Thinking Anglicans

Conciliation sought for bishops involved in property disputes

There is an article for Episcopal News Service which reports a development for which there is as yet no official statement at all from The Episcopal Church: Reference panel recommends conciliation with 9 bishops.

An Episcopal Church reference panel has apparently recommended seeking “conciliation” with nine bishops (five active and four retired) after two complaints were filed earlier this year about their involvement in property litigation in two dioceses.

According to information circulating on some blogs, the reference panel unanimously decided that the complaints would proceed with conciliation pursuant to Canon IV.10 of the Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons.

Conciliation, according to the canon, calls for seeking a resolution “which promotes healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation among the complainant, respondent, affected community, other persons and the church.”

An earlier ENS report in July by Mary Frances Schjonberg was headlined Disciplinary process set to begin on complaints against nine bishops.

The more recent article summarises the complaints thus:

In one instance, the complaint concerns the fact that seven bishops endorsed an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief prepared by the Anglican Communion Institute, Inc. in the pending appeal of a court ruling involving the Diocese of Fort Worth and the bishop, clergy and laity who broke away from that diocese in November 2008.

The brief objects to the trial court’s ruling that told the dissidents to return “all property, as well as control of the diocesan corporation” to the Episcopal leaders of the diocese.

Those named in the Fort Worth complaint are retired Diocese of Texas Bishop Maurice M. Benitez, retired Diocese of Central Florida Bishop John W. Howe, Diocese of Dallas Bishop Suffragan Paul E. Lambert, Diocese of Albany Bishop William H. Love, Diocese of Western Louisiana Bishop D. Bruce MacPherson, Diocese of Springfield Bishop Daniel H. Martins, and Diocese of Dallas Bishop James M. Stanton.

MacPherson is also named in the other complaint, along with retired Diocese of South Carolina Bishop Edward L. Salmon, Jr. and retired Diocese of Springfield Bishop Peter H. Beckwith. Matthews e-mailed them to say that a complaint has been received against them because they signed affidavits opposing to a motion for summary judgment made by representatives of the Diocese of Quincy and the Episcopal Church in the fall of 2011 to secure diocesan financial assets from a group that broke from the diocese in November 2008.

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cseitzSimon SarmientoMary Frances SchjonbergGeorge Conger Recent comment authors
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George Conger
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George Conger

You could always reference the article from which ENS derived its information

Mary Frances Schjonberg
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Much as I appreciate the h/t, I was not the author of this article. Matthew Davies was the author. He used some background from a previous story of mine, if that counts …;-)

Simon Sarmiento
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Whoop MFS, I got confused between the two articles, will fix now.

cseitz
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cseitz

Canon IV.19.2 stipulates that, “No member of the Church, whether lay or ordained, may seek to have the Constitution and Canons of the Church interpreted by a secular court, or resort to a secular court to address a dispute arising under the Constitution and Canons, or for any purpose of delay, hindrance, review or otherwise affecting any proceeding under this Title.”

TEC is seeking just this in Fort Worth.

Amicus Bishops are saying that the courts should stay away.

But the latter need to go before a conciliation panel?

cseitz
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cseitz

No, the brief holds that the courts should not be involved in defining ‘hierarchy’ as this is against the First Amendment. The Episcopal Church is hierarchical only in relation to the diocese, as explicitly clarified in the constitution (TEC is the ‘episcopal’ church, not a ‘general convention’ church and much less a ‘presiding bishop and her legal team and monies’ church). If this is under dispute, then it is for the church to make explicit what it wishes to hold, by the mechanisms given for that (amend the constitution).