Monday, February 22, 2010

Presiding Bishop holds a press conference

Katharine Jefferts Schori held a press conference today with Bonnie Anderson of the House of Deputies and the majority of the questions had to do with just one subject - her apparent threat to sue the bishop of South Carolina if he doesn't sue parishes who may separate from The Episcopal Church. Here's an excerpt:

Cherie Wetzel , The Anglican Voice: For the Presiding Bishop, Can you explain why Bishop Mark Lawrence’s decision to postpone the diocesan convention in order to respond to the attorney’s request, generated your extensive report to the Executive Council on South Carolina last Friday?

PB: I wanted the Executive Council to be aware of it.

***

Doug LeBlanc, The Living Church: In the ENS (Episcopal News Service) report on Friday, you indicated that the PB spoke about the situation in South Carolina, asking people pray for the people in SC. What change do you hope to see as a result of those prayers?

PB: I want a clear understanding of realities of TEC and don’t want the people of South Carolina to rely on erroneous information, provided by other sources.

Bonnie Anderson: Have heard from several of the deputies from south Carolina. They have a desire for clear and accurate information; prayer all across the church for this situation.

***

Mary Ann Moehler for Virtueonline: TEC has gone after traditionalists with a vengeance. Now you are going after South Carolina. What do you hope to gain doing this?

PB: Episcopalians in SC have expressed concern to my office about those who have left diocese or are contemplating doing so and continued to exercise control over Episcopal assets. That is my primary concern.

***

George Conger, reporter at large: to the PB and President: You both expressed receiving erroneous information in SC. What is this erroneous information? Where did it come from?

PB: Episcopalians, like many others who use the internet, seek information that is not subject to peer review [Ed. Note: as information is in academic circles.] They rely on opinion, not fact. The South Carolina representation of our theology and polity as a whole is not accurate. There are stated processes of this Church that are not accurate. I would encourage South Carolinians to ask bodies of TEC that are responsible for these decisions and get their facts straight.

Read it all here at AnglicansUnited. Tip of the Tinfoil to Kendall Harmon at T19.

36 comments:

Father Lee Nelson said...

I love how SHE's the only one with reliable information. What a quackette.

Kelso said...

The Presiding Oceanographer is once again stirring the bubbling pot of toil and trouble....I say we send for an exorcist!

oldmiler said...

Lee+,
Your sarcasm is a poor cover for inaccuracy. She has made NO claim to being the only one with reliable information. Her claim was that some in SC have not been provided good information about actions of TEC in GC or by way of EC. These are not equivalent statements.
If your comment is similar to anything you repeat in public or church-wide conversations it then qualifies as exactly the kind of information she fears many in SC and in Central California must read past in order to get to the truth.
It will help the conversation that still needs to be had for all parties to avoid blatant inaccuracies such as yours and the tone of sarcasm with which you have written.
Remove the sarcasm and still one is left wondering why you have commented at all except to further an untruth.
Dann+

PS Your characterization of the PB as a quackette is inflammatory and as unnecessary as your sarcasm.

Anonymous said...

An easy habit has descended on folks who have issues with the Church. The Presiding Bishop is routinely the subject of school-boy level ridicule. As I've said before, she's not particularly my cup of tea and I would have preferred someone else during these times. However, the general attitude is indicative of a low human disposition to demonize (in some cases almost literally, when it comes to the PB and the Church) persons with other viewpoints or positions.

I am concerned that the national Church is not playing its hand prudently in South Carolina, but I do not have a very complete picture of what is going on there. Several folks whom I respect have assured me that Bishop Lawrence is committed to staying within the Episcopal Church, but has stepped his Diocese back from participation in national church governance structures to protest recent initiative of the General Convention. At least one person active in the Diocese has stated, however, that he fears that there is a risk that the continuing Episcopalians in the Diocese are being disenfranchised gradually, in a situation he likens to the frog in the increasingly hot stewpot, and that they may find themselves down the road a bit without recourse as secessionists leave, but displace those who stay from worship in their churches. This would create on the Diocesan level something very much like the disgraceful conditions that occurred on the parish level in some places within the Diocese of Virginia.

