Sunday, April 01, 2007

Herzog's switch shakes supporters

~from Times Union

A decision by the retired Episcopal bishop of Albany -- who was part of a nationwide church schism three years ago over homosexual clergy -- to leave the faith for Roman Catholicism has supporters demoralized and opponents mystified.
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It appears his spiritual transformation was under way in the summer of 2004 when Herzog, who opposed the 2003 ordination of a gay bishop of New Hampshire, pushed the diocese into a Pittsburgh-based network of conservative churches, a move that forced a schism within the Anglican community.

"So at the time he was persuading the diocese to align with this network, he was already thinking about skipping out himself," said Robert Dodd of Hillsdale, who is president of Albany Via Media, an Anglican laity group that opposed Herzog's action on the network.

"Many people who were dedicated to Bishop Herzog are likely startled and disappointed,"said Dodd. "How they will react, I don't know." The diocese includes about 19,700 worshipers in 120 congregations.

Albany Bishop William Love was not available for comment Friday, but in an March 28 open letter to parishioners, he urged unity. Love, who became bishop on Feb. 4, also wrote that Herzog's decision came at "great personal cost."

"The recent retirement and subsequent departure of (Herzog) ... can't help but have a major impact on each of us," he wrote. "One of my greatest concerns, as your new bishop, is that others in the diocese are also struggling with the current issues that threaten to divide the church."
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Herzog's conversion was handled by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, said Goldfarb. A call to Bishop James M. Moynihan's office was not returned.

Herzog, who was Catholic before joining the Episcopal church 35 years ago, is married. Anglican ministers who join the Catholic Church can become priests and remain married, said Goldfarb.

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