More bishops, fewer dioceses and the future of women clergy were amongst the main topics of debate at the Anglican Church of North America’s College of Bishops meeting this week in Orlando.
Bishops from the conservative province in waiting in North America in the Anglican Communion approved the election of two additional bishops for the PEAR-USA Network. The Rev. Quigg Lawrence will lead the Atlantic Regional Network and the Rev. Ken Ross the Western Regional Network, while the Very Rev. Clark Lowenfield was elected bishop of the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast – a diocese in formation.
The bishops also confirmed the election of the Rt. Rev. Charlie Masters as bishop coadjutor of the Anglican Network in Canada and approved the translation of the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons from the Diocese of Bolivia to the Diocese of Pittsburgh as assistant bishop.
Time was also spent in mending fences amongst the College between the three former members of the Anglican Mission in America and the wider ACNA, following the protracted break up of the group.
A report on overlapping dioceses and episcopal jurisdictions was also presented to the College. A communique from the meeting stated the ACNA sought to bring the church into conformity “with historic Anglican practice. The goal of the work is to organize each region for the long-term sustainability of the movement in recognizable, godly Anglican Church structures.”
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Tentative settlement reached in the Fort Worth 7 and Quincy 3 cases: Anglican Ink, January 9, 2013 January 10, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, House of Bishops, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: Fort Worth 7, John Douglass, Katharine Jefferts Schori, Quincy 3
A tentative settlement has been reached in the “Fort Worth 7” and “Quincy 3” cases, sources close to the proceedings report. Details of the agreement will not been released until all parties endorse the agreement, the sources report, but the disposition of the dispute is being characterized as “amicable” AI has learned.
If the agreement is ratified, the settlement will conclude the largest mass disciplinary proceeding launched against bishops of the Episcopal Church.
In emails dated 2 and 19 Oct 2012, the Intake Officer for the House of Bishops and aide to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews informed nine bishops they had been charged with fraud, financial misconduct, teaching false doctrine and failing to inform on their fellow bishops who held opinions on church order contrary to those advocated by Bishop Jefferts Schori.
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
US bishops call for open borders: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 15, 2010 p 6. October 15, 2010Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, Immigration.
The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops has called for a halt to the enforcement of US immigration laws, calling upon Episcopalians to join with other members of the religious left in “actively protesting” racial stereotyping and demand a halt to “practices that treat undocumented workers as criminals.”
In a pastoral letter and discussion paper released at the close of their Sept 16-21 meeting in Phoenix, the bishops said the starting point for a debate on illegal immigration begins with “an obligation to advocate for every undocumented worker as already being a citizen of God’s reign on earth and one for whom Christ died.”
Episcopalians should offer “material and spiritual support to undocumented workers and their families, wherever possible, and should expect that they will continue to receive medical attention and police protection as needed,” the bishops said.
“This is simply a matter of respecting basic human dignity, and we have every moral warrant for calling the nation to account, whether we appeal simply to human rights, divine law, natural law, the law of nations, our national covenant, or to the Bible that grounds them all.”
The 17-page pastoral letter entitled “The Nation and the Common Good: Reflections on Immigration Reform” conceded that nation states had the right to secure their borders, and acknowledged there were some who were concerned about “the danger uncontrolled immigration poses to our safety and economic well-being.”
However, these concerns should “be approached within the broader context of a national commitment and covenant to inclusion and fellowship across all lines for the sake of the common good.”
The bishops stated the enforcement of “inhumane policies directed against undocumented persons (raids, separation of families, denial of health services)” was “intolerable,” and also offered an apology for having been “complicit” in “sinfulness as people who benefit from the labor of undocumented workers without recognizing our responsibility to them.”
They promised henceforth to “take seriously our commitment to and responsibility for our fellow citizens, as we strive to face the spiritual, moral and economic challenges of life.”
Before the start of the bishops’ Fall meeting, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori took a group of 30 bishops and their spouses to the Arizona-Mexico border, and staged a march to protest the deaths of illegal aliens who had died in the desert while attempting to cross into the United States. The desert sojourn helped the bishops “to reduce both our own caricatures and prejudices” about illegal immigration “and maybe do the same for others,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said.
The bishops’ letter is likely to carry little weight among US political circles, as a majority of voters oppose the relaxation of immigration laws. Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy offered a harsh critique of the bishops’ pastoral, writing in the American Spectator “like most on the Religious Left, the Episcopal Bishops seem uncomfortable with national sovereignty in the political sphere, just as the Religious Left is often theologically uncomfortable with Christianity’s exclusivist truth claims, or the expectation of monogamy in traditional marriage, and the loyalties inherent to traditional families.”
The US bishops had confused trendy politics with Christian virtues, Mr. Tooley argued, noting “these Episcopal bishops, busy with desert photo ops and polemical news releases, are anxious to make sweeping utopian claims, without a clear constituency or audience.”
More bishops deposed in USA: CEN 6.19.09 p 6. June 24, 2009Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops.
US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has deposed two more retired American bishops, announcing on June 12 that she had accepted the voluntary renunciation of ministry of the retired Bishop of Quincy the Rt. Rev. Edward MacBurney and the retired Bishop of Southern Virginia the Rt Rev. David Bane.
However, the two bishops have stated they have not renounced their orders, but were being accepted into the House of Bishops of the Province of the Southern Cone under Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables.
A press release from the presiding bishop’s office said the two bishops were “being removed from ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church ‘for causes which do not affect (their) moral character,’ ” the release said, citing the words of the church’s voluntary renunciation canon.” The release noted this action did not purport to defrock the two bishops and would not affect their ecclesial standing in other provinces of the Anglican Communion.
