November 3, 2003
The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church Center
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017-4594
Well, the deed is done. My heart is breaking over yesterday's consecration of the Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire.
By virtue of this action, we in the Episcopal Church, USA have ignored the counsel of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Meeting of the Anglican Primates (as recently as two and a half weeks ago, which you yourself signed!), the Anglican Communion Council, the most recent Lambeth Conference (in 1998), and the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops.
We have ignored the clear teaching of scripture, 5,000 years of Judaeo-Christian tradition, the last seven General Conventions of the Episcopal Church (prior to this summer's 74th General Convention), the pleas of Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion from around the world, and those of our ecumenical partners, including the Holy Father in Rome, and the Conventions of (at least) six of our dioceses.
We have ordained and consecrated, as a bishop in the Church of God, a non-celibate homosexual man, openly living in a "partnered" relationship with another man for the past thirteen years.
We have thus repudiated the promise of the House of Bishops' Study Document of 1994 to ordain "only persons we believe to be a wholesome example to their people, according to the standards and norms set forth by the Church's teaching [which is] that?the standard found in the New Testament of lifelong, monogamous, heterosexual union as the setting intended by God for sexual relationships between men and women is the foundation on which the Church's traditional teaching is built."
We have violated the commitment made in that same Study Document to "commit to ongoing consultation concerning these matters with the wider Anglican Communion and with our ecumenical partners" before proceeding with such innovations.
We have betrayed tens of thousands loyal Episcopalians, bewildered the Christian world, and grieved the Holy Spirit.
Frank, I believe that for all these reasons, those bishops who participated in yesterday's consecration, and those who supported it, should immediately resign their positions in the Episcopal Church, USA.
(Sadly, I believe that resignation call should include you. It grieves me to even think this, let alone say it, for I have honored and trusted you. But I believe you have betrayed that trust. You are my friend, but as I said on the floor of our House at the General Convention, I cannot, and will not, follow you in this schismatic action.)
Since, of course, these resignations will not be offered, I believe I need to step away from several responsibilities of my own.
I hereby resign my participation on the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops. I have put in six years of hard work, and to have our unanimous recommendation - that we NOT legislate regarding these very divisive issues - ignored only serves to prove the uselessness of further participation on that Committee. (I salute my fellow members for their sacrificial efforts to preserve the Church's unity.)
Similarly, I resign my participation on the Pastoral Letter Committee of the House of Bishops. I have no interest in trying to speak for a House that has abandoned any recognizable commitment to the authority of Holy Scripture.
I am saddened by these decisions. Up until now it has been an honor to serve. But Frank, I even question the value of attending any more meetings of the House of Bishops. I believe they have become manipulative and duplicitous.
You have helped us learn to be civil with each other, and for that I am grateful, but you have led us deeply into a world of "pluriformity" in which there is, ultimately, no truth on which we can rely. And hence many are hailing yesterday's consecration as a "new thing God is doing" in spite of its contradiction of what God has actually said!
Frank, there is a scene in the movie Braveheart in which William Wallace captures one of his opponents following one of the great, bloody battles of that remarkable film. He pulls the hood off his adversary to discover it is?Robert the Bruce. Wallace staggers to the ground, dumbfounded, and unable to speak, because?he trusted this man.
I had just such a moment on October 16th, when you signed onto the unanimous statement of the Anglican Primates that declared:
In all honesty, I cannot imagine how you hold all of these "pluriform truths" together in your mind. I cannot.
With the deepest grief of my life,
+ John W. Howe
cc: The Bishops of the Episcopal Church, The clergy of the Diocese of Central Florida
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