Subject: Confrontation looms in Philadelphia
By David W. Virtue
The three bishops of PA. have thrown down the gauntlet to the eight Synod rectors.
In a letter dated October 7 and signed by bishops Bartlett, Bennison and Turner the three bishops have told the eight rectors that is "our obligation" under the canons of the Episcopal Church to uphold canon III.24.4 to visit your parishes.
If this goes ahead, then all out war can be expected. At least one parish priest, The Rev. David Moyer, Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont, will actively resist any efforts by either Bishops Bartlett or Bennison to enter his church.
Among his options are to have Pinkerton Guards escort the bishop to a pew and keep him their, silent and ineffective, or conversely lock the doors and refuse him entry. The other rectors will practice acts of civil disobedience which range from allowing the bishop to address an empty church or hold a service concurrently with the bishops's outside or elsewhere.
In their letter the bishops wrote: "We believe that in fulfilling our obligations under the canon we will best serve our mutual desire for the unity of the Body of Christ and thus not only the letter but also the spirit of the canon. We acknowledge their are theological differences among us. We believe, however, that there is far more in scripture, creeds, sacraments and ministry that unites us."
"Nonsense", says Moyer. "These men are heretical and apostate. They do not speak for us and there is no common ground between us."
In a modest gesture to the Synod rectors the bishops wrote: "Provided that visitation by all bishops of the Diocese of PA are welcome and carried out in good faith, we would be open to requests for additional visitations by other Bishops in good standing in the Episcopal Church or Anglican Communion whom, at your request, we would invite into the Diocese."
However this is unacceptable to the Synod rectors who feel they have been betrayed by Bennsion who promised to allow the continuation of the Bartlett agreement to allow visitation by fly-in Bishops Parsons. They voted Bennison for Bishop Coadjutor because of the promise he made to allow continuation and which they now feel he has broken.
David Rawson, ESA National Chancellor said Bishop Bartlett has not been to Church of the Good Shepherd in seven and a half years and now he wants to come. "He waived his rights then and now alleges that he was not previously doing his duty."
"The actions of Bishop Bennison reveal his broken promises and our lack of trust in the Episcopal leadership of the Diocese," said Rawson.
In an earlier large scale mailing to senior wardens of all congregations in the 25 Dioceses whose bishops had signed the Statement of Koinonia Pete Moriarty wrote that he did this because of the opposition he faced in making the Synod's case known through normal Episcopal channels.
In his response Presiding Bishop Browning wrote that "the more intransigent a parish becomes the more pastoral the response needs to be." It is not sure what exactly this means, but many Synod people feel there is a veiled threat in the bishop's words.
In a previous story on this subject I wrote: "Mr. Bright, rector's warden at Church of the Good Shepherd said that he told the three bishops that they were "out of communion" with the Synod rectors because of the actions of Bishop Bartlett in ordaining Barbara Harris illegally to the priesthood and later ordaining a non-celibate homosexual to the Diaconate."
This is incorrect. Barbara Harris was legally ordained to the priesthood. It should be noted however that she has had no theological training (apart from two night courses) and was in corporate public relations for many years, a fitting start to becoming bishop. PR is, after all, the triumph of image over substance, and, carried to its logical conclusion in the ministry, the equal triumph of contentless religion over genuine faith. She has several honorary doctorates of equally meaningless worth.
Bishop Bartlett has, however, ordained several non-celibate homosexual men to the priesthood.
The Rev David Moyer said it correctly:
"These men are heretical and apostate. They do not speak for us and there is no commmon ground between us." THERE IS NO COMMON GROUND. Pray for the parishes in Phillie under siege.
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