Showing posts with label Letter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Letter. Show all posts

Friday, March 28, 2014


Fox News and friends, including Sen David Vitter (R-LA), are freaking out over President Obama's extension by a few days of the deadline for the sign-up period for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Once again, Republicans demonstrate signs of impaired memory about the rollout of Medicare Part D under President George W Bush.

Below is the text of my letter to Sen David Vitter in response to his recent email suggesting that I send him my ideas on Obamacare.

Dear Sen. Vitter,

Your recent email on Obamacare is nothing but a load of malarkey.  If you see those words as acceptable, you must really think I'm stupid.  After a bad start, Obamacare is doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing.  Perhaps your memory is not entirely clear about the rocky beginning and the extension of the deadline in the rollout of Medicare Part D under President George W. Bush.
'In May of 2006, just days before the end of open enrollment, President Bush took administrative action to waive “penalty fees for very low-income seniors and people with disabilities who sign up late” and allowed “the same impoverished beneficiaries to sign up for Medicare drug coverage until Dec. 31.”

“In other words, you can apply after May 15th without penalty,” Bush told seniors during an event in Florida. “And that’s important for low-income seniors to understand.”
Republicans seem to have selective memory recall about the periods in recent history when they were running the show.  Why not spend your time and our tax dollars doing something useful, such as helping the uninsured in Louisiana obtain health insurance, rather than repeatedly harping on the evils of the Obama administration?  The constant reiteration of the same old, same old is beyond tiresome.

Thank you for your attention.

Monday, December 9, 2013


Dear Gov. Jindal,

Please change your mind and accept the Medicaid expansion that would provide health insurance for hundreds of thousands of citizens of Louisiana and which would also create much-needed jobs in the state. Whatever your ideological objections to the program, Louisiana stands to lose 1.566 billion dollars. That's billions lost to the state budget that is often in arrears and requires last minute cuts in programs and institutions that have already been cut to the bone.

Whatever may happen in nine years when the state has to pay 10% of the costs, you will be long gone from the scene, but citizens in Louisiana need health insurance right now. Without the Medicaid expansion, people in Louisiana will almost certainly die from treatable diseases and conditions because of the lack of health insurance, either because treatment was started too late, or because treatment was inadequate.

Whatever your intentions, on the surface it appears that you refuse the money for the sake of furthering your political ambitions on the national scene. Since you first assumed the office of governor in Louisiana, your extensive travels campaigning around the country for political purposes leave you little time in the state where you were elected. Isn't it time to pay attention to the needs of the people of the state?

You are a Catholic Christian, Gov. Jindal. Have you read the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church or listened to the words of Pope Francis about the poor and downtrodden? I simply cannot comprehend your decision not to accept the funds. A good many Republican governors have laid aside ideology and political ambitions and chosen to accept the Medicaid expansion for the sake of their poor and low income citizens. Why not you?


June Butler


Low income people want to obtain health insurance...
But in 25 states, that robust interest has a downside: Navigators are forced to tell more and more people that they probably won't be able to get covered because their states, all of which had a GOP-controlled legislative chamber or governor, have refused to expand Medicaid. Lynne Thorp, who is overseeing the University of South Florida's navigator program in that state, told TPM that about one in four people who contact her team fall into that Medicaid gap.

"Those are hardest phone calls because it doesn't make any sense to them," Thorp said. "We have to explain that they fall into this gap where this program can't assist them."

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham in the Church of England, responds to a letter he received in his post titled "Letter to a Saloon Bar Moralist".
Jesus also taught us to beware the leaven of the Pharisees within and among ourselves. Indeed, whilst he said absolutely nothing about what we call homosexuality (hardly surprising, since the concept was not defined until 1892) he said an enormous amount about using the law to lay burdens on others harder than they could bear, not treating others as you would have them treat you, failing to see the human being in need for the child of God they are, erecting the small matters of the law into crucial shibboleths that confound the purpose of the law, thinking that searching the scriptures in itself will bring life, supposing that people were made for the sabbath not the sabbath for people, and so I could go on. St John tells us that it is futile to think that we are loving the God we have never seen, if we do not love towards the person we have seen.
Read the letter in its entirety.  As I said, it is excellent.

