Comments: A martyr in Connecticut?

Bishops in jackboots with lesser thugs in tow. Well, everyone knew it would come to this sooner or later. Now, we only have to wait for the other shoe to drop (so to speak) in other orthodox parishes around the country. It probably won't require a lot--the others will be cowed, the members will drift away or leave in organized groups to start their own churches--and ECUSA will take another giant leap in the direction of liberal ideological purity. So much for inclusiveness . . .

Posted by Steven at Friday, 22 July 2005 at 5:48pm BST

The blog from Fr. Jake is particularly insightful - he talks a lot of sense.

Looks like at least ECUSA have a bit of courage and direction, making it clear that recalcitrants who no longer wish to be part of the denomination are no longer indulged.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 22 July 2005 at 6:48pm BST

I agree, Fr. Jake's piece makes the most sense. Remember, in January 2004 the American Anglican Council--in their "Secret Covert Memo" which the Washington Post exposed--said that their attack plan was acts of "civil" and "canonical" disobedience. The mess in CT fits the script. To paraphrase Shakespeare, the neo-Puritans "protesteth too much." These so-called "martyrs" will have a very short shelf-life. Bishop Smith has done the right thing, though the way it's been rolled out leaves a bit to be desired.

I agree with Fr. Jake that Bishop Smith blew it on four counts: 1) He should have never backed off back in March when he said he'd discipline these priests; 2) He should have inhibited all six priests in rebellion against his authority as bishop; 3) He should never have backed off his rightful visits to his congregations; and 4) Changing the locks was over the top.

All this screaming by the neo-Puritans is laughable--they want charity, yet they choose tactics they know are going to result in a showdown. They want "Anglicanism," yet they pursue subversion and covert means which are anything but Anglican. They are willing to burn the village to save it! Where does this end?

Posted by Peter at Friday, 22 July 2005 at 7:18pm BST

Prepare for a firestorm of comments on this one!

I agree with Highet on the authority issue, and see a priest's vow of obedience to his/her bishop as like a monastic vow. You don't get to break it unless you're leaving orders.

But I also agree with Father Jake that even if inhibition was the proper action, the Bishop went about it all wrong. He shouldn't have brought a locksmith. He shouldn't have installed a priest who was so clearly not the type of priest the congregation would follow or respect.

The bishop of a diocese has more power than his or her priests. It's up to him to be the bigger person. That doesn't mean knuckling under or refusing to take charge, but it does mean avoiding causing additional pain, reaching out to listen, to offer reconciliation.

It strikes me that very few people who have taken part in these horribly sad events (and very few who have commented on them) have taken the time to see beyond the stances to the unique, complex human being each person in this story is. Everyone concerned probably is afraid of what might happen, feels threatened, and is asserting himself or herself because of that. Everyone is likely relishing the taste of power they get when they send scathing letters to their bishop or when they change locks on a recalcitrant rector.

Everyone has muddied motives-- all the high-minded rhetoric about truth, authority, respect, freedom of belief and practice is, I am positive, all mixed up inside the person speaking with his or her own pride, judgment, fear, and honest mistakenness about what the right thing to do is.

The right thing to do is to see the other as a whole person, and to respond in love to what we see. Not what we believe, what we want to see, what we fear to see, but what is really there, right in front of our eyes.

Posted by Anna at Friday, 22 July 2005 at 7:20pm BST

The Diocese of Connecticut Website has also made available links to various documents that help shed some light on what really happened behind the scenes. Those documents would support Fr. Jake's conclusions. Does the Episcopal Church have a constitutional and canonical structure? If yes, individual priests in charge of parishes do not select the bishops under whose jurisdictions they wish to place themselves and their parishes. If they insist on rejecting the constitutional and canonical structure of the Episcopal Church, they are rightfully subject to the disciplinary canons, which eventually remove them from office.

Posted by John Henry at Friday, 22 July 2005 at 8:36pm BST

Anna's made a wise comment. I do wonder what might happen in the Church if we were to fast for a time from the auto-intoxication of posturing and shouting and press-release-issuing, and "study to be quiet." I believe ++Rowan has even suggested we do this.

