- The Washington Times - Monday, June 3, 2002

The Rev. John B. Chane, installed Saturday as the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, told a Washington National Cathedral audience yesterday the church is "guilty" in its complicity with institutional slavery and narrow-minded in its attitudes toward women and homosexuals.
The bishop, who comes to the nation's capital from California, has previously said publicly that he would mix liberal-oriented politics and religion in his influential new post overseeing Washington-area Episcopal churches.
In yesterday's sermon, he said his fellow Episcopalians have "yet to truly repent and ask for forgiveness for what we have done and for what we have left undone."
He told the estimated 1,200 parishioners and other guests on hand that he would work to increase the voice of the church in the political life of the nation for social justice.
"We will celebrate those great events that lift up the human spirit and the dignity of every American," he said. "And we will also challenge and seek constructive reforms and changes in policies and legislative decisions that beat down the human spirit of God's people everywhere and demean rather than affirm the dignity of all Americans, both locally and nationally."
Now is the time for change, the 58-year-old former dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in San Diego said, because "the world is caught up in the chaos of religious wars, persecutions and economic injustice that continues to confound the plans of a single Creator who called the whole of creation good and saw in it the truth that all had an equal claim to its abundance, its resources and its promise of life in all its fullness."
The sermon followed a traditional ceremony in which the new bishop knocks three times on the closed doors of the cathedral with his crosier or scepter, is greeted by the dean and the chapter and asks permission to enter.
Afterward, he is led to the east end, greeted by the current bishop who hands him the crosier of the cathedral and then is officially seated.
The ceremony followed one Saturday in which he was consecrated bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, succeeding the Rt. Rev. Jane Dixon, suffragan bishop of Washington, who has overseen the diocese since the end of 2000 and will retire at the end of July.
In Saturday's ceremony, the new bishop made it clear that his episcopate would be starkly liberal by selecting a Vietnam-era activist and Yale chaplain, the Rev. William Sloane Coffin, to give a keynote address that included an oblique criticism of President Bush and his "axis of evil" speech in the war on terrorism.
The choice of the new bishop was not unanimous by the nation's Episcopal bishops and "standing committees."
He was elected Jan. 25 on the second ballot by Diocese of Washington clergy and laity, but 14 diocesan Episcopal bishops and 16 "standing committees" out of 100 U.S. dioceses refused consent to Bishop Chane's election possibly over theological differences regarding Bishop Chane's questioning of the Resurrection and calling it "conjectural" in a March sermon.
Those that refused included the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Central Florida, Virginia, Colorado and his own, San Diego, where a majority of its standing committee abstained, producing a "no" vote.
Yesterday, about 1,200 parishioners attended the service, with many saying they were pleased by the new choice and by what they heard.
"I had a good impression," said Dirk H. Van Der Sluijs, who attends services at the cathedral regularly. "He clearly defined the mission for the church in today's world. He emphasized diversity. But he will have a difficult task in a world that has changed."
Ginny Spevak of Northwest regularly attends a Chevy Chase church but came to hear what the new bishop had to say.
"I was impressed with his view on the whole issue of justice," she said. "It can be an important leadership position. Washington needs it because there are so many issues of injustice here."
Gordon Shugars, from Bishop Chane's former congregation, came from San Diego for the ceremonies this weekend.
"They are getting an excellent leader," he said.

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