September 13, 2007

Enquiring Minds Want to Know

In “Agreeing to Agree,” I referred to a Boston Globe story that had Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan saying that he intended to try taking his entire diocese out of The Episcopal Church. Duncan’s canon, Mary Hays, in a September 10 meeting, categorically denied that the bishop had made the statement. (See “‘... the bishop didn’t say that.’”)

In a sense, it does not matter whether Bishop Duncan made the statement or not; his actions speak louder than his words, and he clearly is trying to take the entire Diocese of Pittsburgh out of The Episcopal Church. (See “Something Dramatic.”)

For the record, however, a number of people wrote to the Globe reporter inquiring as to what, precisely, Duncan said in Nairobi. The interview on which the story was based was recorded, and Michael Paulson went back and listened to his recording. He supplied the following exact quotations:

  1. “The reality is, of course, we’re realigning.”
  2. “We won’t go anywhere, but we’ll associate, as these congregations have, as dioceses, with other provinces. We have a number of offers.'’
The quotations suggest how difficult it is to quote people engaged in ordinary speech. The only quotation in the Globe story from Duncan was “We are realigning,” which elevates an idiomatic utterance to something a bit more formal. The second statement by Duncan is, syntactically, very complex and hard to understand. Moreover, its meaning is only clear now that we see what Duncan wants to do to the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s constitution. It is easy to see why the reporter paraphrased and simplified what the bishop said.

What is interesting and new is this: “We have a number of offers.” Presumably, this refers to offers by Anglican primates to take the Diocese of Pittsburgh into their jurisdictions.

From whom, I wonder, have these offers come? The Episcopal Church would like to know. The Archbishop of Canterbury would like to know. How fortuitous that they will be able to ask Bishop Duncan about the matter at the House of Bishop’s meeting in New Orleans in a few days!

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