Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The PB Speaks

Episcopal News Service has posted a 15-minute video interview with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, conducted by ENS staffer Jan Nunley at the end of the House of Bishops meeting in Texas. Click here to see it (but a high-speed connection will be required).

Nunley asks some tough questions, a couple of which we have sought to transcribe here.

Nunley: "Is the communication … that [has] come out of this meeting … a rebuff or rejection of Dar es Salaam, as it has been represented in some of the initial news stories that have come out?"
Jefferts Schori: "No, I think it would be very unfair to see the responses out of this meeting in that light. What they do represent is some clarity on the part of this House about their concern for the polity of this church, for actions that seem to threaten our canons and constitution, and a strong suggestion to Executive Council that it decline to participate in the pastoral scheme that's part of the communiqué from Dar es Salaam. But the other questions or inquiries of this House in the communiqué really were not dealt with in any specificity in this meeting. "

Nunley draws out the Presiding Bishop on the question of polity, and how the bishops see their role as responding to the primates. The Presiding Bishop is clear on the bishops' commitment to having the whole Episcopal Church – not just bishops, but also priests, deacons, and the laity – involved in responding to the primates.

There was some discussion about the bishops' unanimous request that the Archbishop of Canterbury talk directly with the bishops of the Episcopal Church. This exchange came upon the end of that discussion.
Nunley: "You said that there is … the sense in the House [of Bishops] that the Communion doesn't understand us and does not understand our polity. And yet it seems that recently there have been statements coming from Lambeth Palace that indicate that in fact our polity is very well understood and is simply not being regarded."
Jefferts Schori: "Well, I think we are attempting to put the most gracious light on it."
After which follows a pregnant pause.

The Presiding Bishop explains that bishops plan to have the whole Episcopal Church discuss these issues throughout the summer, before the bishops' meeting in September. She stressed that the whole church needs to be involved "in making the decisions that may or not be made in September."

Asked to characterize the House of Bishops meeting, the Presiding Bishop says she was impressed by "the absence of substantial anxiety. It was a very calm meeting." She observed that many of the people who spoke were those who are not often heard from.

At the end of the interview, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori addresses the other issues that the bishops discussed including environmental issues, border issues between the U.S. and Mexico, and active mission relationships between the Episcopal Church and other churches of the Anglican Communion.

In closing, Nunley asks, "What's your sense of what God is doing in the church right now?" The Presiding Bishop responds: "My sense if that God is calling us back to the centerpoint of God's mission, which is about healing the world. And our differences disappear in the light of the radically deep needs of people around the world."

It's a marvelous chat with the Presiding Bishop. Our summaries and quotations here don't begin to do justice to her energy and passion. If you have high-speed Internet, go take a look.


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