Posted by Charlotte at Friday, 22 July 2005 at 11:23pm BST

Bishops in "jackboots"? Really? Perhaps it was gaiters.

Perhaps what Tallyrand said about Napoleon's assasination of the Duke of Enghien, "It was worse than wrong; it was a mistake," applies to the Bishop of CT as well -- I honestly don't know.

I do know that I can function as a priest of the Episcopal Church only as the representative of a bishop of the Episcopal Church (this talk of an over-arching Anglican Church taking precdence of the actual legal entities that are the true manifestations of the Anglican tradition is innovative & false).

My home town parish was "high" & the bishop "low" & they wanted confirmations done in a way that he didn't like, so he let another bishop do confirmations, but he always attended the service & he always did the parish vistations -- people might have made fun of his views, but they regarded him as their bishop. That has changed & that is not Bishop Smith's fault.

I know I have gone on too long, but I just wanted to add that when canon law is invoked, it is a sign that the situation has already broken down.

AND -- anyone who has been in a position of responsibility should have learned that trying to be "pastoral" to someone who is intent in making trouble is a waste of time -- good will is essential & that clearly is not present here.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Friday, 22 July 2005 at 11:56pm BST

What I find myself wondering is if a priest not involved in a controversial action had done the same thing last March--announcing to his congregation that he is going on a sabatical due to family responsibilities and yet not informing his bishop? What would the bishop do then? I think the whole lock and key situation arose naturally from the bishops perception, not unfounded, that the congregation wouldn't be receptive to any other action that he could take to rectify the situation that clearly needed to be dealt with after nearly four months. In fact, from what I read, he waited long enough to ensure that the vacancy was remaining, that information would not be forthcoming and was perhaps even more patient than he would have been under normal circumstances.

A.

Posted by Annie at Saturday, 23 July 2005 at 12:30am BST

Father Jake likes to have his cake and eat it. He cites the Chicago-Lambeth quadilateral as a basis for demanding episcopal loyalty with no regard for any of the other parts of that quadilateral.

This is, however, the ECUSA basis of authority. Canons over everything else. Anglicanism has long been a generous denomination, allowing great flexibility as long as there was faithful Christian witness. This flexibility has been vastly abused by the ECUSA leadership who now insist upon the right to deny orthodox Christianity in the name of "generosity".

And, in a few places, orthodox parishes will not conform and so the EUCSA leadership demans that "flexibility" be the master of orthodoxy, not the other way around.

Posted by David Ould at Saturday, 23 July 2005 at 2:34am BST

I wonder how, in terms of the history of Christianity, any form of Anglicanism can be called orthodox. And further, what constitutes orthodoxy *within* Anglicanism?
Does Orthodoxy mean one can adore at the elevation (BCP 1549 & 1559) or that one cannot? (1552) Anglicans have never fully agreed with each other on what was important and what was right.
And if, as I suspect, what is being refered to as "orthodox" is a "traditional understanding of sexuality", than perhaps the Anglican church should, as Rome, start investigating during confessions to be sure that no one is using birth control or engaging in any sort of "deviency" with their spouses which would upset the intended exclusively procreative purpose of sexuality.

Posted by Michael at Saturday, 23 July 2005 at 3:23pm BST

Thanks to Anne, Peter and others here who have mentioned that "changing the locks" at St Johns, Bristol, was rather OTT. In discussions about these emotive issues it seems to so rare (to me, being more conservative)that liberal commentators ever criticise their own side. Maybe there is more hope of dialogue than some extreme liberals say there is.

The main repeated assertion in support of such actions by "liberal" Bishops is that it is they who are over all the churches of the diocese, and that all priests are in a vow of obedience to them. In addition, in the case of St Johns Bristol, Fr Hansen had also effectively abandoned his post - for at least a sabattical, maybe permanently.