Bishop Jefferts Schori’s use of the voluntary renunciation canon has come under sharp criticism from canonical scholars such as the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI), who have argued the canons do not permit the presiding bishop to act in the way she has.
However, the Presiding Bishop said her decision had the “full support of her Council of Advice” of bishops.
Bishop Bane presently serves as an honorary assistant bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh under Bishop Robert Duncan, while Bishop MacBurney is retired from active ministry.
Since her election in 2006, Bishop Jefferts Schori has overseen the departure of 13 US bishops—four of whom were received into the Roman Catholic Church and nine to Anglican provinces in the Global South.
|The US House of Bishops has released a pastoral letter calling for the church to turn its gaze away from its internal divisions toward the mounting economic hardships threatening the world.
Meeting from March 13-18 at a retreat center in North Carolina, the bishops elected a new bishops for Central Ecuador, discussed the pastoral implications of the secession of former Southern Virginia Bishop David Bane to the Southern Cone-led ACNA, reviewed legislation likely to come before this summer’s general convention, received presentations on prospects for full communion with the Moravian Church, and heard support from some of its members for the controversial bishop-elect of Northern Michigan.
However, the global financial meltdown was the sole topic raised in the bishops’ pastoral letter from the meeting.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
Now a bishop is blacklisted in the USA: CEN 3.19.09 March 19, 2009Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, Southern Virginia.
|The American Church’s blacklisting of conservative clergy has spread to the episcopate. On March 9 the former Bishop of Southern Virginia, the Rt Rev David Bane informed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori that he was resigning from the US House of Bishops and had been received into the Province of the Southern Cone, were he will serve as an assisting bishop in the Diocese of Pittsburgh to the Rt Rev Robert Duncan.
Considered a moderate conservative within the Episcopal Church, Bishop Bane told Bishop Jefferts Schori that his decision to quit the Episcopal Church arose after he had spent three years seeking priestly employment within the Episcopal Church..
|Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.|
Outcry as US Bishop deposed: CEN 9.26.08 p 1. September 26, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, Pittsburgh.
By Toby Cohen and George Conger
THE US House of Bishops has voted to depose the Bishop of Pittsburgh for “abandoning the Communion” of the Episcopal Church. At a special session of the House of Bishops called by US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to discuss the Lambeth Conference, the bishops voted 87 to 35, with four abstentions to defrock the Rt Rev Robert W Duncan, removing him from the ordained ministry for propounding the view that a diocese may withdraw from the Episcopal Church.
It is unclear, however, whether the Sept 18 trial in absentia will achieve the end sought by Bishop Schori. The deposition has made a martyr of the Pittsburgh bishop, and a growing list of primates and bishops – including six from the Church of England — have announced they will not honour the American decision.
Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone welcomed Bishop Duncan into the House of Bishops of that church following the vote, and it is likely the diocese will follow their bishop when they vote on Oct 4 to quit the Episcopal Church.
The deposition hearing was denounced by conservatives as an “ecclesiastical lynching,” however, Bishop Schori stated the bishops had worked “carefully and prayerfully” in deciding that his “actions over recent months and years constitute ‘abandonment of ‘the communion of this church” and that he should be deposed.”
Over the course of two business sessions, questions of the legality of the proceedings were juxtaposed with Bishop Duncan’s crimes. Led by the Bishop of South Carolina, conservatives argued the proceedings violated canon law, lacked a quorum and proper notice and violated the principles of due process. However, Bishop Schori rejected these arguments and a majority of bishops backed her interpretation of the canons.
Of the 287 members of the House of Bishops entitled to vote, only 127 were present. If the votes of diocesan bishops only had been counted, the total tally would have been 50 to convict, 30 to convict and three abstentions–indicating that there has been less movement to the left within the House of Bishops than had been supposed. The 2003 vote by the diocesan bishops to affirm the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire was 62 to 43 to two.
Peals of protest rang out around the world following the deposition of the Bishop of Pittsburgh, the Rt Rev Robert Duncan, in a breach of canon law. The traditionalist bishop had scheduled a referendum for his diocese on October 4 over whether to leave the Episcopal Church and join the Latin American Diocese of the Southern Cone.
Bishop Duncan will not appeal against the ruling. He said: “I’m very sad, sad for the Episcopal Church. In 15 days the diocese will determine whether it too wants to be part of the Southern Cone and figure out whether it wants me back as bishop. That is up to the diocese, although I have a sneaking suspicion they will want me back.”
“This is of course a very painful moment for Pittsburgh Episcopalians,” the president of the diocesan standing committee the Rev David Wilson said. “The leadership of the Episcopal Church has inserted itself in a most violent manner into the affairs and governance of our diocese.”
The Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev Peter Jensen, said: “The unfolding tragedy of the Episcopal Church starkly reveals the folly of the original decision to break with the Bible and centuries of historic Christianity on the issue of human sexuality.”
The Archbishop of Egypt, the Most Rev Mouneer Anis, said: “I don’t know what to call it, a tragedy or comedy, for the faithful to be disciplined by those who tear the fabric of our Anglican Communion.” The struggle has been brought to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. The Hon Assistant Bishop of Chester, the Rt Rev Colin F Bazley (a former Primate of the Southern Cone), has written an open letter asking Dr Williams to “take immediate action in suspending the Episcopal Church from any further participation in activities of the Anglican Communion and in calling a meeting of the Primates to give formal recognition to a new Province in North America.”
From England six bishops, the Rt Revs Nicholas Reade (Blackburn), Dr Peter Forster (Chester), John Hind (Chichester), Michael Langrish (Exeter), Dr Michael Nazir-Ali (Rochester) and Michael Scott-Joynt (Winchester) issued a statement saying they were “deeply saddened and shocked by the proposed deposition,” adding they “continue to believe that Bishop Bob is a bishop in the Church of God and a bishop in good standing in the Anglican Communion.”
