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The Bishop of Pittsburgh

Updated again Wednesday evening

Episcopal News Service has announced that:

The Episcopal Church’s Title IV Review Committee has certified that Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan has abandoned the communion of the church.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori informed Duncan on January 15 of the certification and sent him a copy.

Her letter told Duncan that she sought the canonically required permission from the House’s three senior bishops with jurisdiction to inhibit him, based on the certification, from the performance of any episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts.

“On 11 January 2008 they informed me that such consents would not be given at this time by all three bishops,” Jefferts Schori wrote.

“Pursuant to the time limits stated in Canon IV.9, the matter will not come before the House of Bishops at its next scheduled meeting in March 2008, but will come before the House at the next meeting thereafter,” the Presiding Bishop wrote in her letter.

“I would, however, welcome a statement by you within the next two months providing evidence that you once more consider yourself fully subject to the doctrine, discipline and worship of this Church,” Jefferts Schori wrote in her letter to Duncan.

The three senior bishops with jurisdiction — Leo Frade of Southeast Florida, Peter Lee of Virginia, and Don Wimberly of Texas — did give their permission on January 11 for Jefferts Schori to inhibit Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield in another case where the Title IV Review Committee certified an abandonment of the communion of the church. The House will consider the case matter involving Schofield in March.

The time limit to which Jefferts Schori referred is a two-month period afforded to bishops subject to such a certification to retract their acts, demonstrate that the facts alleged in certification are false, or renounce their orders by way of Title IV, Canon 8, Sec. 2 or Title III, Canon 12, Sec. 7.

Read the full press release.

The letter from the Presiding Bishop to Bishop Duncan can be read here. (Small PDF file)

The letter from the Title IV Committee to the Presiding Bishop, starting with a cover letter, can be read here. (This is a 2Mb PDF file, with many attached documents.)

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued this press release:

An effort to inhibit the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, has not been supported by The Episcopal Church’s senior bishops.

The news, along with a copy of the allegations made by the chancellor to the Presiding Bishop against Bishop Duncan and the Title IV Review Committee’s decision to certify that, in their opinion, Bishop Duncan “had abandoned the communion of this church,” came in a letter from The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori late in the day on January 15.

Bishop Duncan offered a brief response to the news, saying, “Few bishops have been more loyal to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church. I have not abandoned the Communion of this Church. I will continue to serve and minister as the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.”

Update Wednesday afternoon

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh has issued a press release:
Progressive Episcopalians See Review Committee Action As Providing Reconciliation Opportunity. See the full text of this below the fold.

Update Wednesday evening

Episcopal News Service has a further report containing information about responses to the earlier letter: Pittsburgh’s Duncan, Progressive Episcopalians react to Review Committee’s certification.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — January 16, 2008 — Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP) sees reason for hope in the statement issued yesterday by The Episcopal Church’s Title IV Review Committee certifying that, in its view, Bishop of Pittsburgh Robert Duncan has abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church. PEP believes that the canonical procedures set in motion by this decision will clarify issues of polity that have become confused in this diocese.

Under Canon IV.9, the House of Bishops will, at its fall meeting or at a special meeting called earlier, give or withhold its consent for Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to depose Bishop Duncan.

“The action of the Review Committee gives all of us in Pittsburgh serious cause to reflect,” said Dr. Joan Gundersen, President of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. “This can be an opportunity for all of us to consider how we can change course and restore relations with one another and with The Episcopal Church.”

The Rev. Diane Shepard, First Vice President of PEP, commented, “We understand that Bishop Duncan must follow his conscience regarding the kind of church he believes is faithful to the Gospel. Whether he can resume his role in The Episcopal Church or must relinquish it, we pray that he finds a way to serve Christ’s Church in peace and good conscience.”

PEP is committed to a diocese that finds its strength in diverse understandings of Christian faith and, as our Baptismal Covenant requires, respects the dignity of every human being, ideas that exemplify The Episcopal Church at its best. “Especially now, in this time of crisis, PEP encourages all Episcopalians in the diocese to engage in dialogue about how we can move forward together. Some people may choose to leave The Episcopal Church. We hope their number will be few,” declared president Gundersen.

