Saturday, 13 September 2008

Pittsburgh: latest about Bishop Duncan

Updated Sunday afternoon

The Bishop of Pittsburgh has issued a pastoral letter today. You can read it in full here.

In a letter to the House of Bishops yesterday, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori made it clear that there will be a vote this coming Thursday on whether to depose me from the ministry of the Episcopal Church. The charge is abandonment of the Communion of the Church, a charge initiated by five priests and sixteen laypeople of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Much of the “evidence” in the case is put forward by the House of Bishops Property Task Force, drawn directly from the Calvary litigation. We have long suspected that a principal purpose in the Calvary litigation was to have me removed, by whatever means, before the realignment vote. Whatever the purported evidence, I continue to maintain that the House of Bishops “vote” will be a gross violation of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church…

He then refers to a letter he sent to the House of Bishops on 24 August, and this letter is available as a PDF. This letter is also summarised in a Living Church news article.

Stand Firm has published the letter from the Presiding Bishop to which Bishop Duncan also refers. That letter is here.

And there is also a covering memo and then a lengthy memorandum from the Task Force on Property Disputes. The latter is a PDF file.

Sunday afternoon update

George Conger has reported at Religious Intelligence that there is Legal doubt over Presiding Bishop’s move to depose Duncan. The new issue is summarised thus:

However, the rules of the House of Bishops forbid modifying the agenda of a special session after the meeting has been announced, placing her plans in legal and canonical limbo. Whether the bishops will challenge her request is unclear, however, as her past legal missteps in the cases of Bishops John-David Schofield and Williams Cox provoked protests from bishops and dioceses distressed over what they perceived was her abuse of office, but no action followed.

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Comments

Your schismatic chickens are coming home to a deposed coop, xBob. Repent, and be reconciled? (See re Bishop MacBurney http://www.dfms.org/79901_100559_ENG_HTM.htm )

May the merciful Lord grant a spirit of reconciliation to us all...

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 7:48pm BST

Repent +Duncan and stop with the continued lies, blame and shame...thousands of members of The Episcopal Church of Pittsburgh are not Episcopalians in order to support the wrecking of OUR Church for your personal pride and strident, yet pitiful, visions of grandiosity...stop now, repent and get yourself "rightsized"...if not, take a powder and we'll see you when you get back as just another humble person at taking Communion at The Body of Christ.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 9:32pm BST

I usually try to avoid these specifially Episcopal/Anglican arguments, but, as an outsider, I wonder, if it is apparent that some significant minority of a particular diocese wants to leave the denomination for a parallel jurisdiction, including at least some of the senior clergy, doesn't it make sense to negotiate an amicable division, including polling the parishoners to see which way they'd rather go, and divvy up the assets in some way proportionate to their allegiances and support, especially if the polity of the church is democratic? Wouldn't that be better than the "winner-take-all" lawsuits, and the continuing bad feelings engendered by this on-going dispute?

Posted by: rick allen on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 10:49pm BST

One thing that you can be rest assured about is that the Duncan family savings will not be depleted by the subsequent legal bills.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 9:07am BST

to rick allen - A salient point and one that is at the crux of the matter. For better or worse the prevailing sentiment in TEC seems to be that they are trustees for future generations of the customs, beliefs and, yes, the property of the church and that abandonment to a splinter group is unwise and unethical. From this perspective (which is a reasonable one) it would be a sin to cave in to the bully boy techniques of the schismatics.

Posted by: ettu on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 11:44am BST

+Duncan's letter referenced the Calvary Lawsuit. I have been following this litigation for years. In Feb-March 2007, 2 "smoking gun" documents were revealed in the "discovery" process of this litigation. They clearly showed that the intent of +Duncan was to replace The Episcopal Church in the United States with another province and seek its recognition as the Anglican presence in the USA. The documents clearly named him as its acknowledged leader. The question I raise: At what point does the the king's loyal opposition become no longer loyal but sedition or treason? The actions taken by +Duncan were taken in secret the documents clearly imarked as secret. +Duncan swore an oath, not to the Anglican Communion or to the primates of the FCA/Gafcon group but The Episcopal Church. At some point, Bishop Duncan adopted the "outside" strategy vs, the "inside". Should the adoption of such a strategy be the measure by which the House should judge a candidate for deposition, active partcipation in implentation or another standard? Opposition: Passive agressive vs active aggressive etc.? EmilyH

Posted by: EmilyH on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 12:58pm BST

Rick:

The canons of our church are like the laws that govern it. Every person ordained or consecrated in the church vows to abide by them. Some of those canons are about church property and who owns it.

