Retired Episcopal bishop joins Catholics
Herzog's move comes after turmoil from gay bishop ordination
ALBANY -- Recently retired Albany Episcopal Bishop Daniel Herzog has rejoined the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Diocese announced Thursday.
The news comes just weeks after Herzog's former assistant bishop, David Bena, revealed his plans to transfer from the U.S. Episcopal Church to the Church of Nigeria.
Herzog's move means the "resignation of his orders as bishop, priest and deacon," his successor, Bishop William Love, explained in a letter posted on the diocese's Web site Thursday.
"As such, he will not be able to function in an ordained capacity within the diocese or larger Anglican Communion," Love wrote.
The Episcopal Church, the American wing of the worldwide Anglican Communion, has plunged into turmoil since the consecration in 2003 of V. Gene Robinson as its first openly gay bishop.
Herzog, an outspoken national opponent of ordaining gay clergy, alluded to that strife in a letter to Love explaining his jump to the Catholic Church. He described the move as the result of three and a half years of prayer and study.
Herzog did much to reshape the Albany Episcopal Diocese during his tenure as bishop, which began in 1998 and ended with his retirement earlier this year.
"There is a sense of joyful contentment in being in union with the office of Peter and the universal church," Herzog wrote. "There is also an element of sadness at losing a special connection with the devoted clergy and outstanding lay leaders serving Christ in the Episcopal Diocese of Albany."
Former Albany Episcopal Bishop David Ball, reached at home before midnight, said Herzog was a Roman Catholic until about 35 years ago. Herzog graduated from St. Bonaventure University, a Catholic school, in 1964.
Ball described the move as "extremely rare" and could not recall a similar situation.
"It's going to hit the people of the diocese hard," Ball said. But he expressed confidence that after the initial shock, "we'll get on."
Under Herzog, the 19-county Albany diocese of about 20,000 baptized members began selling church real estate worth millions of dollars to raise money for a Washington County spiritual retreat called Christ the King Spiritual life Center.
Bishop Love wrote in his letter that Herzog's "decision to return to Rome was not and should not be seen as an attack or lack of love or concern for the Diocese of Albany."