Dr Williams has not yet responded. He hoped to avoid such a mess when he presided over a conciliatory Lambeth Conference and called for moratoria on same-sex blessings and cross-provincial interventions.
Bishop Duncan had stubbornly acted in disregard to that plea, but the dubious actions of the Episcopal Church have now directed international sympathy to the renegade bishop. As recriminations on either side are threatened, and bishops nauseated from biting their tongues all summer begin to speak out, Dr Williams’ fragile peace appears doomed.
Bishop of Pittsburgh deposed by House of Bishops: CEN 9.19.08 September 19, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, Pittsburgh.
|The US House of Bishops has voted to depose the Bishop of Pittsburgh for “abandoning the Communion” of the Episcopal Church.
At a special session of the House of Bishops called to discuss the Lambeth Conference, the bishops voted 87 to 35, with four abstentions to defrock the Rt Rev Robert W Duncan, removing him from the ordained ministry for propounding the view that a diocese may withdraw from the Episcopal Church.
It is unclear, however, whether the Sept 18 vote will affect Bishop Duncan’s ministry in Pittsburgh, as the Province of the Southern Cone has received him into its House of Bishops and is prepared to welcome the diocese also, should it vote on Oct 4 at its annual convention to quit the Episcopal Church.
The deposition vote has been denounced by conservatives as an “ecclesiastical lynching,” while leaders of the moderate wing of the church have endorsed the “courageous” stand of the those bishops who voted to acquit, putting the rule of law above party political considerations.
However, US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori stated the bishops had worked “carefully and prayerfully to consider the weighty matter of Bishop Duncan. The conversation was holy, acknowledging the pain of our deliberations as well as the gratitude many have felt over the years for their relationships with, and the ministry of, Robert Duncan.”
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
Episcopal Church ‘in the clear’ after Lambeth: CEN 9.18.08 September 18, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, Pittsburgh.
|There will be no consequences to the American church for its push for gay bishops and blessings, bishops attending the opening session of the US House of Bishops meeting in Salt Lake City said in closed door session on Sept 17.
On the opening day of the three-day special session, called by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to discuss the 2008 Lambeth Conference, but amended on Sept 12 by the Presiding Bishop to act upon her motion to depose conservative leader Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, the bishops offered their reactions to Lambeth.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
Presiding Bishop in move to “sack” Duncan: 9.19.08 p 6. September 18, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, Pittsburgh.
The Bishop of Pittsburgh will be brought before the US House of Bishops this week to face charges that he has “abandoned the Communion” of the Episcopal Church for teaching that it is permissible for a diocese to withdraw from the Episcopal Church.
The move to depose Bishop Robert Duncan ends the “season of gracious restraint” proclaimed by last month’s Lambeth Conference, and comes as a personal blow to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Dr. Rowan Williams had urged the warring factions of the church to hold together in dialogue, but the legal moves against Bishop Duncan have repudiated his authority. While deposing Bishop Duncan may provide a short term tactical advantage in the Episcopal Church’s lawsuits against traditionalists, it will likely end any rapprochement between it and the wider Anglican Communion.
On Sept 12, Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori distributed a memorandum announcing that on Sept 18 she would attempt to depose the conservative leader. “I shall present to the House the matter of the certification to me by the Title IV Review Committee that Bishop Robert W. Duncan has abandoned the Communion of this Church within the meaning of Canon IV.9,” she wrote.
However, the Presiding Bishop may face legal challenges to her planned purge, as the last minute addition of the Duncan affair to the bishop’s agenda violates canon law. The rules of the House of Bishops forbid modifying the agenda of a special session after the meeting has been announced. On Aug 20 Bishop Schori wrote to the bishops stating “as discussed in our spring meeting and confirmed in our time at Lambeth, we will hold a special meeting of the House of Bishops 17-19 September in Salt Lake City, Utah.”
“The main purpose of this meeting,” Bishop Schori wrote, “will be to reflect and deliberate together following the Lambeth Conference.”
In the schedule appended to the letter, two sessions are labeled “Lambeth de-brief”, two “Business meeting”, and one “Theological Education.” No mention is made of Bishop Duncan or any disciplinary action in the formal letter calling the special session.
Under Robert’s Rules of Order, which govern the conduct of the House of Bishops’ meetings, “only business mentioned in the call of a special meeting can be transacted at such a meeting.” Supporters of the Presiding Bishop have argued that the rubric “business meeting” could be construed to include the Duncan hearing.
However, the House of Bishops’ rules also require 30 days notice. Rule XIX states, “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 30 days in advance to the members.”
While Bishop Schori conceded that Bishop Duncan’s diocese had not yet voted to withdraw from the Episcopal Church, it was her contention that his statements that such a move was possible offended canon law. She also stated she would reject readings of church law that did not conform to her own, adding that “any ambiguity in the canon” should be resolved in her favor.
On Sept 13 Bishop Duncan stated the move to depose him from office this week was a bid by the Presiding Bishop to squelch the planned October vote by the diocesan synod to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and move under the protection of the Province of the Southern Cone.
He added the “House of Bishops ‘vote’ will be a gross violation of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church” and he asked the diocese “not be intimidated or turned from our over-riding commitment.”
Bishop Duncan will not be present, as will a number of other conservative bishops, to challenge the Presiding Bishop. For the vote to be blocked, a point of order must be raised and seconded. Bishop Schori will be asked to rule whether her actions constitute a breach of order. If she rules against the protesting bishops, an appeal may be taken which requires a two thirds vote to sustain her ruling.
HOB Will Hold Hearings to Remove Bishop Duncan: TLC 9.15.08 September 16, 2008Posted by geoconger in House of Bishops, Living Church, Pittsburgh.