Friday, April 26, 2013


My dear friend Margaret wrote the following letter to her senators and representative:

My name is Margaret. I am the Episcopal priest serving the Cheyenne River Reservation. It is a difficult job, at best, but I have never felt more fully alive than when serving the good people of South Dakota.

Here is my concern: The "Sequester" cuts have cut to the bone here on the Reservation. Our Social Services workers will be working without a direct office supervisor, and will be expected to absorb the work load of their supervisor when she is laid off beginning May 1. They already each have over 150 clients. I have heard one serves more than 260 clients --adding more is going to make a difficult job impossible.

But more importantly, the clients themselves have been cut off --they have received no monies since the beginning of March. They are coming to my door asking for heating fuel, food, clothes, diapers. Children are at risk. There are no Tribal programs that can assist these folks, they are mostly disabled, elderly with grandchildren in the home, or are desperate for work. Last night, after a funeral, I delivered left over food to people's homes. Funeral food to a family of six of baloney sandwiches, biscuits, two apples, two oranges and some chocolate cake.

I cannot afford to feed all the people who come to my door asking for help. I have emptied my own freezer, my own cupboard in order to help these desperate folks.

I would like to invite you and any one else who is interested to come and stay here for ten days. Just ten days. I would like you to open my door and hear the stories, see the faces, see the desperation and despair. I would like you to feed the people from my freezer --and when it is empty explain to them why it is they have to go hungry and cold.

I would like you to attend the funeral I would probably do sometime in that 10 days and see the faithfulness, the generosity, the generational grief. I would like you to come with me on home visits and see the extreme poverty out of which that faithfulness and generosity and grief springs.

In the last six months, I have done 40 funerals --six infants, two teen suicides, and many, many folks under the age 40.

And food, shelter and heat are not the only problems here --the Indian Health Services were also part of the Sequester cuts. And the cuts are affecting the Head Start programs.

Have you all become so twisted up in your political lives that you have forgotten the people you have been called to serve?

I think so.

Look, it's really easy --have no cap on Social Security payments --everyone pays, all the way up. Including you. Don't make me pay 25% and more on taxes while the ultra-rich pay 15%. Don't give yourself healthcare benefits and raises and then deny them to others.

Don't punish the children and the elderly and the poor and the disabled by cutting the programs that at least keep them alive at poverty levels.  Oh, and by the way, don't sacrifice the environment for monetary gain --that will kill us all.

I'll say it again: Don't exempt yourselves from the burden the poor must bear every day.

I can only say I am shocked and depressed by my own government. Do better than this. The people you are supposed to serve deserve better.

Shocked and depressed,
The Rev. Margaret Watson
For you members of Congress who apparently believe that the inconvenience of delayed flights is the most serious consequence of the Sequester,  may I remind you of your oath upon assuming your offices?
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
The very first words of the Constitution are as follows:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (My emphasis)
When Native American citizens of  the richest country in the world live as Margaret describes the situation of her parishioners, something is very wrong.  In the best of times, her people number among the poorest.  In bad times such as these, their plight is desperate.

My prayer for you is that the words from the song of the prophet Ezekiel become the reality for you that will move you to exercise your power to end the Sequester and relieve the suffering people in these United States of America.
A new heart I will give you
and a new spirit put within you.
I will take the stone heart from your chest
and give you a heart of flesh.
I will help you walk in my laws
and cherish my commandments and do them.
You shall be my people,
and I will be your God.

(Ezekiel 36:26-28)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


A 65-year-old former nurse has delivered a withering telling off to the Archbishop of Westminster – England’s most senior Catholic – for his stance on gay marriage.

The woman, who now works with animals and lives in northern England, says she has been married for 30 years but gay marriage doesn’t threaten the status of her relationship whatsoever.