The Presiding Bishop has an acute interest in not permitting this, to the extent her authority can avoid it (I think that is a very trenchant question at the moment). On the other hand, if those who say Bishop Lawrence is trying manfully to keep the Diocese within the church are correct (leaving to one side whether a Diocese can actually leave the church (I suspect the people just leave but the Diocesan structure remains and would have to be repopulated if Bishop Lawrence and other leaders cast off), some skillful diplomacy and conciliatory moves by the PB are in order. I'm not sure she and her advisors have much in the way of carrots or sticks in their rucksacks, but I hope they have tried and are continuing to try the former before resorting to the latter.

Scout

Allen said...

If "some" in S.C. have not been provided with accurate information, then how many tens of thousands MORE have been mislead by ENS? By the PB?

I think that the powers in 815 know that they cannot control information. They aren't bothered about people getting accurate information, but are more bothered about dissent. They have stopped caring about their goals as much as their image.

Anonymous said...

The PB is known by her actions. It is not necessary to ridicule her.

RalphM

Robert said...

Scout, when the PB was elected I was hoping that maybe she had the gift of healing the rift or minimizing the distance, but my from seat she has been all stick and no carrot throughout this entire process. Even DEPO was dead on arrival. Every day I watch the debacle that has become the church I was born and raised in I am grateful I left.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous...you post should have read like this:

"At least one person active in the Diocese has stated, however, that he fears that there is a risk that the continuing Theologically Conservative Episcopalians in the the United States are being disenfranchised gradually, in a situation he likens to the frog in the increasingly hot stewpot, and that they may find themselves down the road a bit without recourse as heresy-promoting church leaders stay, then sue those who stay to worship in the churches they paid for and kept up."

don't throw rocks when you live in a glass house...

ettu said...

Lord A'Mighty (eyes gazing skyward)--all the woman is asking is that people on the ground in South Carolina be exposed to multiple sources of information and that they realize the pre-judged bias of some of them - and to receive prayer from others - what is so awful about that? Didn't the old USSR mislead people by limiting their choice of news - give the PB a break - her statements are non-threatening if there is only truth being told by the fundamentalists and literalists in the so called conservative camp-

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with calling the PB names...it is childish and disrespectful. I would rather hammer away at her poor theology, and her misguided legal disputes.

Everyone has a spin in this debate...and each side is allowed their opinion as to what it means to be "informed". I hope the PB says more about this...in fact I would love a straight answer instead of "we're listening" or "we're exploring the claims of a handful of congregants". For as much as these blogs explode every time she opens her mouth I'd love to hear a little more detail in her sweeping generalizations about the state of her denomination.

Realist said...

Horsefeathers. If you're concerned about people getting erroneous information, you give them correct information. You don't go down to South Carolina from NYC and bring the lawyers.

BabyBlue said...

I agree, Anon - I'd like to hear more detail from Bishop Schori. Her recent statements come across as though she thinks that the people of the Diocese of South Carolina are simply mindless sheep and not capable of investigating the facts for themselves.

bb

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

The Denis Canon has been supported by the civil courts in most states, Virginia and South Carolina being,for the present the exceptions. I think those in South Carolina who are contemplating secession need to be aware of the real possibility that they will ultimately not be able to sustain in court claims to parish properties.

If there is some doubt that the Bishop of South Carolina will defend TEC's property rights, it seems a wise move to have lawyers in South Carolina to be sure those rights are defended. It would also be fair to say that the Bishop is bound by his ordination promised to enforce the Denis Canon.

Anonymous said...

Entertain me for a moment...

So let's say the Denis Canon turns out to be valid in all 50 states by the Judiciary.
Does anyone in TEC see an underlying problem beyond merely enforcing the Denis Canon? Wouldn't you think that TEC might be wanting to re-assess their modus operandi due to numerous congregations (and in some instances entire diocese) leaving or wanting to leave TEC?

