Tuesday, 18 March 2008

due process for bishops

There has been considerable discussion on blogs, for example here, about the voting process in the American House of Bishops. Some articles arising from that:

Living Church HOB Secretary: ‘No One Challenged’ PB’s Ruling by George Conger and Steve Waring, and also this commentary Flaws in Misconduct Canons by Steve Waring.

The Anglican Communion Institute has published On the Matter of Deposing Bishops at a Time of Communion Self-Assessment by Ephraim Radner, Christopher Seitz, Philip Turner.

Tony Clavier wrote To encourage others: The canon-legal conundrum on Covenant.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 18 March 2008 at 8:13am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA
Comments

Well I can agree with Radner and company over at ACI that the canons are not entirely clear - certainly not in the strictest possible quasi-doctrinal, legal-penal senses which apparently these leaders/believers would like to apply to as much of our shared Anglican church life as possible.

One can hardly lay that fault, obvious as it is, at the feet of the PB or the HoB alone. The missing pieces, the missing people who share the responsibility involved?

Well, for one the whole drummed up new conservative Anglican realignment campaign. By spin doctoring the silly justifications - that doctrinal or hermeneutic differences (especially those which have become hot button justifications for the push to realign and conform all Anglican believers) - must inevitably lead, either to (A) an exclusively conservative takeover of national churches, or to (B) the conservatives God-given rights to tear down the national trust that holds the buildings in trans-generational care and commitment as they leave in whatever the particular huff of their conservative moments might happen to be, the campaign invented itself, its strangely self-regarding high reasons, and its high privileges for trash talking and mistreating other believers of different Anglican conscience or discernment.

Then a next step. We hear the same folks turn right around and use the special presuppositional-doctrinal hair-splitting trouble they have drummed up - as final evidence that peace is impossible, that other sorts of non-conservative believers are nothing but evil or lacking in ethical moxy, and oh by the way, that the money and the buildings must have wheels, symbolic and real. If the new conservative world is anything but an Alice In Wonderland categorical and definitional card trick, then the burdens of proof still rest squarely upon the educated shoulders of Radner and company.

The rest of us are looking - not for doctrinal conformity, nor for the purest new Anglican-Puritan yardsticking of everything and everybody, but rather for the heavy matters of our call - justice, grace, compassion, peace-making, and the best ethical living we can variously manage in modern life of widely different cultural circumstances, across which we really have no Puritan rule book. Yes, canons could be clearer, and they could be re-written to better apply just in these sorts of realignment campaign claims and counter-claims, but that is no reason to take our eyes off the prize: we are all accountable, including deposed bishop JDS.

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 18 March 2008 at 3:16pm GMT

What nonsense from Radner and company. Once again they are elevating the Anglican Communion to something it is not. The Bishop of San Joaquin attempted to take the diocese away from The Episcopal Church. That Church - with its unity of Canon Law - is perfectly entitled to remove him and, in effect, take the diocese back. The Church of England is not a sub-Church of a Church called Anglican, in Nigeria, or Hong Kong, or even the USA. It is entirely its own body. If Rochester ran off to Nigeria (sounds like a novel) then the C of E would replace him and any such claims he made would be brought back.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 18 March 2008 at 4:01pm GMT

Steve Waring is misplaced in his concern about the removal of the "three senior bishops with jurisdiction" from the proposed Amendment to Canon IV.9. These are a relic of the days in which the Presiding Bishop was ex officio the senior bishop with jurisdiction, and in those days they served the function now better exercised by the Review Committee. They should have been removed from this process when the other committee (it has been various committees over the years) became the "show cause" body. There is nothing sinister in their removal at this time.

That being said, I would rather see the end of Canon IV.9 and 10 altogether. Let abandonment of communion be listed as an offense, and dealt with in the same way as other offenses.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 18 March 2008 at 10:23pm GMT

The TEC canons are not quite clear, but I find it strange that fundamentals of boardroom skills should be missing in these quarters...

