Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Offers Not to Defrock Clergy
Cronin, Mike, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Officials from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh offered Monday to release about 100 priests and deacons from the diocese rather than strip them of their ordinations.
The offers go to people in 47 parishes that voted to leave the national Episcopal Church based in New York last year and become founding members of the Anglican Church of North America based in Ambridge.
When similar splits have occurred elsewhere, diocesan officials chose to defrock clergy who left, said the Rev. James Simons, rector of St. Michael's of the Valley Episcopal Church in Ligonier. Simons is the president of the diocesan standing committee.
"It's a pastoral move," Simons said. "These are people we were once in ministry with. We want them to go where they believe God is leading them."
Shawn Malarkey, spokesman for the Western Pennsylvania churches that now are part of the Anglican Church of North America, said the church law cited in the offer "refers to clergy who willingly give up their ordination to return to being lay people.
"It would be wrong to ask our vital and active ordained ministers to renounce 'the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God's Word and Sacraments' as a means to simplify someone's bookkeeping," he said.
Bishop Robert Duncan led last year's revolt from the Episcopal Church. …