A word on getting the Jim McGreevey story right

The mainstream media has an ongoing fascination with Jim McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey who resigned his office after acknowledging that he had cheated on his wife with a man whom he had placed on the state’s payroll, and then enrolled in an Episcopal seminary. It is, one must admit, a difficult story to ignore, but it is also proving to be a difficult story for the press to get right.

This story and headline in the Jersey Journal are cases in point. It takes McGreevey’s apparent desire to become an Episcopal priest, adds the fact that he is pursuing a masters of divinity at the General Theological Seminary and arrives, understandably perhaps, at the conclusion that he is training to become an Episcopal priest.

That’s not technically correct. At many seminaries, anyone who gets admitted can study for a masters degree in divinity. But to be accepted as a candidate for the priesthood you must pass through a lengthy diocesan discernment process. McGreevy, to our knowledge, has not successfully completed such a process. In fact, to our knowledge, he has not yet begun one. So he’s not “training to be an Episcopal priest” in any authorized sort of way.

Stories like the one in the Journal make it seem that the Episcopal Church has hastily determined that McGreevy has worked through the various issues that led to his resignation, divorce and custody battle, and is now ready for ordained ministry. No such determination has been made.

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