It belongs to A) the PB and the Chancellor to interpret any lose canons.

B) it belongs to the HOB present to confirm or alter same interpretation.

C) it is TEC which is the church in question. There is not one Anglican curch the way +Schofield, +Duncan and others pretend, only several separate Anglican churches, each with their on set of canons - and widely differing sets of dogmatics and ecclesiologies.

Obviously, no one had a word to say about the canonical muddle before they could whine all over the blogs and the HOB/D list...

Not very trustworthy in my view.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 19 March 2008 at 1:17am GMT

In principle I agree with Tobias, but in practical reality I have serious problems with his dismissal of the abandonment canon.

The difficulty comes in the matter of duration of time and money. Charges, review, presentment, trial, etc. can take sometimes years and hundreds of thousands of dollars -- and we have neither the years nor the dollars in these present days.

Better the terms of the abandonment canon be tightened and made more efficient so actions can be taken with reasonable alacrity before massive destruction occurs. In fact - while I have no idea how to work it out canonically - there needs to be some canonical methodology by which the disease of abandonment can be discerned at its first onset, rather than having to wait until the wounds have suppurated and the cancer become terminal.

Provisions, of course, need to be made to assure justice, but justice not only for the accused, but for their "victims" as well.

There is a lot of work to do.....

Posted by: John-Julian, OJN on Wednesday, 19 March 2008 at 5:33pm GMT

I don't think that it matters what either party thinks at this point in time. What will matter is what the judge thinks this canon meant when the issue of who has the property comes before the secular law court, as I am 100% sure the legality or otherwise of this vote will be one of the many issues that will be up for his decision.

Posted by: Margaret on Thursday, 20 March 2008 at 2:48am GMT

Margaret
You're still around, I thought you might have signed off for Easter.
Did you not want to comment on my last post to you on this thread?

http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/002955.html#c1163723

I assume it must have dropped off the active list when you came back to TA, but it would be good if we could round this conversation off.

(Simon, apologies for posting off-topic)

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 20 March 2008 at 9:56am GMT

drdanfee,Pluralist,

Interesting, presentation of the expected line but no real conversation! You nicely overlook that what is involved is not mere "doctrinal hairsplitting." That is to betray a blind ignorance of where people are coming from and of the issue itself(does listening go only one way?). It involves an issue of historic Christian moral practise!

drfee - when people don't want to see the first response is always it is not clear. That was true in an earlier discussion of scripture on homosexuality (though it is completely clear what is affirmed as the sexual union or marriage all the way through scripture), then we managed to reach a point of some agreement, "Yes this is true but we disagree." Now it is almost as clear these canons were never intended for and do not fit this situation. But when people don't want to see...

Pluralist - there is part of a point to what you say. "The Church of England is not a sub-Church of a Church called Anglican ..." But this is to miss the forest for the trees. Those churches in Africa or Asia - did they come out of the blue? Does any church with authentic Christian identity affirm "we live and die to ourselves alone?" You seem to want it two ways, within the TEC area there is strong relationship and accountability but beyond this kind of geographical limit no accountability! On what basis does this make any sense in the Christian community? Interesting, and not to be overlooked, it is evangelicals who say the church is not simply defined by geography to arrogantly go its own way (without reference to the larger church).It has become starkly apparent that more than this is needed. The Covenant process recognized this and was designed to work with the larger church to clarify this. But when people do not want to see...

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Thursday, 20 March 2008 at 2:14pm GMT

Ben W:

IMO, the "larger church" refers not to the Anglican Communion, but to Christ's church--the communion of ALL believers (Roman, Anglican, Methodist, etc.). But there is no "Anglican church"...rather there are numerous national churches with a "sibling" relationship sharing certain doctrines and a "communion" through the historic episcopate. That relationship is defined--sufficiently for me--in the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral.