Tell me, if a group of elected officials in your city had a problem with a law about, say, the public ownership of parks...and wanted to take control of all or part of them for themselves...would you encourage "negotiating" with them or would you argue, as I do, that they agreed to uphold the law when they took their oaths of office?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 1:00pm BST

Isn't the apparatchiks taking over the assets precisely what happened to Glasnost?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 5:16pm BST

rick: an interesting point, but of course, it would have to cut both ways. In England, you would quickly find total chaos if congregations voted which jurisdiction to opt for. The majority of parishioners in England would surely be on the liberal side: the younger they are, the more likely to be so, even in Con Evo parishes. The Con Evo homophobes big themselves up a lot, and have very loud very angry voices, but they are not at all representative of English religious sentiment, which has always been averse to harsh definition and the Puritan mentality of exclusion.

All the evidence is that generation change will inevitably bring the C of E in alignment with the direction of TEC and Canada: there simply is not a pool of sufficiently homophobic young people to draw on to succeed the current elderly anti-gay brigade. There is no evidence that Con Evo church leaders will ever turn this round: even their own members are often embarrassed by their leadership's homophobia.

The depressing thing is how long it's taking. Will it really take 150 years (as with Darwin) or 200 years (as with slavery) before the C of E apologises for its shockingly unjust treatment of its gay members? Can't we do better than that?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 6:02pm BST

Bishop Duncan heads his letter Feast of St Cyprian. here is a quote from the very same:

"The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.’ . . . On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 7:28pm BST

Re George Conger "Legal doubt over Presiding Bishop’s move to depose Duncan":

Hello in there, George. What color is the sky in your world? In ours, the sun is shining---on a new day in TEC, where the PB *and* the House of Bishops have HAD IT with these little schismatic games reasserters have tried to play. It's over, 'kay? BE an Episcopalian, or exit the red doors stage right! ("her past legal missteps", my *ss! Grrr...)

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 15 September 2008 at 1:49am BST

Conger's suggestion concerning the agenda of the House of Bishops is false, on two counts.

First, the determination of the abandonment of communion is already on the agenda to the extent that it is to be dealt with by the House of Bishops meeting after the expiration of the time allotted for a response.

Second, new business can be introduced at special meetings in accordance with Rule XIX of the House:

XIX Except by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting, no member of the House may introduce a Resolution at a special meeting unless the Resolution has been circulated thirty days in advance to the members. This rule shall not be construed in any way to prevent a Committee of the House from introducing Resolutions at special meetings.

Even if this were a new matter it could be addressed with the 2/3rds vote. But this is neither new nor strictly speaking a "resolution" but laying before the House a matter that has been public since last January, and to which Duncan responded in March. If anything, Duncan has been given _more_ time in which to recant from his schismatic actions.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 15 September 2008 at 2:42am BST

Pat, I'm not sure the analogy with public property holds, since we accept a monopoly of public authority (though I see that the suggestion doesn't work as well in England, where the C of E is "by law established" than in America). In religios

The "property in trust" point is valid, but it is claimed by the dissenters as well. Both sides claim to be in valid continuity with the past, and the secular courts ought not to be deciding which is, and the contending parties don't agree on any judicial authority within the Church who can.

Mark, I don't suggest simply having the laity choose jurisdictions by vote, bu negotiating based on some canvass of where the people are on these issues. My impression is that it's only a fairly small minority anywhere that's making these demands, and perhaps you could buy a lot of peace with a little real estate. So it's not a matter of my saying that the dissenters have any "right" to what I'm suggesting so much as questioning whether this particular acrimonious war of words within the United States can be addressed by noting the existence of two "camps" that are probably now past conciliation or compromise on the substantive issues.