First published in The Living Church magazine.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has proposed a sweeping change to the previously announced agenda for the special House of Bishops’ meeting scheduled Sept. 17-19 in Salt Lake City.
In a memorandum to bishops, Bishop Jefferts Schori proposed two days of hearings to remove Bishop Robert W. Duncan of Pittsburgh permanently from the ordained ministry of The Episcopal Church for teaching that it is lawful for a diocese to withdraw from The Episcopal Church.
The revised scheduled calls for the Presiding Bishop’s council of advice to hold an “informal evening meeting to investigate the matter” on Sept. 17, with further discussion leading to a vote during the business meeting the following day.
“At that time, the house may, by majority vote of those present, grant or withhold its consent or decline to vote until a later time,” Bishop Jefferts Schori wrote. “In that regard, some have suggested that a vote not be taken until a later meeting of the house after the forthcoming convention of the diocese in early October, when Bishop Duncan’s intentions and actions can perhaps be viewed more clearly.”
Delegates to the convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh will not consider a final vote to realign with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone until Oct. 4. Bishop Jefferts Schori wrote that Bishop Duncan, by “encouraging the diocese to choose to leave” The Episcopal Church, had “abandoned the communion of this church by ‘an open renunciation of the… discipline… of this church’ within the meaning of Title IV, Canon 9, Section 1(i),” Bishop Jefferts Schori said.
Bishop Jefferts Schori defended the canonical process she outlines based on precedent and expediency. She also repeatedly reminds the bishops that any member may request a ruling, and that the chair may be overruled by a two-thirds vote under the House of Bishops’ bylaws.
“I concur with my chancellor and parliamentarian that any ambiguity in the canon should be resolved in favor of making this important provision work effectively, and that the discipline of the church should not be stymied because a majority of nearly a majority of voting bishops are no longer in active episcopal positions in the church and their attendance at meetings is hampered by age, health, economics, or interest in other legitimate pursuits,” she said.
Bishop Jefferts Schori may face a challenge on the legality of introducing new business so close to the start of what she has characterized as a “special meeting” of the House of Bishops. On Aug. 20, the agenda, dates and location for the Salt Lake City meeting were given to the bishops, with no mention of a hearing into the charges brought against Bishop Duncan. The first formal declaration by the Presiding Bishop that the bishops would decide whether or not to depose the Pittsburgh bishop came on Sept 12.
Whether the vote will take place is unclear, however, as the canons specifically forbid the Presiding Bishop from amending the agenda once she issues her call for a special session to review the Lambeth Conference.
Under Robert’s Rules of Order, which are cited as the authoritative source for conducting business under the House of Bishops’ rules of order, “only business mentioned in the call of a special meeting can be transacted at such a meeting.” As the Presiding Bishop did not include the hearing on Bishop Duncan in her agenda and her “call” of the special meeting, the rules of the House of Bishops would seem to forbid her from adding it to the agenda five days before the start of the meeting.
The House of Bishops’ rules also require 30 days notice. Rule XIX states, “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 30 days in advance to the members.”
Bishop Duncan said previously he will not be present for a hearing. For the deposition hearing and vote to be blocked, a point of order must be raised and seconded. Bishop Schori would then be asked to rule on whether her actions constitute a breach of order. If she rules against the appeal, it would require a two-thirds vote of the house to overrule her.
Legal doubt over Presiding Bishop’s move to depose Duncan: CEN 9.14.08 September 14, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, Pittsburgh, Property Litigation.
|Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori may face legal hurdles in her bid to depose Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan (pictured) this week, as her decision to change the agenda of the special session of the House of Bishops five days before its start appears to violate canon law.
On Sept 12, Bishop Schori distributed a memorandum to the American bishops announcing that on Sept 18 she would attempt to depose the conservative leader.
“I shall present to the House the matter of the certification to me by the Title IV Review Committee that Bishop Robert W Duncan has abandoned the Communion of this Church within the meaning of Canon IV.9,” she wrote.
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.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
Presiding Bishop–no compromise: CEN 7.18.08 p 6. July 18, 2008Posted by geoconger in Central Florida, Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, San Joaquin.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has rebuffed pleas for compromise from conservatives and rejected calls for the American Church’s House of Bishops to revisit the cases of deposed Bishops John-David Schofield and William Cox, saying the matter is closed.
“I have no ability to reverse or set aside any decision of the House of Bishops, nor does the House once the meeting [of bishops] is adjourned,” Bishop Schori wrote to the Diocese of Central Florida on June 2. However, should the two bishops “wish to re-enter” the Episcopal Church and “seek reinstatement, that is eminently possible,” she said.
Central Florida and four other American dioceses have objected to the procedural irregularities used to remove the two bishops saying it violated canon law. Questions over the legality of the proceedings have dogged the Presiding Bishop after it was revealed she neglected to follow the canons governing proceedings.
A legal justification of the House of Bishops’ actions by the Bishop of Lexington, the Rt.Rev. Stacy Sauls, released last month failed to quell the objections, and failed to ease concerns the Presiding Bishop would continue to use laws created to govern the secession of clergy to the Roman Catholic church to enact her political agenda for the church.
Central Florida, South Carolina, Springfield, Western Louisiana, and Northern Indiana has asked the bishops to conform to canon law in any further proceedings. Bishop Schori has stated she will bring Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh to trial in September for violating church canons.
Requests by conservative bishops that the Presiding Bishop bring the Bishop of California, Marc Andrus, and the retired Bishop of Northern California, Jerry Lamb—who presently serves as the acting bishop of the new diocese of San Joaquin organized by National Church—have been ignored, The Church of England Newspaper was told last month.
