Answering his detractors claims of causing division, Episcopal Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh says his efforts to realign Episcopalian doctrines with those of traditional Christianity serve as a common ground and a bridge to ecumenical dialogue.
Bishop Duncan is one of 110 diocesan bishops and numerous laity within the Anglican Communion who were upset by the ordination of openly gay bishop, Eugene Robinson, in New Hampshire.
He has emerged as the leader of a movement, which includes about 900 of the 7,000 congregations within the Episcopal Church in the United States, to realign Episcopalian doctrines with those of traditional Christianity.
The movement is called the Anglican Communion Network. It “seeks to hold to the truth that the church has received and has always taught, as opposed to the innovations that are being held up now,” he told Our Sunday Visitor in an interview.
The bishop said he and the members of his movement believe the church is in the midst of a major Christian reformation.
“Pope Benedict XVI wrote, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, that the Western church will not be fruitful again until it was severely pruned - referencing John 15,” he said in the interview. “We're in the midst of a significant pruning, and not only of the Anglicans but also of the whole of the Western Christian church.”
The bishop does not identify with the conservative label. “My understanding is that it's (ACN’s teaching against homosexuality etc.) simply what the gospel says, and that it is what the mainstream of Christianity has always held,” he was quoted as saying.
The prelate said his group is often criticized for being “just worked up over sex.”
“That's not it at all. We're actually worked up over what scripture says, and in every regard,” he continued in the interview. The Episcopalian Church has been lax about allowing remarriages after divorce, and on what scripture says about human life and its sanctity.
Bishop Duncan agreed that his position serves as a common ground and a bridge to ecumenical dialogue with Catholics.
“As we began this movement … in the fall of 2003 … then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote to us, to a meeting of almost 3,000 Episcopalians gathered in Plano, Texas, and he wrote from Rome saying, ‘We are watching you, our brothers, you who are standing against these innovations, are standing with us,’” the bishop recounted.
“When the cardinal became Pope Benedict XVI, the letter was hung in our office.”