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Salting old wounds in the Diocese of the Rio Grande

Salting old wounds in the Diocese of the Rio Grande

The announcement that Jeffrey Steenson, a former bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande, would spearhead the efforts of the Roman Catholic church’s Anglican Ordinariate initiative was met with further feeling of betrayal and hurt by the people of the Rio Grande, the Albuquerque Journal reports. (Please note that the link lives on a site that requires a paid subscription.)

The [Rt.] Rev. Michael Vono, Steenson’s successor as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, said that sense of betrayal is particularly strong among gay and female priests in the diocese….

Vono said this month that Steenson’s decision to step down just three years after taking his vows as bishop left Episcopalians “saddened” and “disillusioned.”

“He took vows, as we all do, in front of the whole church,” Vono said of Steenson’s choice to become a bishop. “It isn’t as though Jeffrey didn’t know what he was doing when he made those vows.”

Vono, you may recall, recently released a pastoral letter about the Ordinariate, noting that what brings Christians together is stronger than what divides them.

What is important to remember and embrace in our faith tradition is that in reality the Church of Jesus Christ never is divided, even by unresolved theological issues of the day, but always is united in One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism, as we affirm in our baptismal covenant. Differences among Christian denominations and ecclesiologies, whether theological, doctrinal, ethical/moral, or disciplinary perspectives, have their historical roots in the controversies of the early Churches of Sts. Peter and Paul. And yet, Christ’s Catholic Church continues its witness throughout the ages being bound, not by differences, but by a single shared mission and life-giving Gospel. We should never be disillusioned by disaffections, but rather become more conscious of how, with integrity, we can learn from others and continue to love, respect, and live with our neighbors, despite our personal or communal differences.

Vono’s neighbor, The Rt. Rev. Andrew Doyle of the Diocese of Texas, was also compelled to write a brief explanation about the Ordinariate after it was announced that it would be headquartered in Houston.


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Michael Russell

Seems to me that the Diocese of Rio Grande acquitted itself with honor with respect to the Rev. Mr. Steenson. It is on his conscience, based on these reports to decide whether or not he did the same.

Either way, I think we invest too much energy in worrying what the schismatics are doing. Other than litigation, we waste energy fulminating on whatever the latest outrage they perpetrate.

TEC has consistently acted in an open, honest and transparent fashion, our detractors have not.

Bill Dilworth

It is odd that Steenson allowed his name to go forward for coadjutor of Rio Grande in 2004 and then jumped ship in 2007. Odd, too, that another candidate was Martyn Minns, who was consecrated a bishop for CANA in 2006. The issues that they claim drove them from the Episcopal Church existed well before then, but both men were willing to be consecrated bishops of the Episcopal Church at that point.

Ann Fontaine

I have heard that the people of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande financed his health insurance for 18 months, gave him a car and the sabbatical funds which supported his time in training to begin teaching and apparently to take on this position. He basically admits that he was thinking about this before he became bishop of DRG. (in the NYTimes article)

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