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#275714 01/28/08 06:41 PM
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Commentary: The Continuing Drama in the Episcopal Church Visits the Diocese of Pittsburgh
By Randy Sly
1/28/2008
Catholic Online

In an attempt to rid the Episcopal Church of one of the strongest orthodox voices, the Presiding Bishop charged the Right Reverend Robert Duncan with abandoning the communion. Who will be next? What will this mean for the future of orthodox Anglicans? Where will this drama take them?

WASHINGTON (Catholic Online) � Robert William Duncan will celebrate his sixtieth birthday on July fifth this year as well as his eleventh anniversary as a bishop in September. Little did he know in 1997, when he promised to uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the church that his vows would be brought into question in a little more than a decade.

For those who hold to an orthodox Anglican perspective, Duncan has gone above and beyond the call of duty defending the church in both word and deed. Unfortunately, for Bishop Duncan and others, the church has morphed in all three areas.

Orthodox Episcopalians as well as those in the worldwide Anglican Communion, have got to be shaking their heads in disbelief concerning the inquisition currently taking place. Bishops who are faithful to the historic declarations of the church must be wondering who will be next.

According to David Virtue, of Virtue Online, Mrs. Katherine Jefforts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church U.S.A., along with an attorney and a parish priest from the Pittsburgh Diocese began proceedings against the bishop. However, Canon Law requires that three senior bishops much sign the inhibition papers necessary to impede his Episcopal authority.

In a letter to Bishop Duncan, dated January 15, 2008, Jefforts Schori indicated that the Title IV Review Committee had, in December, certified to her that he had abandoned the Communion as outlined in Canon Law.

The matter was referred to the three senior diocesan bishops authorized to rule in this matter, Bishop Frade of Florida, Bishop Lee of Virginia, and Bishop Wimberly of Texas. While the outcome of their deliberations is not completely known, the three required signatures were not given.

Bishop Dorsey Henderson, Ordinary for the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, served as President of the Review Committee and received the materials concerning Duncan from David Booth Beers, a New York attorney for the presiding bishop. Included were petitions from clergy and laity from the diocese who requested the Title IV review.

Their ruling was detailed in a forty-one page brief delivered at light speed back to Jefforts Schori. The committee was completely convinced that the bishop should be inhibited.

When one visits the Diocese of Pittsburgh�s website and clicks on the �Who We Are� navigation button, the local jurisdiction openly confirms its participation in the Worldwide Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.

The diocese also declares its affiliation with the Anglican Communion Network, which is an affiliation within the Episcopal Church that describes itself as a biblically-based missionary movement within the church. This last affiliation is the one that inflames the current ECUSA leadership and the more liberal cutting edge of the church.

Of particular interest is the statement at the top of the �Who We Are� page. Having met Bishop Duncan several years ago at a graduation exercise at Nashotah House in Wisconsin, this declaration particularly sums up the heart of the bishop from Pittsburgh.

�First and foremost, we are Christians, that is, followers of God�s Son Jesus Christ, who, through his life and by his death is able to forgive us our failings, and heal our broken relationships, first with God, and then with each other.�

The statement is followed by an invitation to learn more about Jesus which is linked to a site presenting the gospel. That�s his heart.

Now, back to the drama�

The lack of signatures on the certification for inhibition, according to the letter from the presiding bishop, will not stop the submission of the committees report to a meeting of the House of Bishops at a later meeting. She has invited Bishop Duncan to provide her with proof of his loyalty within the next two months.

Mrs. Jefforts Schori, who said she was sorry that she could not inhibit Duncan, will most likely continue to leverage whatever political avenues are at her disposal in an attempt to unseat other bishops, as well, who do not embrace the revisionist ethos that currently inhabits the church.

Many have tried to anticipate what will ultimately happen to the ECUSA, to Anglicans, and what impact all of this has on the Catholic world.

First, we need to recognize that there is no central movement of orthodox Anglicans in America. In fact, multiple jurisdictions, both within ECUSA and outside, through Anglican bishops in other countries, now exits. This is contrary to the true Anglican ethos. The Anglican Communion recognizes only one jurisdiction in any geographic area; but now, which one?

