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Abstract: When Bishops collide...
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has advised Southern Cone Presiding Bishop Gregory J. Venables (pictured) in an April 29 letter that his planned May 2-4 visit to address a special convocation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth "with the expressed purpose of describing removal to the Province of the Southern Cone is an unwarranted invasion of, and meddling in, the internal affairs of this Province."
"I write to urge you not to bring further discord into The Episcopal Church," Jefferts Schori told Venables, who was, according to reports, scheduled to be in Central California on April 29 to meet with church leaders who last year voted to disaffiliate with the Episcopal Church and align with his Argentina-based province.
"The actions contemplated by some leaders in Forth Worth are profoundly uncanonical," Jefferts Schori wrote. "They also prevent needed reconciliation from proceeding within this Province."
At it's November, 2007 diocesan convention, the Fort Worth Diocese approved constitutional changes that would dissociate the diocese from the Episcopal Church, assert the Anglican identity of the diocese, and seek affiliation with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. To become effective, the changes must be approved at this year's diocesan convention.
The Rt. Rev. Jack Iker, Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth responded to the Presiding Bishop in a curtly-worded letter:
I am shocked and saddened by the rude letter you released yesterday to Archibishop Greg Venables, concerning his visit this weekend to the Diocese of Fort Worth. Far from being "an unwarranted interference," he is coming at my request as an honored visitor and guest speaker.
...There are no efforts at reconciliation proceeding within this Province, which is one reason why faithful people continue to leave TEC in droves. Your attitude and actions simply reinforce alienation and bring further discord.
Once again, you are the one meddling in the internal affairs of this diocese, and I ask you to stop your unwelcome intrusions.
At issue in the controversy is the service of women in the priestly office: the Fort Worth Diocese has asserted that “no diocese or parish should be compelled to accept the ministry of word or sacrament from” a woman functioning as a priest.