Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Pittsburgh: latest developments

Since the last report here, the Standing Committee of the diocese issued this statement:

Standing Committee Statement on Threatened Deposition

Editor’s Note: The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has released the following statement regarding the threatened deposition of Bishop Robert Duncan at the September 2008 meeting of The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops. Their statement has been faxed and mailed to the office of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is saddened to learn the Presiding Bishop and her chancellor will continue to press for the deposition of our Diocesan Bishop, Robert W. Duncan, Jr. for the Abandonment of Communion at the September 2008 House of Bishops Meeting. Although we recognize the authority of the Episcopal Church to discipline and remove its ministers for violations of its canons, we believe Canon IV.9, Sec.1 has been misapplied and Canon IV.9, Sec.2 has been misinterpreted in this instance.

Should our Diocesan Bishop be validly deposed pursuant to the requirements set forth in the canons, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is prepared to exercise its role as the Ecclesiastical Authority of this diocese.

Unanimously affirmed by the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, May 27, 2008.

And this weekend, a meeting was held at St Andrew’s Church Highland Park, which has been reported on in some detail by Lionel Deimel. Read the report at Resigned to Realignment.

On Sunday, June 1, 2008, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh, held a forum and panel discussion on Bishop Robert Duncan’s plan for “realignment.” Duncan, who has been determined to have already abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church and is awaiting a vote by the church’s House of Bishops on his deposition, is attempting to change the constitution of the diocese and to transfer the entire diocese from The Episcopal Church to another Anglican Communion province, most likely South America’s province of the Southern Cone. The only bishop ever to have tried this ploy, John-David Schofield, late of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, was deposed shortly after doing so. It is unclear whether Episcopal bishops will, this time around, shut the barn door before the horse gets out…

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Comments

That is incorrect in this story. Bishop Duncan was charged by the three senior bishops, who have the authority to make these decisions, voted to not send the charges forward to the House of Bishops. The three senior bishops include Bishop Peter James Lee and he voted no.

It appears that Katharine Jefferts Schori and David Booth Beers are going ahead anyway to depose Bishop Duncan, ignoring their own canons.

Where are the liberals - the real liberals? Where are they?

bb

Posted by: BabyBlue on Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 6:28pm BST

As I understand it, BB, the three Senior Bishops voted "No" to inhibit his ministry while it goes to the House of Bishops, they did not vote NO to the charges.

Posted by: Rev. Kurt on Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 6:48pm BST

The "real liberals"---the democratic-majority of TEC, faithful Anglicans all---are not falling for your SPIN, bb. ++KJS and the HofB ARE following the canons: it is
?Duncan, following the path to perdition of xJDS, who has bent the canons to the breaking point {Snap!}

Lord have mercy!

[And God bless the California Supreme Court! Let the nuptial celebrations commence, Alleluia! :-D]

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 6:48pm BST

bb,

That's the most absurd reading of the canon in question I've heard yet.

The Title IV Review Committee certified the charges. That was the court. Bp. Duncan was found guilty. The senior bishops were only responsible for the inhibition, which, in secular terms, is the equivalent of a restraining order.

If a criminal is charged with a crime, a restraining order may be necessary to protect the innocent while he awaits trial. The lack of such a restraining order does not nullify the charges.

Bp. Duncan has been found guilty of abandoning TEC. If the HoB gives consent in the Fall, he will be deposed.

Posted by: Jake on Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 7:01pm BST

Perhaps in the same place as the real conservatives are?

Posted by: bls on Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 7:20pm BST

BabyBlue, are you suggesting if the three senior bishops decline the presiding bishop's request to them for deposition that the rest of the house of bishops has no say in the matter? What then if two of the three are the ones being considered for deposition? Seems unlikely they would vote for self deposition.

Posted by: Edward of Baltimore on Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 7:48pm BST

Bishop Duncan appears headed straight for the Church door and plans to take as much silver with him as possible. It is reasonable to try to minimize the loss and, from my careful reading of the legalities of the situation, it appears TEC is well within it's rights and is following well-established precedent in this case.

Posted by: ettu on Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 9:19pm BST

Edward, here is the sequence of events:
---------
...The Presiding Bishop, with the consent of the three senior Bishops having jurisdiction in this Church, shall then inhibit the said Bishop until such time as the House of Bishops shall investigate the matter and act thereon. During the period of Inhibition, the Bishop shall not perform any episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts, except as relate to the administration of the temporal affairs of the Diocese of which the Bishop holds jurisdiction or in which the Bishop is then serving.