In the 1970�s more than two-dozen groups, categorized as the Continuing Church Movement, came into existence due to women�s ordination and the revised Book of Common Prayer. Today, the number is increasing rapidly with new names, such as the Anglican Communion Network, Anglican Mission in America, Convocation of Anglicans in North America, Episcopal Missionary Church and others.

We can also add to this number some of the continuing church jurisdictions that still exist as well as newer denominations with similar names and liturgies such as the Charismatic Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Episcopal Church.

The question thus exists, who speaks for orthodox Anglicans in America?

Second, the movements of Orthodox Anglicans have no unified understanding of what orthodox Anglicans believe. Some hold to the ordination of women, others do not. Some affirm the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacraments, while others do not. Various polities and approaches to Canon Law are also being exercised in the different jurisdictions.

Attempts are being made at trying to unify some of the movements. Only time will tell whether the activity will actually bear any meaningful fruit or not.


Third, these various jurisdictions do nothing to settle the ultimate issue of Christian solidarity. We are simply fragmenting once again. In His High Priestly Prayer, our Lord prayed for us to be one, as He and the Father are one.

I would submit that only the two historic lungs of the Church, the East and the West, can provide an ultimately safe and secure home for orthodox Anglicans. Both have experienced a trickle of converts over the centuries, but the past few decades there has been a much greater insurgence.

In the Catholic Church, a group that has been encouraging and strengthening Anglican converts over the last few years is the Anglican Use Society. The group was formed to encourage Episcopal priests, who were coming in through the Pastoral Provision authorized by Pope John Paul II in 1980, as well as individuals and parishes who were also converting.

While the work of establishing the Pastoral Provision extends back almost three decades, this initiative of JPII provides the groundwork for inviting Anglo-Catholics to come home after five centuries of separation.

Fully Catholic in every way, former Episcopal parishes that come into full communion have the option of requesting authorization to celebrate the Mass uses liturgies found in the �Book of Divine Worship� which contains modified Anglican rites conformed to Catholic teaching.

Now is the time for Catholics to reach out to those who are searching for a true Christian home. Anglican Use parishes exist in a few places, and most Episcopalians would be comfortable in the Catholic liturgies celebrated in our parishes.

Through RCIA, those on a journey can explore and thoroughly investigate the teachings of the Church prior to making any commitment. The Catechism is also a wonderful resource to offer these new pilgrims.

One only needs to watch �Journey Home� on EWTN or search the Internet to realize that a large number of converts are currently entering the Church. As one of those numbers, I was counseled by my mentor that one must come in and enjoy being fully Catholic, not an anglo-catholic in exile. I, for one, came in with my hands empty and my heart full.

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For those who hold to an orthodox Anglican perspective, Duncan has gone above and beyond the call of duty defending the church in both word and deed. Unfortunately, for Bishop Duncan and others, the church has morphed in all three areas.


I would hardly called Bishop Duncan "orthodox" since he has no problem with ordaining women to the deaconate. That's never been a tradition in Anglicanism.

Now some may recall that in the mid-20th century there was an 'Order of Deaconesses' in the P.E. Church, however they were simply "nuns in disguise". Many Broad- and Low Church Episcopalians objected to the idea of nuns in the church, especially since the Anglo-Catholics were founding religious orders left and right. Thus the Order of Deaconesses was started at, I think, the Cathedral of S. John the Divine in New York.

Bishop Duncan also has no problem with the Modern Prayerbook and the revised liturgy.

So by Anglican standards, I'd say he's more of a conservative than someone who's an 'orthodox Anglican'. That term is a much abused word these days.

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Second, the movements of Orthodox Anglicans have no unified understanding of what orthodox Anglicans believe. Some hold to the ordination of women, others do not. Some affirm the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacraments, while others do not. Various polities and approaches to Canon Law are also being exercised in the different jurisdictions.


Precisely.

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Actually, the idea that Catholics are unified in their belief is also something of a novelty.

They all belong to one Church. Whether they accept the faith AND morals as taught by the Church is another story.

