Jack Danforth meets the press

The Rev. John Danforth, formerly a U. S. Senator and U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations is the keynote speaker at tonight’s Presiding Bishop’s Forum on Reconciliation. He gave a small press conference this afternoon that drew reporters from the Associated Press, the Guardian, National Public Radio, Religion News Service, Religions and Ethics Newsweekly (PBS) and a few Church folks.

Here’s a sneak preview of some of the themes he will touch on tonight:

“I think our country and the world call out for reconciling. I think there is a calling to the Episcopal Church to be in a ministry of reconciliation, and the Episcopal Church, historically, is positioned to answer that call.”

He cited the Anglican heritage of the Via Media, a middle road between Catholic tradition and Protestant reform. In the last election, some Catholic bishops wanted to withhold Communion from pro-choice politicians. “That is the opposite of the way the Episcopal Church has approached political issues,” Danforth said.

He expressed his hope that the Church, for its own sake, and the sake of the world could put disagreements over same-sex relationships behind it. “The idea that a Church of less than 1 percent of the American population should be engaging itself in inside baseball is kind of ridiculous, really,” Danforth said.

The other 99 percent of the American population “doesn’t care who the bishop of X or Z isis,” or whether a rite for blessing same-sex relationships “is available in the Prayer Book or on the internet,” he added.

“I am not into the wording of any resolutions,” Danforth said. “My argument is ‘What comes first? You have to keep your eyes on the prize, and I would say the prize is answering Christ’s call to a ministry of reconciliation.”

Danforth has been speaking out recently on what he sees as the negative impact of the religious right in national politics. At the press conference he said Americans are asking themselves: “Why are religious people driving us apart? Why aren’t they trying to bring us together?”

Rachel Zoll of the AP was at the press conference. Here is her story.

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