.

[57] Posted by folchal on 09-23-2007 at 01:17 PM • top

This is undoubtedly a tragic event, for all of us, especially those of use in Rio Grande.  I think that Craig is most on target with his comments.  I was told yesterday, before this broke on Stand Firm, that the proximate cause of his resignation was a threat of deposition should he allow churches to depart in peace.  Unwilling to treat departing congregations as the enemy and unwilling to engage in a nasty, public battle with 815 he had no choice but to resign. 

I really don’t know what it up with inviting KJS.  My first thoughts were along the same lines as some in the thread.  That it is essentially reverse psychology intended to bring home to people what continuing in TCGC means.  But that seems too underhanded, especially given the way he sets her up in the letter.  Perhaps she really is nicer in person than she is made out to be in the reasserting blogsphere.  Indeed she probably is; few people are as bad in person as their caricatures, even if on the whole her reputation is warranted.

Pax Christi vobiscum,
Eluchil

[58] Posted by Eluchil on 09-23-2007 at 01:28 PM • top

This seems cowardly (to leave the faithful behind) and worse (to invite KJS).  Help me with the logic:  if +Steenson’s “conscience is deeply troubled about where the Episcopal Church is heading” then why does he not act as leader and encourage his clergy and laity to follow him out of TEC?  Others who have an equally troubled conscience have talked of taking their whole diocese out of TEC.  What he is planning to do may be a valid personal decision, but is anything but courageous leadership by a bishop of the church.

[59] Posted by hanks on 09-23-2007 at 01:28 PM • top

You are absolutely correct JMB, but whose shoulders did they stand on. My point was that the CATHOLIC Church was there before those martyrs. 
What if it hadn’t been? 
There would be NOTHING to reform, rebel against, or reform!

That’s all I meant..

Grannie Gloria

[60] Posted by Grandmother on 09-23-2007 at 01:29 PM • top

Eluchil:

Thanks for your comments and the additional background information.  I am at St. Michaels by the Sea in Carlsbad, CA, and Bishop Steenson was/is also my bishop.  However, I know that we will experience this loss with far less heaviness of heart than the faithful in the Diocese of the Rio Grande.  We will be earnestly praying for you.

[61] Posted by young joe from old oc on 09-23-2007 at 01:43 PM • top

But what about the congregations? Is he leaving them to the leadership of non-Christians? Is it so important to treat those leaders and their laws so graciously while neglecting the needs and hopes of faithful Christian Episcopalians who are looking for leadership within the Episcopal Church?

[62] Posted by Betty See on 09-23-2007 at 01:44 PM • top

We received the news on the way to church, and it is a blow.  We had small group prayer prior to Sunday School and following the worship service—different groups, both aware.  In the groups, we recalled

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

  In all circumstances, not for all circumstances.  The prayer sessions were so potent.  The joy in this situation is that as the props are knocked out from under us, we lean more and more on our Lord.

[63] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 09-23-2007 at 01:53 PM • top

Bishop Steenson has been a model of faithfulness and charity for so many of us, and for me in particular.  Losing him is a very sad thing, but we may pray that we will all be reunited on the far side of the Jordan.  God bless him.  He is a true pastor in God’s Church.

[64] Posted by Jordan Hylden on 09-23-2007 at 01:55 PM • top

In the 2 years I have been Catholic, I have loved our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in ways I could have never even conceived of as an Episcopalian. My faith is deeper, richer, truer, and much more of a challenge – which is as it should be. In the Catholic Church “inclusiveness”  is not just a buzz-word in the culture wars. It is actually incarnated in the people you see at Mass every week. It is the Universal, Catholic Church, not the Upscale, Elite Church. People think that the Catholic Church is about the Pope. Or about these Marian doctrines that – admittedly – are a bit foreign at first. Or they buy into the idea – perpetrated by the media – that most Catholic priests are sexual perverts and the bishops all ungodly functionaries whose sole function is to cover up (as if TEC could dare be self-righteous about any of that!).  It’s so easy to get distracted by some of this and to miss the whole point. The Roman Catholic Church is about following Our Lord Jesus, and the Church exists to help you do that. It’s not about making you feel good about your sins.  It’s hard sometimes, but at least my eyes are gazing where they should – at Our Lord. God bless you, Bishop Steenson.

[65] Posted by blissfully ignorant on 09-23-2007 at 01:55 PM • top

Dr. Peter Toon writes, “Jeffrey is an honest and good man and he is now about to do what his friends—and I count myself one—have been expecting, making the journey across the Tiber into the Roman Catholic Church. But rightly he seeks to put into good order what he leaves behind. Ithas been my privilege to know him since he became an Anglican and then attended Christ Church, Oxford.”

I agree that Bishop Steenson is a godly man.  He was my Anglican Polity professor at The Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadephia and instrumental in planting seeds of doubt in my mind about women priests, even though at the time I thought he was wrong.  I visited his parish in Rosemont, PA for meetings of what would become a vital Anglo-Catholic movement in that place.  He introduced me to the the service of the Blessed Benediction. Rome is his natural home, but I would have loved for him to come to Orthodoxy.

[66] Posted by Alice Linsley on 09-23-2007 at 02:01 PM • top

Rome and the EO condone idolatry, things fondly invented, as our articles put it. Bowing to statues, holding to purgatory, and praying to saints who can omnisciently hear prayer, is part and parcel of what the Reformation rejected. Do not leave one set of errors for another.

[67] Posted by Joel on 09-23-2007 at 02:05 PM • top

I read this before church this morning and I felt like I had been gut punched.  I pray for +Steenson, and I wish I had been given the opportunity to get to know him.  I trust he is listening to the call of God on his life, but that doesn’t make it any easier, or any less like one has just lost an ally in such an important struggle.

[68] Posted by Jody+ on 09-23-2007 at 02:07 PM • top

Betty See wrote:

But what about the congregations? Is he leaving them to the leadership of non-Christians?

Honestly, I can’t speak for any parish but my own.  The rector is a godly, orthodox priest and contingency plans do exist.  He said that he would try to get the church transfered to Quincy if reappraisers attain control of the convocation, but that may just be some sort of DEPO arrangement.  In that case, I don’t now what I’ll do.  Probably start going back to Mass.  Though I’m not ready to be received into the RCC, there isn’t another orthodox anglican church within 100 miles (I already drive 70 as it is).

Secondly, I would really appreciate it if we could avoid refighting the Reformation today.  Yes Rome has problems, or we’d all (or all of us Anglo-Catholics) would swim the Tiber, but the back and forth “Rome is the ancient Mother Church” “Rome is a den of apostasy” is neither edifying nor uplifting.

Pax Christi vobiscum,
Eluchil

[69] Posted by Eluchil on 09-23-2007 at 02:24 PM • top

<a >Joel</a>—
Priorities.  Whatever I may think of Roman distinctives (or Presbyterian or Lutheran distinctives, for that matter), +Steenson is leaving ECUSA for Christianity.  So I rejoice for him, and at the same time I grieve for our cause, which has lost yet another Godly defender of the Faith.

[70] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 09-23-2007 at 02:26 PM • top

Do not leave one set of errors for another.

A noble sentiment. But after the largest part of a life spent avoiding errors that threaten your life sometimes all you can do is decide what errors you can live with.

[71] Posted by Rocks on 09-23-2007 at 02:35 PM • top

As a reappraiser confirmed by +Steenson (and still under his oversight in +DRG), I’m very sad to see this. +Steenson has always been incredibly gracious and pastoral and a wonderful bishop. This is a real loss to TEC and the Anglican Communion. God bless you, Bishop Steenson, and may you have a pleasant and peaceful swim across the Tiber.

[72] Posted by PatrickB on 09-23-2007 at 02:37 PM • top

I’ve known Jeffrey Steenson for about five years - he and I serve on a Board together - and I think him one of the finest men I know.  I saw him shortly after the March Bishops’ meeting and he was clearly deeply hurt.  I’ve prayed for him since and believe that those prayers have been answered (not necessarily the answer I was hoping for).  Rather than try to explain any of his actions that some might be inclined to question (I think others above do an excellent job of it), I’d just say to trust Jeffrey.  He’s acted in accordance with his conscience, his theological and ecclesiastical understandings (both of which are deep and thoroughly orthodox), and should make any of us who know him proud.  God bless him.

[73] Posted by Daniel Muth on 09-23-2007 at 03:01 PM • top

Joel:

Neither the Roman Catholics nor the Eastern Orthodox as a whole have ever condoned idolatry.  It has certainly been permitted and tolerated by various clergy and synodical authority in both the East and West even to this day.  But be very careful about accusing the traditional Christian bodies of idolatry.  I went to college at a school with a reformed evangelical heritage and dealt with old school Calvinists who treated Calvin’s Institutes as an idol, and gone to church with Baptists who treated certain writings of Charles Spurgeon as an idol.  I’ve also known many evangelicals of all types who have made an idol of the Reformation, believing that somehow God confirmed that Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, Wycliffe, and Bullinger were starting the true church anew, even though all these men believed very differently from eachother about Holy Scripture, sanctification, and what the true church was, and contradicted eachother on many matters of core theology.  Furthermore, Luther and Calvin had a very high view of Mary that would fit within many conservative protestant denominational (and low church, low liturgy evangelical Anglican) handbook definitions of idolatry.

Regarding the 22nd article of our 39 Articles that you appear to be referring to, read it very carefully.  It’s title is “Of Purgatory”, and unless you think the synodical body that framed it was made up completely of hardcore Protestants, you must believe that it was meant to address what it addresses - “The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints…”  There were many who hoped to enforce it as you hold to it, but the practices that it covers that were universally proscribed were only those that involved what was believed to be “the Romish doctrine”.  In the injunctions that were written for the first “visitations” of the bishops to their diocese to assess where the Elizabethan settlement stood, some praying with (but not to) images was considered permissible, and observance and devotion to various saints without directly praying to those saints for pardon was not to be eliminated.  That first set of injunctions was very specific that only abused, and not all, images were to be destroyed.

That things got out of control where the ideas of the Reformation had become a powerful social and political trend, and that anything that even looked like Roman Catholicism was dealt with harshly and brutally in these places, cannot be denied.  But I don’t think that you would want to stand by the actual facts of these purgings and call them a little over-zealousness in the pursuit of true godliness. 

