Democratic polity

Written by Rosa Colucci on .

The June 21 story "Bishop Robert Duncan Is Trading Sacred Places" did a passable job of describing highlights of the church politics that have played out in Pittsburgh over the past seven years. Unfortunately, the story gave the impression that the church disputes here have been primarily the concern of the ordained clergy.

The Episcopal Church is not, as Bishop Duncan would have it, "governed by bishops." Instead, the church has a democratic polity in which bishops, other clergy and laypeople all have important roles to play.

That reporter Ann Rodgers quoted only bishops and priests in her story obscures the fact that lay Episcopalians were very much involved in opposing Bishop Duncan's agenda. Especially notable has been the role played by lay vestries throughout the diocese, by Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP) and by other lay Episcopalians. The litigation brought against Bishop Duncan and other diocesan leaders by Calvary Church could not have been initiated without the strong support of laypeople.

PEP, a largely lay organization in which I have been involved, was formed specifically to resist the intolerant and inflexible theology of our former bishop. PEP and its members passionately supported the Episcopal Church in the face of constant attacks by the bishop and his allies. They were involved in effecting Bishop Duncan's eventual deposition by the church, in building a coalition supportive of the Episcopal Church and in reorganizing the diocese after his and his supporters' departure.

Certainly, other laypeople supported Bishop Duncan's program, but most objective observers see the long-running subversion of the Episcopal Church as being driven by the passions and ambitions of Episcopal and ex-Episcopal clergy.

Mt. Lebanon



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