Sec. 2. The Presiding Bishop, or the presiding officer, shall forthwith give notice to the Bishop of the certification and Inhibition. Unless
the inhibited Bishop, within two months, makes declaration by a Verified written statement to the Presiding Bishop, that the facts alleged in the certificate are false or utilizes the provisions of Canon IV.8 or Canon III.12.7, as applicable, the Bishop will be liable to Deposition. If the Presiding Bishop is reasonably satisfied that the
statement constitutes (i) a good faith retraction of the declarations or acts relied upon in the certification to the Presiding Bishop or (ii) a
good faith denial that the Bishop made the declarations or committed the acts relied upon in the certificate, the Presiding Bishop, with the advice and consent of a majority of the three senior Bishops consenting to Inhibition, terminate the Inhibition. Otherwise, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops at the next regular or special meeting of the House. If the House, by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote, shall give its consent, the Presiding Bishop shall depose the Bishop from the Ministry, and pronounce and record in the presence of two or more Bishops that the Bishop has been so deposed.
--------
You bring up a point that if the bishop in question is one of the three senior bishops, the canons don't make an exception for this.

The canons simply do not allow the deposition of a bishop that hasn't been inhibited first. If the cabal wants to ignore the canons, that is their prerogative.

Posted by: robroy on Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 11:26pm BST

BabyBlue seems to also think that these votes in Virginia mean anything. That they did not have the power to do what they voted is irrelevant.
The only thing that matters to ol' BB is what seems to help the schismatic thieves steal the silver.

Posted by: John Robison on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 1:51am BST

When one leaves an organisation, it is not customary to expect to take the belongings of that organisation with you.

Duncan wishes to leave TEC, thus he should not expect to taker possessions belonging to TEC with him.

Simple.

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 2:39am BST

Thank you, robroy. I was saying deposition when I should have said inhibition.

As to the canon you quote, what does "Otherwise, it shall be the duty of the PB to present the matter to the HofB..." mean to you? Sounds to me that a bishop can be deposed by the HofB without having been inhibited by the three seniors.

Posted by: Edward of Baltimore on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 3:05am BST

Robroy:

I don't see anything that specifically says inhibition MUST precede deposition.

Of course, this may all be moot anyway, since Schofield claims to have left the jurisdiction of TEC and therefore cannot be deposed by a body of which he is no longer a part.

Of course, further, if he is no longer a part of TEC, he cannot simultaneously claim to be the corporation sole of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and cannot legally access its accounts.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 3:47am BST

"The canons simply do not allow the deposition of a bishop that hasn't been inhibited first."

This is patently FALSE, robroy.

"If the cabal wants to ignore the canons, that is their prerogative."

And if the HofB agrees w/ the Presiding Bishop, does that make them ALL a "cabal"?

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 5:46am BST

God help the Anglican Communion! We're stuffed!

Posted by: BIGDAN on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 9:22am BST

MerseyMike opines: "When one leaves an organisation, it is not customary to expect to take the belongings of that organisation with you."

Except when those belongings are paid for and deeded into trust at the origin of the parish, as that of some pre-TEC parishes in America have been, eh Mike?

It really depends on the nature of the org, you see.

Posted by: wyclif on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 11:15am BST

"And if the HofB agrees w/ the Presiding Bishop, does that make them ALL a "cabal"?"

But "they" already ARE a cabal, doncha know? They are the evil Hell bound liberals who believe nothing and are doing their utmost to undermine the Gospel and destroy the faith. Indeed, God is apparently so weak He will allow it to happen. At least that seems to the myth as expounded by some.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 4:23pm BST

"But "they" already ARE a cabal, doncha know? They are the evil Hell bound liberals who believe nothing and are doing their utmost to undermine the Gospel and destroy the faith."

Now, Ford and I finally in agreement.

"Indeed, God is apparently so weak He will allow it to happen."

It was too good to last.

Like God allowed Jerusalem to fall. God was so weak that he could not prevent Jesus from being crucified. Like God allowed the Nazis to come to power. Like God allowed the northern European countries to be lost to Christianity for all intents and purposes as we have discussed.

If God "allowed" Christianity to be reduced to 1% Sunday participation in countries like Sweden, why wouldn't he allow in in the U.S. or Great Britain.

