November 3, 2009
Today the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh formally released 135 priests and deacons who have not been active in the Episcopal Church since October of last year.
In letters being mailed today from Bishop Kenneth L. Price, Jr. to each of the affected clergy, the diocese is making good on its offer to release the individuals from their licensed ministry in the Episcopal Church in a way that does not involve disciplinary action.
“The Diocese will proceed to notify the Recorder of Ordinations to remove you from the list of clergy licensed to exercise ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church,” Bishop Price writes in his letter.
He continues, “I confirm that it was for causes which do not affect your moral character [and] does not affect your ordination, which is indelible.”
In the offer of release made last month, the clergy were told they can register their ordinations “with whatever entity you choose.”
Bishop Price’s letter today invites reconciliation with any of them at any time.
“There are canonical procedures that can be followed to receive you and again license you to practice ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church,” Bishop Price writes, “and my door will always be open for such a conversation with you.”
Nothing in today’s announcement completing the release of these clergy from the Episcopal Church affects the legal status of the parishes where they serve. A 2005 Stipulation and Court Order provides a mechanism that the Diocese must follow in the event that a parish seeks to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church, and the Diocese announced separately on October 9, 2009 that it intends to follow those procedures.
A PDF of the October 5, 2009, offer of release is available at http://www.episcopalpgh.org/wp-content/uploads/file/Documents/CanonIII_9_8%20letter100509.pdf.