In her letter to Central Florida, Bishop Schori stated the deposition of the two bishops did not affect their ontological status as priests, but was merely a housekeeping task to straighten out the church’s books.
The two bishops had made it “abundantly clear” they no longer regarded themselves as members of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Schori explained. “It is a necessary duty of the leadership of this Church to clarify the status of clergy who no longer regard themselves as members. That is what deposition means in cases like these.”
“It is not, and is not meant to be, punitive, but rather clarifying in regard to the person’s ability to function as a member of the clergy in this Church. We hold a theology of ordination that says it is indelible. Deposition does not affect that theological understanding,” Bishop Schori explained.
She noted that objections to the deposition proceedings could not now be raised. Central Florida and the other dioceses lacked “standing” to object as protests could only be brought by bishops “who must object, during the meeting, if they wish clarification. No one did so.”
Three American dioceses have written to US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori asking her to revisit the deposition of Bishops John-David Schofield and William Cox by the House of Bishops last March, arguing the procedures used violated canon law and common justice.
The standing committees and diocesan boards—the governing bodies of American dioceses-of Central Florida, Northern Indiana and Springfield last month released independent letters raising concerns over the legality of the proceedings.
In a letter dated May 15, and published on its diocesan website on May 22, Central Florida voiced its “strong protest” to the “failure to follow the Canons” by the House of Bishops in the “recent depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox.”
Central Florida said the interpretation of the canons used to punish the two bishops did not conform to church law, citing with approval an analysis of the proceedings prepared by the Diocese of South Carolina, which along with the Diocese of Western Louisiana had earlier registered its formal protest to the proceedings.
“We respectfully request that you and the House of Bishops revisit those decisions and make every effort to follow our Church Canons in this and all future House of Bishops decisions,” Central Florida said.
The Diocese of Springfield took a stronger line “rejecting the purported depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox.” It called upon the Presiding Bishop to acknowledge her error, “revisit this issue at a future meeting of House of Bishops” and conduct “any further proceedings in accordance with the clear language of Canon.”
Northern Indiana endorsed the call to revisit the proceedings, and noted “with alarm” Bishop Schori’s intention in September to bring “deposition proceedings against Bishop Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh for abandoning the communion,” even “before the diocese votes to do so in November. We plead for calm and prayer in the face of temptations to escalate abuses of power in this way,” they said.
“Depositions are an unnecessary and unfortunate way to deal with disagreement, dissension, and even division within our Church. We believe it also borders on unchristian,” Northern Indiana said.
The Presiding Bishop has not responded to the calls by Western Louisiana, Central Florida, South Carolina, Springfield and Northern Indiana to revisit the depositions. Church watchers note she is unlikely to do so, for were she to admit to her mistake, then her creation of a rival diocese of San Joaquin under the oversight of the former Bishop of Northern California would collapse.
The former Bishop of Northern California, the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb, announced last week that on May 27 he had received an invitation from the conference organizers to attend Lambeth 2008 as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.
“This a clear sign from the Anglican Communion that the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is the only Anglican diocese in all of inland Central California,” Bishop Lamb said on his diocesan website. “I received this invitation because I am your bishop and, therefore, entitled to attend the Lambeth Conference as the Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
However, Bishop John-David Schofield of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin has also been invited to Lambeth. “Bishop Schofield received and accepted his invitation to Lambeth shortly after the invitations were first issued,” Canon William Gandenberger told The Living Church magazine. The invitation has not been withdrawn, he noted.
A spokesman for the Conference confirmed to The Church of England Newspaper that Bishop Lamb had been invited to Lambeth. However the presence of two bishops of San Joaquin, may present problems of protocol and ecclesiology for Archbishop Rowan Williams.
Last October, Dr. Williams wrote Central Florida Bishop John W. Howe reaffirming the traditional view that the diocese, not the national church or province, was the primary ecclesial entity within the Anglican Communion.
“The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such,” Dr. Williams said. “The Bishop and the Diocese” were the “primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the ‘national church’,” he noted.
While US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori nominated Bishop Lamb to be interim bishop of the Episcopal diocese, and called a special convention to ratify his nomination, a growing number of US dioceses have issued formal protests against her actions, and do not recognize the appointment.
Bishop Schofield’s actions have further complicated matters. While he resigned his membership in the Episcopal House of Bishops, he did not resign his see—transferring it and the diocese to the Province of the Southern Cone. Bishop Schori declined to recognize this transfer and sought to depose Bishop Schofield at a meeting of the House of Bishops this spring. The legality of this action is likely to be tested in the California courts.
There is a prima facie case for bringing the US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to trial before a church tribunal for abuse of office, a legal memorandum commissioned by a group of concerned American bishops and church leaders has found. But whether the bishops have the political will to act is unclear, the paper concluded.
Prepared by an international lawyer in response to a request for an independent opinion as to the legality of Bishop Schori’s actions, and their implications for the polity of the Episcopal Church, the April 21 memorandum concludes the Presiding Bishop deliberately and with full knowledge and forethought “subverted” the “fundamental polity” of the Episcopal Church in her takeover of the Diocese of San Joaquin.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
Memorandum Concludes Presiding Bishop is Subverting Constitution and Canons: TLC 4.30.08 April 30, 2008Posted by geoconger in House of Bishops, Living Church, Pittsburgh, San Joaquin.
Sufficient legal grounds exist for presenting Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for ecclesiastical trial on 11 counts of violating the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, according to a legal memorandum that has begun circulating among members of the House of Bishops.
A copy of the April 21 document seen by a reporter representing The Living Church states Bishop Jefferts Schori demonstrated a “willful violation of the canons, an intention to repeat the violations, and a pattern of concealment and lack of candor” in her handling of the cases of bishops Robert W. Duncan, John-David Schofield and William Cox, and that she “subverted” the “fundamental polity” of The Episcopal Church in the matter of the Diocese of San Joaquin.