On point one: I very much doubt that the commentators who support "liberal" bishops' right to expel orthodox priests who dissent from new liberal doctrines, would respond in the same way if it were a illiberal Bishop expelling an orthodox priest on the grounds of some new illiberal doctine! (say the right to own a slave). Nor would they support a radical Bishop, I suspect, who expelled an orthodox priest for refusing to submit to a bishop who had a new doctrine in favour of group sex.

Just because GC2003 approved certain changes in doctrine and practice (in the face of the orthodox teaching of the rest of the communion!) doesn't in my view justify extreme measures against priests who take the orthodox position. Again, what if GC2006 took the unlikely step of reversing it's decisions ?! Presumably the supporters of ECUSAn canon law would then support the expulsion of Bishop Smith ?

Regarding Bp Smith's pastoral concern, due to the lack of a priest at the church, that prompted him to turn up change the locks, post security guards and imposed his own priest-in-charge. This was done over the protests of the vestry and senior warden! Hardly pastoral! What's more, he has done exactly what the CT six predicted - when they insisted on modified DEO where the external Bishop has the right to choose successor priests - Smith imposed a leading woman member of Affirming Catholics, liberal through and through, on a conservative parish! And both he and she seemed surprised and upset, at the recent church meeting, when the parishioners were speaking out about them too!

What has happened to our "fuzzy liberals" - so many seem to have turned into extremists, acting with contempt for people who disagree with them.

Posted by Dave at Saturday, 23 July 2005 at 5:04pm BST

Besides the whole debacle with the "go on sabbatical, but don't tell my Bishop" situation (and the parish leadership's collusion with same), there's the small matter of the $77,000 still owed on a $100,000 loan from the diocese - and no payment made since 2003. One hopes that the parish doesn't see a theological disagreement as an excuse to stop paying on a loan given to them in good faith, but it certainly doesn't look good...

I have some sympathy with Fr. Jake's view that it could have been handled better by Bp. Smith, but with "foreign bishops prowling the perimeter of the Episcopal Church, seeking troubled congregations they can gobble up," I suspect he didn't feel as if he had much room to maneuver.

Sad ? yes, and plenty of it to go around. But in the big picture, the CT6 have really brought this on themselves.

Posted by David Huff at Saturday, 23 July 2005 at 5:17pm BST

Regarding the Highet opinion piece...

Highet: "It would be unsporting of me to weigh in on the internal struggles of a religious denomination that I don't belong to, but, you know, what the hell."
After reading the article, I can add that it's foolish as well as unsporting. He has little grasp of the facts of the matter, nor apparently a point of scriptural or ecclesiological reference. But what the hell...

Highet: "This is not, in my view, a gay issue. This is an authority issue, and I think the Connecticut six are simply in error... Moreover, the churches that they preach in do not belong to them nor do they belong to the parishioners."

This is what the CT6 have been saying all along. It's not a political issue, but one of authority. However, Highet's analysis allows for no higher authority than the person currently wearing the mitre. In fact, the church is no more Smith's than it is mine; it belongs to - in the deepest, fullest sense - to the risen Christ. He is the head of the church, and the final authority to whom every knee shall bow. Authority is embodied in the scriptures and in the Church; but the Church being the one holy catholic and apostolic church, not merely a political/organizational structure superimposed over it. The rest of the Church has spoken on the issue, and announced it's collective discernment that the Scriptures mean what they say, and the official teaching of the Anglican Communion remains unchanged.

Highet's perspective would seem to allow the bishop to say and do whatever he wishes without constraint, and compel those under his supreme authority to do likewise. That does not square with scripture, tradition, or reason.

Highet: "[Schism] usually leads to a loss of faith, of hope, of sustaining relationships, of tolerance and humor and community and all the things that make life bearable."

He's got it precisely backwards, of course. When loss of a common faith and hope has occurred, when friendships are unilaterally broken, when people are oppressed in the name of "tolerance", and community fractured by the actions of its leaders, schism is the inevitable result. Andrew Smith has achieved this in Connecticut, quite apart from anything that has happened in New Hampshire.

Posted by Connecticutian at Saturday, 23 July 2005 at 5:36pm BST

As Anglicans, we belong to Christ *through* the Church . . . and, in turn, we belong to the Church *through* our bishops.

