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IRD Calls on the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops to Take Responsibility in Its Rhetoric

"Sadly, the bishops apparently are more intent upon blaming the primates than caring for the orthodox Anglicans in their midst." -- IRD Anglican Action Director Ralph Webb

 

Contact: Loralei Coyle 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, lcoyle@ird-renew.org; Radio Interviews: Jeff Walton jwalton@ird-renew.org; both with The Institute on Religion and Democracy

 

WASHINGTON, Mar. 22 /Christian Newswire/ -- The House of Bishops met in Navasota, TX, on March 16-21, 2007. It adopted a resolution in the form of a statement conveying the mind of the House on March 20. Both that statement and the House's March 21 letter to the Episcopal Church reflect a strongly negative disposition towards the February 19 communiqué issued by leaders of Anglican Communion provinces, who are called "primates." In particular, the bishops rejected the communiqué's "pastoral scheme," which proposes that a primatial vicar be appointed and a pastoral council be formed to care for those Anglicans in the Episcopal Church who could not accept the oversight of either their bishop or their presiding bishop. The Episcopal Church intends to conduct church-wide conversations over the next several months, and the House of Bishops will discuss the communiqué again in their September meeting. The primates of the Anglican Communion have given the Episcopal Church until September 30 to meet the requests of the communiqué.

IRD Director of Anglican Action Ralph Webb said in response,

"The House of Bishops indisputably has sent a negative message to the primates of the Anglican Communion that does not help to heal the Communion in any way, shape, or form. On one level, the clarity expressed by the bishops regarding their disposition toward the communiqué is commendable. Nevertheless, the actual positions taken by the bishops in an apparent attempt to reframe the argument are deplorable.

"The pastoral scheme that the primates have proposed aims to, in their communiqué's words, 'facilitate and encourage healing and reconciliation' at all levels in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. But the bishops have rejected this healing balm, saying that the primates' pastoral scheme 'violates' both the Episcopal Church's polity and founding principles, and that it 'abandons' orthodox Anglican tradition.

"The bishops as of yet have offered no substitute pastoral alternative. Still, they have charged that 'great suffering' has resulted from primates and other bishops acting to meet the pastoral needs of orthodox Anglicans who are either currently in the Episcopal Church or who have left the denomination. Sadly, the bishops apparently are more intent upon blaming the primates than caring for the orthodox Anglicans in their midst.

"We at the IRD call upon the House of Bishops to take responsibility for the Episcopal Church's actions that have proven damaging to the Anglican Communion and stop passing the blame around. Only then can the Episcopal Church even begin to demonstrate its self-professed 'deep longing' to continue as part of the Anglican Communion."

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