Episcopal Church Attempts to Ban Another Bishop

An effort to ban another bishop from his religious duties was not supported by The Episcopal Church's senior bishops.

Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan received a letter Tuesday from the head of the national church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who said she had sought permission from the three senior bishops to inhibit him.

The bishops did not give such consent but certified that Duncan had "abandoned the Communion of this Church."

Duncan received the letter just days after the senior bishops gave their consent to inhibit Bishop John-David Schofield whose San Joaquin, Calif., diocese voted last month to break from the national church.

The Episcopal Church is giving both bishops two months to retract their acts before the House of Bishops meeting in March.

"I would ... welcome a statement by you within the next two months providing evidence that you once more consider yourself fully subject to the doctrine, discipline and worship of this Church," Jefferts Schori wrote in her letter to Duncan.

Duncan and members of his Pittsburgh diocese are currently moving toward a split with The Episcopal Church over its liberal direction on Scripture and homosexuality.

Controversy had heightened when The Episcopal Church consecrated openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003.

The diocese took the first step to leave last November when it overwhelmingly voted to remove language in its constitution that states the diocese accedes to The Episcopal Church. A second vote of approval, which is expected later this year, is required to make the decision final.

Several other dioceses are taking similar measures while the Diocese of San Joaquin became the first full diocese to finalize their decision to secede last month.

In response to the Episcopal head, Duncan indicated he will not recant his course, arguing that he has remained faithful to the Church.

"Few bishops have been more loyal to the doctrine, disciple and worship of The Episcopal Church," Duncan said in a brief response Tuesday. "I have not abandoned the Communion of this Church. I will continue to serve and minister as the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh."

The conservative bishops contend that they are breaking from The Episcopal Church to stay faithful to Scripture and traditional Anglicanism within the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of Anglicanism.

Duncan's case will not be brought before the House of Bishops at their upcoming March meeting but will be addressed at the next meeting thereafter, according to Jefferts Schori. Meanwhile, bishops will vote on a final judgment for Schofield in March.

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