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Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

I assume the difference is that Duncan has not, as yet, actually moved his diocese to another province…which raises the question of what will happen when the next Pittsburgh diocesan convention meets to vote on its “dis-affiliation” motion.

Will the threat of inhibition keep Duncan from supporting the second vote?

kieran crichton
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kieran crichton

Bishop Bob says “Few bishops have been more loyal to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church. I have not abandoned the Communion of this Church. I will continue to serve and minister as the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.” Ah, good. So it won’t be necessary to be off consecrating episcopi vagranti, forming irregular canonic relationships with overseas provinces, rewriting the canons of TEC on the fly, advocating amendments to his diocesan constitution, pestering Holy Rowan (who must be feeling some sympathy for Pharaoh by now), seeking to create a new “Anglican” Church in America,… Read more »

Terence
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Terence

Went to the cinema (movies) last night to see Golden Compass. Great fun. Bishop Jefferts Schori is portrayed as a young girl who battles against the Magisterium (Primates’ Meeting) and the Gobblers (Global South).

The Gobblers capture young children and strip them of their souls so that they cannot challenge the control of the Magisterium. It’s worth seeing.

Weiwen
Guest

it would be more honorable if Bob admitted up front he was in fact abandoning the Communion of the church. Pittsburgh’s amendments to their canons have clear meaning.

Martin Reynolds
Guest

This is a serious setback for the American PB.

It seems as if forces are conspiring against her.

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

“This is a serious setback for the American PB. It seems as if forces are conspiring against her.”—Martin Reynolds

Nonsense! I’m sure that Duncan will still be defrocked in 59 days and counting!

Prior Aelred
Guest

Martin Reynolds — One suspects that this situation is a consequence of the group concerned being comprised solely on the basis of seniority — but even so, one of them could not deny that Bishop Schofield had crossed a line that Bishop Duncan has yet to do — it certainly clogs up the works & allows time for even more mischief! But at the process has been begun. Terence — I enjoyed the movie myself, but missed the allegory — thank you. “Bob Pittsburgh” seems to obey the discipline of an Episcopal Church that exists on some Platonic level rather… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

Martin, I don’t quite see your point about “forces conspiring” against Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. Yes, at least one of the three senior bishops did not feel he could agree to an inhibition of Bishop Duncan at this time. However, your suggestion implies that this is a personal power struggle between the Presiding Bishop and the Bishop of Pittsburgh. The canonical procedures have been followed. The critical designation, that a majority of the Review Committee feels Bishop Duncan has left the communion of the Episcopal Church, has been stated. The House of Bishops as a whole will in due time… Read more »

JPM
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JPM

Martin, it’s more likely that Wimberly refused to go along with it, since his one-time friends on the right have been giving him the usual treatment for consenting to Schofield’s inhibition.

ettu
Guest
ettu

I don’t see it as a serious setback since Bob is still on track for proceedings by the House of Bishops for ecclesiatical discipline. The abandonment of communion label does in all likelihood cast a legal shadow if he attempts to seize property – at least it is one more complication when courts get to judge the his status in the months and years to come

Jerry Hannon
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Jerry Hannon

Martin Reynolds sees this as “…a serious setback for the American PB.” JPM points out the likely Wimberly effect (frankly, I was surprised he approved the Schofield action, so perhaps Bishop Don can do the right thing when the facts are obvious to even the most dense, and in denial, individual). And ettu notes the action as merely the starting point of a very deliberate process, where, I would suggest, that Duncan has merely been less of an arrogant fool than Schofield. I would also add another dimension: The PB knew that Wimberly would not go along. She also knew… Read more »

Mark Wharton
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Mark Wharton

Why as you view of Church got be so narrow?
Bishop Robert Duncan has not abandoned the communion because the Church is far wider than “The Episcopal Church”. He has and is still remaining faithful to the faith of the Apostles and for his witness I am truly grateful.
The Church in the Church Catholic, not the Episcopal Church of America!

