Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori discusses contemporary issues and the church with the Huffington Post:
In an hour-long conversation with HuffPost staffers, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, touched upon subjects that ranged from her views on how to interpret scripture and challenges that face the church as its demographics change to debates over contraception and the relationship between religion and science.
On same-sex marriage and other gay rights issues, Schori said she has been “stunned at how quickly public opinion has changed in the U.S.” though she cautioned that she doesn’t expect controversy over gay clergy in the Episcopal Church to fade. As more states legalize same-sex marriage, she said, conflicts in the church could become more frequent.
“We muddle through [controversial issues] in a very public way,” Schori (sic) of the church that has just under two million members in the United States.
[Jefferts] Schori also spoke of the recent controversy over a federal requirement that employers’ health insurance plans provide contraception coverage.
“It’s appropriate for couples to plan their families,” [Jefferts] Schori said, adding that contraception is a “normative part of health care.” She also said the Episcopal Church “has taken a very nuanced approach on abortion. We say it is a moral tragedy but that it should not be the government’s role to deny its availability.”
[Jefferts] Schori said that much of the conflict over sexuality among Episcopalians and Anglicans — and more widely, among Christians — comes from their differing interpretations of scripture. She warned against taking a strictly literal approach to the Bible.
She said her career as a scientist has influenced her belief that religion and science, which are often painted as incompatible, can coexist. Schori said she encourages parishes to tackle issues such as climate change and poverty.
“We are increasingly concerned that the way human beings use resources here in the developed part of the world has an increasing impact on poor people not only here but around the world,” [Jefferts] Schori said. “Our part in what we call God’s mission is to help heal the world, heal the brokenness of the world.”
[Jefferts] Schori said that she is “not caught up in the numbers game.”
“I don’t know if people in the 1960s were as well-formed or as well-committed … It was socially normative to be part of a church in the 50s and 60s,” she said, adding that she believes attending church today is a more active decision than it used to be.
“We don’t count the right way. How many lives has the work of a congregation touched this year?” she said. “That’s a more important question than counting who came to church on a Sunday.”
Watch Two Minutes of Wisdom from the Presiding Bishop here.