Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Connecticut 7

Diverse views on Episcopalian (Episcopal?) polity

They are oceans apart:

Statement by the Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut
April 18, 2005

The fundamental organization for mission and life within the Episcopal Church is a geographical area called a diocese, whose head is its bishop. That principle was established at the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.

The historic ministry of the bishop is to be shepherd of a diocese. The shepherd's staff that the bishop carries in worship symbolizes the bishop's care, in the name of Jesus, for everyone in the diocese. The relationship to the whole diocese is fundamental for the Episcopal Church, no matter what the time or situation or issue. For the past 11 months, six rectors of the Diocese of Connecticut, together with the leadership of the parishes they serve, have refused to accept their relationship with their bishop.

In the past year I have offered to arrange for another bishop to be their pastor and parish visitor. To date they have refused that offer. Rather, the priests have demanded that the historic traditions we live by as a Church be changed for them and the congregations they serve. Their requirements would break the ties they have to the Diocese of Connecticut. What they expect I cannot grant, because of the responsibilities I have for all of the people and parishes of the diocese....

Six Connecticut Priests' Response to Statement by Bishop Smith

... Despite the good efforts of Bishop Scruton of Massachusetts to mediate discussion, Bishop Smith suspended consideration and conversation regarding oversight and related issues; he was intractable and unyielding; he sought neither reconciliation nor solutions but rather effectively demanded a verbal oath of allegiance. He warned us that in leaving the meeting, we offered "proof" of leaving the communion. In his statement following the meeting, he reasserted the threat of inhibition because we had not acknowledged his authority as bishop.

We have been clear from the beginning that we seek oversight as called for by the primates of the worldwide Anglican Communion in their statements of October 2003 and February 2005. It would seem by his actions tonight that Bishop Smith does not acknowledge or embrace the authority of the primates and is intent upon continuing the rupture of the Episcopal Church....

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