Posted by: robroy on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 9:21pm BST

"MerseyMike opines: "When one leaves an organisation, it is not customary to expect to take the belongings of that organisation with you."

Except when those belongings are paid for and deeded into trust at the origin of the parish, as that of some pre-TEC parishes in America have been, eh Mike?

It really depends on the nature of the org, you see."

And when those parishes voluntarily became part of the diocese and part of TEC, they agreed to follow the canons of those organization, which do not permit such taking.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 10:01pm BST

robroy, I can only assume there is as much sarcasm in your response as there was in my post!The first line you quoted is false witness and reviling, which is as much a bar to the Kingdom as homosexuality. BTW, you STILL haven't said what you think we really deserve on this Earth for being gay. I'm assuming your statement about preventing the Crucifixion is also sarcastic. Why would God want to prevent one of the most significant acts in His redemption of His Creation? But, then, you probably see the Crucifixion as punishment. How dearly do you adhere to PSA? I am more traditional than that, I'm afraid.

And all the universe exists because of God's continuing creative will. Can anything happen in the universe that He doesn't allow? Read Job. And "lost" to Christianity? The Kingdom of God is not an Earthly Kingdom, robroy. I posted elsewhere that I am from the generation that grew up with the realization that the influence of the Church was waning. This was not feared, since if the only people who go to Church are the ones who want to, then you have a group of sincere committed Christians. If people go to Church just because it is socially unacceptable not to, or worse, because they are afraid of what God will do to them if they don't, you end up with a building full of scared socially insecure people feeling righteous. You'd likely be surprised that at one time I felt and said many of the things you are feeling now. The issue was OOW, and +Harvey was the one who changed my mind, but I still felt the ACC bishops didn't get it, were more concerned with poitics than the Gospel, you know the drill. I went back because, while things hadn't changed IMNSHO, I realized I needed God more than He needed me, and I was somewhat over my youthful arrogance. I might sympathize with your politics, but I cannot support your fear, nor the anger it breeds, nor the way it makes you treat of your fellow Christians. I have all I can do to keep myself, some of the time at least, from doing the same thing to others.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 10:50pm BST

Ford, 'homosexuality' (sic) is not a bar to entry to the kingdom of heaven.

I don't think you intended to imply that it IS. Did you.

Posted by: L Roberts on Monday, 9 June 2008 at 8:02pm BST

L Roberts,
Evangelicals claim that Paul's statement means exactly that. I don't have time to check chapter and verse. The thing is that the same verse that says this also names a number of other things that also keep one out of the Kingdom. I was merely pointing out that those who quote this, and other "clobber verses" at us don't seem to be at all concerned that they happily, without a care, carry out acts carrying the same penalty in Scripture. It seems the "plain word" of Scripture only applies to gay people, and even the presence of a comma in the English text is enough to assuage the wrath of God. I am gay, and I know God loves me. But, I do not accept your blanket statement either. Whether or not I go sweeping through the Pearly Gates is in God's hands, not mine. But it isn't enough to simply say "it isn't a bar to entry into the Kingdom." As I have often said, I am not all that comfortable with people telling me that what appears to apply to me in Scripture actually doesn't, with little support for the argument. I know, really solidly know, what God has done for me, and I truly don't give a cobbler's cuss if the evidence of God in my life contradicts 7 verses of Scripture. All the same, I am not convinced of the liberal arguments. It's the difference between theological argument and faith, I guess, if that isn't too pompous of me. Tell me why homosexuality isn't a bar to the Kingdom. All I have to go on is my own experience of God, and the poor example of Christian behaviour evidenced by those who would keep me out. If they can't be better than that, they don't know the Gospel well enough to pay attention to. So, while I am not frightened by the rantings of the Right, I am not convinced by the soothings of the Left either.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 9 June 2008 at 9:29pm BST

Ford
"Tell me why homosexuality isn't a bar to the Kingdom. All I have to go on is my own experience of God, and the poor example of Christian behaviour evidenced by those who would keep me out. If they can't be better than that, they don't know the Gospel well enough to pay attention to. So, while I am not frightened by the rantings of the Right, I am not convinced by the soothings of the Left either"

You keep asking for theology....did you read Tobias Haller's sex articles? I've pointed you to them many many times, yet your posts never display the slightest indication that you have read him or engaged with his thinking. It's almost as if you're determined to remain firm in your position.

http://jintoku.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 10 June 2008 at 8:03am BST

"You keep asking for theology....did you read Tobias Haller's sex articles?"