Unfortunately (or maybe quite the opposite), there was much that was murky on these points even then.

[74] Posted by young joe from old oc on 09-23-2007 at 03:01 PM • top

Before one accuses Bishop Steenson of either cowardice or betrayal, please remember that sometimes we find ourselves in situations that are beyond us.  Perhaps Steenson should never have accepted election to the Episcopate in a conflicted non-Anglo-Catholic diocese.  Perhaps.  But I am sure that at the time he was persuaded that God had called him to this office.  Perhaps he was mistaken, perhaps not.  God knows. 

It may look to some that he is fleeing his flock, but appearances can be deceiving.  Few dioceses enjoy the kind of unity of orthodox faith that makes it possible to even entertain the possibility of severing connection to the institutional Episcopal Church.  The Diocese of Rio Grande does not enjoy this unity—and it most certainly does not share Steenson’s conviction that the Catholic Church is the proper home for Anglicanism—which means that any attempt to formally dissociate from TEC will result in civil war in every congregation.  And of course there is also the threats of law suits and deposition.  Perhaps, when all things are considered and calculated, Bishop Steenson’s decision to resign his post and enter into the communion of the Catholic Church will prove to be the wisest course, not only for himself but for the Episcopalians of the Diocese of the Rio Grande.  God knows. 

Be gentle.  You have not stood in Bishop Steenson’s shoes.  You do not know the burden he has borne.  You do not know the spiritual suffering he has endured.  And you do not know how God’s will is working in all of this.

[75] Posted by FrKimel on 09-23-2007 at 03:11 PM • top

“You do not know the burden [Bp. Steenson] has borne.  You do not know the spiritual suffering he has endured.  And you do not know how God’s will is working in all of this”—-Fr. Kimel

Amen!

[76] Posted by Irenaeus on 09-23-2007 at 03:17 PM • top

Like Jody and quite a few others I too have had the devastating experience of being abandoned by a bishop who placed his personal happiness above the welfare of his flock.  But I got over it.

[77] Posted by Laurence K Wells on 09-23-2007 at 03:20 PM • top

A terrible, terrible loss for Anglicanism and especially the Diocese of the Rio Grande.  Bishop Steenson is the real thing in every way and a true gentlemen, loving father and husband.  Not to mention his theological excellence in serving the Church.  During coffee hour today, a parishioner shared this news which put a sad end on this Lord’s day.  I am blessed to have served alongside Bishop Steenson in Fort Worth and pray God’s blessing upon him and his Diocese at this time of transition.  The sadness continues.

Canon H.W. Herrmann, SSC

[78] Posted by Dallas Priest on 09-23-2007 at 03:28 PM • top

Not a good morning.
I am not, however, without hope for the DofRG.  Even if Bp Steenson’s departure at the end of 2007 should spark other congregations and clergy into departing, the diocese will still end up being an orthodox diocese and will look to elect an orthodox bishop.  I will be praying for “good” closure, and that the diocese gets a jump on electing a new bishop.  May the nominees be strong and forthcoming.

[79] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 09-23-2007 at 03:38 PM • top

“the diocese will still end up being an orthodox diocese and will look to elect an orthodox bishop.”

Well, I’d put “orthodox” in quotation marks, if you include WO in your definition of “orthodoxy.”

[80] Posted by William Tighe on 09-23-2007 at 04:21 PM • top

Fr. Kimel, are you trolling for more converts or commenting on what has happened?

[81] Posted by TonyinCNY on 09-23-2007 at 04:36 PM • top

Perhaps TonyinCNY might clarify his comment about Fr. Kimel. I don’t understand how he construes what Fr. Kimel wrote as “trolling for converts”. When it comes to the institution formerly known as ECUSA, reappraisers believe any criticism of the institution is “trolling for converts”. Or is the issue really sympathy for Bishop Steenson’s decision to go to Rome?

[82] Posted by Dan Crawford on 09-23-2007 at 04:45 PM • top

I have received the following information from a friend of both Bishop Steenson and I about the background to his conversion:
****************************************
“I remember sitting with him and Wayne Hankey (who converted about twelve years ago) at the airport on after a conference at which Jeffrey had given a paper arguing that Anglicans must return to their true home in the Catholic Church, and him assuring me that we would remain friends and colleagues across the division, meaning after he left. A few years later, during his brief presidency of the Episcopal Synod, he gave a presidential address to the same effect, which left Roger Beckwith shaking his head in dismay.  The paper, which does not seem to be available on the web, was appeared in *Tradition: Received and Handed On* edited by D. A. Petley, (Charlottetown: St. Peter Publications, 1994).”

[83] Posted by William Tighe on 09-23-2007 at 04:46 PM • top

I am disappointed that +Steenson didn’t lead his flock out FIRST before he began the swim.  I predict DRG will become just like South Carolina—no bishop and little hope for a strong Network type getting consents.

[84] Posted by David Wilson on 09-23-2007 at 04:47 PM • top

Yes, Dr. Tighe, I know you would.
And Orthodox Alice has yet another opinion on the matter, doesn’t she?
: )

[85] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 09-23-2007 at 04:49 PM • top

Not at all, Fr. Eaton; on this subject, our views, like the views of our respective churches, and like the Apostolic Tradition itself, are identical.

[86] Posted by William Tighe on 09-23-2007 at 04:52 PM • top

Joel’s post (“Rome and the EO condone idolatry, things fondly invented, as our articles put it. Bowing to statues, holding to purgatory, and praying to saints who can omnisciently hear prayer, is part and parcel of what the Reformation rejected. Do not leave one set of errors for another”) is equally full of errors.

Catholics do not bow to statutes, but they do hold saints, which are holy men and women who have gone before us, in high esteem.

Episcopalian prayers asking that God ‘receive a deceased person more and more into his joyful service’ is the Anglican way of acknowledging the reality of purgatory. If Anglicans can sing Holy, Holy, Holy” with all the saints in heaven, surely we can ask them to pray for us too.

[87] Posted by Jeremiah on 09-23-2007 at 05:03 PM • top

This type of attrition is inevitable as things are kicked down the road.

As a condition of getting the necessary consents, any Bishop nominee will have to attest to his loyalty to TEC’s institutional structure. This, combined with continuing attrition of the orthodox within the Diocese itself, will assure that the next Bishop is more of an institutionalist.

Sad. But in the end this Protestant is grateful that +Steenson took a stand, and in doing so underscored that there are limits to institutional loyalty. It was a principled decision for someone who could not in good conscience remained yoked to TEC, but for whatever reason did not feel called to lead his Diocese out of the denomination. Far better to join the Roman Catholic church than to slowly subordinate your convictions to accomidate the political reality within TEC.

[88] Posted by Going Home on 09-23-2007 at 05:08 PM • top

I was being generous; you are being edgy.

I am referring specifically to the use of the term “orthodox”, which has been used as an acceptable term to describe the variety of theologies, practices and positions of what Kendall first called “reasserters.”  You, as an observer, continue to attempt to redefine the word to press your own agenda.  Alice would not do so, but being a part of the Orthodox family now, she would certainly have something to say about what might possibly construe an “Orthodox” Episcopalian, if there could be such an animal.  As well, the Orthodox and Roman Catholics, faced with the possibility of agreement in theology and being the “true” Church and possible re-union, would want the other to take on their own Name!
It is still disingenuous of you to complain about the use of “orthodox” bishop, etc., since even while some Episcopalians do believe women’s ordination to be a valid sacrament, etc., you have made it plain in your writings that those Episcopalians would still not be compliant with the “true faith” until they crossed over to your side (although you would be sympathetic).
Say what you will, you don’t have a dog in this fight.

No smiley face this time.

[89] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 09-23-2007 at 05:08 PM • top

I share TonyinCHY’s wonderment about the agenda of Fr Al Kimel in his contributions to this and similar blogs.  I have raised this question myself from time to time, but each time FrKimel retreats into silence.

Since Bp Steenson has made a decision, I hope he will be happy with his new home and not plagued by visible homesickness.  I hope that he will find a full-time ministry in his new ecclesial community, so that he will not have to fill up his day trolling around on Anglican blogs.

I once knew a very ignorant and slightly demented old man who had once been a Baptist preacher before he was converted to the Jehovah’s Witness sect.  In his old age he used to stand on Sunday mornings in front of the local First Baptist Church trying to foist off Watch-tower Tracts on his former co-religionists.  A picturesque and pitiful character, the very stuff of Southern gothic fiction. 

When religious blogs came along, I quickly learned how many such characters there are in the world.

[90] Posted by Laurence K Wells on 09-23-2007 at 05:09 PM • top

My last post was intended to be addressed to Dr. Wm. Tighe.
Apologies.

[91] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 09-23-2007 at 05:10 PM • top

Mmmpf.  Well, it looks as though the wishy-washy moderate semi-progressive bishops still own the term “generous orthodoxy.”  They’re not getting much competition for it here.

[Sigh…]

[92] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 09-23-2007 at 05:27 PM • top

Some commentators have accused Bp Steenson of cowardice and failure to lead. Is it not possible, on the contrary, that his decision is evidence of courage, and that he is in this matter leading by example?

[93] Posted by Unsubscribe on 09-23-2007 at 05:38 PM • top

Fr. Kimel:

Thank you for your very fair assessment of Bishop Steenson’s decision. 

While I am in California, since he is my PEV, I consider him my bishop. Although I am a little discouraged, I will certainly trust that he is taking what he believes to be the wisest course, and not the path of least resistance.  But I believe that before he begins his swim across the Tiber, he owes all of the faithful a strong and uneqivocal statement against the folly of progressivism.  He also owes us some strong words explaining his views of catholic orthodoxy, just like the sermon he gave a few years ago that had Roger Beckwith shaking his head.  Going out with a whimper is simply the wrong signal to send to all the all far too polite orthodox episcopalians who have learned to quietly make room for more and more false teachers under their roof.

[94] Posted by young joe from old oc on 09-23-2007 at 05:48 PM • top

Dan Crawford wrote:

Perhaps TonyinCNY might clarify his comment about Fr. Kimel. I don’t understand how he construes what Fr. Kimel wrote as “trolling for converts”. When it comes to the institution formerly known as ECUSA, reappraisers believe any criticism of the institution is “trolling for converts”. Or is the issue really sympathy for Bishop Steenson’s decision to go to Rome?

