Thursday, 18 December 2003

not fit to print?

Yesterday’s report in the New York Times that claimed 13 dioceses had joined the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes seems to have been inaccurate in various ways. I understand the basis of the report was an exclusive interview with Robert Duncan.

First, the St Petersburg Times reports Bishop denies intent to join splinter group (here’s the missing picture) and this is confirmed on the Southwest Florida diocese’s own website.

Second, as noted in that report, the Central Florida diocese has not joined either:

Both Lipscomb and Bishop John Howe of the Diocese of Central Florida said they were surprised by the New York Times article and insist that the network is not yet a reality.
“I, along with 12 other bishops, signed a letter of intent that said we thought a network was needed at this time,” Howe said.
The idea came after a meeting in London this fall, where church leaders talked of ways that conservative parishes could opt out of liberally-minded dioceses by choosing to be under the authority of a conservative bishop.
At the time, the group had the backing of Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury.
“It was on the basis of that that we signed this memo of intent,” Howe said. “And suddenly, the cart has gone way, way, way before the horse.”
He said Williams recently backed away from the idea, saying that Americans should work it out.

Third, in Pittsburgh where the Tribune-Review said Local bishop to lead ‘network’, it was asserted that many other dioceses named have not approved this action:

Local supporters of the Episcopal Church’s decisions this summer, however, say that despite Duncan’s contention that conservatives are not seeking a split, their actions indicate otherwise.
“Of course, they want a schism,” said Lionel Deimel, president of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, which claims between 100 and 150 members. “On one hand, they say the don’t want to break apart, but then they say they cannot remain in communion with the church because of its decisions.”
Deimel, of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, contends that because no formal votes on whether to join the network were taken in those dioceses, they cannot be legitimately counted as network supporters.
“As far as we can tell, these dioceses have not signed onto this,” Deimel said. “This is basically a group of conservative bishops doing their own thing. The level of support they have here, and in the dioceses that have supposedly signed on, is highly questionable.”

And indeed, further down the Florida news report we find:

[Kendall] Harmon said Lipscomb chaired a meeting in Orlando where the new network’s theological charter was drafted. He said an organizational meeting will be held in January in Plano, Texas. Only the dioceses of Pittsburgh, South Carolina and Fort Worth have formally agreed to be part of the group, Harmon said.

[item added at 15.20]
And in the The State a South Carolina paper, Kendall Harmon says

Dioceses formally joining the network as of Wednesday are Duncan’s in Pittsburgh, the Charleston-based Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, and the Diocese of Fort Worth in Texas.
Ten other dioceses are formally considering joining the network, said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. He said earlier reports Wednesday naming those 10 as having formally joined were premature.

So what kind of a story was Robert Duncan putting out to Laurie Goodstein yesterday? And where is the confirmation of formal diocesan action by Pittsburgh and South Carolina? In Fort Worth, we know the action was taken ‘By joint action of the Bishop and Standing Committee’.
some other press coverage of all this:
The San Francisco Chronicle put it this way:
Old-line Episcopal bishops form rival assembly 13 prelates disturbed by gay’s admission to ranks of clergy
Beliefnet had an excellent detailed report The Schism Begins
The Boston Globe carried this AP report, Episcopal bishops form protest network
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said Episcopalians against gay bishop form ‘network’
The Chicago Tribune has 13 Episcopal bishops form rival network, move closer to split
The St Louis Post-Dispatch New Episcopal group will work to oust gay bishop
And the Moonie-owned Washington Times combined news of this with a report that

In a related development, the Religion Newswriters Association, a group of 240 religion reporters for the secular media, voted Bishop Robinson Newsmaker of the Year for 2003. They also voted his ordination as the top religion news story of 2003, followed by stories on religious differences over the war in Iraq.

Also, note this announcement on the AAC site of the January charter meeting

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 18 December 2003 at 12:27 PM GMT | TrackBack
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