Posted by: rick allen on Monday, 15 September 2008 at 2:46am BST

Pat: "The canons of our church are like the laws that govern it."

Better to say that the Canons _are_ the laws, not "like" them. It seems that when the level of dispute rises some are prepared to throw out the canons in order to claim legitimacy when none is possible within the system to which they have sworn allegiance. The canons must be respected.

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Monday, 15 September 2008 at 1:01pm BST

Rick: "I'm not sure the analogy with public property holds..."

In fact, Pat is quite correct. The model of governance in Anglicanism is in fact public administration, and not corporate. Yes, this is more obvious in England than in North America, but it is equally true in both places. Once you grasp this, all becomes clear.

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Monday, 15 September 2008 at 1:04pm BST

Robert Ian Williams: "Bishop Duncan heads his letter Feast of St Cyprian...."

I was wondering if anyone else would see the irony of Bishop Duncan's date on his letter. Does my memory deceive me, or did not Blessed Cyprian have a great deal to do with the original Donatist controversy, welcoming into the Church those whom the Donatists sought to exclude?

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Monday, 15 September 2008 at 1:07pm BST

rick allen - the process you suggest is not new in history. Do you know the word 'Danegeld'? It means buying off attacks from invaders by giving them money and land - the only trouble is, they come back time after time and want more of both. In pre-Conquest England, Danegeld only stopped being paid when the Danes took over the whole kingdom...

Posted by: Richard on Monday, 15 September 2008 at 4:02pm BST

The continuing lure of fighting it out in the HoB and courts is simply this: Publc Transparency, with assertions laid out as clearly and fairly according to a neutral contest that gets judged on the same playing field of judgment.

No more, the special tilt and advantages that consevo assertors set up for themselves and their side of the claims. No more special consevo language that dresses up theft in terms of conservative faithfulness. No more special consevo claims that bear false witness against the hot button differences, typically by painting them as much larger and more categorical than they in fact can be demonstrated in detail to be. Adopting an alternative modern believer view of, say, queer folks or ordained women in the life of the Anglican churches does not automatically lead to the Anything Goes that consevo preachments typically claim and assert.

Duncan is simply following the famous or infamous Chapman memo, not much more and not much less. Saying you are doing one good thing, while in fact you are doing another bad thing - in this case, sheer theft - is par for the Chapman Memo game plan. When Ducan and company lie, cheat, steal - these are all white-washed in the name of greater consevo necessities because TEC or modernity is such a big, bad Medusa that Duncan cannot win fairly and squarely inside the existing system.

A major realignment strategy, in fact. Decode this fav consevo presuppositional bait and swtich cover story strategy - which is the real functioning Anythin-We-ConsEvos-Do-Goes claim? - then the power grab gets clear?

Duncan has abandoned his ordination vows but wishes to keep hold of money and property with which only TEC dioceses are gifted, even as he still claims loudly that the hand juggling the books is not his, and at the same time, that the hand juggling the books is a special consevo holy hand. To cover up this sneak, along with the implicit bullying - Duncan still claims he is actually the real heir to all TEC power, property, money. Pretty useful then, those nasty queer folks and nasty modernity as an excuse or rationalization for stealing, lying, cheating. As excuse for a de facto Home Invasion of TEC, orchestrated by consevo think tanks like IRD and others. Funded by Ahmanson, Scaife, and others.

This Duncan meanness will earn its due, publicly, transparently - and the courts will help draw back the spin doctored presuppositional curtains.

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 at 1:18am BST

Rick Allen's got a point: "Perhaps you could buy a lot of peace with a little real estate." I don't know whether it has worked in Central Florida, where a good bit of separatist agitation continues, despite the generous terms Bishop Howe offered to a group of earlier "Leavers."

But I think that Rick Allen's solution would not work at all unless it was made absolutely crystal clear to "Leavers" that by leaving the Episcopal Church they were also leaving the Anglican Communion. This is historically an absolutely correct statement, but the Episcopal Church cannot declare it, and Canterbury has been too pusillanimous to do so, indeed, has suggested that the national churches and provinces are merely convenient groupings.