The Church "is no more Smith's than it is" yours, Connecticutian: true enough. But the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut---and EVERY parish within it---IS. (+Andrew Smith, too, shall pass: elect yourselves someone better next time!)

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Sunday, 24 July 2005 at 12:51am BST

This was posted on HoBD without atribution:
--------------------------------------

"7/22/2005
Connecticut Attorney Ralph Dupont responds to Diocese of Connecticut
Attorney Alan Baker

July 21, 2005

Alan Robert Baker, Esq.
Baker O'Sullivan & Bliss PC
Putnam Park, Suite 100
100 Great Meadow Road
Wethersfield, CT 06109-2371

Dear Mr. Baker:

Your letter to Attorney Reeve, under date of July 19, 2005, has received careful consideration and review. We expressly deny the many factual generalizations therein. We are responding to your implied suggestions for an immediate resolution of the St. John's dispute.

We are prepared to respond as permitted by Canon IV.10.2. We assume upon receipt of Father Hansen's declaration denying abandonment of the communion, that the inhibition will be withdrawn, promptly, with an appropriate public announcement.

Father Hansen and the Bishop need not meet for that purpose, of course, but if a meeting is desired by the Bishop, then Father Hansen must be provided with a Consultant, at the expense of the Diocese, as required by canon law in such cases. Hopefully, that meeting will lead to a resolution of the sabbatical leave issue, as well, with Attorney Reeve's assistance.

The Senior Warden is providing for St. John's altar and the day-to-day needs of the parishioners, as he did before the unlawful seizure of the church. Note that the Wardens and Vestry will discharge the duties of their offices as they have in the past.

You can only assist the parishioners of St. John's at this point by causing all Diocesan personnel, including the guards installed at the
church, and the priest in charge, to withdraw at once. In the course of doing so, those involved must restore the status quo as completely as possible to the satisfaction of the Wardens and Vestry.

Meanwhile, your clients, and those who have aided and abetted them, in this unlawful seizure, remain fully responsible for the church building and grounds and for the care of the records they have unlawfully seized, as well all consequences of violations of privacy laws.

Entry to the premises was gained by misrepresentation and the actions that followed and may follow hereafter are the unauthorized acts of those individuals and those acting in concert with them. St. John's and its Wardens and Vestry deny all responsibility for the conduct of such persons.

Unless an understanding is reached with the Wardens and Vestry for the withdrawal of such persons as you represent from the premises, within the next two days, appropriate civil actions will be commenced and the necessary canonical responses implemented, without further notice.

Once the parish has been restored to normal operations, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Panel of Reference can best accomplish the lowering of 'the volume of rhetoric' you seek. It is again urged that all in this Diocese join in seeking immediate assistance from the Panel of Reference, as six parishes and their priests, wardens, vestries and congregations have already done, in spite of the Bishop's refusal to join them.

Very truly yours,

Dictated but not read by RPD"

Posted by Tim Stewart at Sunday, 24 July 2005 at 3:59am BST

"As Anglicans, we belong to Christ *through* the Church . . . and, in turn, we belong to the Church *through* our bishops."

We have no need of any earthly mediator as Christians: we certainly do not belong to Christ *through* our bishops.

See 1 Tim.2.5: "there is one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus....."

Posted by Catholicus at Sunday, 24 July 2005 at 12:47pm BST

And you call yourself "Catholicus"? {puzzlement}

There are so many sects to choose from: I'm sure you can find one (or *found* one) by which you can (putatively) have Christ as your earthly mediator . . . and thereby have no other *human accountability* whatsoever.

Me? I'm sticking to the Apostles . . . and staying Episcopalian! :-)

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Sunday, 24 July 2005 at 10:40pm BST

Catholicus misinterprets church tradition. Read, e.g., St. Ignatius (c.AD 112), Epistle to the Smyraeans, c.viii: "Avoid divisions as the beginning of evils. All of you follow the bishop as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and follow the presbytery as the Apostles; and respect the deacons as the commandment of God. Let no man perform anything pertaining to the church without the bishop. Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as, wherever Christ Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church" (Documents of the Christian Church, ed. Bettenson [1963], pp.89-90).

