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PITTSBURG: Former Iowa Bishop Has Been Functioning Illegally In Diocese


News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

PITTSBURGH, PA-(3/30/2004) The former Bishop of Iowa, Walter Righter, who publicly condemned five dissenting retired bishops for participating in a confirmation service in the Diocese of Ohio, saying that they should leave the Episcopal Church, has been performing sacramentally, without permission or a license in the orthodox Diocese of Pittsburgh bishop Robert Duncan.

The revisionist bishop, who walked away from charges that he violated the canons for ordaining a non-celibate homosexual man to the deaconate in 1990, has been caught red-handed in the Pittsburgh Diocese without ever obtaining the approval of Bishop Duncan.

Righter had argued, “How can the Bishops ‘allow’ what the canons and constitution do not allow? How can the Bishops ‘cede control’ that is not theirs to cede? Even if they wanted to, they cannot.”

Apparently Righter has been doing “what the canons and constitution do not allow” for more than six months in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

According to a source he has been “supplying” at Calvary Church while the ultra-liberal rector Harold Lewis is on sabbatical. Righter moved back from Maine because his third wife is from Pittsburgh.

Reached at Calvary Church, the Rev. Leslie G. Reimer associate rector for Pastoral Care, refused at first to answer any questions about Righter’s activities at the church, but then admitted that “he was helping us out liturgically.”

Pressed on whether he was performing full sacramental functions, Reimer did not deny it, but said that a letter the church sent to Bishop Duncan about Righter’s presence and activities in the church went unanswered.

“The Canons require we ask, we did, but we never got an answer. We never received an answer one way or the other,” she said.

According to a spokesman in the bishop’s office, Righter should not have performed any functions at the parish without the bishop’s permission, and by crossing into another diocese without permission and preaching and celebrating; he was in violation of the Canons after 90 days.

Does this mean that there could be a second Righter Trial? Diocesan officials would not say.

Clearly Righter, who has been an outspoken critic of orthodox bishops and an outright proponent of pansexual behavior (he functioned as an assistant bishop under Jack Spong in the Diocese of Newark) may finally get his own comeuppance.

So the rules only apply to others, not to Mr. Righter, said a source to Virtuosity.

While the Pittsburgh Diocese was holding hearings on resolutions to come before special convention, the Righters were both very vocal at the open hearing in Fox Chapel. “Isn't it interesting that this is the man who says conservatives ought to leave ECUSA? Perhaps he sees himself stepping into a geographically convenient Diocesan opening”?

The resolution that the revisionists pushed through the HoB condemning the Ohio confirmations, said that the next time this happened there would be disciplinary action. Now it has and Righter, the hypocrite, should be put on trial and tossed out of the church.


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