Bishop Duncan: ‘This Isn’t About Us’ - Living Church Interview

Source: Living Church

8/3/2006

The Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh and moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, says the Archbishop of Canterbury has a brief window of opportunity in which to act before the situation in the United States and Canada “collapses into the anarchy of high profile ecclesiastical presentments and civil lawsuits.” Bishop Duncan’s remarks came in a July 31 address to open the Network’s annual council meeting. He cited the response by the 75th General Convention and the recent launch of several disciplinary investigations against Network bishops as evidence that the Anglican Communion is facing a kairos moment.

On Aug. 2, the final day of the council meeting, Bishop Duncan responded to questions posed by The Living Church.

TLC: In your talk, you say that the Archbishop of Canterbury must approve some form of alternate primatial oversight if the See of Canterbury is to continue to be looked to as the central unifying force within Anglicanism. The requests are only from seven dioceses of The Episcopal Church. What makes them so important to the rest of the Communion? What do you think will happen if Archbishop Rowan Williams declines to act? Can you point to a precedent or some body of ecclesiastical law that would help with the request from those seven dioceses?

Bishop Duncan: This isn’t about us. This is about the Episcopal Church’s decision to walk apart from the Anglican Communion. This is what the Archbishop of Canterbury must respond to. This is what the Windsor Report calls for.

TLC: What is the minimum that the seven dioceses are willing to settle for? For instance, suppose that Archbishop Williams says he will agree to APO, but only for six months initially. Suppose he is willing to agree, but the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church insists that any bishop receiving APO will be deposed for abandonment?

Bishop Duncan: We have said as much about our request to the archbishop as we are at liberty to share.

TLC: What do you make of the allegations against Bishop [John-David] Schofield? The bishops who signed the letter to Bishop [Dorsey] Henderson believe they have no other recourse except to remove Bishop Schofield. Can you think of anything else they could have done (short of repenting for the New Hampshire consecration) that would have gotten them to the same place?

Bishop Duncan: Simply put, this is just the latest example of an attempt to misuse a canon clearly not intended for this purpose.

TLC: If given a choice between losing property, but continuing communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the rest of the Anglican Communion or keeping the property and pledging allegiance to The Episcopal Church, which choice do you think the majority of parishes and clergy in the Diocese of Pittsburgh would make?

Bishop Duncan: We have no intention of going anywhere as a diocese. Our choice is simply to remain who we are.

TLC: How big is the minority position in the Diocese of Pittsburgh? What steps have you taken to ensure that they are not marginalized?

Bishop Duncan: Those who disagree with our direction hold positions on our governing bodies. We are currently funding both ministry and facility projects in a number of churches that have publicly disassociated from our actions. We have closed none of their churches, nor done anything contrary to their basic interests. We have brought no canonical charges. Some have sued us, but we have gracefully turned the other cheek. Would that the larger Episcopal Church deal with us the way that we have attempted to deal with those who disagree with the convictions and direction of the majority here in Pittsburgh.

TLC: You mentioned that the term of the ACN moderator is initially for three years. Can you run for re-election? If so, are you planning to run for re-election? If not do you have any ideas as to who you would like to have succeed you?

Bishop Duncan: I’ve said before that I am willing to serve in any capacity. Many have encouraged me to stand for re-election, and I am at the Network’s pleasure in this