Posted by John Henry at Monday, 25 July 2005 at 5:17am BST

Priests don't get to dictate the terms under which they will serve with a bishop in a diocese. Hansen is guilty of "conduct unbecoming" at a minimum. Worse, it looks like he created something of a cult at his former parish and certainly fostered a toxic atmosphere in terms of relations between the Bishop's Office and ECUSA. In fact, these so called CT Six all need Polity 101.

Bp. Smith has done the right thing, and probably should have done it sooner. The AAC-orchestrated response, including the slick CT Six website, smacks of a game plan these folks had warmed up and ready to go at a moment's notice.

If the atmosphere at these six parishes is truly as toxic as it appears, remanding them to mission status and starting over again might be the best option for the long term health of these congregations. Or, the approach used by the Bp. of NW Texas in telling the unhappy individuals to vacate the parish of St. Nicholas.

Posted by Peter at Monday, 25 July 2005 at 12:29pm BST

Dear Peter:

Toxic? In what sense toxic and how? Were people being brought to Christ and nurtured in the faith? What is toxic in that?

Is taking a principled stand toxic? Does it become toxic because you don't agree with the principles annunciated? Does it become toxic because the local Bishop doesn't agree? Then what of the liberals in a conservative Bishop's diocese? Are their stands, attitudes and actions toxic? Is disagreeing with one's bishop a spiritual poison? Is it the presence of an anti-authoritarian or rebellious steak that is toxic? Is it taking actions reflecting stands and/or rebellion against a Biship's aurhority on theological issues that is toxic? What of those in conservative jurisdictions that are or will soon be seeking to take similar stands and actions? What about the last 50 years or more of liberal activism?

I am merely sounding a cautionary note. And, it is not aimed in particular at your letter--your letter is merely the latest in a long line. I see the perrogatives of Bishops being exalted in a way that may (in other circumstances) be something you and others will want to downplay. I see people harshly criticizing stands and actions taken contrary to a Bishop's will that may soon want to take stands favoring others doing the same. Folks should be careful what they say here--each may well be confronted with his/her own words and judgments in the days ahead.

If you are taking a principled stand in favor of the unmitigated rights and perrogatives of Bishops, well and good. However, if you depart from the stands you have taken on this and other matters when the wind blows in the other direction you will rightfully be chargeable with hypocricy.

Cordially,
Steven

Posted by steven at Monday, 25 July 2005 at 2:39pm BST

This is a copy of a post I made on Southern Anglican. I am posting it here also as it seems germane to this discussion.

I have been following the comments of our revisionista bretheren on various sites since this story broke. The sense I have gotten is that if ++smith had shown up with a squad of AK47 toting Khmer Rouge and summarily executed Hansen+ and his entire vestry, that would have been OK because HE IS THE BISHOP. Even if Hansen+ and the St.John's vestry had done something wrong (which I don't admit), TWO WRONGS DON'T MAKE A RIGHT.

the snarkster

Posted by Michael Ware at Monday, 25 July 2005 at 6:10pm BST

Is that supposed to be funny, Michael? If so, I'd say you fell well short of the mark, and clearly crossed the line of civil discourse.

Regarding Steven's note of caution, it is a point worth remembering. Unfortunately, those of us who have a high regard for the office of the bishop have already been forced to adjust to the tensions that now exist in ECUSA. No longer can you consider a call based only on the congregation. One must carefully consider who the current diocesan bishop is as well. There are certain dioceses in which I could never consider serving, because of the bishop.

What I'll never understand is why some priests put themselves under the authority of a bishop with whom they anticipate they will have a confrontation at some point. I can respect differences of opinions on various matters, but cannot understand how a priest can remain in a diocese in which they consider their bishop a heretic.