And she says Archbishop Vincent Nichols and his church have become obsessed with gay sex, ignoring the real problems of society – the economy, schools, hospitals and our children’s future.
The woman has requested to remain anonymous.  Excerpts from her splendid letter follow.
I am 65 years of age and have been married for almost 30 years. I would so have appreciated an explanation from you or any of the hierarchy exactly how my long and happy marriage will be threatened by the union of gay couples. When I meet people in my day to day existence they talk about the economic climate (bad), lack of employment (bad), uncertain future for their children (bad), state of schools, hospitals (bad) – never ever has anybody expressed concern about a threat to their marriage by the proposed legalizing of same-sex marriage. You, the church, claim that marriage is the bedrock of society and indeed it is but you also seem to consider it so fragile that allowing a few gay people access to it will endanger it forever. Here the implicit homophobia cannot be ignored.

Sadly you still think your pronouncements will be accepted without question by a meek credulous herd. You have spent far too much time telling us just how sinful we are while drawing veils of respectability over your own grievous wrongdoings.

I sometimes despair of this church, this institution. It seems to me in my reading of the Gospels that Jesus had no problem whatsoever with those who were considered outsiders or exceptions. He appears to have happily shared meals with prostitutes, drunkards, lepers, Gentiles and I do not doubt with people of same-sex orientation since such an orientation has existed since time began. The church seems much happier with its version of order over compassion and love towards the so-called exceptions. It has an appalling history of excluding and torturing those who do not think or subscribe to its definition of ‘right’.

To me, you (particularly but not exclusively the hierarchy) appear to be a frightened group of men preoccupied with titles, clothing and other religious externals. You seem, with some wonderful and brave exceptions, to pay only lip service to ecumenism and matters of social justice. I would love to see the so-called ‘Princes of the Church’ (Where did all these triumphant, utterly anti-Gospel titles you award yourselves come from?) get rid of the silk, the gold, the Gucci shoes, the ridiculous tall hats, croziers, fancy soutanes etc etc and substitute bare heads and a simple pilgrim’s staff on all liturgical occasions and that might be taken as a small outward sign of your inner acceptance of fundamental Gospel values.
Bulls-eye!  What an excellent and eloquent letter.  Along with the Roman Catholic "princes" of the church, I'd hope the "princes" of the Church of England, and especially the chief "prince", Archbishop Justin Welby, who will be enthroned next month, read the retired nurse's letter.  The  matters with which the archbishops and bishops in the two churches occupy their time and speak of, so often seem to have very little to do with the Gospel.

And for all hierarchical churches, if those in authority would keep in mind that they are called to be the servants of all, the Gospel of Jesus Christ would be far better served.  I've often wondered what silks, and lace, and mitres have to do with the Gospel and thought that simpler vestments might be an aid to remind those in authority of their servant role.  Mitres are the silliest, and my suggestion would be to ditch them.

But I digress.  Though I have quoted generously from the letter, I urge you to read it all.

Photo from Wikipedia.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Letter to the members of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina from Bishop Mark Lawrence.

Click on the letter for the larger view.

In other words, we have a secret.  We know you are anxious and concerned, but we can't allay your anxiety and concern quite yet, because it would be imprudent to reveal the secret at this time.  Sorry about that.  Although the decision has been made, the situation remains fluid and requires discernment, thus you must be patient for a while longer.

Unless the letter is written in code that only the in-group in the diocese understands, the gist of the communication is so very immature that it could have come from a child of elementary school age were the language less high-flown.  One is left puzzled wondering if the decision (whatever it is) was premature.  Is it possible the course of action could change in response to discernment on the fluid situation?  The bishop assures the members of the diocese that the leaders "are progressing" and have not "stopped or dropped the ball".  If the decision is already made, then why the hesitation in disclosure?

