Conflict continues over defrocking and transfer of Episcopal priest

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2002

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A rift in the U.S. Episcopal church is widening over a bishop's decision to defrock a priest who says the church has become too liberal on issues such as ordaining women and recognizing same-sex unions.

The day after the Rev. David Moyer was deposed, he celebrated Communion at the cathedral as a priest of the Pittsburgh diocese. The Anglican province of Central Africa had granted Moyer temporary clergy status.

Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, the leader of the world's Anglicans, also said he will receive Moyer if he wants to be a priest in England, Carey's spokesman said.

Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr., leader of the four-county Diocese of Pennsylvania, made the decision to oust Moyer, who is the North American president of Forward in Faith, a movement that has proposed him as a special bishop for conservative congregations within the church.

Moyer has said Bennison's teachings are ''heretical,'' and the priest doesn't recognize the bishop's order removing him from the clergy. The bishop has said that what prompted Moyer's dismissal was his rejection of the bishop's authority.

Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan and 22 other bishops protested Bennison's decision, saying he acted against church law and tradition.

The 100 parishioners inside the cathedral Saturday gave Moyer a standing ovation, while protesters clustered outside. Susan Boulden of the Episcopal Women's Caucus said Duncan's decision to receive Moyer ''is deeply divisive.''

The head of the U.S. Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, said the situation ''grieves me deeply'' and insisted traditionalists still ''have a place in the Episcopal Church.''

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