A senior Episcopal prelate recently confirmed that a delegation of Episcopal priests from Fort Worth visited the Catholic bishop of the diocese, Most Rev. Kevin Vann, to discuss how their diocese might enter full communion with the Catholic Church. While the seriousness of the discussion is not yet known, a document presented by the priests claims an overwhelming majority of clergy in the Episcopal diocese favor pursuing plans to bring the diocese into the Catholic Church.
A spokesman for Bishop Vann, bishop of Fort Worth confirmed that the meeting took place, the Dallas Morning News reports.
The Rev. William Crary, who is senior rector of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, confirmed that he and three other Episcopal priests met with Bishop Vann on June 16. They presented the bishop with a document that is reportedly highly critical of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
The Dallas Morning News says the document claims an overwhelming majority of Episcopal clergy favor pursuing an “active plan” to bring the diocese into full communion with the Catholic Church. The document also reports that Episcopal Bishop of Fort Worth Jack Iker is supportive of the effort.
Rev. Crary confirmed Bishop Iker’s support, but did not explain the remarks further. He said it likely would not mean the Episcopal diocese’s “absorption” by the Catholic Church. He said the initiative was part of longstanding efforts to increase cooperation between the Catholic and Episcopal Churches and also to further the goal of Christian unity.
"These discussions between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion have been going on for 42 years," he said, according to the Dallas Morning News. "We would like to bring these down to the local level."
Rev. Courtland Moore, retired rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Arlington, said there is a “very serious attempt” on the part of clergy in the Episcopal diocese to “petition Rome for some kind of recognition.”
“They make it clear that they no longer believe there is truth in the Anglican Communion, and the only way they can find truth is reunion with Rome,” he stated.
Rev. Moore co-chairs the Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians, a group which wants the Episcopal diocese to remain in the Episcopal Church. He reportedly obtained a copy of the document presented to Bishop Vann, after which he made it available to reporters.
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is reportedly one of the most conservative Episcopalian dioceses. Under Bishop Iker, it has declined to ordain women as priests and has strongly opposed the acceptance of an openly homosexual Episcopal bishop.
The diocese has held one of the two votes required to leave the Episcopal Church and will vote again in November.