Saturday, July 08, 2006

Katharine Jefferts Schori on the roots of the church

More from the interview Presiding Bishop Elect Katharine Jefferts Schori did on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Christy George: ...Even here in the U.S., a few diocese still won't ordain women, and one of them, the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, has already asked the Archbishop of Canterbury for a different boss than you. What's going on there?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: Well, change happens slowly. The church as a whole has probably forgotten its early history. There were clearly women in leadership positions in the ordained orders in the early church, but by the third or fourth century, that was suppressed. There are three or four dioceses in the United States that don't believe in the ordaination of women. Or, it would be more accurate to say their bishops don't--there are clearly laypeople and clergy in all three of those dioceses that disagree with those positions.

And the Church of England is continuing to debate whether or not they can ordain women to the episcopate, and their next conversation about that begins in July.

Christy George: And they are moving a little bit toward that, is that true?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: They are, especially in the Church of England.

Christy George: The Church of England itself was formed out of a split with the Catholic church. Do you think Episcopalians have some hard wiring for conflict?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: The Church of England did have some divergence from Rome, but its roots really go back to the beginnings of Christianity in the British Isles in the second century. Maybe the first century. So it's a long cultural history, and ecclesiastical history. The church in the United States separated after the Revolutionary War when clergy here, who had come from the Church of England could no longer swear loyalty to the monarch in England. And at that point the Church of England had to figure out some way of regognizing our validity.

We didn't get our bishops from England--the people who had been elected as first bishops in this church had to go to Scotland in order to be consecrated bishop. And we've improved our ties in the years since.

Christy George: So Americans are a little hardwired for conflict too.

Katharine Jefferts Schori: Well, we were born out of revolution.

Christy George: Exactly!

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