No I didn't, now I have, and thank you for being in my face about it and calling me on my lack of initiative! Wow! Good on ya, Tobias. What a refreshing change from the legalism of the right! I don't know that I agree with all of it, and I haven't had the time to read a lot of the debate it has sparked on the blog. What I have read has been a bit linguistically over the top, even for someone as pompous sounding as me! I'd also like to see what the Right says about it, though I doubt their counter arguments would be based on anything other than the Gagnon that Tobias so soundly opposes!

I can understand why Evangelicals would consider it to be so much fudge and obfuscation, though. It isn't, and it is very Scripturally based, but I don't think some of the people who post here would think that way. And that's the thing: the way we think. We none of us have the true mindset of the Kingdom, I suppose, but the legalism of the Right shows to me a way of approaching these issues that is not in accord with the Gospel. I've said before how funny it is that those who used to sing with such gusto "Free from the Law, oh happy condition!" can be so Hell bent on subjugating themselves to the Law. I like the way he neatly deals with the whole "nature" argument. The idea that procreative sexuality is of the world, whereas non-procreative sexuality is about love, that it is love, not reproduction that is at the base of marriage, that this is the outward and physical sign, not reproduction that any animal can do! Lots to think about. if we were to accept that as the understanding of the sacrament, think what it would do for any Christian marriage: if one acts in a fashion that is not loving towards one's spouse, one is not merely being unpleasant, or mean, or abusive, one is at least failing to live up to one's responsibilities as part of a sacrament! It'd be very much like "unworthy reception". Makes an abusive spouse into something far different than a mere breaker of the law, ours or that of Moses.

Thanks again Erika, for being a goad to make me read that.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 11 June 2008 at 1:54pm BST

This is all getting very tiresome. If 'establishment' Anglicans, on both sides of the pond, really believed in 'diversity', and 'equality', then they'd simply live and let live. A third province in England for those who want it, and alternative oversight for those Americans who want it, and indeed, 'liberal' parishes in 'conservative' countries/dioceses should be able to seek alternative oversight from a sympathetic bishop. It is geographical territorialism that is creating these problems. We need to sort it, and recognise that the divisions are real. In the Christian tradition there is precedent for personal prelatures and non-geographical dioceses. Let us divide amicably, and relate as respectful cousins rather than vengeful siblings. Surely Liberals and conservatives must agree that the present situation does the name of Christ a grave dishonour

Posted by: Bob on Friday, 13 June 2008 at 12:05am BST

"Surely Liberals and conservatives must agree that the present situation does the name of Christ a grave dishonour"

You know, I kind of don't think a lot would, in their hearts, if not with their mouths. Too many are convinced that they are defending God's truth against, for one side, the evil Godless pagans, and for the other side, the oppressive patriarchal power brokers. Each side is fighting the good fight. How can such valour be dishonourable to Christ?

And I don't think it's merely geographical. Conservatives are right when they talk of culture. Given the far more traditional nature of Nigerian culture, for instance, and their proximity to militant Islam, with the attendant violence, regardless of who's to blame for that, is it any surprise they are doing what they are doing? It is a feature of the dominant culture not to think of itself as one culture among many, or indeed as a cutlure at all, but rather as The Way Things Are. People in smaller cultures resent this, of course, as well as the fact that the dominant culture tends to destroy the smaller ones, regardless of how much the "smaller" culture's members are driving the destruction. When conservative Westerners speak of the Church being counter-cultural, it's hilarious, since their concept of the Church is fervently involved in preserving the cultural status quo where-ever it is found. It's equally funny in some countries when liberals say the same of themselves. It might have some meaning for liberals in the US to use the term, but in Western Europe? They are pretty much equal with the conservatives, and in some places ascendant, and in practice no less authoritarian. I think this arises out of this lack of cultural understanding. Modern Western culture is, for conservatives, somehow God given, being The Way Things Are. For them, they are NOT actually defending modern Western culture, in fact what they are defending is Godliness which is being attacked by modern Western culture. Most liberals would see it as modern Western culture with its oppressive patriarchy being challenged by a Church that is diametrically counter to that oppressive culture. And thus each side gets to use that romantic word "countercutural" and feel all warm and fuzzy about its actions.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 13 June 2008 at 1:35pm BST
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