Wednesday, July 11, 2007

For the record

There is a follow up to the story of the Rev. Ann Redding, the Episcopal priestess who has announced that she is both a Muslim and a Christian. I had moved on but since I posted some very sharp criticism of a "church" that would permit a cleric to stand at the alter who professes to be a Muslim, I felt that fairness demands I take note here of the fact that apparently sanity has not completely departed from TEC.

The bishop to whom Rev. Redding is officially subject (that of Rhode Island) called her in for a serious chat. The bishop (a female, again for the record), explained that there were major theological obstacles to being both Christian and Muslim. She then placed the Rev. Redding on a one year leave of absence during which time she is presumably going to reflect on where she stands, and also presumably at the end of that year make a decision about her future in TEC as a cleric. During this one year she has been "inhibited" from her priestly office. That's the TEC equivalent to suspension from orders.

I must confess that this is absolutely the first time in memory that I can recall a liberal female TEC bishop stepping in to stop an obvious and egregious error by another liberal cleric. Others who keep closer track of TEC may be able to point to more examples, but this is a first for me. And so giving credit where it is due I will say that this seems by TEC standards to be a remarkably good move both in terms of pastoral care and church discipline. Obviously the matter would have been dealt with differently in the Orthodox Church. Not that I can imagine something like that happening here.

And so I will give a hearty 2 and a half cheers for Bishop Wolf...

Read the story here.


The young fogey said...

I've never met Bishop Wolf but know two people who know her and have done my reading online. She is rather liberal but absolutely sincere and I imagine credally orthodox in her Christian faith. Her story is fascinating: she converted from Judaism. So obviously Christ means a lot to her.

Interestingly both her admirers and critics say something similar: she is rather authoritarian, or to put it another way she carries herself much like an Anglican bishop about 50 years ago.

She understands and respects conservatives in her diocese and doesn't abuse them. The Anglo-Catholic parishes in Rhode Island (I know the son of a priest in charge of one) recognise her as their canonical ordinary but not sacramentally as a bishop and she doesn't pressure them on that. She lets them fly in a male bishop for the sacramental stuff like confirmations, and makes her official visits by going to Evensong and suchlike, no problem.

And I understand she was a good pastor in the parishes too.

Sounds like a fine person.

There's been an amazing near-consensus of common sense online from all kinds of Anglicans against what Dr Redding did. It made no sense.

Steve Hayes said...

Interesting news item and an interesting comment. So often one does not see the follow-up stories in the secular press,