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Statement on NC Council of Churches

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The Diocese of Raleigh and the Diocese of Charlotte have announced they will conclude their membership with the North Carolina Council of Churches effective December 31, 2013. This decision by the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge and the Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis follows a year of dialogue with the Council leadership in an effort to create a relationship that would be satisfactory to both the Council and the Dioceses.

In their statement, the Bishops cited as a key issue the “administrative structure and its by-laws. This has resulted in religious leaders being associated, via the Council, with positions that are at times in contradiction with their practice and the teaching of their faith.”

Bishop Burbidge said, in coming to this decision, he and Bishop Jugis remain committed to working with other faith groups and Christian denominations on issues where we can speak as one voice.

Bishop Burbidge cited several current initiatives that he has undertaken which he has undertaken in support of ecumenism. They include the convening of a quarterly ecumenical gathering with Religious Leaders, the first of which was hosted by the Diocese of Raleigh. The second gathering will take place October 1, hosted by the Methodist Conference. These breakfast meetings allow participants to discuss issues of common interest and concern.

On September 7, Bishop Burbidge hosted an Ecumenical Prayer Service for Peace, which was held at Saint Francis of Assisi Church in Raleigh. The service was well attended given the short notice, and was at the request for prayer and fasting on that day by our Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Brother Bill Martyn, SA, continues to serve as Diocesan Ecumenical Officer, with a working committee and several subcommittees, whose purpose is to further our ecumenical dialogue and initiatives. Committee members are Msgr. David Brockman; Mrs. Linda Bedo; Mr. Tristan Evans; Mr. Enrique Gomez Palacio; Rev. Mr. Ron Soriano; Ms. Cathy Rusin; Friar Gregory Spuhler, OFM; Ms. Marie Vetter; and Sister Joanna Walsh, FCJ. Brother Bill and his committee are actively planning, with other Christian leaders, a common liturgy as part of our joint observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in January of 2014.

On October 3, 2013, Bishop Burbidge will participate in a news conference regarding the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform. This news conference will include Religious Leaders who are in support of reform legislation.

In their statement, Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Jugis state they “will continue to embrace every future opportunity possible to stand side by side with religious leaders throughout our great State to address those issues which impact our community and with which we can speak as one voice, symbolizing the unity that is ours as members of God’s holy family.”

Statement by Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Jugis:

Catholic Dioceses to End Membership in NC Council of Churches

Effective December 31, 2013, the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh and the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte will conclude their official membership in the North Carolina Council of Churches. This decision follows an extensive series of discussions by both dioceses with the leadership of the North Carolina Council of Churches regarding its administrative structure and its by-laws. This has resulted in religious leaders being associated, via the Council, with positions that are at times in contradiction with their practice and the teaching of their faith.

In an effort to continue to actively participate in ecumenical dialogue and the important community activities where possible, both Catholic Dioceses proposed to the Council a new type of organizational membership, which would allow both dioceses to remain in direct and active participation with the Council through a proposed observer status. The Council did not approve this proposal.

The Diocese of Raleigh and the Diocese of Charlotte deeply value the long standing relationship with the North Carolina Council of Churches and have informed the Council of their strong desire to continue to work together on issues where there is substantial agreement. Such issues include the implementation of comprehensive immigration reform, securing just wages for all employees, addressing the root causes of poverty and hunger, eradicating all forms of prejudice and bias and seeking the end of the death penalty. While working with the administrative structure of the Council is not possible, collaboration on these and other important issues with religious leaders throughout our State will continue. The funding paid to the Council for membership will now be redirected to support these essential initiatives.

In so doing, the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh and the Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis, Bishop of Charlotte, will continue to embrace every future opportunity possible to stand side by side with religious leaders throughout our great State to address those issues which impact our community and with which we can speak as one voice, symbolizing the unity that is ours as members of God’s holy family.