Dan - Al Kimel went from being one of the original signers of the Baltimore Declaration to rector in SC to swimming the tiber several yrs ago.  I think Tony’s comment is wondering if Fr Kimel is encouraging others to swim?  (Correct me if I’m wrong, Tony.)

[95] Posted by maineiac on 09-23-2007 at 06:15 PM • top
[96] Posted by Joel on 09-23-2007 at 06:25 PM • top

Grandmother,
I wholeheartedly and unreservedly concur in your post, above, and as to “asking the saints to intercede” Rome has the belief in common with the Orthodox, who both pray for, and ask the prayers of, the saints.

Blessings and regards,
Martial Artist

[97] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 09-23-2007 at 06:39 PM • top

Be gentle.  You have not stood in Bishop Steenson’s shoes.  You do not know the burden he has borne.  You do not know the spiritual suffering he has endured.  And you do not know how God’s will is working in all of this.

I cannot believe the acrimony this courageous bishop is getting on this thread.  He explained that he couldn’t remain loyal to his episcopal vows and remain in TEC.  The easier course would have been for him to quietly work behind the scenes to steal Episcopalians and take them to Rome with him.  However, because he did the tough thing he is being beat up.  I’ll bet Jake, Susan, Liz, and KJS are having a ball reading this thread.  I think a few “mea culpaa” are in order.  OOPS!  Excuse me; I guess it was not PC to use Latin here. 

Who is Fr. Kimel?  I’ve seen his name before, but didn’t know he doesn’t belong to “the club”.  What denomination is he? 

I am thinking that +Steenson is just the tip of the iceberg.  I expect after next week we will get to observe a massive exodus from TEC.  I don’t know where people will go, but I don’t think that orthodox Anglicans are going to be welcome in TEC.  Our bishops weren’t welcome in the HOB, and I think it is going to get harder and harder for traditional Christians to remain in TEC.  I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

[98] Posted by terrafirma on 09-23-2007 at 06:40 PM • top

Tony and Laurence—If Al+ didn’t believe Rome was the right choice, he wouldn’t be there; and if he didn’t encourage others to make the same decision, he’d be neglecting his pastoral duty.

But much as I respect him, I have to say that Mrs. Schori and 815 have probably made more converts to Rome than Al+ ever will.  (Sorry, Al+.)  I expect them to get a thank-you note from +++Benedict any day now…

OK, since we’ve all had our good clean fun shooting at each other, could we try pointing our weapons back at the enemy again?  I mean, that’s usually regarded as a good idea during a war…

[99] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 09-23-2007 at 06:46 PM • top

Just some food for thought and points to ponder.
In the linked article by maineiac , (Bonnie) Anderson drew applause when she promised that “the leadership of the Episcopal Church will never leave you alone, remember that.”

The ECUSA leadership left the faithful in the Episcopal church back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and have been working as the Borg to assimilate the remaining uninformed since then.  I must say they have done a good job….leading the lemmings over the cliff.  I wonder if Jesus will recognize any of the churches when he returns.

I am so sick of the mantra, ‘people can leave the Church but congregations do not’.  Well I have news for them.  The PEOPLE are the CHURCH so when the majority of people leave they take the church with them….and as such should be able to take the majority of buildings, gifts and memorials..

The gifts I have given in my old church were not given to the church or the Episcopal denomination to be sold off when the church can no longer support it self through lack of members …I have given gifts and memorials to the ‘glory of God’ and I don’t see where God is being glorified in the churches today.

As to letting the fox (PB) into the hen house, maybe this is the time for the chickens and hens to rise up and face to face and let her know exactly what they think of ECUSA, and why.  Use it as a bible lesson and maybe she’ll pick up some Christianity and bible knowledge while she is there.  It is time to teach the boss.

Hanks, “then why does he not act as leader and encourage his clergy and laity to follow him out of TEC?”  I don’t know the bishop, but have you walked a mile in his shoes?  He is acting as a leader and by walking out he is showing (could be even paving) his clergy and laity the way.  What would keep them from following him?

“But is anything but courageous leadership by a bishop of the church” how do you know what may be in the works?

Jill, “The joy in this situation is that as the props are knocked out from under us, we lean more and more on our Lord”. And you learn to sink or swim too!  Why not take this as gift to learn to swim elsewhere in the AC or even out of the AC.

exECUSAn

[100] Posted by carol on 09-23-2007 at 07:02 PM • top

Al Kimel+ is a former Episcopal Priest, signer of the Baltimore Declaration, and now a Roman Catholic Priest.

[101] Posted by bradhutt on 09-23-2007 at 07:11 PM • top

I know little of this man. I read fulsome praise of his saintly demeanor and sound orthodoxy. What I DO now know of him is that he has violated his vows and is abandoning, in unseemly haste, his flock. He has even invited the dominant female of the revisionist wolf pack to come in for snacks from the bodies.

What ever, My Lord Bishop,  can you be thinking of?  Hundreds, thousands of the faithfull are stricken by your abandonment. Tom Woodward and Bonnie are even now buying their tickets to Santa Fe to pick up the keys to the contested parishes. In deadly seriousness this is taking on the cast of VGR’s self absoption, and has the unthinkable appearance of a craven act. There is nothing more devestating than to find one of your best men has cut and run and a sudden breach in the battlements has been made. Arnold leaving for Canada spring to mind. It matters little apparently that this diocese will never be allowed another orthodox Bishop. Consents? Never never will that be allowed to happen. All this has done for me is to reinforce my long stated position that the Episcopal House of Bishops is perhaps the most disreputable body of men and women ever constituted in this nation. Even the good guys are bad guys.  As to this Bishop’s act, I prefer the thuggery of Bruno, the vapid vapors of Andrus, even the Whines of VGR. At least they are not misleading you as to their motives and actions.

Oh yeah.  One last thing. Rome Hath Erred. The blood of Anglican martyrs testify to that. Read your 39 Articles.  If you, gentle reader, don’t understand that this is a protestant faith, you’d best get on down the road. We’ve got enough trouble from the Pagani at 815. Spare us rehashing of 1500 years of error.

I am astounded and appalled at this situation. What happend to “Be of good cheer Master Ridley and go play the man.”

[102] Posted by teddy mak on 09-23-2007 at 07:21 PM • top

I became Catholic in December 2005 after 17 years as an Episcopalian priest, and once Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Fond du Lac (1995-2001). Bishop Steenson said it well when he said that “the Catholic Church is the true home of Anglicanism.”  He’s right.  Dear brothers and sisters, everything that you hold dear in the “Anglican Way” is more than fullfilled in the Catholic Church. The only thing you have to lose is endless turmoil and distraction from Christ’s mission. It should be obvious by now that TEC in neither one, nor holy, nor catholic (large or small “c”) or apostolic.  There is only one catholic church—- and that’s the Catholic Church. Bless you all. Come home.  We’ll leave the light on .....

[103] Posted by JPC on 09-23-2007 at 08:41 PM • top

We are the AMiA group, St. Patrick’s, that recently left TEC (DRG) in SW New Mexico and our numbers are more than 30 now.  Glad you all know we are out here!

[104] Posted by Jake Worley on 09-23-2007 at 08:53 PM • top

Utter folly to go RC.  We are Protestant for many very good reasons.  TEC has failed us, but the Global South churches offer us a home in Anglicanism.  If you can’t stay in TEC, which I fully understand, stay in the Anglican church.

[105] Posted by hanks on 09-23-2007 at 08:53 PM • top

Oh good grief…  the melodrama from the Roman Catholics is becoming insufferable…

[106] Posted by Nevin on 09-23-2007 at 08:56 PM • top

I am simply appalled by the viciousness displayed on this thread. Obviously, the Comminatrix is on sabbatical!

To those who are bitter over Bishop Steenson’s decisions: pray for wisdom for yourselves. You are judging a man that (I suspect) you hardly know. Be careful with that.  God alone knows what is in Bishop Steenson’s heart.

As for those who are critical of Al Kimel: You are judging someone you hardly know.  You need to beg forgiveness for your harshness and violent attitude. Is this the way you treat your fellow Christians? Or are you willing to claim that Fr. Kimel is not a Christian? Look to yourselves!

I whole-heartedly agree with Grannie Gloria. I have never seen such bashing of Roman Catholicism since the last time I talked to a Jehovah’s Witness!  Enough, already!  Things are bad enough without casting stones at our brothers and sisters in the Church Catholic. Has Rome erred? Certainly! But to nowhere near the extent that the present day Episcopal Church and, I might add, the Anglican Communion has. Really!  You all are beginning to sound like the worst caricature of Cromwell’s Puritan zealots! How long before you start burning crosses in people’s front yards?

[107] Posted by Allen Lewis on 09-23-2007 at 09:04 PM • top

Teddy Mak:

KJS is TEC’s _primate_. She’s not just a random person. If people can’t cope with accepting her as their Presiding Bishop should they even be clergy in TEC?

I don’t think Bp S. has “violated his vows” because he has maintained his integrity to them as long as possible. He can’t any more and true to that is resigning. He stated in his letter above that he can’t be an effective leader in TEC anymore because of the conflict he is experiencing. Sticking around and being an ineffective leader would have been the crime to his flock.

You think Rome has erred, but… “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

I don’t see Anglicanism prevailing at the moment. Right now I see Hell having a field day with pride, lust, anger, jealousy etc. within the institution of TEC and the Communion. Say what you like about Orthodoxy and Catholicism, but both of the ancient branches of catholic, apostolic Christianity have survived and kept the Gospel Truth alive. Can Anglicanism? I don’t know.

[108] Posted by kailash on 09-23-2007 at 09:06 PM • top

I don’t have any doubt that Bp. Steenson is a good man.  His decision is a dreadful one for the Diocese of the Rio Grande.  My point above is that Fr. Kimel doesn’t appear to be offering any insight directed toward the topic, but is instead offering a polemic for the decision that he made previous to Steenson to convert to Roman Catholicism.  It seems to me to be the ecclesiastical equivalent of being an ambulance-
chasing lawyer.

[109] Posted by TonyinCNY on 09-23-2007 at 09:07 PM • top

I used to know him before he became a bishop.

He is a gentleman in the best tolerant-conservative Anglican tradition.