This didn't happen over night...and it seems that most leaders in TEC would rather ignore the "why?" behind why these congregations wanted to leave. It's more about enforcing property rights than truly examining WHY these people desire to leave the denomination. I am under the impression that the vast majority of TEC leaders simply do not care to understand "why?" congregants, priests and diocese leave...they merely want the buildings and the "brand" name.

The PB shouldn't be sending lawyers...she should be actually LISTENING to the people in the pews who desire to leave...because clearly she hasn't done that and it shows by her actions. Send lawyers instead of having the spine to show up at and speak with Bishop Lawrence and his people face to face. I am of the opinion that she would a) not like what she would hear and b) be called out for her actions as PB.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fr. Daniel Weir said...

I think the PB and many other leader understand only too well why people want to leave TEC. One only has to read this blog and others to understand that there are sisters and brothers who are convinced that the ordination of a partnered gay man as Bishop of NH was wrong and are no longer willing to remain in a Church which shows no signs of being ready to refuse to consent to the ordination of other partnered gay and lesbian clergy. Some sisters and brothers left immediately - as did some of the members of our parish - and others have left during the past 7 years and still others are considering leaving. While there are clearly other issues, including disagreements with TEC's leaders on theology or on the focus on the MDGs, the most important issue is the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the life of TEC. On that issue TEC's leadership is not likely to change its position, no matter how much the PB and others listen to people in the pews. If there are voices that have been ignored, I would welcome hearing about that. I think, however, that the assertion that the PB hasn't listened is without foundation. What I think it may be is the arrogant assumption that she could not have been listening, because if she had been she would have changed her mind. I have listened to the arguments against full inclusion for a decade or more and I remain unconvinced. Of course, I may be wrong in my convictions, but like Luther I can stand nowhere else until I am convinced that I am wrong.

Anonymous said...

anon0012 - the "paid for" meme is a meaningless data bit. The people who elect to leave the church AND the people who elect to stay have both "paid for" things and activities in the church. The difference is simply that those who choose to leave don't have a reasonable expectation that they get to take stuff with them when they go, whereas those who choose to stay probably do have some reasonable basis to expect that the buildings they stay in will not be looted of their contents or, even more dramatically that the buildings themselves will not be removed by departees.

Scout

Allen said...

I suppose that it is utterly pointless to press the point that 815 and its acolytes are total frauds. They banter and travel about talking about mission and blow increasingly mounting sums of money on lawsuits. They talk about evangelism and youth and demolish the budget for both. The entire HOB has lost its spine and have allowed a madhouse of wrecklessness among themselves and all the while they insist on respect.

This is truly just an argument about people control. 815 knows that the battle is lost over supporting the liberal failure of the New Thing. They just want the props and pensions. The budget certainly shows nothing to support the talk about mission and ministry. Got those facts from those who publish them at ENS. Not easy. But still there if you look past the smoke.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

"I suppose that it is utterly pointless to press the point that 815 and its acolytes are total frauds." I find it interesting to read comments like Allen's in which the people involved in making difficult decisions are reduced to a street address and those who might support those decisions are dismissed as acolytes. I know 815 is shorthand, but it is bad shorthand in this case. The decisions which Allen lists were made, not by 815 or the staff that work there, but by the Bishops and Deputies at General Convention and/or by the elected members of Executive Council. To dismiss the people involved in those decisions - and the Bishops and Deputies number somewhere near 1,000 - is hardly an indication of Allen's stated concern for people.

Anonymous said...

