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Dissidents and Pastoral Care
> I want to be sure I understand this correctly. After reading the ENS report
> (below) twice, I assume this plan is designed to work both ways?
> Is it designed to protect the gay folks and progressive Episcopalians in an
> ACC Bishop led diocese as well as ACC people who find themselves
> in a progressive diocese? I think my confusion is because the title gives
> the impression it's a plan designed for "dissidents" and people on either side
> could be labeled a "dissident" depending on who their priest or bishop is.
One way to get a clear answer to your question is for one of the
progressive dissident groups to request supplemental episcopal
pastoral care, using the steps outlined in the report. It would not
be wise to prejudge how such a request would be received.
> Bishops looking at draft on providing 'episcopal pastoral care' for
> by James Solheim
> [Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold has sent a draft
> of guidelines for providing "Supplemental Episcopal Pastoral Care" to the
> bishops of the church, outlining a plan for dissidents who find it difficult
> to accept the leadership of their diocesan bishops.
> In an October 31 cover letter to the five-page draft, Griswold said that it
> built on work done when the bishops met at Camp Allen in Texas in March
> 2002. The current draft "is the work of the Committee for Pastoral
> Development of the House of Bishops and my Council of Advice," he wrote. "It
> is presented to you for your consideration, and where appropriate, immediate
> use, to deal with situations that might arise in your diocese."
> He added, "It is my hope that this plan will meet the needs of the present
> moment and also answer the concerns that have been expressed regarding
> episcopal pastoral care for those whose consciences are seriously strained
> by formal actions of our church." The bishops "will have an opportunity to
> take counsel together and to make modifications and adjustments based on our
> experience," he said.
> The plan acknowledges that diversity may bring tension and "may require
> extending our charity with one another in new directions and through
> creative forms of care and understanding... While we know that our unity is
> strained, we will continue to strive for godly union and concord." It calls
> on bishops "to provide for pastoral care of those who are in distress,"
> especially in situations where there are differences between the diocesan
> bishop and some congregations. "At all times, however, we must recognize the
> constitutional and canonical authority of bishops and geographic integrity
> of diocesan boundaries," it added.
> The spirit of charity
> The draft reminded the bishops that they had produced a "document of
> agreement and procedure" at the March 2002 meeting, a "Covenant on Episcopal
> Pastoral Care," that declared the church's constitution and canons "are
> sufficient for dealing with questions of episcopal oversight, supplemental
> episcopal pastoral care, and disputes that may arise between the bishop and
> congregations. We encourage that their provisions be used wisely and in the
> spirit of charity."
> Among the steps suggested in the new draft, it calls on clergy and lay
> leaders to consult with the congregation and then approach the diocesan
> bishop to consult whether supplemental pastoral care was appropriate. If
> that doesn't work, the parties involved "may approach the provincial bishop
> of this church serving on the Presiding Bishop's Council of Advice for help
> in seeking a resolution."
> After review, the provincial bishop "shall request two other bishops of this
> church representative of the divergent views of that province to join with
> the provincial bishop to review the situation, to consider the request, and
> to make recommendations to all parties."
> According to the plan, the bishops will discuss the circumstances that would
> require an alternate, who could provide such care, whether training should
> be provided for those bishops and who pays the costs.
> The American Anglican Council (AAC) has already rejected the plan as
> "inadequate." In a November 14 letter, AAC president David Anderson reported
> that "Bishop Duncan [Pittsburgh] and I have just returned from a meeting in
> New York with Presiding Bishop Griswold. The conversation was certainly
> civil, but it was also very blunt. We laid out the picture as we see it, and
> we made our and your needs crystal clear. The Chancellor, David Booth Beers,
> made it clear that the canons make no provision for bypassing the local
> bishop's authority. I made it clear that any plan that did not have an
> over-ride over the local bishop if he/she was non-cooperative simply was
> inadequate," Anderson said.
> -- James Solheim is director of Episcopal News Service.