Sometimes I think it would be better if we followed the example of other traditions, and made clergy move on after a set number of years. The tendency for priests to not be willing to leave their cure, when that is clearly the proper thing to do, is part of the current problem, it seems to me. Personality cults and cardinal rectors are slowly drawing us towards a congregationalist's ecclesiology, in which every rector can fulfill their personal fantasies by pretending to be a bishop.

Posted by Jake at Monday, 25 July 2005 at 8:07pm BST

Jake: It was not intended to be funny as I most definitely do not consider this to be a "laughing" matter. Nor do I see anything in it that is the slightest bit "uncivil". It was simply an observation based on a large number of posts I have read on various sites since this story began.

Almost every post I have read from the revisionista side has pretty much said that Hansen+ and his vestry and parishoners pretty much deserved what they got and more. The posts that had any criticism of ++smith were few and far between and most stated that even if he was wrong, it was excused by the circumstances. Even if you believe that Hansen+ was wrong (I don't), do you truly believe that "two wrongs make a right"?
Does blind allegiance to the canons mean more to you than doing what is right and Christian? Theoretically, at least, a truly Christian bishop would have been above such heavyhanded and vindictive actions. It seems that the revisionists believe that (apologies to Barry Goldwater) "Extremism in pursuit of revisionism is no vice".

the snarkster

Posted by Michael Ware at Monday, 25 July 2005 at 10:47pm BST

Steven,

Thanks for your post and your response.

Here's my bottom line: Either work within the system, work within the system to change it, or find yourself another gig. Imploding the church and using covert methods to attain a goal are neither Anglican nor Christian. Subversion in the name of some type of orthdoxy is the way of darkness, not light.

Hansen knew what he was doing in Bristol. Worse, he started believing his own press. Somewhere along the way he crossed the line into idolatry. It seems unlikely, given the toxic atmosphere he's fostered at Bristol, that the parish can be restored to any sort of healthy status with the current leadership. The more I think about it, the more I think the NW Texas solution is more appropriate.

I am not aware of any "liberal" parish attempting to thwart through subversion and covert tactics the polity of ECUSA. You use the term "liberal" to mean a parish that has abided by the decisions of General Convention and is getting on with its communal life. I call that healthy. I'm not aware of any liberal parrish or bishop writing secret covert memos for imploding ECUSA and essentially fostering civil war.

ECUSA governs itself through General Convention. Bishops are the leaders of dioceses. Priests take vows to follow the leadership of their bishop. That's our system. Hansen and the other priests involved in this conspiracy have put themselves above it. The congregations in any diocese are the charge and responsibility of the bishop in our system. So, now Bp. Smith has the thankless but needed task of "cleaning out the barn" and trying to restore health to these places. He has my prayers.

Probably every parish in ECUSA should have a Polity 101 class, and the clergy should be required to attend as well!

Posted by Peter at Monday, 25 July 2005 at 11:25pm BST

There are two aspects of this thing called the "Church" that I see: the temporal aspect which is organized into provinces, diocese, and congregations, each with humans as the temporal authorities (primates, bishops, priests, vestries); the other is the spiritual aspect of which Christ Jesus is the Head and Authority, as revealed in Scripture. Each has its own rules.

The temporal church's rules are codified in its Constitution and Canons. If you want to play this 'game' called "the ECUSA", then you play by these rules. These rules have an aspect unique to most games, in that there are rules for changing the rules. If you don't like the way the game is playing, you have two choices: change the rules by following the rules, or leave the game (i.e. change churches, diocese, or denomination). All players, lay and clergy, must play by these same rules. All players, lay and clergy, being human, have a tendancy to try to twist and adjust the rules for their own ends. The rules also have rules regarding what happens when players break, or are suspected of trying to break, the rules.

The spiritual church has one basic rule, at least as far as I can tell: God loves us, *all*, unconditionally, and waits patiently for our return to Him.

I think we need a reminder of the spiritual church's rule. Also, it would be a good reminder to look at what is rule #1 in a lot of the Constitutions and Canons: the temporal church is supposed to be an example of the spiritual church on earth. I think we're all doing a really good job of breaking rule #1. Fortunately for us, God is faithful to His rule and continues to wait patiently for our return.

