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.