Sunday, July 23, 2006

Katharine Jefferts Schori on CBS Evening News

She was supposed to be on CBS Evening News last Sunday, but was pre-empted for "breaking news". Just as well, I guess, as I was on the road and had no way of recording it. I've transcribed it below, missing only the very beginning (as in, the first few words) of the segment.

Russ Mitchell: ...knew that she would be flying into a sea of controversy. But this part-time pilot, who flies a single-engine Cessna into the outlying parishes of her Nevada diocese, believes she'll be able to prevent a threatened huge split in her church.

What do you say to people who don't think that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church should condone homosexuality and same-sex marriages?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: Well, my sense is that Jesus invited everybody to the table, to the "great feast", and for us to say that some people are not fit to come to that feast is not our task.

Russ Mitchell It was the ordaination of women as priests which first angered a number of diocese. They threatened to split from the main church when three years ago an openly gay priest was elected as Bishop of New Hampshire.

Since your election, a number of diocese have come out and been critical. This one from a leader in Springfield, Illinois. He thinks the Episcopal church is in meltdown. "The lowest ebb of our beloved and beleaguered church since perhaps the Civil War if not the American Revolution." When you hear stuff like that, what goes through your head?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: It's predictable. People that have been unhappy over the course of the church's direction over the last couple of decades. This is another piece that may offend some--it tells them that change is happening whether they are intereseted in that change or not.

Russ Mitchell The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican community. But many Anglicans overseas feel that Episcopalians in America have gone too far down the liberal road.

Do you care what other Anglican churches think?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: Absolutly, absolutely--and I think our most recent General Convention was very clear about the fact that we are very concerned about our membership in the Anglican Communion and our relationships with other parts of the Anglican Communion.

Russ Mitchell: How much of this opposition do you think is coming from that fact that you're a woman?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: I think that's a significant piece of it. I think that a number of the changes in attitude in the church over the last century have offended old ways of understanding who should be in charge. Is it a white male who will rule in the church, or is it not?

Russ Mitchell: You're a pilot--

Katharine Jefferts Schori: Mm-hmm.

Russ Mitchell: What's so special to you about being up in that airplane, in the pilot's seat?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: Ahh...there's a wonderful poem that was written in the 2nd World War by a fellow named McGee that's called "High Flight", and he talks about the experience of being aloft as a religious--spiritual encounter. And there is certainly an element of that. It gives one a very different perspective on the world. It gives one a larger view.

Russ Mitchell: When we were waiting for you outside, someone walked by and we told them what we were doing here, and they said, "Oh! She's a star!"

Katharine Jefferts Schori: Oh, help!

Russ Mitchell: How are you dealing with that part of this?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: I'm a human being. I am simply doing what I've been called to do.

Russ Mitchell: The applause must come as a welcome sound to Bishop Jefferts Schori, but she acknowledges, many battles lie ahead.

At the end of your term in nine years, how will you measure your success?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: Well, I would hope to see a church that is less focussed on internal division, and far more focussed on changing the world around us--transforming the communities in which we live.

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