But why am I surprised?  The letter is typical +Mark Lawrence.  Will he or won't he take the diocese and himself out of the Episcopal Church?  The bishop or any member of the diocese is free to leave the Episcopal Church at any time, as the church does not hold its members in chains.  My guess is that the "discernment" is about finding a way to take church property with them if and when they depart the Episcopal Church and a way for the diocese to claim to be still a part of the Anglican Communion.  Of course, I could be wrong, and I hope I am.  The matter remains of the vows +Lawrence made at his ordination as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I,Mark Lawrence, chosen Bishop of the Church in South Carolina, solemnly declare that I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church.
H/T to Mark Harris at Preludium, who brought the letter to my attention.

Friday, July 20, 2012


From the Rt. Rev. Rob O'Neill of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado:
For now I write particularly to ask your prayers for those who are most directly affected by these shootings—those who are wounded, those who have died, emergency responders, medical and law enforcement personnel, and your colleagues and communities who are providing immediate pastoral care. The greatest gift we have to offer one another is indeed our collective prayer—not merely kind wishes, not simply good intentions, but deep prayer—the ability to hold, tangibly and intentionally, others in that abundant love that flows freely and gracefully within us and among us. This has substance. This has weight and heft. For it is the source of deep healing and lasting transformation

Please make this your intentional practice, and please invite others to join you in doing the same today and in the days ahead.

Deep peace and many blessings be with you.


Bishop O'Neill
H/T to Ann Fontaine at The Lead.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Following the early departure from General Convention 2012 of all but two of the deputation from the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, Bishop Mark Lawrence wrote a letter to the congregations in the diocese.
Some of you have actively followed the decisions of the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Others have been blissfully unaware that our denomination even had a General Convention. We have. And the actions taken mark a significant and distressing departure from the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them.
Read the letter in its entirety at the link above.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has acquired a rare personal letter and other memorabilia associated with John Kennedy Toole, the author of “A Confederacy of Dunces” who briefly taught at ULL’s predecessor and is believed to have drawn inspiration there for characters in that classic book.

The letter in the collection was written in January 1963 to English professors Patricia and Milton Rickels at the former University of Southwestern Louisiana from Puerto Rico, where Toole was serving in the U.S. Army and working on “A Confederacy of Dunces.”
Confederacy is one of my favorite books about my beloved New Orleans.  The book is a masterpiece, which Toole could not get published in his lifetime.  His mother, Thelma, believed that the failure to publish contributed to the despair that led Toole to take his own life at the age of 31.
Toole submitted Dunces to publisher Simon & Schuster, where it reached noted editor Robert Gottlieb. Gottlieb considered Toole talented but felt his comic novel was essentially pointless. Despite several revisions, Gottlieb remained unsatisfied, and after the book was rejected by another literary figure, Hodding Carter Jr., he shelved the novel.
What were they thinking?  Kudos to Thelma Toole, who would not give up her hope for publication, and pestered the novelist, Walker Percy, until he read the manuscript.  After reading it, Percy submitted the manuscript to LSU Press with an enthusiastic recommendation, and they published the book.  Confederacy became a best seller and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980.

Many years ago,  I met the writer at a couple of parties.  He was known then as Ken Toole, and I did not make the connection with the writer of Confederacy for years and years.  All I remember of him is that he was a quiet type.  A college friend dated him briefly, and she confirmed to me that he was very quiet - "One of those situations where I racked my brain to come up with some topics to discuss.  Always polite and punctual and private."  She does not have letters from him.

I'm pleased that ULL bought the letter, and it will remain in Louisiana.

UPDATE: Ignatius on his bus trip from New Orleans to Baton Rouge :
Do you remember the time that I went to Baton Rouge in one of those? I vomited several times. The driver had to stop the bus somewhere in the swamps to let me get off and walk around for a while. The other passengers were rather angry. They must have had stomachs of iron to ride in that awful machine. Leaving New Orleans also frightened me considerably. Outside of the city limits the heart of darkness, the true wasteland begins."