While it might be "arrogance" on the part of people who think that if the PB would only "listen" she would change her mind...it is also arrogance for the other side to say "these poor unenlightened souls who hold on to theology that is 500+ yrs old have it wrong".
I don't doubt your sincerity when it comes to your views on LGBT and their role in the church. I think the issue is much deeper than just the "homosexual" topic. Take abortion for instance: TEC has been supporting unfettered abortion rights for years now, and for me that is a huge issue. I view that as an error theologically, not socially. The stance of TEC on abortion goes directly against Biblical teachings on Gods' Sovereignty and Him being the author of life. Yet, TEC wholeheartedly supports abortion. The list could go on...with people like Spong and the like rejecting much of what Christianity stands for. I came to a point where I couldn't swallow it anymore. I'll take J.I. Packer and R.C. Sproul and TEC can have Spong and any other secular humanist they enjoy...

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

I doubt that TEC wholeheartedly supports abortion. What is true is that the General Convention has passed resolutions that oppose the making of abortions illegal. While I would not argue the rightness of every abortion, I believe that there are circumstances where abortion is not all permitted but perhaps required. Arguments from God's sovereignty have also been made to justify withholding medical treatment.

The choice is not simply between Spong and Packer or Sproul. There are a great many theologians who are neither simply adopting the theological positions of past generations or centuries nor discarding the Tradition entirely. It is my conviction that the theologies of the past can serve the Church only as they are critically examined in the process of articulating theologies that are appropriate to our contexts. Read, e.g., the Canadian theolgian Douglas John Hall who, with a decidely Lutheran perspective, has worked to develop a North American theology. While his three volume series is the fullest exposition of his theology, his smaller book, "The Cross in Our Context," is an excellent introduction.

Anonymous said...

"It is my conviction that the theologies of the past can serve the Church only as they are critically examined in the process of articulating theologies that are appropriate to our contexts."

Fr Weir, I believe you have accurately stated the essence of what divides us. It is also what has mortally wounded many of the "mainline" denominations.

RalphM

Allen said...

Bishop Neff Powell of Southwestern Virginia served as the PRESIDENT of the Board of Directors for Planned Parenthood of the Blue Ridge. He even officiated over the grounding-breaking of their new abortion clinic. Two MLK Days ago, when community volunteers backed out of a Volunteer Day after finding that they were to paint the clinic, Powell organized a painting team to take their place.

Disgusting, appalling, and beyond any belief that a Christian bishop would be so passionate for an abortion clinic to thrive. There's something about the liberal TEC establishment that someone like Powell could endorse and partipate in these activities unless, of course, the culture of acceptance was already in place.

Anonymous said...

TEC, as a denomination, supports unfettered abortion rights. They support groups like Planned Parenthood. The pass resolutions affirming abortion as "justice for women". They allow people like Katherine Ragsdale to preach sermons on how abortion "is a blessing". They write letters endorsing federal funding for abortion. You may not be as "pro-abortion" as some but the denomination has gone out of it's way to support abortion rights. It has also gone out of it's way to NOT support pro-life groups and to marginalize them. Hell, a TEC church even held a candle-light vigil for the doctor who performed late-term abortions after his murder.

TEC views abortion as "justice" for women. What a sad stance to take as a denomination. Totally Un-Christian in every way, shape and form when it comes to the issue of abortion.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Daniel,

you may not be pro-abortion...and many congregants within TEC may not be pro-abortion...but when a denomination repeatedly supports groups like planned parenthood, the rcrc and naral...i think one can draw the conclusion that they support abortion "on demand". is this a new and novel way of applying Scripture? is this a new revelation when following the lead of the Holy Spirit? for all the resolutions that are passed at GC about animal rights and environmental rights...and the rights of the unborn go unprotected? just curious how this is explained away....

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

Years ago a right-to-life colleague told me that Roman Catholic women were as likely to have abortions as other women. I don't know if he was right about that, but his point was that the stated position of a church is no substitute for the formation of conscience. It is my view that in a society where there is no concensus on exactly what the rights of the unborn are it is not good public policy to make abortion illegal. That has been, as far as I can tell, the rationale for General Convention resolutions.

