Friday, March 20, 2009

Episcopal Bishops Say 'Preoccupied' Church Missed Crisis

The Episcopal Church's bishops said Wednesday (March 18) that they have been too "preoccupied" with internal disputes to pay adequate attention to suffering caused by the deepening economic recession.

Gathered in Hendersonville, N.C., March 13-18, for their annual spring retreat, about 125 Episcopal bishops unanimously approved the pastoral letter, the bishops' first joint statement on the dire economy.

"In this season of Lent, God calls us to repentance," the bishops said. "We have too often been preoccupied as a Church with internal affairs and a narrow focus that has absorbed both our energy and interest ... to the exclusion of concern for the crisis of suffering both at home and abroad."

The Episcopal Church, which has about 2.2 million members, has been vexed by an acrimonious debate over biblical interpretation and homosexuality since the 2003 election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire.

Four dioceses and dozens of churches have left the Episcopal Church since then and Anglicans worldwide have strongly protested the election.
But the bishops said Wednesday that the church's concerns should be more broad.

"We have often failed to speak truth to power," they said, "to name the greed and consumerism that has pervaded our culture, and we have too often allowed the culture to define us instead of being formed by Gospel values."

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