"Of course," Ignatius continued, mistaking his mother's rapt look for interest, "that was the only time that I had ever been out of New Orleans in my life. I think that perhaps it was the lack of a center of orientation that might have upset me. Speeding along in that bus was like hurtling into the abyssBy the time we had left the swamps and reached those rolling hills near Baton Rouge, I was getting afraid that some rural rednecks might toss bombs at the bus. They love to attack vehicles, which are a symbol of progress, I guess.”

Monday, December 19, 2011


From the website of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island:
Dear Bishop Provenzano,

Yesterday some troubled the waters and I got in. For me it was not premeditated. In fact Rev. Michael Sniffen and I were clear that for each of us it would be a choice we made on our own, with no pressure from the other.

I feel that being in solidarity with the Occupy movement, with its desperate need for outdoor space along with the pressure it was under through systematic oppression before Nov. 15, combined with the dispersal that took place (in concert with 18 mayors around the nation and homeland security): all this necessitated such a move of conscience. As I crossed property boundaries that many in the church seem to believe are inviolable, I believe a full explanation for my motives and actions in conformity to the vows I took upon ordination as Priest, as well as in my being a public citizen are in order:

On the OWS movements: the power of these movements is precisely their transgressive nature. While non- violence is the primary mode of gathering and demonstrating --I have never once seen a protester strike anyone anytime-- the occupation at Liberty Square/Zuccotti and the general heart of the movement is a kind of ongoing non-violent act of civil disobedience performed in love. Before the dispersal from Liberty/Zucccotti, we experienced a space wherein hope for real change for all was being performed and spread. It was no domesticated affair, no sanctioned public conversation; evidenced by the constant threat of eviction, the 24 hour police presence and the well documented police harassment, violations of private assembly and surveillance (see the newly minted Defense Authorization Act as a sad continuation). If we are uncomfortable with transgression, and I think we always are in some way, I submit we are not conformable to the mode and actions of Jesus. We may not be able to be able to live in that liberated space at all times; I know we find it so hard, but it is real and needs honoring. It follows that we (I know I am) always grasping, always incomplete, always in the dark, are groping for the hand of the spirit to help us find the door to that space. That is where I am: groping in that dark.

See more.

Yours faithfully, John Merz
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything That's how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen
The Reverend John Merz
Diocesan Missioner to Greenpoint and Williamsburg
Please read it all.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


From the Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs:
November 16, 2011
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following statement concerning Bede Parry.


Bede James Parry was serving as organist and music director at All Saints Church, Las Vegas, when I became aware of him. His arrival preceded my own in the Diocese of Nevada.

He approached me to inquire about being received as a priest, having served as a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. At the time, he told me of being dismissed from the monastery in 1987 for a sexual encounter with an older teenager, and indicated that it was a single incident of very poor judgment. The incident was reported to civil authorities, who did not charge him. He told of being sent to a facility in New Mexico, serving as a priest thereafter both in New Mexico and in Nevada, and recently (2002) being asked to formalize his separation from the monastery.

In consultation with other diocesan leadership and the chancellor, we explored the possibilities and liabilities of receiving him. I wrote to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas and the Diocese of Santa Fe, receiving brief responses from each bishop, who indicated no problematic behavior. I wrote to Conception Abbey, from whom I received only an acknowledgement that he had served there, been sent for treatment to a facility in New Mexico, and had been dismissed for this incident of misconduct. Neither then nor later did I receive a copy of any report of a psychological examination in connection with his service in the Roman Catholic Church. His departure from the Roman Catholic priesthood had to do with his desire to take up secular employment.

Parry was required to fulfill all the expectations of the canons regarding reception of a priest from another communion in historic succession. He did undergo a psychological exam in the Diocese of Nevada, was forthcoming about the incident he had reported to me, and did not receive a negative evaluation. His background check showed no more than what he had already told us. He was forthcoming about the previous incident in his interviews with the Commission on Ministry and with the Standing Committee.

I made the decision to receive him, believing that he demonstrated repentance and amendment of life and that his current state did not represent a bar to his reception. I was clear that his ministry would be limited to an assisting role, under the supervision of another priest, and like any other diocesan leader, he would not be permitted to work alone with children. Since that time, as far as I am aware, he has served faithfully and effectively as a minister of the gospel and priest of this Church.