I was disappointed to see him apparently become more mainstream when he became a bishop but am happy to see he decided to go with the Catholic faith (in his case Rome) after all.

[110] Posted by The young fogey on 09-23-2007 at 09:12 PM • top

I am happy for +Steenson. I am also very happy that Fr. Kimel sometimes posts here- I have learned a great deal from him. All you anti Catholic Calvinist Evangelicals please don’t try to run off our learned RC friends. Peace.

[111] Posted by via orthodoxy on 09-23-2007 at 09:13 PM • top

Re:  Goin’ Catholic

You know, I didn’t choose to go Catholic when 2003 hit.  I didn’t choose that because I cannot Biblically base many of their teachings (e.g. praying to saints, Mary, transubstaniation, the Pope being infallible - for starters).  However, I’ve had several good friends who HAVE chosen that path for the same reasons of this particular Bishop.

Each of us has to wrestle with God and do our best to follow Him.  For some of us, it means trying to resolve the mess of TEC within TEC, for others it’s leaving TEC and pursuing Anglicanism with others, for others, it’s choosing a different branch of the Faith.

Those are all choices FORCED upon us by the apostasy and hypocrisy of TEC.  I’d submit if you choose to delve into anger, direct it toward those who put us in this mess - they are in New Orleans at present talking about talking about talking a way from speaking directly to do anything salient about anything.

I can’t blame B. Steenson for wanting to leave it… who COULD endure such a Tower of Babble forever?  I am not equal to such a task.

To those who are loosing such a Godly Bishop:

I am terribly sorry and it’s a terrible blow - I’ve had a similar one with a friend who I held dear and looked up too - taught me my Anglicanism, really, only to turn to Rome.  However, do not further the work of distention and evil by berating a good man. 

Bless him as best you can and remember “All things work to the common good for those who know and love the Lord and are called according to His Purpose.”

If God allowed this bishop to leave you - it’s only because He holds something much better in store for you.  You have my prayers.

[112] Posted by Eclipse on 09-23-2007 at 09:17 PM • top

Me on the RC option.

I’m not a Protestant but I didn’t belong there.

Perhaps Jeffrey Steenson will find a home there though.

[113] Posted by The young fogey on 09-23-2007 at 09:17 PM • top

Craig Goodrich writes: “Tony and Laurence—If Al+ didn’t believe Rome was the right choice, he wouldn’t be there….”

This is hardly rocket science, Craig, it surely tells us why Fr Kimel is “there,” but the remaining question is why is he so frequently “here”?

I would surely welcome a thread, or rather numerous threads, in which we might exchange thoughts on the question, Why I Have Remained an Anglican?  I believe there are several valid answers.  (Rome-bashing, accusations of idolatry, 16th century rhetoric about the Great Whore sitting on seven hills, should be ruled out of bounds.  Personally, I am probably more pro-Rome than the average RC padre, so the threadbare Protestant polemic cuts no ice with me.)
I am and will continue to be an Anglican because I am already a Catholic.  The Anglican heritage of worship, doctrine, spirituality and ministry roots me firmly in the ancient undivided Church.  Affiliating with an RC diocese would no nothing to enhance or improve this.  It would not bring me any greater stability or sense of community, but would place me at the mercy of liberal RC bishops whose position papers frequently read like the literature of MoveOn.Org .
While Bp Steenson’s letter is gracious and Christian in the finest possible way, it is seriously flawed in the manner in which he speaks of “the Catholic Church” when he only means the Church in subjection to the Holy See.  He should know that this is deeply offensive to traditional Anglicans, not to mention the Eastern Orthodox Churches.  Perhaps he is alluding to the fact that TEC has practically lost its status as a Catholic body, thanks to numerous well-known innovations, going back to 1976.  But for anyone to suggest that Anglicans “become” Catholic is like proposing that I should get a new SSN or a new set of finger-prints.  I’m already there.

[114] Posted by Laurence K Wells on 09-23-2007 at 09:23 PM • top

As a former ECUSA Priest and one who has given up on TEC and crossed the Tiber about a year ago, may I say that I was too bound by blind pride too see the obvious

In the 2 years I have been Catholic, I have loved our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in ways I could have never even conceived of as an Episcopalian. My faith is deeper, richer, truer

And finally, WELCOME HOME, BISHOP STEENSON!

There is only one catholic church—- and that’s the Catholic Church. Bless you all. Come home.  We’ll leave the light on .....

Perhaps if Roman Catholics didn’t choose this particular thread to gloat over the glories of Rome and rub it in our faces that one of our bishops had left they would get a slightly better reaction…  I exclude Fr. Kimel whose comments have been excellent IMO.

[115] Posted by Nevin on 09-23-2007 at 09:33 PM • top

Sometimes people break.

[116] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 09-23-2007 at 09:33 PM • top

Allan Lewis wrote:

I whole-heartedly agree with Grannie Gloria. I have never seen such bashing of Roman Catholicism since the last time I talked to a Jehovah’s Witness!  Enough, already!  Things are bad enough without casting stones at our brothers and sisters in the Church Catholic. Has Rome erred? Certainly! But to nowhere near the extent that the present day Episcopal Church and, I might add, the Anglican Communion has. Really!  You all are beginning to sound like the worst caricature of Cromwell’s Puritan zealots! How long before you start burning crosses in people’s front yards?

Sorry, Allan, that was way over the top.  Just because some ignorant bigots who are anti-Roman Catholic burn crosses in people’s front yards (the KKK) you invoke that inflamatory lingo.  Were I to equate any commenters who have converted to the Roman Church when they’d next be firebombing a building (a la the IRA), I’d be—rightly—condemned.  Let’s keep things in perspective.

[117] Posted by Drew on 09-23-2007 at 09:38 PM • top

The only thing you have to lose is endless turmoil and distraction from Christ’s mission.

The Moonies and Hari Krishnas promise that too.  But I can name quite a few RC heroes of mine (think Mother Angelica) who had a very different experience.  Have you read “Goodbye, good men”?

[118] Posted by Laurence K Wells on 09-23-2007 at 09:55 PM • top

I consider Steenson to be a good man, but I am saddened that he is leaving the fight when he was charged to be one of our champions.

To those who defend his action in this regard against accusations of cowardice or betrayal with the line “God alone knows what is in Bishop Steenson’s heart”: beware. It is not a shepherd’s luxury to be silent on what he thinks about matters such as these. Leadership requires more than following your conscience. It requires communicating it to your flock.

Steenson’s decision to leave is clearly a personal one. But it is not a pastoral one, as far as I or any others here can see or have articulated. I’m sure it is difficult being a bishop in a church you no longer have faith in. Who said it was supposed to be a pleasant job? It pays well enough.

I would have rather a bishop who had decided to leave go out fighting and encouraging his people in that witness. I don’t know what to make of his sudden seemingly effortless departure except that he no longer wants to fight. Is he telling his flock that they should follow him? Does he believe they should? Sure, that kind of leadership would create a great deal of disturbaance and turmoil in the diocese. And we know the chief job of one standing in for Jesus is to make sure things are as peaceful as possible. That’s what Jesus did, right? What’s more important, not making an ugly scene or pointing people toward safety?

You know, if you are married and suddenly become a Christian but your wife isn’t one, Scripture says that if she is willing to remain with you then you are still obligated to stay with her. The vows still hold. I guess the vows bishops make are less important than marriage vows.

Is that the RC position?

[119] Posted by Christopher Hathaway on 09-23-2007 at 09:59 PM • top

Folks, I’ve just now entered this thread, and I don’t know where the Commenatrix is, but I am here and I will do just fine.

1) Stating that somebody is a coward for leaving ECUSA—for WHATEVER DENOMINATION OR CHURCH—is out of bounds on this thread and directly violates the comment policy of which commenters have been copiously reminded.  If I were to go through and ban every person on this thread who has suggested this ridiculous accusation, there would be a number of bannings. 

Do not suggest such a thing again, please.  Also do not suggest anything about pensions, or purple-shirts, or any of the other bizarre reasons that some people claim for people who are either leaving or staying.

2) Stating that people should leave ECUSA and “come home” to whatever-denomination—whether an alternate Anglican entity or Roman Catholicism—is out of bounds on this thread and directly violates the comment policy of which commenters have been copiously reminded.

3) It is not out of bounds to state calmly that one does not agree with the Roman Catholic church’s claims about itself.  It is not out of bounds to state calmly that one no longer thinks Anglicanism viable and is leaving for some other place.  Neither position is “catholic-bashing” or “Anglican-bashing”.

Please, if you cannot comment on this thread without violating the comment policy [see the link below for more] then don’t comment.  Restrain your quivering fingers from tapping on the keyboard.

Thanks.

[120] Posted by Sarah on 09-23-2007 at 09:59 PM • top

Christopher Hathaway,

You wrote:

It is not a shepherd’s luxury to be silent on what he thinks about matters such as these. Leadership requires more than following your conscience. It requires communicating it to your flock.

I believe that if you will reread +Steenson’s letter you will find the following:

A pastoral letter to the people of the diocese will follow in a few days.

I should think that considerations of Christian charity towards a brother would suggest that comments such as yours ought to be held until such time as the pastoral letter is made public.

Blessings and regards,
Martial Artist

[121] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 09-23-2007 at 10:10 PM • top

Sarah:

I have mentioned pensions and purple shirt before, but not on this thread.  What very few folks seem to see is that Bishop Steenson is first of all a human being.

Do you know what someone is suggesting when they say they get up in the night and must listen to Psalm 23

That they are on the edge.  And I have been there and over the edge.  No job is worth it.  None.

Bravo, good Bishop!  You must take care of yourself and family first.  Go with God!

[122] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 09-23-2007 at 10:14 PM • top

Thank you, Sarah, for reminding us about what is acceptable here and what is not.  You are just fine in the Commenatrix’s place.  You got the message across quite nicely.

[123] Posted by terrafirma on 09-23-2007 at 10:16 PM • top

I do not understand why I am accused of trolling when I comment here on Stand Firm.  I do not personally attack or ridicule others.  I do not write outrageous things simply to inflame and outrage.  I do engage in vigorous theological debate—but I hope substantively and not just polemically.  I presume that debate is welcome on a site such as this.