Those who seek a covenant seek a world-wide arrangement nearer to that of the Roman Catholic church...one that seeks to impose a universal culture on that of various and varied nations. Such an arrangement goes against all that has made Anglican Christianity workable in a multicultural world.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 20 March 2008 at 9:28pm GMT

Margaret said, “I am 100% sure the legality or otherwise of this vote will be one of the many issues that will be up for his [“the secular law court”] decision.”

Actually, under the U.S. Constitution’s bar of the civil government’s interfering with the free exercise of religious freedom, the American secular law courts are very likely barred from second-guessing the House of Bishop’s decision.

Similar claims were considered in the 1976 U.S. Supreme Court case of Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese v. Milivojevich. In that case, the diocese removed and defrocked a bishop, who then sued the church, claiming that he was the true bishop. The lower courts found that the bishop’s removal and defrocking were improper because the proceedings against the bishop were not in accordance with the church’s constitution and canons. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, held the civil courts were constitutionally barred from deciding matters of internal church governance.

Posted by: dr.primrose on Thursday, 20 March 2008 at 11:35pm GMT

Ben W wrote: “… when people don't want to see the first response is always it is not clear.”

Seems to me it is you who don’t want to see ; = )

Ben W wrote: “That was true in an earlier discussion of scripture on homosexuality (though it is completely clear what is affirmed as the sexual union or marriage all the way through scripture)…”

Your probably referring to Polygamy – valid in Judaism until the Crusades, are you not?

Ben W wrote: “then we managed to reach a point of some agreement, "Yes this is true but we disagree."

No it is not true. Which is why (h o w) we disagree ; =) Always spinning are you not?

Ben W wrote: “Now it is almost as clear these canons were never intended for and do not fit this situation. But when people don't want to see...”

If you check the American HoB/D list, you will see that it is those that side with +Schofield & c. that ”don't want to see...”

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 21 March 2008 at 6:38am GMT

No Göran, he means the example given by God's true follower Lot, who offered his daughters to be raped, and later fathered their children.
At least he wasn't gay!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 21 March 2008 at 9:09am GMT

Pat,

I would underscore what you say about "the larger church to include churches" beyond what we have called the Anglican Church. I believe relations need to be built and accountability strengthened within and beween these churches. But if so, that would certainly include within the Anglican Church as a whole. The Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral may shed some light but the deeper issue, if we think Christian unity, is to think Biblically (that still is a more common and authoritative reference point).

You say the covenant process "goes against all that has made Anglican Christianity workable in a multicultural world." I think if you can still say about Anglican Christianity "if it aint broke don't fix it" you have a point. But to me it seems very clear that problems have accumulated and now have caught up with us: something must be done. This is not to impose "a universal culture" on the churches in the various parts(there is concern about that and must be protection against that), but without some clear reference points and allegiance we simply lose our Christian identity and destroy the basis for Christian relations within the church.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Friday, 21 March 2008 at 12:56pm GMT

Erika,

I had thought better of you than to stoop to this. It is not worthy of this list nor of you. Enough said, lets leave it there.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Friday, 21 March 2008 at 1:05pm GMT

"This is not to impose "a universal culture" on the churches in the various parts(there is concern about that and must be protection against that), but without some clear reference points and allegiance we simply lose our Christian identity and destroy the basis for Christian relations within the church."

I think we have clear reference points...the creeds, the two great commandments, and baptism. Everything else is, as I've noted before, commentary. We have managed for thirty years with distinctions among us about female ordination, about use of liturgical garments, even about lay presidency. Why is this particular distinction a breaking point?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 21 March 2008 at 7:13pm GMT

Pat,

I question whether you are prepared to stand with the statement that "everything else is commentary." Certain moral teaching for instance like "do not steal," or "do not commit adultery" etc? Especially if we wanted to turn some of this around and celebrate this in blessing.