Steven
Guest
Steven

Can someone enlighten me on the nature of the proceedings here? It appears that an inhibition can be carried out (and the PB sought to carry this one out) without the prospective inhibitee being informed of the pendency of the proceedings and having an opportunity to respond, be represented, appeal the decision, etc. I.e., without normal due process. On the other hand, perhaps I simply wasn’t aware of the fact that this has been wending its way towards a decision for some time, Duncan was on notice of the pendency of proceedings, was given his opportunity for response, etc. Just… Read more »

BobinSwPA
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BobinSwPA

I only hope the one bishop that felt Duncan should not be inhibited will be around to see what happens this Nov/2008. AFter the next convention and the diocese turns into the mess that SJ is in (with priest being fired and peopel worshipping in houses) he’ll be satisfied. The Episcopal Church that Duncan refers to isn’t the one we all belong to. If any of you remember he has often made the statement “I haven’t left the Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church has left me (or the diocese). We continue to be what we have always been in this… Read more »

pete
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pete

Duncan has abandoned the communion of the church, obviously. He’s also abandoned reality, but that doesn’t seem to count for much these days.

One could bet money that Don Wimberly was the bishop who didn’t go along. He’s been sitting on the fence and pandering to Duncan & Co. in order to avoid a revolt from his big money parishes in Houston. His diocesan council is next month, so by temporarily delaying Duncan’s inhibition until March, he’s bought himeself some breathing room with the radical right nut jobs in Texas.

Now THAT’S leadership (I jest)

Joe
Guest
Joe

Keep fighting the good fight, Bobby! Hear these words from Holy Writ… “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Forces conspiring? Gee Golly Gosh this has been the case in the con evo realignment campaign for quite some time. Just read through how PB KJS gets regularly characterized on con evo realignment blogs by a huge number of realignment believer posters. Just read through the published realignment campaign plans disseminated so long ago among us. Rather so boldly, I think, as to seem to suggest that we were incapable of reading them and taking those plans seriously enough to be effective in doing anything about their inevitable success in narrowing and conforming all Anglican believers in their own self-interested… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Well done in picking the allegory Terence.

The Catholics have made an embarassment of themselves by getting in a hoopla about how it is an attack on them.

It’s true, it is, but only those parts that misuse power and claim divine righteousness to justify their greedy collusion with oppression.

The same rebukes and allegories apply equally well in Anglicanism (as you’ve noted), as they did to the Pharisee Teachers of the Law in Jesus’ time, and as they do to any religious caste in any time or place in history that condones and colludes with oppression.

MargaretG
Guest
MargaretG

Interesting comparison with Bishop Spong here.

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Martin Reynolds, could you say a little more please? I see I’m not the only one here who didn’t fully understand your remarks. Thanks.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“Why as you view of Church got be so narrow?
Bishop Robert Duncan has not abandoned the communion because the Church is far wider than “The Episcopal Church”. He has and is still remaining faithful to the faith of the Apostles and for his witness I am truly grateful.
The Church in the Church Catholic, not the Episcopal Church of America!”

But the bishop’s vows are not to the “church catholic” but to the canons and communion of the Episcopal Church.

Dale Rye
Guest
Dale Rye

As a communicant of the Diocese of Texas, I must protest the attacks above on my bishop. There is absolutely no reason to believe that Bp. Wimberley voted against and that both Bp. Lee and Bp. Frade voted for. I would not be surprised if all three of them agreed that passing a constitutional change on first reading is not at all the same thing as announcing that you have left the Episcopal Church and are now a bishop in another province that has declared itself out of communion with TEC. That is certainly a distinction that I can see,… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

The squid defense, Joe – when all else fails squirt out a dense, impenetrable cloud of ink and hope that no-one sees through it.