Posted by Mike C at Monday, 25 July 2005 at 11:37pm BST

Re: the above post from Peter

I rest my case.

the snarkster

Posted by Michael Ware at Tuesday, 26 July 2005 at 12:00am BST

1 Tim.2.5: "there is one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus....."

There is nothing unCatholic about 1 Tim.2.5 - unless perhaps you are a member of ECUSA, JCFisher, John Henry?

The problem seems to be your uncritical - even sycophantic - adulation of your bishops. In the Catholic tradition bishops are subject to the law of the Church, but in ECUSA you seem to treat them as being above the law.

In the present case it is sheer Alice-in-Wonderland: "a canon means exactly what I want it to mean, no more and no less."

"On my authority as a bishop in ECUSA."

"And I am not going to obey any law myself."

First it was "provincial autonomy" and now it is seemingly "diocesan autonomy" - not subject to any rule of scripture or the judgement of the wider church.

By all means let's talk about obeying the rules, provided that applies to Bp Smith as well as to the parishes of the diocese. And that includes his own ordination vows.

Posted by catholicus at Tuesday, 26 July 2005 at 12:38am BST

Catholicus:

The CT 6 rectors pushed the envelope too far when they refused to accept visitations from their Ordinary, and denied the bishop's canonical right to be involved in the placement of clergy as far as the six parishes were concerned. Alternative episcopal oversight is an option in ECUSA, but it does not envisage rectors and their parishes seeking placement in other, alternative jurisdictions. Also, the CT 6 refused to honor their canonical obligation to pay their diocesan assessments set by diocesan convention. The Bishop of CT needs to be commended for his restraint by not taking canonical action against the offending clerics earlier. There is no jurisdiction in any episcopally-governed entity of the Church where rectors are allowed to leave a parish (or go on a prolonged and/or indefinite sabbatical) without consultation with their diocesan bishop. In all Anglican ordinals, clergy vow obedience to their bishop at the time of their ordination. The conduct of the CT 6 rectors constitutes a violation of their ordination vows and renders them subject to displine, regardless of the underlying theological issues (viz. their bishop's participation in VG Robinson's consecration). Under the constitution and canons, "cardinal" rectors have no authority to unilaterally declare their bishop a heretic or apostate. If they cannot, in good conscience, accept their bishop, they should resign their positions and seek alternative employment in other jurisdictions. That would be conscionable and ethical conduct on the part of the CT 6 rectors. Moreover, they crossed boundaries when they pitted their congregants against their lawful bishop.

Posted by John Henry at Tuesday, 26 July 2005 at 8:26am BST

One would think (from most of the posts) that the rectors of the CT6 have turned their congregations against the Bishop, apparently transforming innocent fawning sheep into ravening anti-Smith wolves. So, remove the evil shepherd and the sheep will come safely back into the fold. Is this credible? I think most of you are hiding from your own motivations as well as from Smith's motivations.

These folks are who they are and believe what they believe. Most people are in a liberal or conservative church because they already agree (and/or are inclined to agree) with what it teaches/preaches in these areas. So, let's not pretend that the only real or intended victim here is the "evil" priest. This congregation--despite the "we luv ya" rhetoric--has been told to get lost. And, I have no doubt that most of the posters here would like them to do just that if they aren't willing to toe the VGR line. It is also patently obvious that this was Smith's intention in taking the actions taken (particularly in appointing the substitute foisted upon them). This congregation was no longer to be considered part of his flock to be nurtured and (perhaps in time) won back, but merely a problem to be removed. He has done this with callous efficiency.

It is the entire congregation that has been punished, not just the priest, not just the vestry. Once again, consider what you are saying and what it means to a liberal congregation in a conservative diocese. Once this type of ideological cleansing (yes, the play on the term ethnic cleansing is intentional) becomes the norm it cuts both ways--destroying charity, liberty of conscience, and diversity of viewpoint. The measure you mete will be measured unto you (and yours) as well . . .

Think.

Cordially,
Steven

P.S.-John Henry, you never answered my last post under the life and death thread.

