Thinking Anglicans

Pittsburgh: deposition performed

Updated Sunday evening

The deposition of the Bishop of Pittsburgh was completed, ENS reports in Jefferts Schori removes Pittsburgh bishop from office by Mary Frances Schjonberg.

The letter sent to Bishop Duncan is here (PDF) and the formal deposition document is here (also a PDF).

Subsequently, the Standing Committee of the diocese issued a further statement, and ENS reported that Convention will go forward, Standing Committee says.

The Church Times reported on all this in US Bishops depose Bishop Bob Duncan for secession by Pat Ashworth.

Six Church of England Diocesan Bishops Make Joint Statement of Support contains the statement signed by the bishops of Blackburn, Chester, Chichester, Exeter, Rochester, and Win­chester.

Update Sunday evening

Across the Aisle has launched a new website at


  • JCF says:

    :::JCF fantasizes tossing “Six Church of England Diocesan Bishops” into the confluence of the Allegheny and the Menongahela . . . along w/ some tea:::

  • Andrew Gerns says:

    If the depositions are only “purported” as the Standing Committee says, then why are they are they considering themselves the ecclesitastical authority and planning to chair the upcoming convention? If the desposition is invalid, then why is Bishop Duncan hoping to “return” as their Bishop should the convention vote to realign?

    Either the deposition is valid and they are accepting it on their way to their new denominational status, or they consider invalid and can proceed as if it did not happen. Here, it appears they want to both live by it and deny it at the same time.

  • Jerry Hannon says:

    I am amazed by statements of people like the Bishop of Albany, in the Church Times story: “…current attacks directed against the theologically conservative orthodox Christians within the Episcopal Church….”

    Now, it would seem that we have the delusional, or perhaps the duplicitous (time will tell), protesting the predictable actions against Robert Duncan on the feigned basis of theology, rather than the actual violation of vows and canons.

    Robert Duncan could have been even more “conservative” or “orthodox” than he already is, and nothing would have happened to him.

    He could literally believe that God created the earth is seven human days, or that every proscription of Leviticus (shrimp cocktail and all), must be literally adhered to; he would still be the Bishop of Pittsburgh.

    But he chose schism, and “realignment;” Duncan can depart personally, as any of us could, but he cannot “realign” the Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church, but he took steps to do so.

    To deny that would be the equivalent of denying that the sun rose in the east, this morning, or that it is likely to set in the west.

    In the law such steps could be called “conspiracy to commit (insert noun)”; you try to prevent theft, or assault, or other crimes, and not merely wait until after they occur to go after the offender.

    Duncan has not been punished for his beliefs, or his theology, my dear Bishop Love, but for his schismatic activities.

  • choirboyfromhell says:

    JCF: It’s MONONGAHELA dog gone it! Bad as a Yank pronouncing “lay clerk” as “lay clerk” and not “clark”. Give our native Americans some credit for such lovely names!

  • Fr Mark says:

    This is a pretty scandalous intervention by the six English bishops. Imagine if they defrocked a colleague, only to find foreign bishops taking his side publicly! These chickens will come home to roost in England before long.

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    “Neither the Presiding Bishop nor the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has any further jurisdiction over his ministry,” Venables claimed.

    The statement, made on the web-site of the dissenters, is surely sufficient proof of the acceptance by them, and of the Province of the Southern Cone, of former Bishop Bob Duncan’s voluntary exit from TEC. Also, what further proof is needed of the intention of Abp. Gregory Venables’ intention to arrogate to himself oversight of Duncan and his associates in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. This would seem like a coup before the deposition.

    The actual process of Deposition has followed – and not preceded – this high-handed action on the part of Venables. All that was needed to prevent the Deposition was Duncan’s denial of apostacy.
    Duncan has only himself to blame, so that the protests of certain conservative Bishops in the Church of England and elsewhere in the Communion need to be seen in the light of the procession of events in this little drama.

    I pray for the continuing remnant of the Diocese of Pittsburgh which will remain fathful to its roots in the Episcopal Church of the USA. I also salute Bishop Katharine on the graciousness of her decision not to employ the same category of vitriol that has arisen from her detractors on this issue. May God continue to bless her and her leadership of TEC.

  • JPM says:

    >>>These chickens will come home to roost in England before long.

