Further Update 27 April
This commentary has been published by Via Media USA
Update 25 April
There is an editorial in the Living Church about Connecticut: Harsh Treatment
Many thanks to commenters who posted links to news reports on this last week, while I was away from home.
The New York Times carried several reports:
22 April Dissident Priests Not Punished, but Their Fate Is Still Unclear
21 April Dissident Episcopal Priests Are Called Part of a Strategy
18 April Episcopal Clergy to Meet on Dispute Over Gay Issues
In the 21 April story, we read this:
…But as the bishop of Connecticut, Andrew D. Smith, prepared to suspend the priests, he described them as local troops in a nationwide strategy by conservative Episcopalians to secede and then establish a “replacement” church that would take the place of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. in the world Anglican Communion.
In an interview at his office in Hartford on Tuesday, the day after a meeting with the priests that seemed only to deepen the impasse, Bishop Smith said that the priests never had any intention of returning to the fold. Instead, he said, they were bent on “kind of a ‘Please, go ahead and shoot me’ ” approach that would make him a villain and win them public support.
Bishop Smith said the priests were following a strategy laid out in a memo written in December 2003 by a member of the American Anglican Council, a group of orthodox Episcopal parishes that includes those led by the six priests. The memo laid out steps that priests can take to distance and then eventually sever themselves from the parent church.
The memo said the strategy would “generate significant public attention” and added that the church authorities, knowing “well how conservatives could quickly become the ‘victims’ in the public mind,” would be reluctant to discipline priests.
“If you read that memo and then look at what happened there, there are a lot of similarities,” Bishop Smith said…