I do not comment very often, and when I do so it is almost always on a thread directly related to the Catholic Church or to catholic matters.  Yet for some reason my mere presence seems to upset some of the brethren.  Mr Wells in particular seems to have a particular animus and does not miss an opportunity to attack my motivations.   

Why do I comment on Stand Firm?  Because I was an Episcopal priest of 25 years, and I have the scars to prove it.  Like others, I finally became convinced that the catholic claims of Anglicanism were hollow and so chose to swam the Tiber.  Many Episcopalians are now struggling with the very same questions with which I struggled.  I think that my viewpoint on theological and ecclesiological questions may be of some small help to them, whatever their final choice may be.  As a convinced Catholic, I believe that all are summoned to communion with the successor of Peter.  I also believe that Anglo-Catholics have no viable future within Anglicanism and need to reconsider their rejection of the Roman claims.  I do not apologize for pleading the Catholic case here on Stand Firm.  But this does not mean that I do not still love the Anglican tradition that brought me to Christ and nourished me in the catholic faith. 

If Catholics are not welcome on Stand Firm, then I ask the owners of this site to please inform us, and I will happily disappear.  If they are welcome, then I ask Mr Wells & Company to please stop attacking us for daring to advance our arguments and concerns in this forum—and please stop questioning our motives.  Quite frankly, your ad hominem attacks upon me and other Catholics are an embarrassment and scandal.

[124] Posted by FrKimel on 09-23-2007 at 10:20 PM • top

You know, it has been most interesting to watch how the Lord is removing all options, alternate plans, escape routs from the believers in TEC.  I am so thankful that I was kept out of that box long ago through no fault of my own.  As for swimming over the Tiber to Rome, remember that there are two banks to the Tiber.  Many RCC priest, Nuns and members have come back this way.  The biggest exodus was called the Reformation.  One of the most famous in recent times was Father Chinique who wrote the classical book “Fifty Years in the Church of Rome.”  Every one should read it. Very interesting.  I know, lots of stuff he writes about Rome has modified (never changing, getting it right from the start). Sort of like the discussion about the 95 Theses here.  I know of two mission boards whose ministry is to RCC priest who need help in leaving.  I had a great Mexican-American friend who’s parents in the 60-70’s were in an “underground railroad” for priest and nuns who were escaping.  I doubt that would be needed now.  I’m not judging the good bishop for fleeing to Rome, but just pointing out that there is a lot of flux out there and many routs people in spiritual distress take.  Wish we could have a website ten years from now that would track everyone and where they landed.

[125] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 09-23-2007 at 10:22 PM • top

Dear Father Kimel and other big “C” Catholics, I think that many, many orthodox episcopalians that are discouraged and despairing. The news that the good and gracious Bp Steenson has given up on the TEC only adds to that. I would ask you to hear the hurt and forgive the rashness and rudeness.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

I and many others value the contributions to this forum by our RC brothers and sisters.

[126] Posted by rob-roy on 09-23-2007 at 10:28 PM • top

Fr Kimel:

I have never detected an anti-Catholic bent to the leadership of SF, and that’s what you should worry about, and it ain’t there.

In order to understand this full story, you have to have watched Sarah Hey’s videotaped interview with Bp. Steenson.  This is first and foremost a human story, not a doctrinal one.  It is disconcerting to me and perhaps others when we overlook the human pain that is being caused to snipe about doctrinal differences.

I have a lot of Catholic friends.  And guess what, we NEVER discuss religion!

[127] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 09-23-2007 at 10:28 PM • top

I hope I may be allowed to say that I have always found Fr Kimel’s postings to be courteous, honest and respectful. I have tried to post in a similar spirit. We have both been taunted for not replying to posts (as Fr Kimel has been above). I am sure that intelligent readers will understand why we don’t reply, when we don’t.

There is a criticism of Bp Steenson as being “deeply offensive” above; this is because he used the term “Catholic Church” in his letter. There is also, in another post, an accusation that certain parties’ “melodrama” is “insufferable”.

Christi sit lectoribus pax

[128] Posted by Unsubscribe on 09-23-2007 at 10:45 PM • top

RE: “I have mentioned pensions and purple shirt before, but not on this thread.”

Hi Tom, I wasn’t thinking of you, in case you thought I was.  I actually was just typing away about the cowardice and thought to add some others that are randomly thrown around on other threads.  I can nearly quote this stuff in my sleep!!!  Sort of like Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori’s closing remarks at the press conference.  ; > )

Father Kimel, Roman Catholics are certainly welcome on this blog.  I did not see you on this thread asking folks to convert to Rome.  I saw you giving personal witness to your own struggles and journey and sharing a bit of what your insights are on Bishop Steenson.

JPC’s comments, however, were utterly out of bounds and in violation of the comment policy.  Were they to occur again from anyone on this thread, whether for Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, the APA, or CANA, that person would very likely be banned by someone.  So—this is now a warning.

RE: “He should know that this is deeply offensive to traditional Anglicans, not to mention the Eastern Orthodox Churches.”

It’s actually not offensive to me, Laurence K Wells, although I suppose it is to others.  It’s simply Roman Catholic theology that it is the one true church, and therefore the only catholic church.  I believe that complete catholicity only occurs where one finds complete truth, and as I believe Rome to be in error on a number of doctrines, of course it is not fully catholic [though I am joyfully aware of the many Christian believers in that body and on this blog].  But I don’t feel threatened or offended by their own stated belief—it is what it is, and if I believed it to be the truth than I would convert myself!

But then . . . my own beliefs about catholicity and various church’s lack thereof is simply Protestant theology!  ; > )

I’d prefer that this thread not turn into a discussion on the errors of Protestantism or Roman Catholicism—we’ve done that to death on other threads.  Tom Dupree is right—this is first a haunting, personal story.

I wish Bishop Steenson well with all my heart.

[129] Posted by Sarah on 09-23-2007 at 10:57 PM • top

Many of the above posts have helped me tremendously to gain some personal perspective in this most difficult time in our diocese of Rio Grande.  As a deacon, I will join my fellow clergy at our annual conference in two days.  I ask your prayers for our time together.  For the cessation of any acrimony, of honesty in sharing and in finding pastoral ways in which to help each other.  Pray to keep us from harmful statements toward each other, our Bishop, and the Presiding Bishop.  Pray that we may only exhibit honesty through our love and support for his brave and gracious exodus.  Strengthen us in our pain which is huge.  As deacons, may my colleagues and I find a way to support the priests left to lead our parishes.  Pray that we find rest from our spiritual labors in our time of grief and worries.  Pray that this will be a period when we can learn to see Jesus with new eyes and know Him with new hearts.  Pray, my brothers and sister.  Blessings on us all.

[130] Posted by ehnoland on 09-23-2007 at 11:02 PM • top

ehnoland, as my prayers rise up to our Father, my heart goes out to you and all of Christ’s servants in your diocese. May the God of all hope grant the requests that you enumerated and even greater blessings than we can ask or imagine.

[131] Posted by Abigale on 09-23-2007 at 11:18 PM • top

I respect and admire the good bishop’s integrity. But I am, however, very saddened by the fact that he is inviting to his diocese, at this very time, the very person who is directly involved in and responsible for the misdirection of the Episcopal church.

If this were simply about Steenson, as a person (Episcopalian), I would not have much of a problem with his decision to leave the diocese and the church. BUT, this is a bishop who has vowed to protect the sheep under his care. I wish he had given more consideration to the implications of this invitation to the enemy of the Gospel, even as he prepares to leave. Is he leaving the chickens to the fox?

I wish Bp Steenson, as the good shepherd he has been, had used the opportunity and the fact of his impending departure to wrestle as many sheep as he could out of the jaws and claws of the tiger - tigress, more appropriately.

Inviting Schori to come in and raise her banner as she mocks the defeated and dejected DRG faithful is too painful for me to think of at this time.

If I were Bp Steenson, my main concern at this time would be to take as much DRG people and property out of TEc as possible -he needs to disarm the enemy as much as possible.

Folks, we know what we are dealing with here. We are in a very serious situation. Every tactful and strategic step has very important and significant ramifications.

Spiro

[132] Posted by Spiro on 09-23-2007 at 11:27 PM • top

From comments of parishioners where we attended worship today, I think we all need to understand that Bp. Steenson has not betrayed anyone, and yet I and perhaps you feel betrayed and abandoned.

Many have walked away from the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Bishop Jeffrey is not one of them. However, many in TEC have clearly embarked on this course. I believe that it is those in control in TEC that have abandoned each of us and Anglicanism around the world. Lift our church to God. Know whom has
abandoned the Church.

We each asked +Jeffery to lead and he is leading in the only way he believes now open to him. Bp Herzog in Albany took the same route, his suffragan, Bp. Bena a different one. All calmly left. It is a way of honor, it is a way of real pain.

Do I wish he stayed longer? Yes. Could he do anything differently? He does not believe so. He is being as faithful as he knows how.

Therefore. my love and admiration for his courage to face and act on the decisions we each must make is very real tonight. Pray for +Jeffery and Debbie. Hold them in God’s loving presence in this exhausting time.

Pray for Clergy Conference this week at Holy Cross Monastery in Mesilla. We will need them. I think a walk at their outdoor Stations awaits me…

Finally, please pray for each of us as walk the Way of the Cross at Cursillo 102 North of the DRG the night of Oct 4. By the grace of our Savior, Bev and I have one more providential opportunity to help lay foundations for future leadership within the Body of Christ. Bev will be a table leader, I will be giving the Grace and Obstacles to a Life of Grace talks and serving as the deacon in each Eucharist. What a privilege to read the Gospels of our Lord this special weekend!

Bob †

Still ridin’ for the brand in the Rio Grande…

[133] Posted by Bob Maxwell+ on 09-23-2007 at 11:42 PM • top

Spiro,
Although I do not hold out any hope that TEC can be reformed, if I were an Episcopal bishop, I would feel constrained, so long as my ordination vows remained in effect, to refrain from campaigning for others to leave the Anglican Communion. Given his reported destination, that is what trying to “take as much DRG people and property out of TEc as possible” would amount to.

And of course, however corrupt TEC is, it is not itself the enemy. “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the power, against the world rulers of this present darknesss, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Such graciousness as Bishop Steenson has shown will do more to weaken the enemy, I believe, than any tactical manoeuvres that could be portrayed as self-serving. He has shone a light on the writing on the wall. That is the most powerful thing he can do to protect the people in his spiritual care.

