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Common Cause forms a “College of Bishops” in the USA: CEN 10.05.07 p 9 October 3, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Communion Network, Church of England Newspaper, Ecumenical.
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The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh

Fifty-one bishops, including 13 active and retired bishops of the Episcopal Church meet in Pittsburgh last week to form an Anglican federation in North America independent of the authority of The Episcopal Church.

The Common Cause partnership drew bishops from the conservative wing of the Episcopal Church and nine other jurisdictions, including the American bishops of Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda

Following three days of closed door meetings, the participants agreed to form a “College of Bishops” which would meet every six months and laid out a timeline that in 15 months could lead to the reunion of the Anglican continuing church groups in North America.

The bishops committed themselves to work together on the local and regional level, to allow clergy from other jurisdictions to be licensed in their churches, and stated their desire to be recognized as a future independent province of the Anglican Communion.

“We met deeply aware that we have arrived at a critical moment in the history of mainstream Anglican witness in North America. God has led us to repentance for past divisions and opened the way for a united path forward. To him be the glory,” Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, the convener of the meeting, said.

Citing the precedent of the Episcopal Church’s division during the Civil War into separate Northern and Southern churches, Bishop Duncan said the US Church’s traditionalist dioceses hoped to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and affiliate either with another Province of the Communion, or with a new Province for American and Canadian traditionalists.

“We believe it is possible.  Dioceses are formed and federate with a province” he said, and a “diocese [may] break that federation.”

The Common Cause College of Bishops adopted articles of federation and identified 14 issues that remained to be addressed including how to “live together with bishops and congregations and dioceses that do ordain women and others that do not ordain women.”

The formation of the Common Cause coalition does not change the legal or canonical standing of those Episcopal dioceses whose bishops signed off on the agreement, as no diocesan convention has yet seceded from The Episcopal Church or adopted the common cause bylaws.

Writing to the members of the Rwandan-backed Anglican Mission in the Americas, Bishop Chuck Murphy stated that as a “federation” the members of the Common Cause coalition “will now be united in a formal alliance designed to strengthen the level of our cooperation, collaboration, and communication together.”

“At the same time, we clearly understand that each Common Cause Partner will maintain its own distinct autonomy, “culture”, and strategic vision.  Indeed, as is stated in the federation Articles that we have now adopted, ‘The autonomy of the individual Jurisdictions and Ministries, and their constituent bodies, is in no way restricted or superseded by membership in the CCP’.”

Bishop Murphy stated the Common Cause Partnership was “much needed” to provide “church order and leadership” to the traditionalist movement in the US and Canada.  It was a faithful response to the “Global South Primates’ request to all of us that we begin working more closely together to overcome those things that have often caused division among the orthodox, and that it reflects the prayer and teaching of Jesus” that all may be one.

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