Contradictory rulings in US Episcopal property cases

The Episcopal Church’s legal battles over property spawned a number of contradictory rulings and judgments over the past few weeks. A Superior Court in Southern California has ordered a breakaway parish to turn over its property to the diocese of Los Angeles; the Virginia Supreme Court handed down a mixed ruling allowing a breakaway parish […]

TEC marriage task force formed

The Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church have named 12 people to serve on the church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage. In a statement released on 14 Feb 2013, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the group would help the church chart its way forward as it […]

Interview: Brother Zane Young tells us about an American Franciscan Order

Interview: Brother Zane Young tells us about an American Franciscan Order

This is neither advertisement nor opinion piece, but a report on Episcopal Franciscans who as Friars may be married as well as single…married man to man, or man to woman.


1. I have for a long time liked and admired the Franciscan Order, so when I learned that my friend Brother Rich had become a full Brother of the Franciscans, no longer a Third Order Member, I became curious. I became curious because Brother Rich is married. I thought monastics–as Franciscan Brothers are considered–were unmarried. In our phone conversation made to you in Washington State from my home office in Mill Valley, California (north of San Francisco), you said your Order started in 2005, allowed married brothers. Please tell us about this new phenomenon in monasticism, and a little about how men may partner with men, or marry, and that married men with spouses who-are-female may also become married. Do you find this unusual, and why this “new” monastic value?

I don’t find it unusual in the fact that we do it. It is probably unusual because it has not been done by the Church in Franciscan orders. Basically, the Franciscan tradition we have today in the Church is here from the Catholics, handed down from the Anglo-Catholic tradition. When it came from the Anglican, especially the Episcopalians in this country. Since we are Anglicans, we had to be a little different because of the war [American war of Revolution from the British]. The tradition of Franciscan friars and fathers came down from England and Scotland. It came down from SSF (Society of Saint Francis); it came down from the Catholic Church: their friars, they are celibate.

2. Speak with us a little about the Franciscan work in the world, what the brothers in your order are doing with people, and something of where they live and practice their Episcopal faith. Are they all Episcopalians, and is everyone who is engaged with the running of your Franciscan order and its membership Episcopalian?

Yes. All of guys right now are Episcopalian. One is Anglican and he is living in England. We are open to anyone in the community: Lutheran, Australian, etc. as long as they are in Communion with the See of Canterbury. That’s another caveat that makes us a little bit different from the SSF (Society of Saint Francis), and even the Third Order.

We have one brother in particular who ministers to military families who are in crisis. [The brother ministers to]…military men who are returning from Afghanistan or other areas of war… or military installations in ongoing situations of conflict. The brother counsels military personnel themselves and their families. This includes post-traumatic stress. Brother Rich is involved with the St. Vincent de Paul Society in San Francisco’s Marin County. Other brothers are involved with homeless shelters. Myself, I used to work with battered women in their shelters.

[Franciscan theology] I think that the theology comes from ministry to the poor, the disadvantaged and those [who are] lesser in society. Where it seems to manifest itself today are people who are in a crisis. It seems to come from–this poverty sense– that was Francis’ plan to [be an] Order of the poor, the sick–that’s what Francis would do. We approach our vow of poverty to cast off our clothes as Francis did. We try to live simply, within our means, and give within our means to others. We provide for our families and our churches, and we give to those who depend on us. Poverty is a tricky word. We’ve had guys in the Order who have trouble struggling with that word. The word itself is important, for it takes us back to the vows of Francis. How we live and understand that word poverty is how we live that question.

3. I’d like to hear something of what is special about this 2012 for you and the Franciscans of your Order: practice and spirituality. If it is as observance and practice similar to that of other Christians, speak to us about some of the practices of the brothers, including some examples of specific and personable, not personal-private, practices of members of the Order or even you as Provincial Minister.

In private practice, it doesn’t change, that is they are required to do the Daily Offices. Most of these guys have been doing the Daily Offices for years. We all follow those Offices as stated in the Book of Common Prayer. Several will use different sources for these things. We like to use new technologies. We utilize the web site for Mission St. Clare. There are a lot of different websites. In Lent I will use the COE (Church of England), use the Prayer Book of 1612.

It doesn’t really matter the source. I want them to be invigorated by the word and not be buried by it.

We are one entity; I am not a Provincial Minister. I’m a Minister General. There is one, just us. We try to keep our structure very simple, to the point, and only to what we need considering administrative structure. Pretty much, we’re governed by the Rule and by the Vow. They are very simple in structure as well. We took the rule and vow from Francis. We also operate under a democratic form. If the professed bring up something, we listen to it and we can make decisions that way.

When it comes to matters of operation, discipline and induction, I have the final decision—it lies with me.

We don’t have a Friary. If you go back in history, our brothers feel we actually live closer to the rule of 1223. Francis wanted them out of the monastery. He didn’t want them hidden in a box. He wanted them out in the world. Brothers living communally, 3 or 4 max—two or three living together was fine. But not as an ongoing presence. We’re new in that we harken back to something old. We are new in that we allowed people to be married, to be fathers. To be partnered, to have multiple vocations. We don’t mind if they are married, divorced, partnered. We don’t stand in their way. Their marital status or sexual status is not a criterion for why we think they are a brother. Unfortunately, with the SSF that is not the case. You must be single. Otherwise you can’t be in their Order.

Disloyal Episcopalians are murderers and terrorists, Jefferts Schori claims

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has denounced her opponents in South Carolina as terrorists and murderers, saying those who opposed her view of church order were “wolves” and false shepherds leading the flock astray. The 26 Jan 2013 “outrageous” remarks have changed the game in the South Carolina diocesan fight, her critics charge.  What had […]

Mediation plea for South Carolina crisis

The Episcopal Church’s embattled conservatives have called upon Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop Mark Lawrence to engage in mediation to resolve the impasse over the secession of the Diocese of South Carolina. On 14 Nov 2012, 12 bishops released a statement expressing their grief over “recent developments in the life of the Episcopal […]

South Carolina withdraws from the Episcopal Church

By George Conger   The Diocese of South Carolina has withdrawn from the Episcopal Church of the United States. Delegates to a special meeting of the diocesan convention held on 17 November at St Philip’s Church in Charleston voted to affirm the disaffiliation of the diocese from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church taken […]

Church coup in South Carolina

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has backed an ecclesiastical coup against the Diocese of South Carolina and has purported to have prorogued the standing committee of the conservative evangelical diocese. A “Transitional Committee” in South Carolina loyal to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has formed a “steering committee” to act in the place […]

California bishops call for an end to the death penalty

The Episcopal Bishops of California have urged voters to back Proposition 34 in the November election and end capital punishment in the state. In a pastoral letter released last month the bishop said “we believe that the citizens of our state face a profound moral choice this November in the form of Proposition 34. That […]

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