The records of his reception are retained by the Diocese of Nevada, and further questions should be directed to Bishop Dan Edwards.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
Bishop Katharine's statement answers many questions, and I'm grateful for her words. I only wish her statement had been released earlier.

What's missing and what I'd like to have seen in the letter is an offer to make amends to anyone who has experienced abuse from Bede Parry or anyone serving in the Episcopal Church and an invitation to them to step forward with their stories, along with an assurance of confidentiality and compassionate treatment from the church. As I see it, Bishop Katharine missed an opportunity to reinforce the message that all accusations of abuse will be taken seriously by the Episcopal Church.

Was Bede Parry not permitted to work with children at all, or was he under only the ordinary constraints of any adult member of the church not to work alone with children?

Bishop Dan Edwards' letter states:
Nonetheless, the bishop added the restriction that he should not have contact with minors.
I believe in forgiveness and redemption, and Bede Parry should have been welcomed into the church, but I still wonder why he was admitted to the priesthood. I don't doubt Bishop Katharine's intentions to do a good thing, but the policy on abuse of minors should be 'one strike, and you're out', and Parry had his one strike.

H/T to Kurt Wiesner at The Lead.

Friday, April 22, 2011


From the Telegraph:
There’s a charming article in today’s Times by Alex Renton, a non-believer who sends his six-year-old daughter Lulu to a Scottish church primary school. Her teachers asked her to write the following letter: “To God, How did you get invented?”

Instead of answering Lulu's question, Renton emailed the letter to "the Scottish Episcopal Church (no reply), the Presbyterians (ditto) and the Scottish Catholics (a nice but theologically complex answer). For good measure, he also sent it to...Lambeth Palace”.

Lulu received the following response from Lambeth:
Dear Lulu,

Your dad has sent on your letter and asked if I have any answers. It’s a difficult one! But I think God might reply a bit like this –

‘Dear Lulu – Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn’t expected.

Then they invented ideas about me – some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible. From time to time I sent them some hints – specially in the life of Jesus – to help them get closer to what I’m really like.

But there was nothing and nobody around before me to invent me. Rather like somebody who writes a story in a book, I started making up the story of the world and eventually invented human beings like you who could ask me awkward questions!’

And then he’d send you lots of love and sign off.

I know he doesn’t usually write letters, so I have to do the best I can on his behalf. Lors [sic] of love from me too.

+Archbishop Rowan

How kind of Archbishop Rowan to write such a lovely and theologically simple response to Lulu.

Thanks to Ann and Cathy for the link.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Bishop Scott Benhase sent a letter to the members of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia outlining his reasons for voting to give consent to the election of Canon Mary Glasspool as Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

21 April 2010

To the People of the Diocese of Georgia:

A few of our colleagues in the Diocese asked me if I gave my consent to the Reverend Canon Mary Glasspool's election as Bishop Suffragan of Los Angeles. I did. While it is not usual for bishops to report on individual consents, I realize that for some people this is different, so I will try to explain how I came to give my consent. I cannot do so in a sound bite or even in a few sentences. Thus, you might wish to read this when you are not in a hurry.

1. Prior to my election as the 10th Bishop of Georgia, my theology and practice on the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the Church was well-known. I do not understand homosexuality to be a barrier to any of the four orders of ministry in the Church. I have been quite clear in that theology and practice. So, my consent to Canon Glasspool's election was consistent with what you had already known about me.

2. I would not have given my consent if I knew of any theology or practice of Canon Glasspool that was contrary to the Doctrine and Discipline of the Episcopal Church. Canon Glasspool has been a faithful priest of the Church for decades leading parishes to a renewed sense of their baptismal identity and purpose. More recently, she has served quite effectively as Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of Maryland. From my perspective, we need more bishops like Canon Glasspool who have had extensive experience in the leadership of parishes so they are better able to be strategic partners with congregational leaders for the growth and mission of our parishes.

