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PENNSYLVANIA: Priest and Retired Bishop Exchange Letters Over ECUSA Crisis

BISHOP AND PRIEST EXCHANGE LETTERS OVER ECUSA CRISIS

By David W. Virtue

A retired orthodox bishop and a liberal diocesan priest have exchanged letters, with the priest accusing the bishop of destroying The Episcopal Church by crossing diocesan boundaries and performing sacramentally in another diocese.

The Rev. Marek P. Zabriskie, rector of St. Thomas’ Church, Whitemarsh, PA wrote a blistering letter to the Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison, SC (ret.) accusing him of destroying the polity of the church, saying he showed total disrespect for the “boundaries exercised by another bishop” and “jeopardizing the very things that unite us.”

Zabriskie described himself as one who sits on several national and international boards on behalf of the ECUSA, wrote that “good Episcopalians can differ regarding important theological and ethical matters” but crossing diocesan boundaries is going too far.

He concluded his letter saying, “it is my deepest hope that the Communion will stand, the Church will flourish and we will not be self-consumed and broken irrevocably.”

Bishop Allison countered saying, we are “entitled to differ regarding important theological and ethical matters” such as denying catholic Christology and the doctrine of the Trinity (Pike), theism and saving action of Christ (Spong), and Christianity itself (Carter Heyward) but we must respect bishops who currently admit they, as a House, are “dysfunctional.”

“You see the denial of the Christian faith as an entitlement, but the biggest risk is the “destruction of polity.” Jack Allin, of blessed memory, confessed in his parting address to General Convention in 1985: “I must repent. I loved the church more than I loved the Lord of the Church.” He said it for me and perhaps for you.

“I am thankful that our Anglican forebears did not do the idolatrous thing in elevating polity over “important theological and ethical matters” in the reformation that gave us our Common Prayer.”

“I am thankful that Irenaeus did not take our contemporary priorities that you so well describe in his fight with the Gnostics.”

“I am thankful that Athanasius violated the polity of the Church for the sake of the divinity of Christ against the Arians whose teachings would justify Spong’s dismissal of the Atonement as “child abuse.”

“Perhaps you can help reduce the current hypocrisy and perjury in the Episcopal Church by substituting “We believe in our polity, Common Prayer, and the episcopate” for the Nicene Creed.”

I thank you for your candor and clarity and will share it with some who find it difficult to believe what has become the faith of many Episcopalians.”

Both letters were signed with copies sent to the Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, Archbishop Rowan Williams and Secretary General (ACC) John Peterson.

END

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