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Bishop Bothered by Splits

U.S. Episcopal leader criticizes a Ugandan diocese for absorbing 3 Southland parishes.

August 26, 2004|Larry B. Stammer | Times Staff Writer

In his first public statement on the current secession crisis, the national presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church on Wednesday criticized an Anglican diocese in Uganda for taking over jurisdiction of three conservative breakaway parishes in Southern California.

The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, said he had written his counterpart, Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, head of the Anglican Church in Uganda, to say he was "troubled" by the move.

The bishops of the Anglican Communion and the archbishops or presiding bishops of national churches "have made it clear that bishops are to respect the boundaries of one another's dioceses and provinces," Griswold said in a statement made available to The Times.

He also said he was "saddened by the action of clergy and members of the three congregations ... and their desire to separate themselves from the life of the Episcopal Church," which is the American arm of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Griswold's relatively mild tone, not unusual for public church pronouncements, belied the gravity with which denominational leaders view the events.

In the last week, the three parishes -- St. James in Newport Beach, All Saints in Long Beach and St. David's in North Hollywood -- said they had left the national Episcopal Church and put themselves under the jurisdiction of one of Orombi's bishops, the Rt. Rev. Evans Kisekka of the Diocese of Luweero.

Tensions over differing interpretations of scriptural teachings and views of homosexuality have prompted other conservative Episcopalians to seek out sympathetic conservative Anglican bishops in Southeast Asia and South America. But such decisions go against centuries of church tradition and law.

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