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, December 3, 2012

News for Week Ending 12/3/2012

Uganda anti-gay bill slated for passage before Christmas

According to the Associated Press, Ugandan parliamentarian David Bahati said November 30, 2012, that a new anti-gay bill, with severe penalties but without a death penalty, is likely to be passed by Christmas. The content of the new bill has not be released. It was Bahati who first introduced an anti-homosexuality bill in the Ugandan parliament that has been widely criticized by church and government leaders outside Uganda. Passage of earlier versions of the bill has been urged by religious leaders within Uganda, however. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The AP story has been published in The Washington Post and elsewhere.

CoE women bishops legislation to be revisited soon

The Church of England’s Archbishops Council, a group of 19 people who act as the standing committee of the General Synod, issued a press release November 28, 2012, stating that it had “decided that a process to admit women to the episcopate needed to be restarted at the next meeting of the General Synod in July 2013.” The failure to adopt the measure that would have provided for women bishops in the Church of England has been widely criticized both from within the church and outside of it. It has even caused some to raise once again the prospect of disestablishment. (See, for example, a recent essay published by Ekklesia.)

The next day, a letter appeared in The Times from eight laypersons who had voted against the legislation, asserting that their vote (and that of several others) was not indicative of their opposition to women bishops but to a perception that the legislation provided insufficient provisions for those who are opposed. The letter is behind the newspaper’s pay wall, but excepts are available from Thinking Anglicans.

On December 1, the Bristol Diocesan Synod passed a resolution of no confidence in the General Synod as a result of its failure to adopt the women bishops measure. On the same day, it was reported that members of the House of Laity have gathered enough signatures to call an emergency meeting of the body that could oust the House of Laity Chair, Dr. Philip Giddings, who spoke forcefully against passage of the legislation. Thinking Anglicans has suggested that the meeting will take place in January.

Same-sex blessings authorized in Quebec

With the approval of his diocese, Bishop of Quebec Dennis Drainville, has authorized priests in the Diocese of Quebec to perform same-sex blessings. Priests will neither be required to bless same-sex couples nor be able to perform same-sex marriages, which are legal in Canada. According to the December issue of Gazette, the diocese joins about a dozen other dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada in blessing same-sex couples. The action was announced and approved at the diocesan Synod, which was held November 2–4, 2012.

Anglican Communion Institute writes bishops about actions in South Carolina

The Anglican Communion Institute (ACI), a small conservative group with no official status within the Anglican Communion despite its name, sent an open letter to Episcopal Church bishops November 27, 2012. The letter describes what the ACI describes as “un-canonical (and perhaps even unlawful) actions on the part of our Presiding Bishop and her associates” related to events in the Diocese of South Carolina. The letter, signed by the Rev. Prof. Christopher Seitz, the Rev. Dr. Philip Turner, and the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner urges bishops “to take the necessary steps to restore the good order of our church,” implying, though not stating, that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori should be charged with canonical violations under Title IV.

Catholic journal editorializes in favor of women priests

National Catholic Reporter, an independent U.S. journal covering the Roman Catholic Church, published an editorial December 3, 2012, urging the ordination of women to the priesthood. “Barring women from ordination to the priesthood is an injustice that cannot be allowed to stand,” the editors wrote. The editorial reviews the church’s increasingly hard-line attitude toward the idea of women priests and is, in part, a reaction to the recent removal from the priesthood of Roy Bourgeois. Bourgeois ordained a Catholic woman in 2008 and has refused to recant his support of women priests.