    I certainly hope so.

    Rowan Williams did nothing as angry fundamentalist primates raided TEC. English liberals sat quietly in the corner, looking at the floor, hoping that if they didn’t make a fuss the pirates would ignore them and concentrate their fire on the Americans.

    I say it’s high time for Akinola, Inc. to open a branch office in England.

  • Cheryl Va. says:

    Good on Schori and her team for keeping a level head. Well played and well done.

  • Commentator says:

    Have not other Provinces disciplined bishops in a less ordered fashion, without time given to present a case/plea on the part of the bishop, in the recent past? Yet these English Bishops have not felt the need to comment publically. What is it about TEC and not African Provinces that makes them comment?

  • Nom de Plume says:

    So the six English bishops believe Mr Duncan to be a bishop, and to be one in good standing in the Anglican Communion?

    They thus declare their belief that the disciplinary canons of another Province are null and void. I trust that, being consistent, they take the same attitude with the disciplinary framework in the C of E, which will be very good news indeed for any cleric in those six dioceses who is ever accused of an offense.

    Too bad they don’t take the oath required of bishops in the West Indies to respect the autonomy of the other Provinces of the Communion.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “What is it about TEC and not African Provinces that makes them comment?”

    Perhaps because, as the Psalm We Don’t Recite says, the righteous shall wade in the blood of the wicked? TEC therefor cannot behave properly, no matter what they do, since they are the faithless heathen persecuted the Elect of God. When the Elect discipline someone, they have no need to be open and up front, since they are doing the will of the only One they are responsible to. They are engaged in the Lord’s Work, and thus cannot do anything wrong.

  • Steven says:

    Shrug. All very predictable so far. As the old saying goes . . . “like watching a train wreck in slow motion.” Barring something rather miraculous, the crashing, clashing, splintering and litigatin’ will continue and accelerate for the foreseeable future.

    At this point, as it is obvious that there is no solution short of separation, I am just curious about the what the end products will be: (1) TEC global + conservative AC including restive liberal factions, OR (2) a liberal AC derivative + a conservative AC derivative, or (3) ????.

    I wish we could just cut to the chase and spare ourselves all the acrimony in between. But, I suppose that is a bit like skipping the current election season and just gettin’ the darn thing over with.


  • penwatch says:

    Quite right Commentator there has also been much mischief in Africa. See for example the blogs from Anglican-Information regarding the Province of Central Africa.

    Africans are no more exempt from the requirements of proper behaviour and procedure than any other Province.

    Katharine Schori is doing the right thing as Cheryl Va has reminded us. Interestingly support for Duncan et al has been quite muted.

    I predict that other potential schismatics will now be reluctant to move.

  • JCF says:

    A thousand pardons, choirboy (I actually DID check the spelling of “Monongahela”, and still got it wrong!). Yunz from thereabouts? 😉

  • Merseymike says:

    Stephen: I have been saying that a split is the only logical outcome for longer than I could remember and have been regularly shouted down for it.

    Yet nothing, but nothing, indicates that there is any other possibility

  • choirboyfromhell says:

    Yepper JCF, from the west foothills of the Apps on the banks of the Kokosing. Better watch what gets dumped in the rivers, pollution carries a $50,000 fine! (It all flows by Ambridge, downriver from Pitt)

    It is a shame, and there is a very large parish in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh that has put up a magnificent fight to a deluded bishop and his cronies from that seminary in that downriver town.

  • Joe says:

    Being deposed by an apostate bishop from an apostate church…most orthodox consider that a badge of honor!

  • It takes two to tango Steven (on Monday, 29 September 2008 at 5:16pm BST)… Haven’t you heard?

  • Father Ron Smith says:


    I think you’d better have a look at a real dictionary and find out what the word ‘orthodox’ really means. It certainly does not apply to apostate bishops who unilaterally detach themselves from their lawfully appointed mainline Church. It may be that former Bishop Duncan will find himself lost – either in the wilds of the southern Cone or somewhere in the African jungle with fellow puritan cultists. Then we shall see who is orthodox and who is not.

  • Fr Mark says:

    Joe: it’s a dangerous thing when people start defining themselves uniquely as “orthodox”, especially when to do it they break with the rest of the church community in the country where they live. Look what has happened in history when Puritans, Roman Catholics or extremists using Islamic doctrine did the same thing: the omens are not good when people get into that way of using language. Historically, theological language violence has generally led to worse things.

