Topic: The status of the diocese

A number of events have occured over the last several days that share a common thread: the status of the diocese in the Anglican Communion.

Last week the diocesan synods of Ottawa and Montreal and the diocesan convention of California urged their bishops to adopt rites for same-sex blessings, contrary to parameters set in the Windsor report.

Over the weekend Bishop of Iker, of the Diocese of Fort Worth, spoke at the Forward in Faith convention. He made it clear he sees no future for Fort Worth in The Episcopal Church, and said the diocese is close to sealing an oversight deal with a foreign province. He even suggested the Diocese of Quincy would be taking steps in the direction of severing ties with The Episcopal Church. But Quincy, in convention over the weekend, decided not to pursue leaving at this time.

Interspersed in these events were two statements on the status of dioceses from Lambeth Palace – an email from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Bishop of Central Florida, and a subsequent clarification from the palace press office on behalf of the archbishop. Each was made public.

The archbishop urged that there be no fragmentation of dioceses – parishes and their rector should stay within their dioceses. The incentive to stay, he repeated, is that Windsor Compliant dioceses will remain in communion with Canterbury regardless of whether The Episcopal Church loses its status in the Communion. Many pixels have been used in the blogscape examining the statement, its intent and its implications. (Follow the links in the preceding paragraph.)

To many pundits the greatest concern revolves around the seemingly diminished status given to the province. Is that what the archbishop intends, and what would it mean for dioceses seeking to leave The Episcopal Church? (Is the formula to leave, but not seek foreign oversight (which is not Windsor compliant)?) Indeed, to point to other news regarding dioceses from this past week, what would it mean in the context of the discipline of the Bishop of Harare?

Or, to come back to a question raised by the events in the first paragraph, if one diocese is not Windsor compliant does that make the province noncompliant? How much authority does a province over a diocese in the archbishop’s scheme?

Finally, as The Lead covered yesterday, the convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh is coming up this weekend and will consider resolutions on whether to set a course out of The Episcopal Church. The speaker at convention is from Uganda. While the archbishop’s letter to Central Florida may not have been intended to apply beyond that case, it may still influence the course of events beyond Central Florida.

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