Prepared by an attorney on behalf of a consortium of bishops and church leaders seeking legal counsel over the canonical implications of the Presiding Bishop’s recent actions, it is unclear whether a critical mass of support will form behind the report’s recommendations for any action to be taken, persumably as a violation of the Presiding Bishop’s ordination vows. Title IV, Canon 3, Section 23a requires the consent of three bishops, or 10 or more priests, deacons and communicants “of whom at least two shall be priests. One priest and not less than six lay persons shall be of the diocese of which the respondent is canonically resident.” Victims of sexual misconduct and the Presiding Bishop also may bring charges before the Title IV [disciplinary] Review Committee. Title IV, Canon 3, Section 27 specifies that the Presiding Bishop appoints the five bishops to the Review Committee and the president of the House of Deputies appoints the two members of the clergy and two lay members. A spokeswoman said the Presiding Bishop was unable to respond to the charges as she had not yet seen the memorandum.
The Rev. Ephraim Radner, a member of the Anglican Covenant Design Group, said he found the matters addressed by the brief troubling. The lack of a common understanding of the church’s constitution and canons was “tearing apart our very episcopate and the credibility of our church’s ability to make formal decisions,” he said
The 7,000-word memorandum states it does not address issues of doctrine under Title 4, Canon 1, Section 1c, but limits its review to the “recent actions she has taken against bishops Cox, Schofield and Duncan and the Diocese of San Joaquin.”
The paper argues the Presiding Bishop “failed to seek the inhibition of Bishop Cox as required by [Title IV, Canon 9].” This failure was not a “technical issue that could be waived,” but was an “important procedural protection that is integral” to the use of the canon. Nor did she comply with the requirement that the bishop be given timely notice of the legal proceedings, as the Presiding Bishop withheld notice for seven months.
By not inhibiting Bishop Cox during the two-month period she gave him for denying the charges, the Presiding Bishop was also creating “new procedures” for deposing bishops. The 60-day notice to deny the charges applies only to an “inhibited bishop,” according to the memorandum. Bishop Jefferts Schori had made the same error in her treatment of Bishop Duncan, the document noted.
Bringing Bishop Cox before the House of Bishops without securing his inhibition first also violated Title IV, Canon 9, Section 2, the memorandum said, as “a bishop who has not been inhibited is not ‘liable to deposition’ under this canon.”
To suggest that the provision of Section 2 of the Canon: “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,” was “nonsensical,” the paper argued for “if the ‘Otherwise’ sentence deals with uninhibited bishops such as Bishop Cox (and Duncan), there is no provision under which the Presiding Bishop is authorized to depose an inhibited bishop such as Bishop Schofield. No rule of legal interpretation permits such a nonsensical result.”
The Presiding Bishop’s deposition of Bishops Cox and Schofield was done without the “necessary consent” of the House of Bishops. “The conclusion that the requisite consent was not given is irrefutable” as the “plain meaning” of the words of the canon, as well as voting procedures detailed in other parts of the Constitution and Canons do not permit the interpretation interposed by the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor, the paper said
Concerning the Diocese of San Joaquin, the Presiding Bishop’s announcement that she did not recognize the “duly elected” diocesan standing committee violated Articles IV and II.3 of the church’s constitution and repudiated her duties under [Title I, Canon 2, Section 4(a)(3)] which permits her only to “consult” with the diocesan ecclesiastical authority in the event of an episcopal vacancy.
The appointment of “representatives and vicars” to act in San Joaquin violated Article II.3 of the church’s constitution, the document stated, while the convening of a special convention in San Joaquin and installation of Bishop Jerry Lamb as the provisional bishop violated Article II.3 and Title III, Canon 13.
“The violations with respect to Bishops Cox and Duncan, although willful and repeated, pertained primarily to individual bishops. The violations with respect to [San Joaquin] however, subvert the governance of an entire diocese and go to the heart of TEC’s polity as a ‘fellowship of duly constituted dioceses’ governed under Article II.3 by bishops who are not under a metropolitan or archbishop,” the legal memorandum concluded.
The procedural difficulties in bringing this matter to adjudication were formidable, the paper argued, as the “ability of the complainants to hold accountable the Presiding Bishop or another bishop thus ends at the [Title IV] Review Committee.”
The authors of the legal memorandum were not optimistic the current legal and political environment within the church would be conducive for a conviction. The Title IV committee could issue a presentment, it could decline to issue a presentment and “produce a rationale that is persuasive to most objective observers,” or it could “decline to issue a presentment on grounds that are not persuasive and serve only to discredit the Review Committee and the process as well as the respondent,” it said.
This third outcome is “highly likely,” the paper concluded, but it noted the effort should nonetheless be made to hold the institution “accountable.”
Published in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.
Lawyers for the octogenarian bishop deposed by the American Church have written to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori charging her with defaming their client.
Questions over the legality of the March 12 proceedings have riled the American Church since the legality of the decision to depose Bishop John-David Schofield of San Joaquin and retired Bishop William Cox was questioned by The Church of England Newspaper and the Living Church.
On March 27 the Diocese of South Carolina issued a formal protest to the “failure to follow the Canons” and asked Bishop Schori to “revisit those decisions”, “refrain” from appointing a new bishop for San Joaquin and to “make every effort to follow our Church Canons in all future House of Bishops decisions.”
“Because we feel so strongly that the Canons were not followed in the depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox, we must respectfully refuse to recognize the depositions, and we will not recognize any new bishop who may be elected to replace Bishop Schofield, unless and until the canons are followed,” South Carolina said.
