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Bishop quits after summit: CEN 9.28.07 p 8. October 2, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, Rio Grande, Roman Catholic Church.

The Episcopal Church’s civil war over homosexuality claimed another victim this week, after the Bishop of the Rio Grande, Dr. Jeffrey N. Steenson announced to the US House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans that was renouncing his orders and planned upon entering the Roman Catholic Church at year’s end.

Bishop Steenson becomes the third American bishop to quit the Episcopal Church for Rome this year following in the wake of the former Bishop of Albany, Daniel Herzog and the former Bishop of Fort Worth, Clarence Pope.

“The reason for this decision is that my conscience is deeply troubled about where the Episcopal Church is heading, and this has become a crisis for me because of my ordination vow to uphold its doctrine, discipline, and worship,” Bishop Steenson wrote in a Sept 21 letter to his clergy.

In an interview with The Living Church magazine Bishop Steenson said the March meeting of the US House of Bishops had decided the matter for him.   It had been a “profoundly disturbing experience” he said.

“I was more than a little surprised when such a substantial majority declared the polity of the Episcopal Church to be primarily that of an autonomous and independent local church relating to the wider Anglican Communion by voluntary association. This is not the Anglicanism in which I was formed; inspired by the Oxford Movement and the Catholic Revival in the Church of England … honestly, I did not recognize the church that this House described on that occasion,” he said.

Elected bishop of the Albuquerque-based diocese in 2005, Bishop Steenson was the last bishop consecrated by the American Church who would not ordain women to the priesthood.  Women candidates for ordination in the Rio Grande have been ordained on his behalf by his predecessor, Bishop Terry Kelshaw.

On Sept 26 Bishop Steenson and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will meet with the Rio Grande clergy “for mutual conversation,” writing that he acknowledged “with regret for how this may complicate your own ministry.”

However, in his statement to the House of Bishops announcing his resignation, Bishop Steenson wrote, “My conscience is deeply troubled, because I sense that the obligations of my ministry in The Episcopal Church may lead me to a place apart from scripture and tradition. I am concerned that if I do not listen to and act in accordance with conscience now, it will become harder and harder to hear God’s voice.”


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