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, May 19, 2014

News for Week Ending 5/19/2014

England’s last religion reporter leaving The Times

Ruth Gledhill, the last reporter exclusively on the religion beat in England, is leaving The Times after 27 years. Gledhill was a respected religion journalist, though, in her final years on the paper, her columns had disappeared behind a pay wall, making them unavailable to most readers. It is perhaps a matter of perspective whether Gledhill’s departure signals a recognition of the waning significance of religion in the U.K. or whether consideration of religion has been woven into general reporting, thereby making a religion reporter unnecessary. Gledhill’s departure was first revealed by The Tablet, a Roman Catholic publication. The Press Gazette story includes quotes from Gledhill.

Tengatenga appointed to Sewanee post

The University of the South’s School of Theology announced May 13, 2014, that the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga, Ph.D., has been appointed distinguished visiting professor of global Anglicanism, effective July 1. Tengatenga, a former bishop of Southern Malawi, had accepted a position at Dartmouth College last year, but his appoint was withdrawn after questions were raised—unfairly, perhaps—about his views on homosexuality. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) According to the Sewanee press release, Tengatenga “will teach courses in missiology, contemporary global Anglicanism, and related subjects.”

Anglican Church in Aotearoa, N.Z. and Polynesia recommits to gender balance, moves forward on same-sex blessings

Anglican Taonga reported May 14, 2014, that the General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia passed a resolution strengthening the existing standing resolution concerning gender balance on decision-making church bodies. The church will now strive to have equal numbers of men and women on governing and consultative bodies and will seek balanced representation in public worship and official gatherings.

Also on May 14, the General Synod passed a resolution that moves the church closer to regularizing the blessing of same-sex unions, while affirming what is usually called traditional marriage. The actual resolution can be read here. Anglican Taonga reported on the adoption here. Readers can rightly be confused, so we won’t offer a full description of what the resolution means here. Bosco Peters has written about the resolution and finds it less progressive than it might seem.

The archbishops of the church have written a pastoral letter about what was done. Perhaps of greatest interest is this line: “We also are apologising unreservedly to the LGBT community where the church has not acted in a loving way.”

Church of Norway rejects same-sex marriage

We are reporting somewhat belatedly that the Church of Norway (not an Anglican church) rejected a move to allow same-sex marriages to be conducted in churches, even though such marriages are legal in Norway. Paradoxically, the church synod also reject a reaffirmation of the traditional view of marriage. The story was covered here.

Gay marriage advances fitfully across nation

Same-sex marriage in the U.S. made advances this past week, but it did so in fits and starts. We begin by recognizing that the first marriage license to a same-sex couple in the U.S. was issued in Massachusetts on May 17, 2004, a full decade ago. Los Angeles Times published a story on the anniversary about the couple that was the recipient of that license.

On May 13, U.S. District Judge Candy Dale declared Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, and the state would have to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples May 16. On May 15, however, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay pending further consideration of whether the stay should be continued while the state appeals the district court ruling. No same-sex couples have been married in Idaho. The story was covered by CNN.

In Arkansas, same-sex marriage has been on and off again. A county judge struck down the state ban on same-sex marriage, and some marriage licenses were issued. The state Supreme Court then stopped the issuance of licenses because another law prohibited their being issued. The original judge than struck down all related laws, but the Supreme Court on May 16 temporarily halted gay marriage in Arkansas by issuing a temporary injunction. This is all very confusing, of course, but Los Angeles Times has done a fair job of explaining everything. Its stories are here, here, and here.

The cause of marriage equality was doing better in Oregon. On May 19, a federal district judge struck down a voter-approve ban on same-sex marriage. (The opinion is here.) The state’s attorney general had declared in February that she would not defend the ban. The National Organization for Marriage, however, has apparently asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to block the ruling. Stay tuned. The story was covered by CNN here.

Proposed San Joaquin ruling could be total victory for Episcopalians

After years of legal wrangling, property issues in San Joaquin following the schism of the diocese appear to be nearing an end. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) On May 5, 2014, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald S. Black issued a tentative and proposed statement of decision that, though subject to modification, is likely to be essentially similar to the final judgment. Although the judgment can be appealed, many of its premises are not subject to further dispute. The proposed decision asserts that a diocese cannot leave The Episcopal Church as Bishop Schofield and his supporters claim to have done, and it grants to the Episcopal diocese everything it asked for. Essentially, the judgment will return all diocesan property to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. Episcopal News Service covered the story. The breakaway diocese, apparently seeing little chance prevailing in the long-running litigation, issued this letter.

Episcopalians suffer another loss in South Carolins

Litigation is going less well in South Carolina. The South Carolina Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC) seeking access to legal correspondence prior to the diocesan schism (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) According to a press release from the ECSC, the Supreme Court action did not address whether ECSC is actually entitled to the correspondence. Litigation now returns to the trial court.