Agreed, there has been blindness on the full place of women, and in accord with scripture seek to set thisright (but in the mean time work with distinctions). Compared to clear affirmation of marriage all the way through scripture and through Christian history these matters liturgical garments or lay presidency are trivial matters.

Ben W


Posted by: Ben W on Saturday, 22 March 2008 at 4:44am GMT

Ben
The point was flippantly made, I apologise.
But I am very tired of being told that Scripture is clear on sexuality and that there is only one way of living a holy Christian life.

It does no harm to look at actual sexual practices in Scripture, especially those that were not condemned by the writer but simply told.

If you find it possible to interpret those away and still arrive at a pure sexual morality that excludes gays, then at least accept that you're interpreting.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 22 March 2008 at 8:27am GMT

"I question whether you are prepared to stand with the statement that "everything else is commentary." Certain moral teaching for instance like "do not steal," or "do not commit adultery" etc? Especially if we wanted to turn some of this around and celebrate this in blessing."

I am absolutely prepared to stand with that statement. How can I love my neighbor as myself if I am willing to steal from him? Or to sleep with his wife?

"Agreed, there has been blindness on the full place of women, and in accord with scripture seek to set thisright (but in the mean time work with distinctions). Compared to clear affirmation of marriage all the way through scripture and through Christian history these matters liturgical garments or lay presidency are trivial matters."

"Clear affirmation of marriage all the way through scripture..."? You mean the multiple wives of Jacob? You mean the way Jesus urges his disciples to leave their families and follow him? Why is it you are willing to nuance Paul's words about women teaching and not his words about (apparent) homosexuality? (I say "apparent" because homosexuality is both a word and a concept Paul would have had no knowledge of. I think it's still arguable exactly what practices Paul was objecting to in Romans.)


Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 22 March 2008 at 10:49am GMT

Pat,

If "everything else is commentary" then you can in today's moral climate massage it all to your own inclination. That is why scripture does not just say "love" and leave us without direction on what this means. Some taking this line have, as Paul knew, affirmed "let us go on in sin because the more sin the more grace" (cf Rom 6:1,2). And we still live with the Joseph Fletcher hangover of "situation ethics," of love and do what you think is "the loving thing"(interesting that as I recall he had a TEC backround and moved in these circles).

You know that people continue to talk about and justify polygamy in the name of love, and even the idea of "open marriage," as long as people are open to each other about who they are sleeping with, to sleep with "the neighbors wife" is fine. All in the name of love.

When I speak about "Clear affirmation of marriage all the way through scripture..." I am precisely talking about what is AFFIRMED all the way through scripture from creation to Jesus to Paul(and not human blindness or abberations which, true to human reality, scripture also reports). Jesus own way of speaking to this makes the point: there was a falling off from God's good purpose in the relationship as recognized in the law of Moses, but as already evidenced in creation from the beginning "God created them male and female and the two shall become one" (Matt 19:4-6).

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Saturday, 22 March 2008 at 3:08pm GMT

"If "everything else is commentary" then you can in today's moral climate massage it all to your own inclination. That is why scripture does not just say "love" and leave us without direction on what this means. Some taking this line have, as Paul knew, affirmed "let us go on in sin because the more sin the more grace" (cf Rom 6:1,2). And we still live with the Joseph Fletcher hangover of "situation ethics," of love and do what you think is "the loving thing"(interesting that as I recall he had a TEC backround and moved in these circles)."

You could do that in ANY moral climate and, indeed, many did. The Victorians are well-known for their public piety and private perfidy.

"I am precisely talking about what is AFFIRMED all the way through scripture from creation to Jesus to Paul(and not human blindness or abberations which, true to human reality, scripture also reports)."

I'm a little confused by the phrase "from creation to Jesus"...there's no record of a marriage between Adam and Eve. They were, to use the modern phrase, "living together".

And, of course, if marriage is so wonderful (and it is), why do you wish to deny it to same-sex couples living in monogamous, loving relationships?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 22 March 2008 at 5:43pm GMT
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