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Episcopalians' voting here on Saturday could widen rift

Friday, November 07, 2003

By Steve Levin, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Amid national debate that the Episcopal Church is headed toward a schism, the Diocese of Pittsburgh will vote at its annual convention tomorrow on a resolution that would facilitate the separation.

The resolution -- actually, a constitutional amendment -- asserts that local canons or laws supersede national canons if the latter are contrary to the historic faith and tradition of the Episcopal Church. It would permit unilateral action by the diocese.

A second proposed amendment would rescind the requirement that clergy voting in diocesan conventions be residents of the Pittsburgh diocese.

Passage of the amendments would further consolidate the power of Bishop Robert W. Duncan Jr., a national leader of conservative Episcopalians opposed to recent church innovations, such as the blessing of same-sex unions and the consecration of openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The convention begins today in Moon. Saturday's vote will occur at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Sewickley.

At last year's convention, Duncan shepherded through a resolution that the diocese would not accept canons which mandate clergy and laity to comply with changes in variance with the worldwide Anglican Communion and the historic catholic faith.

Pittsburgh is one of the church's most conservative dioceses with fewer than a dozen of its 77 parishes leaning toward more liberal church doctrines.

While conservative Episcopalians make up about 15 percent of the church's 2.3 million members, their adherence to biblical authority and tradition is more in line with the 70 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion.

Steve Levin can be reached at or 412-263-1919.

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