An Episcopal priest in a dispute with his diocese over the denomination's acceptance of gay people and women as priests appeared determined Wednesday not to retract statements and actions that threaten to result in his removal from the priesthood.
Bishop Charles E. Bennison, who heads the diocese of Pennsylvania, said on the last day of Father David Moyer's six-month suspension that the priest would be deposed Thursday if he didn't send the bishop a written retraction. Moyer, pastor of the Church of the Good Shepherd in the Philadelphia suburb of Rosemont, is the North American president of the conservative Forward in Faith movement, which says the Episcopal Church has become too liberal on issues such as tolerance of homosexuality and the ordination of women.
"There will be no retraction from Father Moyer," said John H. Lewis Jr., a parishioner and an attorney representing Moyer in a civil lawsuit alleging that his suspension by the diocese is a breach of contract. "What we are waiting to see is whether Bennison will go forward or not."
"If there is no response, I am required to depose him," Bennison said. The bishop said that if he does depose Bennison, it will be done Thursday in the presence of two other priests.
The Church of the Good Shepherd is among a number of congregations that have become embroiled in a schism between the Episcopal Church and traditionalists who say the church has moved too far from the teachings of its parent church, the 77-million member Anglican Communion.