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OHIO: Griswold defiant in face of confirmations

Griswold defiant in face of Ohio confirmations

Following is my response to recent events in Ohio.

By their recent action in the Diocese of Ohio, five of our retired
bishops and a bishop from the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil have
arrogated to themselves the right to perform episcopal and sacramental
acts without the permission of the diocesan bishop. The claim that
their action was pastoral and in accordance with a mandate from the
Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Anglican Communion is
contradicted by the statement of the Primates last October which states
quite clearly that they, "reaffirm the teaching of successive Lambeth
Conferences that bishops must respect the autonomy and territorial
integrity of dioceses and provinces other than their own," and that
they, "call on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for
episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of
pastoral care," and that they should do so, "in consultation with the
Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates."

Provisions for "episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities" is thus
clearly a matter to be resolved by the province. That is precisely what this
church is seeking to do. In consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury
and his chancellor, our bishops have been considering a draft plan for
episcopal pastoral care which they will address further when we gather for our spring
meeting later this week in Texas.

With respect to this forthcoming meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury
said in a recent letter to me, "My hope and prayer is that this meeting
will offer generous and constructive ways forward within the
constitutional and canonical structures of ECUSA that will guarantee
Episcopal care for all and avoid further fragmentation, and the
consequent distraction from our main task of proclaiming Christ."

What is quite clear is that whatever pastoral response is agreed to, it
must, as the Archbishop points out, be consistent with the
"constitutional and canonical structures of ECUSA." Here I note that
according to our Constitution: A bishop shall confine the exercise of
such office to the Diocese in which elected, unless requested to perform
episcopal acts in another Diocese by the Ecclesiastical Authority
thereof...[Article II,Sec.3]

Why, I am moved to ask, did these bishops decide that Confirmation of
these persons was pastorally necessary at this moment and act without
permission of the Bishop of Ohio? Given that the House of Bishops will
meet later this week, I can only surmise that their intention is to co-
opt the bishops' agenda and provoke a reaction that will appear
sufficiently lacking in pastoral concern for "dissenting minorities" to
justify what they have done in the eyes of others. I trust that they
will be disappointed in their hope and that the vast majority of bishops of
this church - occupying the diverse center - will find a way forward that is
clear and just in its principles, pastoral in its approach and responsive to the
needs of the church in this present moment.

The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA March 15, 2004

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