[134] Posted by The Sheepcat on 09-24-2007 at 12:06 AM • top

There are two things I would like to add about Rome.
1)  They may have experienced scandal, but they are not teaching that it is not a sin and scandalous.  Yes, shame on those Bishops that let this pass; however, how does one break the sanctity of the confessional to “talk?”  The only thing they could have done was remove these men from serving in any church.
2)  Has it not occurred to anyone here that the schisms from Rome have been never-ending in every church that has broken from them?

[135] Posted by Gigs Girl on 09-24-2007 at 01:34 AM • top

On Titus today,  Bishop Epting faces some questions and states on his blog at http://ecubishop.wordpress.com/2007/09/24/house-of-bishops-day-four-sunday/

“Where I live, in New York, we bishops will be pilloried if we make any concessions in a conservative direction”.  An 815 staff person walked out on Katharine Jefferts Schori after she reported on General Convention Resolution B033. It was too conservative.

As I said, walk a mile in his shoes.  Who knows what will happen at the clergy conference that Shori will attend.  Wait and see before you rush to judgement.  Just a thought.

[136] Posted by carol on 09-24-2007 at 02:04 AM • top

Is anybody looking at this in terms of the theological leap he has made? Yes, there is great sympathy for a kind and gentle man.  But he (and Herzog, as well) has, by swimming the Tiber, reputiated a considerable amount of Anglican belief.  He has gone over to a church which does not recognize Anglican Holy Orders and has recently affirmed its view that non-Catholic churches are impaired.  He has, at least partially, rejected the Reformation roots of Anglicanism and must now accept all sorts of doctrine which has no support in Scripture.  As fine a man as he might be, he strikes me as misguided.

[137] Posted by PapaJ on 09-24-2007 at 04:14 AM • top

I saw + Steens interview the other day & took him to be a wonderfully comppasionte , kind man. When He & HIS diocese made steps against the TEC I saw great courage in their efforts to lead & not be lead by an apostate church. Sorry folks I see no courage in leaving from a bishop who has a flock depending on him. I would see courage if he were to lead them to AMiA or CANA but no courage in bailing out. Why should the rest of us stay even in the AC if leaving is the most simple self centered thing to do. It would be so easy to leave this mess & go home. I am sure his clergy are wondering about their loyal years of service & what is going to happen to them now that their leader has bailed because he is getting queasy with an orginization he has helped mold over the last 10-15???? years.

Sorry +Steenson I do not applaud your decision.

[138] Posted by Mtn gospel on 09-24-2007 at 05:06 AM • top

Bp Steenson, I want to thank you for your many years of faithful service in TEC.  My reaction, from having already watched your interview with Sarah Hey, is (I must confess) jealousy. 

Godspeed, sir.  You were, and are, a blessing and a gift to us. 

- Moot

[139] Posted by J Eppinga on 09-24-2007 at 05:37 AM • top

“because he is getting queasy with an orginization he has helped mold over the last 10-15???? years.”

Do you know nothing about +Steenson’s CV?  Far from “helping mould” ECUSA, he has been an opponent of all its leading “trends” from WO onwards, and was briefly President of the “Episcopal Synod of America” (now “Forward-in-Faith/North America”) in the early 1990s.  He has long bee both a firm and principled opponent of WO and an Anglo-Papalist, and I cannot think of any two “ideological committments” that would put anyone more in opposition to the “mould” of TEC (and, for that matter, of a large portion of the commentariat here) than these.

[140] Posted by William Tighe on 09-24-2007 at 05:40 AM • top

“I would see courage if he were to lead them to AMiA or CANA but no courage in bailing out. “

What Dr. Tighe wrote above, it sounds like this man did not bail out but fought the good fight, how could he lead to AMiA which ordains deacons or CANA which full out ordains women clergy if that is against his principles? I think many are transposing their own desires to the bishop and man when he is not fulfilling them. He seems to allowed an avanue of exit for those congregations who were ready at the time, there have been rumors that gave parishes notice. However the avenue of exit seems different than this man’s core convictions, so it seems he had the most courage in doing what is best for each. AMiA & CANA are not the most Anglo-Catholic friendly especially for an “Anglo-Papalist” so folks are asking him to violate his principles. I’m not in full agreement with what I’ve read (not knowing the situation or man, I’m dependent on what’s here), however I respect anyone who acts on principle and I believe that is very honorable verses doing as the whim of any SF commentors.

[141] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 09-24-2007 at 06:02 AM • top

Regarding cowardice and such: Who of us have not beeen guilty of this in some form or fashion? Speaking for myself, cowardice is an ever present facet of my sinful self. It tells me always to seek the path of least resistance, to avoid confrontation, not for love’s sake but for comfort’s sake.

Bishop Steenson is a good man. Though that is measured against the standard of all of us dirtbags. But just because we judge him good is no reason to hold his actions above reproach or honest criticism.

I note two facts relevant to me in my assessment of his action:

1. He is going to ask the House of Bishops for permission to resign.
2. He is merely informing his clergy and diocese that he will resign.

Are these facts incorrect? Does this not tell us that he feels he owes more allegiance to his fellow bishops than to his flock? Would it not have been nice and more charitable in a Christian fashion if he would ask his flock if he could leave?

Ahhh… but his flock might not want him to go, while the HOB i am confident will be happy to see him go, of course with crocodile professions of sadness.

Nope. The more I think about this the ore it stinks in my nostrils. I am not one to criticize his intended destination. Lord knows I would be sorely tempted to follow if there was an ounce of wiggle room about papal infallibility. But I am not pledged to be anyone’s spiritual leader. I would be leaving no one in the lurch.

And as far as informing his diocese in a “Pastoral letter” in a few days, as Martial Artist points out, well, my point was that no one knows his heart at the moment because he hasn’t been communicating it. It is all well and good to give an explanation after you spring the surprise on them. I was thinking how better it would have been if it wasn’t a surprise and they were privy to his thoughts and plans on this before so that they could five some input and maybe change his mind. Do pastoral relationships only work from the top down?

[142] Posted by Christopher Hathaway on 09-24-2007 at 06:10 AM • top

There is a difference between the actions of Bp.s Herzog and Bena and the action of Bp. Steenson.  Bp.s Herzog put together a smooth transition to the next bishop and then retired.  Bp. Bena also retired.  After both bishops retired, one went to Rome and the other to CANA.

[143] Posted by TonyinCNY on 09-24-2007 at 06:22 AM • top

RE: “He is going to ask the House of Bishops for permission to resign.”

Because that’s the canonically required thing, Christopher.  That’s what you MUST do when you resign as a sitting bishop in the Episcopal church.

[144] Posted by Sarah on 09-24-2007 at 06:24 AM • top

From another site, Midwest Conservative perhaps, I read that David Beers recently met with Steenson. Is there any truth to that?

[145] Posted by teddy mak on 09-24-2007 at 06:49 AM • top

I just wanted to add my own word of thanks to Fr.Kimmel for his comments here.  Although I believe Rome is in error about many things, she also has great wisdom about many others, and I am thankful to Fr. Kimmel for sharing them with us.  Living in the Diocese of Darkness, I am comforted by the Christian witness of the RC Archdiocese of Newark, 1.3 million strong, and headed by a conservative archbishop.  Fr. Kimmel works as a chaplain at a state university up here, and though I may never meet him, I take an odd comfort from the fact of his physical presence,too.  I had a brief e-mail correspondence with him a while back—he was kindness itself, and while he fulfilled his pastoral duty to urge me to Rome, he was also respectful of my desire to remain Anglican.

[146] Posted by In Newark on 09-24-2007 at 06:57 AM • top

Under current circumstances, I find it impossible to criticize anyone for leaving ECUSA for anywhere, no matter how they do it.

[147] Posted by Id rather not say on 09-24-2007 at 07:01 AM • top

I know nothing about +Steenson and his diocese, so I cannot comment on his personal decision.  But when I read things like this, I keep thinking that TEC is using the “divide and conquer” technique to perfection.  I believe someone brought it up elsewhere, but the line from yesterday’s Gospel reading is worth repeating: “For the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind (generation) than the sons of light.”

[148] Posted by Ann Castro on 09-24-2007 at 07:08 AM • top

I wouldn’t know if +Steenson really met with Beers or not. But if it’s true I wouldn’t neccessarily assume it was a friendly meeting. I can’t see Beers being happy about the deal that was made with the catheral in El Paso.

[149] Posted by Dazzled on 09-24-2007 at 07:38 AM • top

I sympathize with Bp. Steenson. I became Roman Catholic in 2004 after perceiving that ECUSA wasn’t going to be reformed any time soon, and realizing that all the Primates seemed to offer was tough talk and new deadlines that seemed to always pass without any real action. Sadly, I think the lack of action, and the presence of continued gooey fudge, from the Communion and Dr. Williams himself (saying things like September 30th isn’t really an ultimatum) has had the effect of giving conservatives ample time to divide among themselves, through leaving (Bp. Steenson, Bp. Herzog, etc), or taking alternate solutions to dealing with the crisis (Network, Common Cause, Windsor Bishops, etc). But lest those of us who left get jumped on, please understand that with every passing day it gets harder and harder to stay and fight when a)we put our necks on the line, yet there seems to be little action taken by the Primates or Communion, and a)there are solid churches down the road that aren’t in turmoil that would gladly welcome you and your gifts. Regardless, October 1st should be interesting.

[150] Posted by DavidBennett on 09-24-2007 at 08:17 AM • top

I do not know if I’d go as far as Fr. Kimmel. One thing that seems clear to me is that FiFNA will has a much larger part of the Common Cause than they do now. Many of the ‘evangelical’ members seem to be staying behind in TEC for various reasons. CANA is the most liberal of those, then AMiA going down to APA on the other end. Making such broad brush statements now is not that wise, things can change and change drastically in five years. I respect Fr. Kimmel’s position but he does write with a certain basis from his own decisions. At this moment things are completely unacceptable in TEC for an Anglo-Catholic. I’m not going to write things out only because they are in flux and strange things can happen, outside player have interjected and could again that effect things (remembering their timescales are longer than ours). However for +Steenson, there would be very little room.

