Pittsburgh Episcopal bishop steps back from conservative-liberal fight

Posted: Friday, January 10, 2003

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- An Episcopal bishop has withdrawn from the feud between another Pennsylvania church leader and a conservative priest over same-sex unions and ordaining women.

Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan has transferred canonical oversight of the Rev. David Moyer to a diocese in Central Africa after earlier inviting Moyer to preach in the Pittsburgh Diocese.

Duncan had extended the invitation after the priest had been defrocked by Bishop Charles Bennison Jr., head of the Episcopal diocese based in Philadelphia.

But in a Dec. 16 letter, Duncan shifted authority for Moyer to the African diocese, saying he was trying to extract himself from the fight between the priest and Bennison.

''It is more of a battle than Bishop Duncan wants to be in,'' said Ronda Carman, a spokeswoman for Duncan.

Moyer had refused to allow Bennison and two of his predecessors to make formal visits to the priest's Philadelphia-area church.

Moyer also is president of the North American chapter of the Forward in Faith movement, which believes the church has become too liberal. The group has sought to make Moyer a bishop for more conservative Episcopal congregations.

Bennison, who supports the ordination of women and gays in committed relationships, said it was Moyer's rejection of the bishop's authority, not his beliefs, that prompted the priest's dismissal from ministry.

Moyer continues to live in the Philadelphia area.

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