Two bishops, two letters
Two different retired bishops, writing two very different letters about the Diocese of Central Florida and the request for alternative oversight.
What do you think?
Letter No. 1
Below is the text of a letter published in this week's issue of The Living Church.
I have read the decision made by the bishop, members of the standing committee and exective board of the Diocese of Central Florida to request alternative primatial oversight. In doing this they have joined the five other dioceses that have made this request of the Archbishop of Canterbury. I don't know what procedures the other dioceses followed to reach their decisions. I do know that Central Florida's decision was not reached by any broader constituency than the entities mentioned above.
As this is the diocese I served as bishop for the 20 years from 1970 until my retirement in 1990, I wish to go on record as disapproving of the decision, not only of Central Florida, but any diocese that follows this procedure. I have written to the Bishop of Central Florida to register my disappointment, disapproval, and dissociation from the decision.
I believe these actions are unnecessary, premature and inappropriate. I cannot believe they will do anything to strengthen the mission and ministry of Jesus in our world. I believe we can rely on Jesus to keep his promise to send the Holy Spirit tolead us into all truth.
The Rt. Rev. William H. Folwell
Bishop of Central Florida, retired
Letter No. 2
This is an open letter from retired bishop Ben Benitez of Texas to retired bishop Walter Righter of Iowa, concerning Bishop Righter's public criticism of Central Florida's request for AlPO:
July 22, 2006
AN OPEN LETTER TO +WALTER RIGHTER:
Walter, back off in your castigation of the Diocese of Central Florida.
In the first place, they have not said that they are leaving the Episcopal Church. They are merely seeking the ministry of an alternate Primate to that of one who at GC 2003 voted for the Consent to the Consecration of Gene Robinson, - to that of one who has authorized the Blessing of Same Sex Unions in her diocese, - and to one who prays at public services to "Jesus, our mother"!
Walter, you must know that ever since you and your cohort, Jack Spong, took to, knowingly, ordaining non celibate homosexual persons, that many people in this Church, like those who comprise the Diocese of Central Florida, and
many others of us, regard you and those who have done as you do as apostate, as having abandoned some of the fundamental faith and practice of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. You have departed from the teaching of
the Church that has been upheld for 2,000 years, and what is more, probably 95% of Christians in the world, including an overwhelming majority of the members of the Anglican Communion, also regard you as having done so.
Furthermore, this is not only a matter of sexual behavior, but an even more important matter is that so many priests and bishops, in your theological camp, no longer believe that Jesus is still the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. Many deny the heart of the evangelical faith, that salvation, and the hope of the world, and our hope for Eternal life, is found in the Cross, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Why you even voted at GC 2003, along with the rest of the liberal revisionist bishops, NOT to reaffirm your commitment to the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral, with its strong affirmationof the authority of Holy Scripture as the Word of God. In doing so, you voted against "the Faith once delivered to the Saints", and in fact you repudiated your own Ordination vows!
Walter, in your lecturing to the Diocese of Central Florida, you spoke of reconciliation. However, in GC 2003 when you and others in the leadership of TEC forged ahead with a vote for the Consecration of Gene Robinson, you
were utterly defying the rest of the Anglican Communion, who were pleading forTEC to hold off until there was at least a shred of consensus in the Communion for your action. Where then was your appeal for reconciliation? And yet you, Walter, speak about Central Florida engaging in "coercion"!
And after we of TEC have all but torn this Communion apart, and now in 2006, with the rest of the Communion having given us two years to respond to the Windsor Report, our response was all but a sham, with our squeaking and our quibbling not remotely in compliance with Windsor? What sort of act of reconciliation do you call that?
Walter, I fully respect your right, and that of the rest of the bishops and deputies to disagree on any matter with the rest of the Communion, but why not do so honorably, and without a pretense of compliance? Why not clearly declare that TEC is unwilling to pay the price set forth in the Windsor Report by the rest of the Communion, for us to remain in the Communion, and that therefore, we are choosing to walk our separate way, and that we wish the rest of the Communion well.
Finally, Walter, you allege that Central Florida has said to the rest of the Church, " It is my way or the highway!" And you are wrong, for the living truth is that it is TEC that has said just that, both in GC 6003 and GC 6006, and it is the rest of the Anglican Communion that has been told by us, "You accept our way, or you take the highway!"