While Catholicism does not ordain women, that doesn't mean there isn't a strongly organized movement within the Catholic Church to change this in future (I understand this movement has representatives in many parishes too).

I prefer a traditional High Anglican Catholic to many modern Catholics nowadays.

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The Coptic Orthodox Church also has deaconesses. Is this supposed to impugn their Orthodoxy? For that matter, the Catholic Church (surprise!) also has deaconesses - a solemnly professed, consecrated Carthusian Nun is an ordained deaconess.

The Byzantine service for the Ordination of a Deaconess is readily available.

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While Catholicism does not ordain women, that doesn't mean there isn't a strongly organized movement within the Catholic Church to change this in future (I understand this movement has representatives in many parishes too).


ALEX:

Alas, I fear for the day that some bishop does what the Episcopal bishops did in the U.S. in 1974: simply go ahead, defy Church authority and rules, and do it. As with all abuses, the Church then has to find some way to figure out if the dissenters will be excommunicated or whether they enjoy too much secret support in high places and must then be accomodated.

We have a long list of things that have come our way in that fashion and it doesn't take a lot of imagination to think that it might happen in this area, too, despite the authoritative statement binding Catholics from HH JP2 in 1994.

BOB

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Father, bless.

The Anglicans don't seem to do deaconesses anymore, not even in the "conservative" sections.. do they? they've abandoned deaconesses for the title of Anglican deacon, priest, or bishop.

I've never seen, read, or heard of an Anglican deaconess within the last 100 years (except for the organization called Anglican Deaconess Institution Syndey, which doesn't seem to have any deaconess affiliated with it.)

The only time I've seen the title "deaconess" used by the Anglican Communion, it was used interchangeably with "deacon" - "deacon" being the preferred title for both genders.

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AHA - I knew an Anglican Deaconess who served with the Anglican Chaplain to the Hospital where I did my nursing training in London from 1959 - 1963 smile

She was always in a dress of navy blue with a silver cross - far more approachable than the Chaplain [ full time but very very pernickety ]

She always emphasised to us that her role was a very pastoral one - not liturgical/clerical

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This is laughable; Duncan is orthodox, ECUSA is apostate. Nuehaus is correct: when orthodoxy is optional, it eventually is prohibited.

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All are schismatics and outside of Grace. The only difference between them is a matter of degree.

Alexandr

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I don't begrudge people like Bishop Duncan trying to save their church home (and he is being shabbily treated) but on the other hand the handwriting was on the wall 30 years ago - not only women's ordination but the gay thing. One of the new women priests then was an out lesbian, the Revd Carter Heyward IIRC. (She's still around, I think at Harvard).

Also it's wrong to say ECUSA (or any liberal Protestant church) is apostate (even if they're wrong on the gay thing) - the Nicene, Apostles' and Athanasian creeds are in the Episcopal prayer book. If they junk that officially and go Unitarian then they'd be apostates, which mean no longer Christians.

BTW I was just reminded that yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Continuum, the breakaway ex-Episcopalians who've since split and split again into several small, usually soundly Anglo-Catholic churches.

Four bishops - ex-Episcopal priests - were consecrated by a retired Episcopal one and a Filipino one affiliated with the Anglicans - they meant to start 'the Anglican Church of North America' and hoped they'd be chosen by the Anglican Communion to replace the Episcopal Church, much like the new conservative groups want now. Obviously it didn't happen back then. (One of the four became a Roman Catholic shortly afterwards.)

Actually today, and it's been true for about 15 years, most of their members were never Episcopalians. They're converts from other denominations.

I think at least one of these churches has the nun-like deaconesses as well as a few nuns.

BTW I vaguely remember in England a tiny sub-group of Anglo-Catholics, Anglo-Orthodox, complete with a newsletter. (Never met any.) I understand that since women's ordination began in the Church of England in the early 1990s it's disappeared with most logically converting to Orthodoxy.