The Bishop of Central Florida last week called for a review of the decision, raising the matter with Bishop Clifton Daniels III of East Carolina, the president of the church’s court of review for the trial of a bishop. Though Bishop Daniels declined to respond to a query from the CEN, he is understood to have agreed to look into the matter.
R. Wicks Stephens, the chancellor of the Anglican Communion Network and attorney for Bishop Cox wrote to Bishop Schori and her lawyer David Booth Beers on March 27 stating “your purported deposition of Bishop Cox is unsupported by the canonically required consent of a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote on the proposed deposition of Bishop Cox which was presented to the House of Bishops at its last meeting. Accordingly, the deposition of Bishop Cox was not consented to as required, and your pronouncement of his deposition as a Bishop is without effect and void.”
He lambasted Mr. Beers’ argument that his “reading” of the canons required “merely the consent of a majority of those Bishops present in the House” to depose the two bishops, citing the text of the constitution and canons to support this reading.
“While assuredly your Chancellor has the right to offer interpretations of the canons when ambiguity so requires, nothing justifies a reading” of the canons “that is directly contrary to that canon’s plain language and meaning,” Mr. Stephens said, demanding that “you right the wrong by which you have defamed Bishop Cox by immediately withdrawing your pronouncement of deposition.”
The Bishop of Pittsburgh has denied accusations that he has “abandoned the Communion” of the Episcopal Church.
In a March 14 letter to US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop Robert Duncan pledged his fealty to the doctrine, discipline and liturgy of the Episcopal Church.
“I have kept my ordination vows – all of them – to the best of my ability, including the vow I made on 28 October 1972 to ‘banish and drive away all strange and erroneous doctrines contrary to God’s Word’,” he stated.
He had been “present to all but two meetings of the House of Bishops (out of 24) during the last 12 years. In those meetings I have clearly and openly opposed the theological and moral drift of The Episcopal Church, often in the face of great hostility and sadly, at times, derision,” Bishop Duncan wrote.
On Jan 15, Bishop Schori said she would bring move to depose Bishop Duncan at the September House of Bishops Meeting unless he provided a statement and evidence proving his innocence of the charges.
Bishop Schori told a press conference on March 12 that she would distribute copies of the investigation into Bishop Duncan’s alleged “abandonment of Communion” with an eye towards convening a special meeting to depose him from office before the next House of Bishops meeting in September.
Writing to Bishop Schori’s attorney, David Booth Beers, Bishop Duncan’s attorney said his client’s statement had resolved the issue “and we expect that there will be no further action with respect to the certification enclosed with the letter from the Presiding Bishop.”
Should Bishop Schori proceed against Bishop Duncan, his attorney said they would demand a full hearing before any vote was taken. The canons require the Bishops to “investigate the matter,” attorney John Lewis wrote. “That provision, together with fundamental due process, requires that Bishop Duncan (or his representative) be given a hearing by the House of Bishops, including the right to present evidence and witnesses.”
Under the terms of the abandonment canon, a majority of all bishops eligible to vote must consent to a deposition. As of March 25, 147 votes would be required to remove Bishop Duncan from office.
Published in The Church of England Newspaper
US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori failed to follow the procedural rules governing the trial of Bishop William Cox for “abandonment of the Communion” of the Episcopal Church an investigation by The Church of England Newspaper has found.
In a March 12 press conference, Bishop Schori stated she had not followed rules governing the requirement that the 88-year old retired bishop be granted a speedy trial, that he be informed of the charges against him in a timely fashion, and that the consent of the church’s senior bishops be solicited by the Presiding Bishop to suspend him from office pending trial. A subsequent investigation by CEN in conjunction with The Living Church magazine revealed an insufficient number of votes to convict were cast also.
The Bishop of Central Florida has called for a review of the proceedings, and the president of the church’s appellate court of review for the trial of bishops is understood to have agreed to look into the proceedings.
Elected suffragan bishop of Maryland in 1972, Bishop Cox was translated to Oklahoma in 1980 as assistant bishop and retired in 1988. In June 2005, Bishop Cox performed ordinations at Christ Church, Overland Park, Kansas on behalf of Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda. Earlier that year Christ Church negotiated an amicable parting of the ways with the diocese of Kansas and had joined the Ugandan Church. Bishop Cox returned the following month to Overland Park to perform confirmations on behalf of Archbishop Orombi.
The bishops of Kansas and Oklahoma filed a complaint against Bishop Cox for performing Episcopal acts without the permission of the local diocesan bishop. In March 2006 the Church’s Title IV review committee found there was sufficient evidence to bring Bishop Cox to trial, however, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold declined to prosecute.
Following the 2006 election of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop the charges were resubmitted. Bishop Cox, then 87 years of age, declined to contest the matter telling his attorney he was too old to fight, and by letter resigned his membership in the House of Bishops on March 28, 2007.
In his letter of resignation Bishop Cox said that although he was resigning his membership in the House of Bishops and was not resigning his orders and would be joining the Province of the Southern Cone and would continue his episcopal ministry in that branch of the Communion.
Bishop Schori forwarded the letter to the Title IV review committee asking it to determine whether by this letter, Bishop Cox had “abandoned the communion” of the Episcopal Church.
On May 29, 2007 the Title IV review committee issued its certificate and report under Title IV Canon 9 that Bishop Cox had “abandoned the communion.” On Jan 8, 2008 she informed Bishop Cox that he had been determined to have abandoned the communion of this church. She gave him 60 days to recant, or else he would be brought before the next house of bishops meeting and be deposed. Offering no defence, Bishop Cox was deposed on a voice vote of bishops attending the final day of the meeting.