  • choirboyfromhell says:

    Joe: “Being deposed by an apostate bishop from an apostate church…most orthodox consider that a badge of honor!”

    Excuse a pig in the presence of a hog. We’re all sinners, and something the evangelicals or ‘true orthodox’ or whatever they’re calling themselves these days, just don’t seem to get…who does the judging? Oh, that’s right some pigs are more equal than others, sorry, I forgot.

  • JPM says:

    Good, Joe; here’s hoping that the other “orthodox” will very soon receive that same “badge of honor” so that the rest of us can get on with being a church, rather than trying to humor a bunch of sex-obsessed fanatics.

  • bob in swpa says:

    At last nights pre convention meeting, they had buttons with Bob Duncan on them and some little blurb (sorry, I couldn’t read it, yellow print is hard on my eyes). It seems that this jump to the Southern Cone is only temporary. The presenters said that national church assessment (which they haven’t paid in years) will not go to the Southern Cone. One person has asked if they have lay deputies in the SC??

    I sat in the pew directly in front of Bob Duncan last night. He wore a black shirt with collar but a large gold pectoral cross. He did not present any material.

  • Steven says:


    Well, I don’t think I’ve ever shouted you down on that point. As a matter of fact, I think that was one of our early points of agreement going back to . . . . hmm, maybe 2003 or so when I started posting.

    I entertained a brief moment of doubt after “Indaba” season, but no more.


  • Joe says:

    JPM, for once we almost agree. Here’s the only catch: It’s not the orthodox who are sex obsessed, it’s the so-called progressives who demand the blessing lascivious behavior.

  • Fr Mark says:

    Joe: “It’s not the orthodox who are sex obsessed, it’s the so-called progressives who demand the blessing lascivious behavior.”

    This is a silly thing to say: we currently have African & Southern Cone bishops flying into all sorts of places where they don’t belong and where the local hierarchy doesn’t want them. Isn’t that an obsession? Why do all these African primates need to interfere in Western churches – there is no comparable band of obsessed liberals parachuting into Uganda or Kenya to set up structures contrary to the local churches, is there?

    Having women in ministry; allowing them into positions of headship; allowing remarriage of divorcees; having had, in recent decades, Bishop David Jenkins at Durham, and in the 60s, John Robinson – none of these things raised such a communion-breaking hue and cry as being honest about what has always been the case, viz that gay couples exist at every level in our churches. You really think that is not an obsession on the part of a few deeply challenged old straight men? No-one else of my acquaintance can seriously believe that these conservative Anglicans are making such a fuss about such a basic issue of human nature.

    The problem is not liberal obsession, it is that for far too long, middle class Englishmen wrote gay people out of the script of human history. They exported this distortion to their colonies, and, now that English society has learnt to do better, some of the former colonies still haven’t. That’s all it is: don’t dignify (or try to hype up) with theological language what is a purely sociological and psychological problem.

  • JPM says:

    Actually, Joe is right that the Orthodox are not sex-obsessed.

    As for the weird little collection of Calvinists, Pentecostals, and Sprinkling Baptists trying to mount a hostile takeover of Anglicanism, well, that’s a whole other story.

  • Erika Baker says:

    Fr Mark
    I’ve long wanted to thank you for your wonderful common sense on this forum.

  • Fr Mark says:

    Thanks, Erika, for such a kind comment.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “demand the blessing lascivious behavior.”

    “las·civ·i·ous /ləˈsɪviəs/ luh-siv-ee-uhs]
    1. inclined to lustfulness; wanton; lewd: a lascivious, girl-chasing old man.
    2. arousing sexual desire: lascivious photographs.
    3. indicating sexual interest or expressive of lust or lewdness: a lascivious gesture.”

    Exactly how does a life of monogamy fit this definition, Joe? Or have you been listening to the GAFCON types who say whatever pops into their heads about us, true or not? This is what you get for only listening to people who know nothing about gay people and preach their stereotypes as though they were true. But then, if you can use the word “orthodox” to refer to people whose beliefs are manifestly NOT orthodox, then maybe you just need to buy a dictionary.

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