Monday, January 21, 2013

Episcopal bishop sought to end conflicts, build bridges

From Boston-

He has donned a purple cassock and joined Palestinian sympathizers protesting in front of the Israeli consulate. Gay but celibate, he has immersed himself in East African cultures to better understand the antigay sentiment. Lately, he has asked his congregants — and other faith leaders — to help eradicate gun violence.

Bishop M. Thomas Shaw of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, who announced his retirement last week, leaves a singular legacy as he prepares to depart Boston’s religious scene. A soft-spoken monk who leads one of the largest Episcopal dioceses in the country, the prayerful bishop has been extraordinarily vocal — and sometimes controversial — in the public square.

“I think Tom’s profound respect for other individuals, while also being very clear about what he believes and why he believes it, has made a difference,” said the Rev. Katherine Ragsdale, president of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge.

Shaw cast his decision to retire as a natural one. He will be 68 this year, approaching the mandatory bishop retirement age of 72, and the process of selecting and installing a successor takes about two years.

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