NEW YORK — Episcopal leaders offered conservatives more independence from the national church Thursday, as a California diocese quietly backed down from its threat of a swift break with the denomination.Episcopal News Service:
The Diocese of San Joaquin, based in Fresno, made the change as it came under pressure from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her advisers to ease off a proposal to leave.
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The proposal would create a leadership position called a "primatial vicar." The vicar would work with conservative dioceses, performing functions that normally fall to Jefferts Schori, including consecrating local bishops.
A representative of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the global Anglican Communion, would have a role on a panel of church leaders supervising the appointee. However, the vicar would ultimately be under the authority of Jefferts Schori. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. wing of the 77 million-member Anglican family.
Virginia Bishop Peter Lee, a leader in developing the proposal, said the group that worked on the idea was "conscious of the need to respond quickly to the needs of parishes and dioceses." The Diocese of San Joaquin had been set to vote on a split at its convention, which runs through Saturday.
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Canon Kendall Harmon, a conservative leader from the Diocese of South Carolina, said he was encouraged that Lee and others acknowledged the urgency of the situation. But he said the proposal failed to address underlying theological differences and their impact on the church.
"It's as if at the last minute they pulled a feather out of their hat and said, 'Here,'" Harmon said.
The Primatial Vicar, accountable to the Presiding Bishop, would report to an advisory panel that would include the designees of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Presiding Bishop, the President of the House of Deputies, and a bishop of the Episcopal Church selected by the dioceses petitioning for pastoral care by the Primatial Vicar.Over at titusonenine the text of the response by the Archbishop Bishop of Canterbury is given and there's plenty of comments.
The response makes clear that the arrangement does not affect the administrative or other canonical duties of the Presiding Bishop except to the degree that the Presiding Bishop may wish to delegate some of those duties to the Primatial Vicar. The response also specifies that the Primatial Vicar and the Advisory Panel shall function in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.