Pittsburgh Update

Pittsburgh Update publishes weekly summaries of recent developments in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion that affect or could affect Pittsburgh Episcopalians. Emphasis is on reporting, not interpretation. This is a service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. This site is in no way affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh or the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

News for Week Ending 10/26/2009

Rome courts Anglo-Catholics

Many Anglicans were stunned October 20, 2009, when the Vatican announced a plan whereby potentially large numbers of disaffected Anglo-Catholics might join the Roman Catholic Church while retaining their liturgies and clergy. The plan would allow married Anglican priests to become Roman Catholic priests; they could not become bishops in the Roman Church, however. The Vatican move came in response to various requests from Anglo-Catholics over the years for inclusion in the Roman Catholic Church. Among such groups is the Traditional Anglican Communion, which claims 400,000 adherents worldwide but which is not part of the Anglican Communion. Because of the ongoing dispute over women bishops within the Church of England, there is concern that there could be significant defections among Church of England Anglo-Catholics, possibly involving litigation over property. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was informed about the Vatican move only at the eleventh hour and publically tried to give the story a positive spin. (See his joint statement with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster here.)

It is difficult to choose stories to link to here. An enormous number of news stories have been written about the Vatican’s announcement, and even more commentaries, on blogs and op-ed pages, have appeared and continue to appear. The AP story published in the The Washington Post provides a good, early overview. Church Times published a story several days later on “traditionalist” reactions worldwide. Episcopal News Service published its story on reactions to the Vatican here. As usual, Thinking Anglicans is doing a fine job of documenting news and commentary. Interested readers should read the first Thinking Anglicans post and follow subsequent posts on that site, which continue to appear.

Swedish church approves gay marriage

The Local reported October 22, 2009, that the Synod of the Church of Sweden, a Lutheran church, has voted to perform marriages without regard to the sexes of the principals. The measure passed by a nearly 3-2 margin. The church has allowed the blessing of same-sex unions since 2007. The Church of Sweden decision follows the May 1, 2009, legal extension of marriage to gay couples.

Ireland commends Section Four of covenant draft

According to The Church of Ireland Gazette, the Standing Committee of the Church of Ireland General Synod has commended the controversial (and still being edited) Section Four of the draft Anglican Covenant. The Standing Committee said that “we believe that the text of Section 4 as it stands commends itself in the current circumstances.” Section Four of the Ridley Cambridge Draft specifies procedures for resolving controversies within the Anglican Communion. It is currently under review and may be modified before being presented to Communion members for approval.

Centrist Episcopal bishops visit Canterbury

Episcopal News Service reported that six Episcopal bishops representing the “broad center” of The Episcopal Church spoke with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at Lambeth Palace October 23, 2009. The bishops discussed issues related to the American church and the Anglican Communion, including the proposed Anglican covenant. The six bishops are Clifton Daniel (East Carolina), Michael Curry (North Carolina), Stacy Sauls (Lexington), Neff Powell (Southwestern Virginia), and assisting bishops William Gregg and Chip Marble (both of North Carolina).

Seven conservative bishops had met with Archbishop Williams in September. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

S.C. convention votes to isolate diocese from Episcopal Church

At a special diocesan convention called by Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence, South Carolina Episcopalians approved four of the five proposed resolutions offered by the diocesan leadership. (The five resolutions brought before the convention can be read here. Bishop Lawrence’s address to the convention can be read here. It is available as a video clip here.) According to Episcopal News Service, delegates “voted Oct. 24 [2009] to distance themselves from the Episcopal Church and to seek ‘missional relationships with orthodox congregations isolated across North America.’” Among other actions, the South Carolina resolutions declared General Convention 2009 resolutions D025 and C056 null and void. Only Resolution #5, asserting that the diocese “will not condone prejudice or deny the dignity of any person, including but not limited to, those who believe themselves to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered” failed to pass. After discussing a number of amendments, the resolution was tabled.

Dallas convention promotes covenant approval by diocese

At its regular convention, the Diocese of Dallas pointedly avoided considering any resolutions. Instead, the convention, held October 16–17, 2009, considered the proposed Anglican covenant. Centerpiece of the convention was a series of three talks given by Bishop James Stanton and other speakers associated with the Anglican Communion Institute. The convention received little press coverage, perhaps because no resolutions were to be voted on, but Lionel Deimel reported that delegates were told that the diocese has as much right as The Episcopal Church to ratify and Anglican covenant and that they will be asked to do so once Section Four of the covenant is finalized.