[151] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 09-24-2007 at 08:19 AM • top

Hi - I am trying to catch up a little.  I am an evangelical - left ECUSA in the 70s, so I am behind.  What percentage of this board is headed for Rome?  I saw a comment about WO - sounded like the thought is that the evangelicals within the conservative part of the ECUSA are OK with WO, but the Anglican Catholics are not - is that what you meant?  I know my parents are in a denomination that permits women on the vestry but not deacons or priests.  I personally would not want women in any of those spots. —Jody

[152] Posted by jody_vanness@verizon.net on 09-24-2007 at 08:23 AM • top

I am only inserting that now is the time to fight not bail. I am the worst in the world when it comes to throwing up my hands & wanting to bail. But I look at the real reasons for staying to fight. Our children & their children are not going to have the opporutunity to accept Christ as the Saviuor if we cut tail & run now. This is not about us as adults but the future generations. This is our D-Day ( no direspect intended for those who actually fought in that). Now is the hour of prayer & action. Fighting the good fight where I come from means finishing the thing until all is lost or victory is won , not until I become frustrated which ++Steenson seems to have become.

I have hope of a legal separation at some point. I hope our people want the same in some fashion.

[153] Posted by Mtn gospel on 09-24-2007 at 08:34 AM • top

<i>For one thing the Network bishops have made no real concessions on the the issue of WO and in fact Bishop Duncan took the opportunity of the Nashotah House graduation address to attack those who cannot accept WO.<i>

Not true.  He took the opportunity at the Nashotah House Alumni Mass to say that was the one issue HE wasn’t as convinced about as the other issues facing us as a Church and left it at that.  Bishop Duncan has been a champion of looking out for Anglo-Catholics throughout the realignment and we need him more than ever right now to help lead us.

Canon H.W. Herrmann, SSC
Nashotah House Alumni Secretary

[154] Posted by Dallas Priest on 09-24-2007 at 09:00 AM • top

Mtn gospel, surely the reason why Bishop Steenson is making this change is because he is convinced of the Roman Catholic church’s claims. 

I mean, if I were a bishop, but I suddenly realized that I in fact agreed entirely with the Westminster Confession, and in fact believed that the PCA Presbyterian church really was the closest thing to Truth that I could find, what would be my honorable choices here?  I mean—one cannot lead an Episcopal diocese and also be a Westminster Confession, regulative principle, non-episcopacy-believing hyper-calvinist PCA Presbyterian.

One cannot lead an Episcopal diocese and be a card-carrying Roman Catholic in doctrine and theology.

He is doing the honorable thing.  If he is a Roman Catholic then he cannot be an Episcopalian or Anglican—the two are mutually exclusive in their theological claims in numerous key points.

I should also add that if somebody is a Unitarian or essential agnostic or Muslim, one cannot be an Anglican, although certainly as we all have learned, one can be an Episcopalian.

Surely we have all experienced enough of people claiming to be or believe something, while actually believing some other religion entirely and furtively working to change the organization by hollowing it out from within.

[155] Posted by Sarah on 09-24-2007 at 09:13 AM • top

“If he is a Roman Catholic then he cannot be an Episcopalian or Anglican—the two are mutually exclusive in their theological claims in numerous key points.”

Mutually exclusive?  I don’t believe they are as there are three minor dogmas that are different than we as Anglicans.  Unless I have missed something, they are: 1.) Papal Infallibility, 2.) The Assumption and 3.) The Immaculate Conception (which most Roman Catholics believe is the conception of Jesus).

Sarah, what numerous key points are you referring to?

[156] Posted by Dallas Priest on 09-24-2007 at 09:24 AM • top

Yikes, Dallas Priest—then if they are not mutually exclusive, he did not need to convert to Rome.  ; > )

But he did need to convert to Rome—as Rome claims to be the One True Church, which Protestants do not believe.  If I did believe it, I’d convert immediately.

On the other issues, see Matt Kennedy’s extensive threads on this.  I don’t want to turn this into another debate between Protestants and Roman Catholics, so I’m not going to go there.

[157] Posted by Sarah on 09-24-2007 at 09:29 AM • top

“surely… he is convinced of the Roman Catholic church’s claims.” 

A quibble: I don’t think people are usually convinced of unique theological claims before switching church paradigms. It happens, but it’s the exception. More often it’s just an acceptance that 1) the deposit of the faith is there, 2) any troubling teaching is no more (or less) troubling than one’s current paradigm, and 3) personal factors.

This is true regardless of the direction one is headed.

[158] Posted by alfonso on 09-24-2007 at 09:45 AM • top

“hyper-calvinist PCA Presbyterian.”

Sarah, hyper-Calvinism is not the position of PCA or any Presbyterian body I know of.

[159] Posted by Laurence K Wells on 09-24-2007 at 11:06 AM • top

/ontangent
Yeah.  I guess I wouldn’t categorize the PCA as being the place to go, if one is hell bent for leather on the Regulative Principal, Hypercalvinism, the WCF, or other Reformed sticking-points.  I’m not sure why the PCA is perceived as such amongst Anglicans, except for their visibility (being the largest American conservative Presbyterian body). 

Since I believe that Presbyterians have much to gain from Anglicans and vice-versa, I think it’s important to have a grasp on what makes Presby’s tick.  But now is not the time.  It might make for an interesting series of articles at some point, though. 

/offtangent

[160] Posted by J Eppinga on 09-24-2007 at 11:54 AM • top

I can speak to this - raised in the episcopal church, now the wife of a PCA “teaching elder” (this is PCA for pastor - the other office is the ruling elders, which is like a vestry)  The PCA is not as strict on Westminster confession and regulative principle as the Orthodox presbyterian Church, for one.  There are a few other smaller denominations that place more emphasis on doctrinal purity than the PCA.  But, we are an evangelical group, and came from schisms, so yes, we do insist on subscription to certain doctrines.  Hypercalvinism, by the way, is a doctrine that states that the non-elect could accidentally hear the gospel and be saved, so the gospel should not be offered too freely.  No denomination that I know of currently believes this.  There was a dutch reformed denomination that held to this in the past.  Back to us and the anglicans - there are things we can learn from each other - and the PCA regularly and increasingly borrows from the 1928 prayer book, and we love John Guest, JI Packer, and of course, CS Lewis.

[161] Posted by jody_vanness@verizon.net on 09-24-2007 at 12:24 PM • top

Y’all, in my opinion, +Jeffrey is following his belief that I’ve heard him say in that rather than start a new schism or serve in a branch of the Catholic Church farther removed from the Apostolic Church, it is better to get closer to that Church if one has the opportunity. As many of you have observed, he knows Continuing Anglicans and others are Catholic Christians. Therefore, I think he is going as far as he can to heal the breach. He thinks patristic and pastoral.

It’s only my hunch, but I expect he chose Rome for two more reasons: First, it is Western, and he’s a Western Catholic. Second, he knows he’d never hear the great library of Christian music that is so much a part of the Western Church. Orthodoxy perhaps seems to subconsciously continue to associate the use of non-liturgical Christian music with the missionary tactics of Arius. What ever the reason, it is not there. In the video interview with +Jeffery, remember the ending and where he finds solace in the dark of the night.

I’ll probably learn more at clergy conference

Adios. . .

Bob Maxwell+

[162] Posted by Bob Maxwell+ on 09-24-2007 at 01:47 PM • top

RE: “He is going to ask the House of Bishops for permission to resign.”

Because that’s the canonically required thing, Christopher.  That’s what you MUST do when you resign as a sitting bishop in the Episcopal church.

MUST, Sarah, MUST? And what if he doesn’t follow the rules? He is, after all, resigning. What is their power over him? Surely he follows these, now to him, irrelevant canons of an irrelevant church out of a sense of, loyalty perhaps, or maybe just simple politeness.

But that underlines my question: why no sense of loyalty toward his diocese and those he pledged to lead? He is perfectly free to do as he pleases. He could tell The HOB and the PB to stuff their canons where the sun don’t shine and leave that very day. What’s to stop him?

So why the one free action and not the other.

As to a man convinced that Rome is right leading an Anglican body: surely accompanying such a belief comes the certainty that Anglicanism has liimited if little true legitimacy as a Church. If he has a position of influence with some in that church is he not honor bound to use it for the sake of their souls? As long as he is not deceitful I see no lack of integrity in such a course. I do not blame the heretics among us for trying to change the church so much as I blame the orthodox for letting them. At least the heretics are true to their false beliefs, while many of us claim to believe one thing while tolerating those among us who clearly don’t.

If I were Steenson i would have remained and tried to lead the diocese as best I could as far as I could until I was kicked out.

He could at least have asked his diocese whether they would be willing to follow him or have him remain as their bishop with his views.

Are there no shepherds who think of their sheep over their own personal journeys? Yes, I know, we must follow our heart, blah, balh, blah, blah, blah. No wonder we are a mess.

[163] Posted by Christopher Hathaway on 09-24-2007 at 04:10 PM • top

I do not know the bishop who has left, but the emotion of these comments (pro, con, and otherwise, except for those who insist on continuing the nastiest struggles of the Reformation) tell me that he was a man we could have used with us.
But my primary comment comes as I read the long string of comments while knowing that the greatest part of ECUSA (and I daresay of the orthodox groups) know nothing about this step, what triggered it, or even that the HOB has been meeting in NO.  I can tell you that in the Diocese of Kentucky the parishes are busy with fall picnics, youth retreats, and Habitat houses.  My own clergy, wardens and vestry say nothing at all of the struggle going on (actually, the wardens and vestry say nothing at all at all).  If ABC tomorrow tosses out ECUSA as it deserves (ain’t gonna happen, of course, because he is no leader), most in this parish and even more in the diocese will be stunned into even greater silence that it could happen, why it happened, or whether it makes any difference in their lives or faith. They have no clue what has happened to ECUSA, and the clergy and lay leaders here like it that way (else why do they sit mute?).  Sad enough at any time and in any way, but sadder still when ECUSA uses the silence to claim success and support. 
Who was it who first said that all it takes for evil to succeed is for the good people to do nothing?  But mention New Orleans in this diocese and my parish and conversation turns immediately to Katrina clean-up and whether the Sugar Bowl can hold out there one more year.

[164] Posted by stevenanderson on 09-24-2007 at 04:46 PM • top

Hypercalvinism, by the way, is a doctrine that states that the non-elect could accidentally hear the gospel and be saved, so the gospel should not be offered too freely.  No denomination that I know of currently believes this.

