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.

A Pittsburgh Episcopal Voice          

A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Week Ending 7/30/18

Attorney General Announces New Religious Liberty Task Force

Attorney Jeff Sessions has announced formation of a Task Force to monitor and protect religious liberty which Sessions thinks is under attack by groups pursuing women's and civil rights.  Law suits by a group asking for removal of the Bible from "empty chair" displays on military bases used to honor those who have died or gone missing in action will undoubtedly be on their agenda.  The suit has resulted in the removal of the Bible from several base displays.  Those pushing to suit argue that many have been persecuted in the military for "not being Christian enough" and inclusion of the Bible is an incursion on their rights.

Presiding Bishop Undergoes Prostate Cancer Surgery

Despite his usual energetic preaching and participation, and other duties at General Convention, the Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry was quietly dealing with a diagnosis of prostate cancer.  He announced last week that surgery for the cancer was scheduled for July 31, 2018.  The Episcopal News Service posted this afternoon that the surgery was successful and he was resting quietly.  The expected healing period will have the presiding bishop taking more time to rest for the next 6-8 weeks.  Given his high press profile, the announcement made news around the world.  The UK Daily Mail story was typical. 

Bishop Gallagher Accused of Anti-Semitism

Statements that Bishop Gayle Harris, Suffragan Bishop in Massachusetts, made while at General Convention about ways that Israel policing of Palestinians have resulted in a charge from the Simon Wiesenthal Center that she engaged in anti-semitism by propagating false stories. Harris has led church trips to the Holy Land, and has been outspoken in support of justice for Palestinians.  The Wiesenthal Center characterized the resolutions discussed and voted on at General Convention as a demonstration of the Episcopal Church's anti-Israeli stance. Harris has not at this time issued any reply.

British Bishop Steers Measure on Marriage Through House of Lords

For the first time in 20 years an English Bishop took the lead on shepherding a bill through the House of Lords.  Bishop Alan Smith of St. Albans took the lead on a bill designed to correct a legal requirement that marriage registers of the Church of England only take note of the fathers of the couple.  The requirement was put in place in 1827 and reflected the then prevalent idea that children were the property of their fathers.  The new law will ask for the mother's names as well.  Episcopal Church registers have long had space for all parents to be listed.

South Carolina Schismatics Go on the Attack

The schismatic group led by Bishop Mark Lawrence in South Carolina has gone on the attack as Episcopalians in South Carolina have started to reach out to those in parishes not participating in the Episcopal Church. They apparently fear that the efforts of Episcopalians to reconcile with those in parishes where property is now owned by the Episcopalians may be having some effect.  As reported earlier, Members of the group have published  attacks on Bishop Skip Adams, and Lawrence has announced a series of 5 meetings to counter the 3 successful "conversations" held by the Episcopalians last week.  In addition the schismatic group's web site now hosts a series of videos supposedly for adult education that rehearse all the old claims of that the Episcopal Church espouses a non-Christian God and Gospel.

Judge Holds Conference with Parties in SC Legal Case

The state judge charged with implementing the South Carolina court decision met with all parties last week.  He has asked everyone to submit issues that he needs to decide.  The schismatics are pushing a related suit under a "betterments" claim that is asking for compensation for any and all improvements every made to any of the parish buildings now ruled to belong to the Episcopal Church.  The Episcopalians are eager to have a special master appointed to deal with the  property transitions and to conduct audits of the finances.  The judge is eager to move the case along and has given the parties a reasonably short period of time to make their lists.  The Episcopal Church describes the meeting here, and blogger Steve Skaradon adds additional insights here.

Updates on Previous Stories

Bishop Defends Decision on Allowing Former Archbishop to Conduct Services

  Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury resigned an assisting bishop position a year ago after he was cited for actions covering up clergy sexual abuse.  Recently the Bishop of Oxford gave Carey "permission to officiate" in the diocese of Oxford.  This has been criticized by survivors of sexual abuse.  Bishop Croft issued his defense of the action here.

Former Bishop Asks for Work Release

Heather Cook, the former suffragan bishop of Maryland who is serving a prison term for a hit and run that resulted in the death of a bicyclist, was recently denied parole.  Now she has filed a request for work release which would allow her to leave the prison during the day.  Many are unconvinced that Cook has truly come to terms with the enormity of her actions and are opposing the release.

Fort Worth Schismatics File Appeal

As previously announced, the schismatic group in Fort Worth claiming to be the Diocese of Fort Worth has filed an appeal to the Texas State Supreme Court of the Appeals Court ruling that went in favor of the Episcopal Diocese.  The group led by Bishop Jack Iker made their announcement here and the actual filing is here.  The premise of the entire petition is that their group is the legal diocese and the appeals court used "deference" to decide that the Episcopalians were the real diocese.

Task Force Appointed in Claims of Illegal Actions During Haiti Bishop Election

During General Convention the House of Bishops received a petition claiming irregularities that tainted the election of a new bishop for Haiti.  The challenges are part of on-going conflict between the retiring bishop and the suffragan bishop.  Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has implemented a rarely used canon to ask the Province II Court of Review to do a fact finding on the election and report back by August 15.  Curry then has another 15 days to come to a decision. 

Rejected Candidate for Bishop Lands in Fort Worth

The Rev. Jacob Worley, whose election as bishop of the Canadian Diocese of Caledonia was rejected by the other bishops of the region and subsequently told to leave his parish by the bishop elected in his place, is going to serve a parish in the schismatic diocese of Fort Worth.  Worley originally was rejected for stating his belief in support of border crossing into another bishop's diocese.  Now he is going to one of the lonely low church outposts in a group that left the TEC in part because it continues to reject women's ordination.