BTW, my friend Katherine Ragsdale's oft-quoted comments were not part of a sermon, but of a speech. Her mistake, which she admitted, was posting the text of the speech on her sermon site. I would agree that abortion can be a blessing when the life of the woman is threatened. I have a friend who was a lay Roman Catholic chaplain and was ordered not to mention abortion to women who were suffering from a condition that would kill both mother and child if the preganncy went to term. To call that position pro-life seems strange to me.

Anonymous said...

Her mistake was posting the text on her website? So the rest of the world wouldn't know what her opinions are regarding abortion? Her speech also included references to how abortion is a blessing in all aspects, whether the pregnancy was unexpected or if your career plans didn't include having a child. I have read her speech and it is probably one of the most pro-abortion pieces I have ever come in contact with. This, from a person who is ordained and is the head of a TEC divinity school? Her views have been applauded by TEC leadership and I failed to see the PB or anyone else in executive positions within the denomination rebuke her.

How would you say that the formation of "conscience" works when abortion is the topic? Sure, people on both sides have been arguing about "when life begins"...there is no clear consensus. But, seeing as though the Bible speaks of God knowing us before we were born, wouldn't you rather err on the side of life?

Nancy Pelosi said a similar thing in an interview...how she didn't believe that Catholic Church had a clear position on when life begins. So if you don't believe life begins at conception...when does it begin? When is it a "life" and not something that is equal to the contents of a dumpster behind an abortion clinic? As a Priest, where do place a clear line as to what "life" is and when it begins? I'm not asking to mock you but I am truly curious as to what your view is on this. I am no longer a member of a TEC church, abortion being one of the issues that drove me out. At least allow me the opportunity to understand where you are coming from as a Priest. Thank you.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

It is interesting to participate in this forum as a presbyter in TEC while so many of those with whom I am in discussion prefer to be anonymous. I wonder at times if some of those who post would prefer not to own their own convictions.

My comment about Dean Ragsdale's mistake should not be taken - as one anonymous person did - as having anything to do with a desire to hide her words from the public. It simply was a recognition that there was confusion about the nature and the context of her speech.

The Church has not been of one mind about the point at which an unborn child is a human person deservingn protection. Even trying to find the right words for the previous sentence is an indication of the struggles that Christian have had with this issue. Is it at conception or quickening or viability outside the womb? While our anonymous poster thinks that I should be able to draw the line somewhere, I can't with absolute certainty, and I am reluctant to let legislators draw that line. I would advise against any abortion that was for mere convenience or for the purpose of selection of the sex of the child. But there are other situations in which I would be more cautious in giving advice, situations in which the physical and emotional health of the woman is at risk and situations where there are serious conserns about whether or not the child would die at birth. The decision to terminate a pregancy is not an easy one. Close friends of mine made that decision because the doctors told them that she would not survive childbirth. As they grieved for the child they had very much wanted, they had to suffer the added injury of hearing abortion called murder.

I understand that at conception life begins, life that will if all goes well be the life of a child. But all does not always go well and I am unwilling to say that all decisions to terminate a pregnancy are wrong.

Allen said...

Watch an abortion occur. Watch the imaging of a child recoiling as it is being aborted. Then, Fr. Weir, you'll know that this heinous crime against humanity is for the sake of convenience more than the saving of anyone's health; which is at most around 2% of all abortions performed. What a heaping of coals and accusations to be the ones who pass this murder off as a "blessing". The fate of such a false shepherd is too difficult to contemplate.

Your advice is hardly necessary.
God has already spoken about what He shall do with those who shed innocent blood. That day will be dreadful for too many; but certain.

BabyBlue said...

As someone who has been involved in the prolife movement for over 25 years, I understand the gravity of the situation. But at the same time, I want to caution us all - but most especially those of us who are prolife.

Remember that it is that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. God doesn't just love the lovable or those who do good or those who protect the unborn - He loves the world. And so should we.

If we believe in the sanctity of human life, that doesn't end the day they are born. Fr. Daniel is a human life and should be shown respect, even if we disagree. Hagrid is pacing about the cafe right now, but I'd like to say this publicly that we must watch our words and that our words bring life, not condemnation. We are all broken, all broken.