Posted by steven at Tuesday, 26 July 2005 at 2:55pm BST

Most of the pro-Bishop Smith comments are making a serious mistake!! All Episcopal clergy take similar vows that we believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God and to contain all things necesary to Salvation. I took those vows 39 years ago and have tried to keep them ever since - This is Smith's mistake -= He is NOT keeping this vow - and since he is not how can he ask his clergy for thier loyalty???

Posted by The Very Rev'd Michael Waverly+Shank at Thursday, 28 July 2005 at 3:01pm BST

Affirming that the scriptures contain all things necessary for salvation does not exclude the possibility that they also include really bad science, some awful ethical guidelines, and a bit of twisted theology as well, does it?

Posted by Jake at Thursday, 28 July 2005 at 8:05pm BST

Dear Jake:

Perhaps not, but affirming that the scriptures are the word of God means that the burden of proof lies on those alleging fallibility in any area.

Indeed, I would say that the burden of proof on this issue must, from the nature of the case (i.e., given God's hand in the composition of the scriptures), be extremely high. In addition, the scriptures would otherwise become virtually useless with every Tom, Dick and/or Harry deciding that the scriptures just happen to "err" in the areas where they would prefer to ignore the import of God's word.

Gee whiz! That sounds a lot like the fix we're in now. Maybe that's why all of the mainline protestant denominations are degenerating into chaos! Ya think so?

Cordially,
Steven

Posted by steven at Thursday, 28 July 2005 at 10:42pm BST

First, thank you Jake for giving another view of the Fr. Hansen-Bishop Smith issue. It is interesting that people are so focused on the "historic episcopate" and authority when in a post modern world both of those things mean absolutley nothing to the non churched. Is it possible that affinity will have more to do with cooperation and mutual ministry between bishops and clergy in the future, and that diocesan geographic boudries in an internet age are now totally artificial?

Posted by Rand at Friday, 29 July 2005 at 4:32pm BST

back to Jake - isn't it a bit wierd to have a priest trash Scripture the way you did in yoor reply to my statement about our vows? It sure is! And as far as I am concerned it is apostate!

Posted by Father Michael at Saturday, 30 July 2005 at 2:00am BST

Jake writes:
"Affirming that the scriptures contain all things necessary for salvation does not exclude the possibility that they also include really bad science, some awful ethical guidelines, and a bit of twisted theology as well, does it?"
This is the "wheat and chaff argument" - not the classical Anglican view (Article XIX) that the Bible is God's Word Written but the Enlightenment view that the Bible *contains the word of God. OK, but how do you tell which is which? Surely you need some extra-biblical source to distinguish truth from error; or do you know this already? In which case, what do you need the Bible for? and how do you account for the changing judgments of what constitutes truth? e.g. 19th C. Episcopalians believe the Bible teaches the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, the historicity of the miracles, the need to believe in Christ as sin-bearer, and the reality of hell because they discern these doctrines in the Bible, whereas some or many 20th C. Episcopalians conclude that while the Bible may teach these things, they are not to be believed because they are (to quote) "bad science, some awful ethical guidelines, and a bit of twisted theology as well".
Maybe Jake will tell us how to distinguish truth from error here?

Posted by Martin Hambrook at Sunday, 31 July 2005 at 4:17pm BST

That was the abbreviated version, Michael.

Here's the expanded one;

http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/001181.html#more

Just a brief excerpt;

"The classic Anglican position, found in Hooker’s “Laws” is that scripture is the primary source of revelation for “all things necessary for salvation” not all things simply. The WR and the Neo-Puritans are attempting to make it necessary for all things simply. Books II and III of the Laws are quite clear on the boundaries set on Scripture’s “prima” authority having already rejected it as having “sola” authority.

So while Scripture is perfect for the purpose for which it was created, it is for Mr. Hooker and those that follow clearly a mixture of documents as well, many of which are bound by time and place."

If I am apostate, then so is Hooker and Michael Russel, I must assume?

Posted by Jake at Monday, 1 August 2005 at 7:02pm BST
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