Prior Aelred
Guest

Surely Bishop Duncan has been expecting this — his conduct in participating in sacramental acts in ecclesial bodies not recognized by Canterbury & his steps to remove the diocese of Pittsburgh from The Episcopal Church (which IS in Communion with Canterbury AND to which he vowed his obedience) were simply dares to the authorities finally to act. They have. He has sixty days. If he does not repent (& no one expects him to) then it is up to the House of Bishops. I think they are fed up with giving the benefit of the doubt to dishonest men.

kieran crichton
Guest
kieran crichton

“It appears that an inhibition can be carried out (and the PB sought to carry this one out) without the prospective inhibitee being informed of the pendency of the proceedings and having an opportunity to respond, be represented, appeal the decision, etc. I.e., without normal due process….it appears that the inhibition was a star chamber ex parte proceeding that failed by a whisker to receive all the necessary consents and only then did PB tell Duncan and ask him to respond to the charges. Was she really trying to spring this on him?” Steve, this is not so at all.… Read more »

Bob in SW PA
Guest
Bob in SW PA

If that was mean’t for me Thanks Joe. It’s a bit bleak in this diocese (Pittsburgh). I’m only a 20 minute drive to the diocese of West Virginia. If worse comes to worse I could join the local Presby church. They’re really inclusive and very supportive of and active in social justice issues. Of course I’d seriously miss the Anglican form of worship and communion each week. Haven’t give up yet though.

John Henry
Guest
John Henry

Many people are confused about what is happening because they are not familiar with TEC’s Title IV Disciplinary Canons, which are based not only on church tradition but also on U.S. law. Under U.S. law, a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. That does not prevent the District Attorney from convening a Grand Jury to determine whether or not there is cause to pursue legal action against a person suspected of a violation of law. The future defendant is usually not privy to Grand Jury proceedings. The Title IV Review Committee, composed of bishops, priests/deacons and lay… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Ah, it’s a brave (or foolish) Welshman that comments on TEC’s vicissitudes! Charlotte it appears there are those who comment here who have a clearer understanding of the American PB’s mind than I, and to be honest, since BO33 I don’t think I would take her call were she anxiously wishing to advise me of its present state. I think circumstances conspire against her because I believe she would rather not inhibit or depose anyone, rather she would prefer to offer TEC to the Communion as a model of how Anglicans of different views can continue together even after some… Read more »

Steven
Guest
Steven

Kieran & John Henry: The procedure you outline does not, to my mind, meet the requirements of due process, nor is it equivalent to a grand jury proceeding. A grand jury does not hand out punishment, it merely charges the defendant. The defendant then has an opportunity to be represented and defend in an open trial prior to the imposition of punishment. Lord help us if the Nifongs of the world can go straight from grand jury to punishment. The procedure you’ve described is closed to the defendant and yet still results in punishment being imposed. A warning letter in… Read more »

BobinSwPA
Guest
BobinSwPA

Sorry LOL, wrong bob lol.

Jerry Hannon
Guest
Jerry Hannon

“Others think this a carefully managed plan – it is possible they are still receiving bishop KJS for tea – in which case Charlotte they might be better informed and their view should prevail.” – Martin Reynolds No, Martin, neither we nor you “know” the mind of the PB of TEC. That’s not the point at all. You have now provided your analysis, fleshing out your previously brief comment at 2:11 PM GMT on the 16th. I provided my own analysis, also in this thread, at 4:42 PM GMT on Wednesday the 16th. After consideration of your analysis today, I… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Hi Martin Reynolds, and thanks. I do understand better now. I had thought you meant the setback for PB Jefferts-Schori was that she could not get her three senior bishops to agree to an immediate inhibition of +Duncan of Pittsburgh. (Very many commentators, including George Conger, have been reading it that way.) Actually, you meant the opposite. But I am not sure she is quite so reluctant to inhibit and depose, and in this regard I find her a welcome change from her predecessors. The canons have not been enforced for a long time now in the Episcopal Church, which… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Charlotte, that is absolutely unbelievable! Does this person claim, I wonder, that his bishop is persecuting him if any disciplinary action is taken? Is this merely a bizarre abberation? I have often said I think the “persecution” of the poor faithful remnant to be nothing more than discipline they called upon themselves, but I honestly never considered this kind of behaviour. What a drama queen! I know absolute flamers who would consider this a bit much. Ya gotta wonder where this degree of anger comes from. It certainly can’t be over a simple theological disagreement.