Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bishop of Springfield Punishes Parish

From the Chicago Tribune:

Unable to reach an accord with their conservative bishop, a progressive parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield asked for temporary alternative pastoral leadership this week.

If the request is granted, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Edwardsville would become the second progressive parish in the U.S. to take advantage of an option originally designed to allow conservative congregations to seek alternatives to liberal leadership...

...St. Andrew's rector, Rev. Virginia Bennett, the first and only female parish priest to serve in the southern Illinois diocese, said the request seemed like the only option left for her parish to function. After Bennett asked to bring a lesbian into the church, Springfield Bishop Peter Beckwith refused to confirm any newcomers at St. Andrew's, she said...

...In November 2005, Bennett contacted Beckwith to ask if he was opposed to confirming a lesbian who wished to join the Church. At that point, Bennett said, the bishop declared he would confirm no one in the parish because "the faith was not being taught" there...
Jim Naughton asks the question that this article caused to wander through my mind:

Am I wrong in thinking that even in these contentious times that this constitues derelection fo episcopal duty? I'm pretty sure that if a liberal bishop refused to confirm someone who disagreed with him on issues of human sexuality, we'd hear about it.
I think you're absolutely right, Jim. Note that the bishop also pulled all LEM's licenses. Note also that Bennet is "the first and only female parish priest to serve in the southern Illinois diocese." And also note that there is no mention of any same sex relationship, only the orientation of the woman requesting confirmation.

It appears "the faith" that the bishop is demanding be taught would insist on the exclusion of those whose sexual orientation he didn't approve of (unless they stay in the closet), women in positions of leadership, and the members of a parish who supported such persons. The sacraments would only be administered to those whom the bishop deemed worthy to receive them. That pretty much excludes everyone, doesn't it?

I think Bishop Beckwith has cracked under the strain of the current unpleasantness and is beginning to throw temper tantrums, in which he is revealing his true colors.

It is going to be interesting to watch what becomes of this request for DEPO.


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