Pittsburgh clergy who wish to transfer from the Episcopal Church to the Anglican Church in North America will be permitted to leave the diocese without being deposed, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Church affiliated Diocese of Pittsburgh have declared.
The Oct 5 decision by the “Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church” to allow clergy of the “Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican Communion)” the opportunity to withdraw from the church without legal sanction stands in contrast to the recent actions in the Dioceses of San Joaquin and Quincy, where clergy who seceded with the dioceses from the Episcopal Church have been defrocked.
In a letter from the loyalist Standing Committee clergy are asked to state whether they wish to remain active in the Episcopal Church or be released. “We’re doing this for pastoral reasons,” Standing Committee president, the Rev James Simons, said. “We do not want to see our priestly brothers and sisters deposed.”
In a statement released on the loyalist diocese’s website, the Standing Committee said it had “initiated the release on its own,” but consulted with Bishop Kenneth Price, who has been nominated to become the diocese’s provisional bishop.
Bishop Price stated: “As the Standing Committee worked through this necessary action, I was painfully aware that they were not just talking about a list of clergy, but friends of long standing. For this reason I am grateful the canons provide this ‘softer’ method of allowing those who wish to depart from the Episcopal Church to do so legally without us making a judgment on their ordination.”
“This does not affect your ordination, which you may register with whatever entity you choose,” the Standing Committee said.
In the Episcopal Church a deposition removes a priest or deacon from Holy Orders, while a release ends a clergyman’s licence to officiate in the Episcopal Church.
On Sept 22 the secessionist Diocese of Quincy denounced the decision by the loyalist faction of the central Illinois diocese under provisional Bishop John Buchanan to depose seven priests, and inhibit 34 others — who will soon be deposed unless they recant their secession.
The president of the standing committee, Fr John Spencer said: “The supposed inhibitions and depositions of our clergy have no bearing on those clergy, or on their ministries, since our diocese is no longer under the authority of the Episcopal Church.”
n late August, Bishop Buchanan wrote to seven priests, including Fr Spencer, accepting their “renunciation of the ordained ministry” and declared they were deprived of all the authority conveyed in ordination.
“We did leave the Episcopal Church,” Fr Spencer said, “but we didn’t renounce our ordination vows, or abandon our ministries.”
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