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Originally Posted by The young fogey

Also it's wrong to say ECUSA (or any liberal Protestant church) is apostate (even if they're wrong on the gay thing) - the Nicene, Apostles' and Athanasian creeds are in the Episcopal prayer book. If they junk that officially and go Unitarian then they'd be apostates, which mean no longer Christians.
Many of the contemporary Anglicans I have met no longer consider the Creeds binding and view it as metaphorical or historical or conform it to fit with their view - in the same manner as Unitarian-Universalist "Christians". Some behave as though they have the Creed because they must, but find every loophole out of having to truly believe it. One told me that since the pronoun "We" is used, he doesn't have to believe all of it, since odds are that some in the collective congregation believe the parts that he doesn't... talk about a winding road..

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Second, the movements of Orthodox Anglicans have no unified understanding of what orthodox Anglicans believe. Some hold to the ordination of women, others do not. Some affirm the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacraments, while others do not. Various polities and approaches to Canon Law are also being exercised in the different jurisdictions.


So am I to understand that "orthodox Anglican" is an oxymoron?

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I would hardly called Bishop Duncan "orthodox" since he has no problem with ordaining women to the deaconate. That's never been a tradition in Anglicanism. . . .

Bishop Duncan also has no problem with the Modern Prayerbook and the revised liturgy.

So by Anglican standards, I'd say he's more of a conservative than someone who's an 'orthodox Anglican'. That term is a much abused word these days.


It seems to me that the Anglicans have tried very hard to keep up with the post-Vatican II Latin Church. It began as an entity that claimed to have reformed the Medieval Latin Church and, for some centuries, seemed able to continue to make this claim. Then came Rome's renewal in the 1960s and it seems that the Anglicans had to "get out in front" again. So they've adopted almost everything that the secular culture has put its seal of approval on.

I'm sorry but His Grace seems to be a man who is just not as far along as his colleagues and they have taken action to keep their group together. Whether this action or actions falls within their own rules seems to be something that they will resolve internally. But every group can only stand so much flexibility before its cohesion is destroyed. IMHO, the Anglican Church is far removed today from what it started out to be and far removed from what the Apostolic Churches can identify as being like themselves.

In Christ,

BOB


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This is a standard practice in Liberal circles. They declare soemone unorthodox or in violation fo some rule in roder to banishthem and silnce thei pice, so as to render their own as the sole voice nayoen hars. Schori wasnts ot revise the Episcopal Churhc ( Now known as "The Episcopal CHurch", shortened ot TEC not ECUSA) into a modenr, Liberal form of CHristendom, and mostof the superiors int e Chruhc agree to this direction. THose who have not followed suit are a threat to his, so must be gotten rid of.

And Schori does precicley this.

Although she still tlaks of love, tolerance, and diversity and aceptign a range of beelifs and ideas.

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I've never seen, read, or heard of an Anglican deaconess within the last 100 years (except for the organization called Anglican Deaconess Institution Syndey, which doesn't seem to have any deaconess affiliated with it.)


Not true. My copy of the guide book to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York (circa 1940s) mentions the 'Order of Deaconesses' at the Cathedral.

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Originally Posted by Michael_Thoma
Originally Posted by The young fogey

Also it's wrong to say ECUSA (or any liberal Protestant church) is apostate (even if they're wrong on the gay thing) - the Nicene, Apostles' and Athanasian creeds are in the Episcopal prayer book. If they junk that officially and go Unitarian then they'd be apostates, which mean no longer Christians.
Many of the contemporary Anglicans I have met no longer consider the Creeds binding and view it as metaphorical or historical or conform it to fit with their view - in the same manner as Unitarian-Universalist "Christians". Some behave as though they have the Creed because they must, but find every loophole out of having to truly believe it. One told me that since the pronoun "We" is used, he doesn't have to believe all of it, since odds are that some in the collective congregation believe the parts that he doesn't... talk about a winding road.


The Unitarian Universalist Association and the Episcopal Church in a way are opposites: the former don't claim to be a Christian church but have members who personally believe what the creeds say; the latter are officially a Christian church but as you say there are many members who in their beliefs are no longer Christian (the scepticism you describe has been known among nominal Anglicans since the 'Enlightenment'; America's founding fathers were like that).

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