So the "Leavers" continue to hope that if they amass enough Episcopal property (and a few dioceses) they will be in a position to replace the Episcopal Church as the American Anglican province within the Anglican Communion. Hence the demands to retain the church buildings and other assets when they depart the Episcopal Church.

What I am saying is that this fight has never really been about the property, but about the legitimacy that "Leavers" believe the possession of Episcopal property would confer on their claim to be the legitimate American Anglican province. If they were offered Episcopal property on condition that they renounce their claim to provincial status within the Anglican Communion, they would turn down the property. So it does no good to offer it to them.


Posted by: Charlotte on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 at 3:43am BST

Charlotte, I think you're absolutely right that, though the legal fights are necessarily about property, the importance of the property lies in its providing a tactile and visual tie to the tradition.

There's a guy lives in Ohio calls himself Pope Pius XIII. Now, there are lots of reasons why I'm comfortable that Benedict XVI, and not Pius XIII, is the Sucessor of Peter. But a simple, if superficial, criterion is, "Who's presiding at St. Peter's?" The buildings I can see more directly than than the apostolic succession. They matter, even if they're not exactly decisive.

But surely there's no problem with both sides claiming to be the true Anglicans in North America. There are already skads of churches claiming that. Seems to me that on that issue of identity, the ball is in the court of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and I certainly don't see him renouncing the existing province, even if the dissenters pick up a few sanctuaries. At most he might offer some other sort of second-class recognition, but it's hard to see how he can declare himself in communion with two groups out of communion with each other.

Please understand, my point isn't compromise and surrender. Neither side can compromise the theological issue, and I don't see that they should. The "Danegeld" example is true as far as it goes. But my point is that most disputes, spats, wars, lawsuits, and other disagreements end when both sides see they can't get all they want, determine what is more important and less important, and make peace. My undoubedly ill-advised interloping was prompted by the bitterness of some of the initial posts, prompting me to ask, if members have such feelings about some of their higher clergy, isn't the time near to go their separate ways and co-exist, at least if no one is going to find a way to reconcile the dividing issues?

Posted by: rick allen on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 at 7:47pm BST

Maybe the on-going debate on the merits of evolution versus the lack of it of intellegent design on another thread could illuminate you.

All positions are possible. However, some positions are absurd.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 17 September 2008 at 7:25am BST

Rick Allen, thanks for answering my comment, but I don't know that you quite understood the force of it. The importance of the property to "Leavers" isn't anything as nebulous or sentimental as a "tactile and visible tie to the tradition." With a few exceptions, the churches in dispute are not particularly old or historic, even given the very loose usage of "historic" in the US. (In my part of Florida, any structure over 50 years old is considered "historic.")

No, it's simply that, from the AAC/ Network/ Common Cause/ "Leavers" point of view, possession of the church property confers legitimacy on their claim to be officially recognized as the authentic expression of Anglicanism in America. They intend (and have always intended) to take the place of the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion. Keeping the church property is supposed to help them in their quest to oust the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion and take its place.

So, as I said above, if "Leavers" were to be offered free and clear title to church property on condition they renounce their claim to be officially recognized as the authentic Anglican province in the United States, they would refuse the property. That is why the Episcopal Church resists their claim to property.

Posted by: Charlotte on Wednesday, 17 September 2008 at 9:37pm BST

Charlotte

I think that your fears about "Leavers" wanting to keep their property to demonstrate legitimacy shows how liberals like you in TEC are themselves thinking: Kick orthodox priests, churches and diocese out and the people will see who is legitimate... or at least see where the power lies!

Not only are TEC's hierarchy heretical and encouraging sin, they are causing division and now can't even adhere to the plain meaning of their own canons (which, they protest at other times, prevent them from complying with Anglican Communion's requests!)... Sounds like bad old 60s Do What You Want "theology" again.

ps 1 Clement remonstrated with the Corinthian church for deposing a bishop who had done nothing wrong... TEC's hierarchy, on the other hand, needs a clean out!

