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         

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Week Ending 09/17/18

St. Paul's School Signs Agreement Ending Criminal Investigation

The criminal investigation of sexual abuse at St. Paul's School in Conway, New Hampshire has ended with a formal agreement signed by school and the New Hampshire Attorney General. According to the Concord Monitor, the agreement creates the position of independent monitor, paid for by the school, but reporting to the Attorney General.  The monitor will ensure that the school is meeting all reporting requirements.  After 3 years there will be a review to see if the position should be continued.  This agreement contains similar language to an agreement signed with the Roman Catholic diocese in 2002.  The Boston Globe coverage notes that the school is also paying for the costs of the investigation and reports the term of the independent monitor as 5 years. Both accounts note the agreement  is hailed as providing some oversight of private schools, which have operated outside any governmental review in the state.  The Update has regularly covered the investigations at St. Paul's.  The most recent story is here.   

Dioceses Respond to Natural Disasters

This last week east coast residents were dealing not only with the massive flooding from Hurricane Florence but gas explosions that destroyed over 70 homes and caused evacuations in three Massachusetts towns. In addition, the country received new reports on the slow recovery of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico from last year's double hits by Hurricanes Maria and Irma, and the large death toll resulting from the storm damage in Puerto Rico.  The Episcopal Church bishops in areas affected by Florence issued this statement, and the Episcopal News Service had this story on relief efforts.  The Massachusetts bishop also issued a statement about efforts to help those affected by the gas explosion.  Almost appearing as a cautionary tale given the latest storm destruction, the ENS also filed two stories (here and here) on the slow pace of recovery in the Virgin Islands. The Diocese of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have been working with Episcopal Relief in rebuilding.  Update has carried earlier stories on the relief efforts from Maria and Irma.  You can find some here, here, here, and here.

Same-Sex Blessings Get Another Hearing

Bishops in the Church of Wales voted last week on a resolution that declared it "pastorally unsustainable" to not provide some form of recognition for same sex couples who have married or registered civil unions. The vote was positive and at future gatherings the bishops will look at proposals on what "formal provision" will look like.  The bishops are looking for a way forward that will allow the church to recognize the couples without causing schism.  The primate of the Episcopal Church in Scotland was invited to the meeting to give insight on the path the Scottish church took to authorizing celebrations of same sex marriage in its churches. In Australia, where the large bloc of votes from the Sydney area has prevented the Anglican Church of Australia from responding positively to the recent legislation allowing civil marriages for same-sex couples, the Dean of the Cathedral in Brisbane has proposed a measure to the synod of the diocese of Brisbane that would allow individual parishes go ahead with blessing civil marriages. Brisbane refused in 2017 to endorse a statement of the Australian church that marriage was limited to couples composed of a man and a woman.  The Diocese of Wangaratta in Australia has already approved a similar measure.

GAFCON Chair Pushes Concurrent Jurisdictions

The current head of GAFCON, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria issued a letter supporting the proposal from Archbishop Davies of Sydney, Australia that the province of New Zealand recognize concurrent jurisdictions (see Update coverage here) in New Zealand where GAFCON is recognizing as a separate province  a handful of parishes unhappy with the recent decision of New Zealand to allow local option of blessing same sex marriages. The whole letter is an admission that GAFCON is creating a separate version of the Anglican Communion. It also is a tacit admission that GAFCON has failed to replace the provinces it considers heretical (such as The Episcopal Church) with the schismatic groups it has recognized.  The letter has a very skewed version of the schism in North America, focusing on the cost of "aggressive"litigation over church property in the US.  GAFCON apparently intends to push for concurrent jurisdictions at the  upcoming meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council, Primates meeting and 2020 Lambeth Council as a means of getting groups such as ACNA a seat in the Anglican Communion.  Mark Harris has a good commentary on Okoh's letter.

Schismatic Bishop Announces He Has Cancer

Bishop Jack Iker of the schismatic group in Fort Worth has sent a letter to his diocese saying that he has a rare cancer embedded in his chest wall and will be undergoing surgery.  He intends to remain as bishop until his recently announced retirement date in 2019.