One does, the Primative Baptists (AKA “Hardshell” Baptists).  What?  You’ve never heard of the Primative Baptists?  Not surprising as they’re dying out as one might suspect a group with that approach to evangelism would.

They are indeed out there.

My roots are Presbyterian and prior to coming to Anglicanism via the Reformed Episcopal Church I was under care of and later licensed to preach in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, a denomination similar to the PCA but much older.  The free offer of the Gospel was one thing that was stressed there and in every other Reformed group with which I’ve ever had contact.

[165] Posted by Drew on 09-24-2007 at 08:58 PM • top

Most of the British battalions heading for Dunkirk on being told of the evacuation conducted “fighting withdrawals”.  A few were told by their Colonels to just haul butt to the beach.

A fighting withdrawal killed more Germans but lost more Englishmen.  The battalions that conducted a sauve qui peût “Run Away!” killed very few Germans, but had a larger fraction of their Englishmen make it to the beach alive.

Since these were the professional, experienced soldiers of the British Army, I am not going to say that saving them at that juncture was not more important than killing Germans right then.

Bishop Steenson may be directing a sauve qui peût on the grounds that his trying to lead an intact diocese to Rome is impossible.  I don’t know.  Could be.

[166] Posted by Ed the Roman on 09-24-2007 at 10:16 PM • top

Are there no shepherds who think of their sheep over their own personal journeys? Yes, I know, we must follow our heart, blah, balh, blah, blah, blah. No wonder we are a mess.

A shepherd who suddenly concludes that he is on the wrong road cannot help the sheep very much by staying on it in order not to startle them.

[167] Posted by Ed the Roman on 09-24-2007 at 10:23 PM • top

RE: “Sarah, hyper-Calvinism is not the position of PCA or any Presbyterian body I know of.”

Hi Laurence K Wells—I can see why you misunderstood my comment.  This is what I said: “I mean—one cannot lead an Episcopal diocese and also be a Westminster Confession, regulative principle, non-episcopacy-believing hyper-calvinist PCA Presbyterian.”

I did not mean to imply that the position of the PCA church was that of “hyper-calvinist”—but boy howdy there sure are some individuals out there who adore the regulative principle and are hyper calvinists who are themselves PCAers.  So my long list of adjectives were as descriptives of individuals, not of a denomination and I’m sorry it came off the other way.

RE: “I guess I wouldn’t categorize the PCA as being the place to go, if one is hell bent for leather on the Regulative Principal, Hypercalvinism, the WCF, or other Reformed sticking-points.  I’m not sure why the PCA is perceived as such amongst Anglicans, except for their visibility (being the largest American conservative Presbyterian body).”

Hey Moot—keep in mind that I’m in South Carolina, and believe me, the regulative principle is constantly labored over in these parts in PCA congregations.  It is a central part of consideration regarding their worship.  I won’t go into all the meetings that individual churches have about this sort of stuff, but it is pretty big down here.  It’s also a big deal amongst PCAers at Gordon Conwell too . . .

[168] Posted by Sarah on 09-24-2007 at 11:00 PM • top

RE: “MUST, Sarah, MUST? And what if he doesn’t follow the rules? He is, after all, resigning. . . . But that underlines my question: why no sense of loyalty toward his diocese and those he pledged to lead?”

Well you’re right—what he could have done is not bothered with all the little stuff like giving notice or following the petty rules.  Like all of us do on a regular basis, he could have just walked out of the office one day with no notice, and carrying his stuff in a box under his arm, and never even tell the boss or the HR person.  Just walk out.

[169] Posted by Sarah on 09-24-2007 at 11:06 PM • top

They have no clue what has happened to ECUSA, and the clergy and lay leaders here like it that way (else why do they sit mute?).  Sad enough at any time and in any way, but sadder still when ECUSA uses the silence to claim success and support. 

For heaven’s sake, Steven, could you say why you haven’t been discussing it with them.  When I walk through the door into my church I am saying something - I am saying that I believe what this church teaches.  Should my church elect to remain with TEC I would not walk through the door again.  It would break my heart, because we are a small church and a family.  However many picnics you are having it doesn’t seem that you all in Kentucky communicate as a family might.  You may, however, certainly be right - they may want it that way.  Thanks be to God I am in a Diocese whose bishop is a faithful shepherd committed to the Word, in all of its senses.  I heard a homily tonight that discussed being in the “Eve of Destruction.”  That we are, and sorrowful it is.

[170] Posted by Gigs Girl on 09-25-2007 at 01:06 AM • top

People,
Your bishop hasn’t abandoned you.

It is his job to lead you (his flock) to God—navigating through these novel doctines.  In his mind, he is doing his job.

If the shepherd goes this way, then his sheep goes this way.  If he goes that way, then his sheep go that way.

He has no ill intent.  By inviting the PB, he is showing you your future should you decide to stay.

If he is the man of God that you say he is (meaning that you trust him), and if you claim to be his flock, then follow him.

(or at least consider it).

Martin

PS. I’m not trying to recruit you, I’m just working through your logic.  Afterall, you did say he was your bishop.

[171] Posted by Martin on 09-25-2007 at 10:43 AM • top

“I consider Steenson to be a good man, but I am saddened that he is leaving the fight when he was charged to be one of our champions. “

I am sorry, but what fight is this that is to be had now? When I left the Episcopal Church in the early nineties it was too far gone to save.

One can speak of APO and all that but these things evade any real eccelsiological understanding. It is true that if you have a good bishop who will not allow things heretical in his diocese all you have built is a ghetto where things don’t directly impinge on you. It is still however, inescapable that your good bishop is in communion with Abp. Williams who is in turn in communion with heretics, and by that association, you in the ghetto diocese are in communion with heretics. In short, terms like ‘impaired communion’ and the like mean absolutely nothing and from the outside look like ridiculous rationalizations.

[172] Posted by gmlhawkins on 09-25-2007 at 02:17 PM • top

Hey Moot—keep in mind that I’m in South Carolina, and believe me, the regulative principle is constantly labored over in these parts in PCA congregations.  It is a central part of consideration regarding their worship.  I won’t go into all the meetings that individual churches have about this sort of stuff, but it is pretty big down here.  It’s also a big deal amongst PCAers at Gordon Conwell too . . .

Hi Sarah,

Now that you mention it, Greenville Sem (Joey, “The Puritan,” Pipa’s seminary) is in your neck of the woods.  They tend to be more old-school in their Presbyterianism (pun not intended, though possibly appropriate), blended with a distrust of Klineans or non-exclusive-6/24 types.  It would make sense that SoCar PCA’s would be more enamored of the RPW. 

As you know, I hail from the OPC;  but I was in a moderate presbytery.  Most Anglicans would have found our worship quite bland, but we did manage to house Reformed Baptists, and Exclusive Psalmists, as part of our contingent of odd-ducks.  Things are less moderate as you ascend the food-chain (e.g., from congregant to deacon to elder, to pastor), though there is room for flexibility, even at the top tiers. 

Amongst Presby’s, there are various theories on how to observe RPW.  Steelites aren’t the same as Reformed Presbyterians aren’t the same as OPC/PCA types, on down.  The OPC does tolerate Exclusive Psalmody amongst some congregations, but one reliable source has posited that this is probably out of respect for John Murray. 

They/We are a mixed bag (I say ‘they/we’ because I consider myself part of my last church, and who knows - may return there someday).  Sometimes, that’s a good thing;  sometimes, not. 

Drive several hours, and any landscape will change significantly.  wink

[173] Posted by J Eppinga on 09-25-2007 at 04:50 PM • top

It is still however, inescapable that your good bishop is in communion with Abp. Williams who is in turn in communion with heretics, and by that association, you in the ghetto diocese are in communion with heretics.

. . . it could be you left too soon.  It is possible, is it not, that the orthodox will not be in communion with Canterbury under that set of circumstances.  We have yet to see what will happen with TEC (however, that’s where the money is until they run out with their law suits).

[174] Posted by Gigs Girl on 09-25-2007 at 07:02 PM • top

I am a bit late to this thread, but I note some rather testy exchanges on the subject of the good bishop’s departure (and some directed more specifically at his choice of destinations).  I am not and have never been an Episcopalian.  However, I do have some personal and first hand knowledge of the emotional pain that goes with changing one’s religious affiliation.  All of this aside the present situation in TEC is one where I have a hard time accepting a justification for staying.  I posted some more elaborate thoughts on my blog last year.  And while I might tweek the wording a bit the substance of that essay continues to reflect my view of things.  Anyone wishing to read it may find it here…
http://ad-orientem.blogspot.com/2006/11/some-thoughts-on-loosing-war.html

Prayers for you all in your hour of struggle.

ICXC NIKA
John

[175] Posted by Ad Orientem on 09-26-2007 at 05:44 PM • top

As I said in the other thread, truly, there is little if any time left for the orthodox Anglicans in America. Those who have been saying patience, wait for the Lambeth 2008 or the covenant or whatever are plainly in the wrong.
And what group can provide for the orthodox in this short amount of time? Common pakistani clothes online Cause.As Daniel (#3) writes, the Camp Allen bishops are vanishing.It seems we will need a lot of orthodox bishops to lead the orthodox laity. Where will they come from…? Common Cause. And I think they have a meeting coming up real soon!

[176] Posted by jiterz1 on 10-17-2010 at 01:15 AM • top

*SPAM ALERT*
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[177] Posted by Wilf on 10-17-2010 at 07:06 AM • top

How odd that this thread should suddenly re-emerge!

A person cannot stay in a church whose tenets he no longer holds.

A person who has come to believe in what the Catholic Church (those united with the successor of St. Peter) teaches,  MUST join it, with the same strength to that must as the requirement that we must profess the name of Christ before men if we wish that He acknowledge us before the Father. 

So all this talk of Bishop Steenson deserting really misunderstands the situation he was in. 
Susan Peterson

[178] Posted by eulogos on 10-17-2010 at 07:48 AM • top

Jeffrey Steenson was and is a Godly person who gave his all for Rio Grande. His successor Michael Vono+ is to be consecrated October 22, 2010 and seems a Godly person as well. Maybe God knows what He is doing in both instances.

[179] Posted by Don+ on 10-17-2010 at 08:26 AM • top

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