News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

With the election of the Rev. Dr. Michael L. Vono as the next bishop of The Diocese of the Rio Grande, this once theologically orthodox diocese now joins the ranks of dioceses that have succumbed to the siren call of pansexuality.

Vono, 60, was elected the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Rio Grande on the third ballot on Saturday morning in a specially held Election Convention.

From evangelical bishop Terry Kelshaw to Anglo-Catholic Bishop Jeffrey Steenson to the orthodox, but institutionalist Bishop William Frey, this orthodox diocese has elected a pro-gay bishop in the person of Michael Vono, an open and public supporter of Bishop Gene Robinson. Vono himself is divorced with no children. During the walk-abouts, he said he remained “heart-broken and crushed” because of the breakdown of his marriage.

His sentiments about homosexuality were expressed in a letter from the vestry of St. Paul’s Within the Walls, Rome, where he was the rector. He and he Vestry passed a resolution “supporting our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters”, before delegates went off to General Convention.

Delegates also believed the Church in New Hampshire had been “inspired and moved by God’s Holy Spirit” in calling Gene Robinson as Bishop and urged the Church at large to “respect the dignity of faithful gay and lesbian persons within our Episcopal Church.”

This signals to remnant orthodox Episcopalians that they have little or no future in the diocese or TEC. Many orthodox parishes will now weigh their options as they face an uncertain future.

The previously elected bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jeffery Steenson left The Episcopal Church to become a Roman Catholic under the Pastoral Provision process put into place by Pope John Paul II. He is now a Roman Catholic priest teaching Patristic Studies at the University of St. Thomas Center for Faith and Culture in Houston, Texas.

Following his departure, the See of Rio Grande was vacant. The Rt. Rev. William Frey, retired bishop of Colorado and former dean of Ambridge, PA-based Trinity School for Ministry, filled in as the assisting bishop.

Bishop-elect Vono hails from Providence, Rhode Island. He received his education in a variety of settings. He was originally a Roman Catholic, but was later ordained an Episcopal priest. Vono earned his Doctor of Ministry from Hartford Seminary. There is little doubt he will obtain consents.

The Diocese encompasses the entire state of New Mexico, which overlaps in the northwest corner by Navajoland and stretches into Texas as far as the Pecos River. The diocese has 53 parishes with 12,306 on the books. Average Sunday attendance is 4,572 on any given Sunday. The only cities with multiple Episcopal congregations are: Albuquerque, where the cathedral is situated; Santa Fe and Las Cruces in New Mexico; and El Paso in Texas.

He will also assume a budget deficit of $1.664 million.

To read the vestry letter view here:

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