3. I am aware of some concern about the so-called moratorium. The House of Bishops did agree to a moratorium a number of years ago. That moratorium, however, was not one-sided. It was accepted in the context that certain of our Anglican brothers would refrain from crossing diocesan boundaries. While the House of Bishops exercised the restraint of the moratorium for seven years, others did not practice such restraint even for a year. So, in my judgment, the moratorium was no longing a compelling consideration.

4. I, of course, recognize that some in the Diocese of Georgia disagree with my consent. I welcome that. Disagreement in the Church is hardly new. In some ways, Anglicanism was forged out of an unresolved disagreement in the Elizabethean Settlement. After Queen Elizabeth, Protestants and Catholics within Anglicanism did not somehow see their differences go away, but they were committed to living with one another and serving Jesus together in the church. They were willing to live with what they perceived as significant differences. In many ways, the challenge we face today is not new.

5. I believe that this current dilemma we face needs to be seen and understood in the larger context and truthfulness of Church history and tradition. The catholic faith has always lived with differences while holding fast to the Nicene faith. For example, the post-Constantinian Church has lived with difference in how we interpret the Sixth Commandment. Some have insisted that all killing is wrong all the time. This is the so-called pacifist position. Others have insisted that there are times when violating the Sixth Commandment is the lesser of two evils. From this came the Just War constructs of St Augustine that provided ethical boundaries for the violation of the Sixth Commandment. We have had both positions held faithfully in this Church (with many nuances in between) and neither has insisted that the other is not welcome or that the other is not orthodox.

6. More recently in my lifetime, we have had disagreement about violating Jesus' teaching on divorce. Jesus is clear: If one marries after divorce one commits adultery. That seems to be the plain sense of Scripture. Yet, many have recognized that while divorce is never a "good," sometimes it is the lesser of two evils for all parties. Others, however, still insist that Jesus' words must be interpreted plainly. There are still others in our Church that hold even more nuanced understandings about this that fit somewhere in between the two extremes. Yet, in all these, we remain together in the same Church and receiving God's gracious sacrament from the same

7. I understand our current dilemma in a similar historical context. Faithful people will disagree about this. I do not understand such disagreement as a problem to be solved, but a dilemma God is asking us to live with for the time being. There are faithful people in the Diocese of Georgia who are anxious for a definitive resolution. I do not believe that is possible right now and may not be in my lifetime on this earth. If that is true, how are we to live together with this dilemma? I think the answer to that question is this: We will live together just like the saints who have gone before us who heeded Blessed Paul's admonitions. We will love and honor one another. We will bear one another's burdens. We will not have a higher opinion of ourselves than we ought. We will not look only to our own concerns, but the concerns of others. We will forgive one another as we have been forgiven.

8. There is a prayer in the Marriage Rite that has always touched me deeply. When praying for the newly married couple, the Church hopes that "their life together" may be "a sign of Christ's love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, that forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair." I see this as an image of our relationship together. I have been Bishop of this Diocese for three months now. In that sense, we are newlyweds together. Like in any relationship that is not worked at and nurtured, we can fall into patterns that lead to estrangement, guilt, and despair. You and I will work hard not to let that happen. We will seek unity, forgiveness, and joy. We will seek to make our life together as bishop and people "a sign of Christ's love for this sinful and broken world." Of course, we will not always achieve such virtues, but I know we will constantly seek them and commit ourselves to practicing them.

As your Bishop, I am committed to leading this Diocese faithfully and effectively. I want those who have differences on the issue of human sexuality to know that I will not play favorites by rewarding those who agree with me or seeking to punish those who do not. All of us share in the mission of Jesus Christ together. All have an important role to play in that mission. I pray that we not allow whatever differences we have to distract us from taking the saving Gospel of Jesus to the world.


Thanks to Ann.

Friday, April 9, 2010


From the AP:

The future Pope Benedict XVI resisted pleas to defrock a California priest with a record of sexually molesting children, citing concerns including "the good of the universal church," according to a 1985 letter bearing his signature.

