What will be your focus as head of the U.S. church?Indeed.
Our focus needs to be on feeding people who go to bed hungry, on providing primary education to girls and boys, on healing people with AIDS, on addressing tuberculosis and malaria, on sustainable development. That ought to be the primary focus.
The issue of gay bishops has been so divisive. The diocese of Newark, N.J., has named a gay man as one of its candidates for bishop. Is now the time to elect another gay bishop?
Dioceses, when they are faithful, call the person who is best suited to lead them. I believe every diocese does the best job it's capable of in discerning who it is calling to leadership. Many Anglicans in the developing world say such choices in the U.S. church have hurt their work. That's been important for the church here to hear. We've heard in ways we hadn't heard before the problematic nature of our decisions. Especially in places where Christians are functioning in the face of Islamic culture and mores, evangelism is a real challenge. [But] these decisions were made because we believe that's where the Gospel has been calling us. The Episcopal Church in the U.S. has come to a reasonable conclusion and consensus that gay and lesbian Christians are full members of this church and that our ministry to and with gay and lesbian Christians should be part of the fullness of our life.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, who leads the Anglican Communion, wrote recently that a two-tier Communion may be a solution. What did you read in his message?
The pieces that I saw as most important had to do with the complexity of the situation and the length of time that this process will continue. He's very clear that we're not going to see an instant solution. He's also clear about his role: it is to call people to conversation, not to intervene in diocesan or provincial life--which some people have been asking for.
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Is belief in Jesus the only way to get to heaven?
We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box.
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What is your prayer for the church today?
That we remember the centrality of our mission is to love each other. That means caring for our neighbors. And it does not mean bickering about fine points of doctrine.
Monday, July 10, 2006