All broken.

We plead for mercy and not for judgment, even in this late hour, we cry, Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.

May the Lord show favor and blessing on those with whom we disagree. May we witness to them what we believe in our hearts, that all are created by God to be in relationship with Him. Let us not stand in the way of that relationship, but point to the way - as John the Baptist did. We prepare the way not by pointing at the splinter in the eyes of others, but at the log in our own.

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.

bb

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

On this snowy Sunday in WNY I give thanks for BB's words.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Daniel,

You posted:
"The Church has not been of one mind about the point at which an unborn child is a human person deservingn protection."

This may be true but the
"church" has also not been of one mind concerning full inclusion of LGBT persons, yet you support that. I'm not judging you or your opinions...i'm just trying to understand. From my research, TEC has gone out of their way to support abortion rights and done little to support the rights of the unborn. When I refer to TEC I am referring to the demonination as a whole (the leadership), not you in particular.

Allen said...

I guess that the proof is in the pudding. How many bucks go towards the RCRC? Then, how many bucks go to adoption options in TEC? How many dioceses have "family services" that include adoption? Then compare how many bishops promote implicitly or explicitly Planned Parenthood. The Episcopal Church has done a miserable and shameful job of Family Services including adoption. This Church seems to be more of a place to exercise choice of conscience without the tools to make actual choices.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

Allen,

My response to your comments got lost in cyberspace.

Two points: I think the TEC support for adoption is not solely a matter of whether or not diocesan Episcopal Community Services fund adoption services. In many places there are adequate adoption services available, many of them funded by state governments. In our area Catholic Charities doesn't operate a shelter for runaway and homeless youth, but does that mean the the Roman Catholic Church doesn't care about those teens? I have been part of TEC parishes that have provided lots of support to couples in the adoption process and that is, IMV, evidence of the concern that Episcopalians for adoption.

As a past executive director and a past president of our diocesan ECS, I find the characterization of our efforts as "miserable and shameful" to be both insulting and totally unsubstantiated. While our work was never perfect and there were needs that our member agencies could not meet, it was certainly not deserving of those adjectives.

Daniel

Allen said...

Insulting & totally unsubstaniated?
Then explain how the United Methodist Church has us beat hands down in running children's homes and adoption agencies. How about looking just at United Methodist Family Services in the Virginia Conference. Pretty impressive. We don't choose to make such ministry a priority. Don't you think that all of those millions spent & being spent on litigation could have been used to improve what you clearly just noted had much room for improvement?

One usually puts money where the priorities are. Amazing how low on the list is the "choice" of life sponsored by this Church. We need to stop hiring out the dirty work and heavy lifting to community secular agencies and do ministry ourselves....like other churches.
Then, let's come back and talk about true informed conscience and freedom to choose.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

Allen,

"Where your treasure is there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21)

I think that our investing in adoption agencies and children's homes will change our hearts. However, I don't share your view of how the our community services agencies should make decisions about the allocation of resources. Given your strong pro-life convictions, you seem to be saying that we should provide adopton services even if there is adequate provision of them through religious and secular agencies. That would, IMV, make the allocation decision a political and priblilc relations one, and not one based on pressing needs. Forgive me if I am misreading you, but after reading your posts several times, I can see no other likely interpretation.

To restate my position, I see cooperation with religious and secular agencies in meeting the needs of the community as the best way to operate. If Catholic Charities or the Methodists are meeting the need for adoption services in our area, we can put our efforts into meeting other needs. When we discover an unmeet need in our community, we can work with other agencies to determine the best way to meet that need.

For six years I worked for our county's commission of homelessness. When I began that work someone asked me how my expeience as a parish priest would help me in the new work. I said that for years I have been officiating at weddings and that in the new work I would preside over the weddings of agencies that came together to address the needs of our neighbors who were homeless. I still believe that collaboraton is an important element of social ministry and secular social services and that one aspect of collaboration is the willing to let others meet a need so we can meet another one.

Daniel