The correspondence, obtained by The Associated Press, is the strongest challenge yet to the Vatican's insistence that Benedict played no role in blocking the removal of pedophile priests during his years as head of the Catholic Church's doctrinal watchdog office.

The letter, signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was typed in Latin and is part of years of correspondence between the Diocese of Oakland and the Vatican about the proposed defrocking of the Rev. Stephen Kiesle.

But the future pope also noted that any decision to defrock Kiesle must take into account the "good of the universal church" and the "detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke within the community of Christ's faithful, particularly considering the young age." Kiesle was 38 at the time.

Kiesle had been sentenced in 1978 to three years' probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two young boys in a San Francisco Bay area church rectory.

The information in the article sickens me, but I'm running out of words on the pope's role in the cover-up of child abuse. What's next? What sort of revelations will it take before the Vatican stops circling the wagons and hunkering down?

I'd add that there's something very wrong with the criminal laws when a person who ties up and molests young children can plead guilty to a misdemeanor and get off with no jail time and only three years probation.

H/T to Box Turtle Bulletin for the link to the article. Jim Burroway has more commentary there.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


From the letters to the editor in The State in South Carolina:

Health bill price too high for America
The health care bill is unprecedented in requiring Americans to buy something that should be optional and voluntary.
The bill's proponents claim they want to help uninsured millions who are "denied" care, but I myself am uninsured and recently received excellent care for a back injury at MUSC. The hospital's private charity covered 95 percent of my cost, and my friends, family and church community helped with living expenses until I returned to work.
This kind of private solution is what Americans need, not government interference and control. I am healthy and rarely visit a doctor; I don't want to be forced to buy insurance, wasting a percentage of my income to effectively pay for sick people for whom I am not responsible. It is more efficient for me to pay out of pocket and be helped by my private community. Let the private sector work; more government bureaucracy is the last thing we need. This disastrous bill will only further bankrupt America.

Lenix in the comments gets it:

LENIX wrote on 03/16/2010 12:32:58 PM:
So Rebecca, its okay for you to not choose to have your self insured, but then beg for that handout when it is convenient to you??? Hahahahahaha!! And then you have those on here who actually condone your behavior/double standard!!! Hahahahahahaha!!! Only in SC, only in SC.....

Thanks to Lapin for the link.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


From the National Catholic Reporter:

Twenty-five pro-life Catholic theologians and Evangelical leaders yesterday sent letters to members of Congress urging them not to let misleading information about abortion provisions in the Senate health care bill block passage of sorely-needed reform.

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, a Washington-based advocacy group, said that the Senate health bill upholds abortion funding restrictions and supports pregnant women.
The letter included a page by page analysis of the Senate bill as it pertains to abortion.
The group asked members of Congress “to make an informed decision about this legislation based on careful deliberation guided by facts.”

“We believe that the provisions below provide extensive evidence that longstanding restrictions on federal funding of abortion have been maintained. Furthermore, this bill provides new and important supports for vulnerable pregnant women,” the letter states.

From the letter:

Dear Member of Congress,

As Christians committed to a consistent ethic of life, and deeply concerned with the health and well-being of all people, we want to see health care reform enacted. Our nation has a rare and historic opportunity to expand coverage to tens of millions of people, make coverage more affordable for all families, and crack down on many of the most harmful practices of the health insurance industry.
We are writing because of our concern about the lack of clear and accurate information regarding abortion provisions in the health care reform bill passed by the Senate on December 24, 2009.

Read the rest of the letter and see the names of the signatories at the NCR.

I believe that the letter is a big deal, especially coming from pro-life group leaders, both in contributing to an accurate understanding of what's in the bill regarding abortion and in countering misinformation that is promulgated by Republicans and others who do not want to see a health reform bill pass. Also, I'd hope that the letter would be helpful to the members of Congress to make an informed moral choice to support a bill that will help so many people and save lives.