Posted by: davidwh on Thursday, 18 September 2008 at 10:43pm BST

davidwh: is "orthodox", "heretical" and "encouraging sin" really an appropriate register of language for you to be throwing around all the time? Theologians take care to use such terms in debate only with a great deal of nuance: you seem to be using them as battering rams to be hurled at those who do not share your premises.

Perhaps things are just not so simple, and simplistic use of the very loaded language of past ecclesiastical warfare not adequate in the current climate.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 19 September 2008 at 8:52am BST

Fr Mark, truth vs heresy and righteousness vs sin are the whole of the issue, which is why TEC's liberal hierarchy that should be deposed. Without truth and righteousness unity is destroyed.

As we have just seen from their actions these last few years, bland arguments about 'complexity' were just a simplistic diversionary tactic to avoid having to face the issues head on and admit their lack of orthodoxy.

Posted by: davidwh on Friday, 19 September 2008 at 11:00am BST

Davidwh:

Again, "heresy" as a charge for disagreement about a few minor scriptural passages? And not over lay presidency? Or the Real Presence? Or veneration of the saints?

We are raising sexuality to a place over Christology? Really?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 19 September 2008 at 11:29am BST

"admit their lack of orthodoxy."

You know, this might have more weight if conservative Evangelicals could admit THEIR lack of orthodoxy. As it is, it just sounds silly. As we say here, it's "so two faced as a double-bit axe." (and faced has two syllables)

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 19 September 2008 at 12:46pm BST

davidwh: "truth vs heresy and righteousness vs sin are the whole of the issue..."

No, I don't agree at all. It is very attractive on a psychological level to a certain sort of man (and they do all seem to be men, n'est-ce pas?) to claim "I represent unadulterated Truth: that person represents complete Falsehood." It makes some men feel good to shout like that. And it has also led to a huge amount of violence done in the name of Theological Truth right across Europe over many centuries. People from both sides in the recent Northern Ireland conflict spoke exectly in that way, for example.

It really doesn't wash any more, I think. You have to find a better way than that of justifying your viewpoint: screaming anathemas has had its day as a tactic, and needs to be laid to rest, along with other past methods used by theological conservatives, such as trying to scare children with visions of Hellfire; torturing those one disagrees with; burning the "unorthodox" to death; refusing people Chrstian burial; and all the rest of the armoury of ecclesiastical weapons formerly used to browbeat and oppress.

We need a better way for the future, and we need to make a break with the mentality that seeks to oppress, punish and damage God's loved people in the name of rigid doctrinal purity.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 19 September 2008 at 1:05pm BST

"truth vs heresy and righteousness vs sin are the whole of the issue"

Indeed they are, davidwh. The issue is that you don't seem to see lack of truth, promotion of heresy, and unrighteousness in the actions of the Right, which is pretty startling, seeing as how obvious they are. Sorry, Fr. Mark, but I just couldn't resist. I know we're supposed to "render to no man evil for evil", but even now I can't resist.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 19 September 2008 at 1:19pm BST

Fr. Mark, two points:

"(and they do all seem to be men, n'est-ce pas?)"

Lots of women on conservative blogs. It's just that they don't have any kind of authority, so their voices don't get heard much in public. We need to address the fact that many do not feel oppressed by, say, rejection of OOW. It's ironic that their sense of not being oppressed by their lack of power doesn't get heard because they don't have any power!

"we need to make a break with the mentality that seeks to oppress, punish and damage God's loved people in the name of rigid doctrinal purity."

But for most conservatives, especially Consevos, they are then voiceless and powerless. Look at how some here can't understand how to preach the Gospel if they are not permitted to condemn and judge and threaten. It's really quite astounding to me, for instance, that in the woman taken in adultery, the only thing they can see is "Go and sin no more." It's as if "Neither do I condemn you" doesn't even exist! The idea that acceptance must precede metanoia, which is pretty clear in the teachings of Jesus, isn't merely something they reject, they don't even recognize it as an option. So, take away their right to threaten, judge, and condemn and you have silenced them, and are preventing them from preaching the Gospel, since they know no other way to do it. I guess this is why they feel so oppressed, we are opposing the only means they know of expressing their faith.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 19 September 2008 at 2:44pm BST
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