John H. Rodgers Jr., former dean and adjunct professor at a seminary in Ambridge, explained in a telephone interview that his Episcopal bishop in Pittsburgh transferred his clergy credentials to the Anglican province of Southeast Asia in which he became a bishop Jan. 29. The Episcopal Church is the recognized U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican faith.
He said South Carolina's bishop transferred credentials of a second new U.S. bishop consecrated in the same rite, Charles H. Murphy III, to his new archdiocese in Rwanda.
Rodgers said he and Murphy are now "in effect missionary bishops providing emergency pastoral care," assigned by the Asian and African Anglicans to serve Americans who want to remain Anglican but believe the Episcopal Church has become too liberal in doctrine. Acceptance of homosexual couples and clergy is the most pressing of several issues.
"We are Anglicans, but not Episcopalians," said Rodgers.
Rodgers said the timing of the ceremony was set to precede a March 23-28 meeting of leaders of the Anglicans' 38 independent branches, which will include the Singapore and Rwanda archbishops who consecrated Rodgers and Murphy and the leader of the Episcopal Church, who has criticized the actions.
"A number felt it would be helpful to underline the seriousness of the problem that needs to be faced," Rodgers said.
Meanwhile, three prelates this week issued statements expressing dismay at the consecration. Richard Harry Goodhew, archbishop of Sydney; David Leo Mtetemela, archbishop of Tanzania; and Maurice W. Sinclair, presiding bishop of six South American dioceses, wrote: "We regret that pressures upon traditionalists within the Episcopal Church in the United States should have accumulated to the point at which two primates, whom we hold in esteem, felt compelled to take this present action ...We are disappointed that our friends acted against our clear advice."
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