The procedures laid out in Title IV, Canon 9, sections 1 and 2 (the abandonment canon) to depose a bishop state that after the Title IV review committee issues a certificate of abandonment the Presiding Bishop “shall” “forthwith” notify the accused. The Presiding Bishop then “shall” seek the consent of the three senior bishops with jurisdiction to inhibit the accused bishop, and trial “shall” take place at the “next” meeting of the House of Bishops.
At a March 12 press conference Bishop Schori outlined the procedural history surrounding the Cox case. She said the Title IV review committee had “certified [Bishop Cox] several years ago. … before her time.” She added, however, that “it was never brought to the House of Bishops for action.”
She then said she “did not send it to the three senior bishops” and the House of Bishops “did not consider it in September” at their meeting in New Orleans with the Archbishop of Canterbury due to the “the press of other business.”
Several minutes later, Bishop Schori said she wanted to “clarify” her earlier statements. She said she had been “unable to get the consent of the three senior bishops last spring. That’s why we didn’t bring it to the September meeting” of the House of Bishops.
Contacted after the press conference, one of the three senior bishops, who declined to be named, stated he had never been asked by Bishop Schori to consent to Bishop Cox’s supension.
The Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor, Mr. David Booth Beers, declined to address the issues surrounding Bishop Cox’s case in a March 15 statement released through the Episcopal Church’s press office. However, he stated that his “position” was that there had been a legal quorum to depose the two bishops on March 12.
Canon lawyer, retired Bishop William Wantland of Eau Claire told CEN the deposition of Bishop Cox was “void” for failing to achieve the required “majority vote of all bishops entitled to vote” and because the “canonical procedure was simply not followed.”
In defence of the proceedings against Bishop Cox, Indianapolis Bishop Catherine Waynick wrote that while the “canons may need to be clarified, what does not seem to need clarifying” was that “William Cox willfully violated the canons by functioning where he had been specifically asked not to.”
However, the charge brought against Bishop Cox was not violating diocesan boundaries. In 2006 Bishop Griswold dropped the charges proffered against Bishop Cox for the Kansas ordination, raising the question whether the bishops convicted him of a crime not before the bishops for adjudication.
The charge was “Abandonment of Communion,” Bishop Wantland said. The punishment for violation of diocesan boundaries “is a totally different charge. In my opinion, this is what he should have been charged with, and the procedure under Canon IV. 9. 2 was totally inappropriate and without any justification,” he said.
On March 15, Central Florida Bishop John W. Howe urged the Episcopal Church’s three senior bishops to review the case, saying he was under “no illusions that the outcome of the despicable vote to depose John-David [Schofield] and William [Cox] will be reversed, but at least we might want to obey the canons.”
On Maundy Thursday, Bishop Howe repeated his call for justice to those falsely condemned, noting “I recall that another person of influence washed his hands of a difficult matter on this same weekend some years ago.”
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is gauging her strength among the members of the US House of Bishops to see if she has sufficient political capital to depose traditionalist Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh before the July Lambeth Conference.
Bishop Schori’s admission came in the same week as word of new litigation against a retired conservative bishop was announced. The former Bishop of Quincy, 80-year old Edward MacBurney (pictured) is charged with violating the church’s canons by visiting a non-Episcopal church in the diocese of San Diego without the permission of the local Episcopal bishop.
Speaking at a March 12 press conference following the House of Bishops’ trial of Bishops John-David Schofield and William Cox for “abandonment of communion” of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Schori said she would now move against Bishop Duncan and distribute copies of the investigation into Bishop Duncan’s statments to the bishops. This would allow her to gauge the mood of the house for a trial as early as May for the conservative leader.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on March 15 that Bishop Schori’s lawyer, David Booth Beers sent an email to a number of Pittsburgh church leaders last week explaining the decision. Bishop Schori would “poll the House of Bishops in April to see when the House would next like to meet to discuss, among other things, the certification respecting Bishop Duncan. It is not accurate to say that she is seeking approval to proceed; rather, she seeks the mind of the House as to when to proceed,” he said.
Whether Bishop Schori will be able to rid herself of Bishop Duncan is unclear. The House of Bishop’s failure to conform to its own rules in the trials of Bishop Schofield and Cox, and the reports of wide spread and consistent violations of the Bishop Cox’s right of fair play and due process under the canons by Bishop Schori, strengthens Bishop Duncan’s hand. Under the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church, 148 votes are needed to depose a bishop for abandonment of communion.
Only 68 active bishops were present at the trial of Bishops Schofield and Cox, as were a further 25 or so retired bishops. To successfully depose Bishop Duncan, Bishop Schori must find a further 50 bishops to get Bishop Duncan..
Bishop MacBurney, however, has not been charged with abandonment of communion at this stage of the ecclesiastical proceedings, but merely with canonical violations. In a statement released by the Diocese of Quincy, his lawyers noted the novelty of the charges against their client as to “whether an Episcopal bishop exercises total control over a certain geographical territory or whether a Bishop merely exercises control over the Episcopal churches within that territory.”
The current Bishop of Quincy, the Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman has given his full backing to Bishop MacBurney, saying his actions had been done in “good faith” and were motivated by the claims of conscience. Forward in Faith called the charges “pastorally and politically inept.”
The attack on Bishop MacBurney “will alienate others across the Communion who have not yet grasped the extent of the graceless and totalitarian mindset which now dominates the Episcopal Church,” it said on March 14.
Doubts over deposition trial: CEN 3.21.08 p 7. March 19, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, San Joaquin.
The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops has deposed the Bishop of San Joaquin and the retired suffragan Bishop of Maryland for “abandonment of the Communion” of the Episcopal Church following a closed trial in Texas on March 12. However, a joint investigation by The Church of England Newspaper and The Living Church magazine has revealed procedural and legal inconsistencies that may render the vote a nullity.
The ecclesiastical trial of Bishop John-David Schofield was a necessary part of the Episcopal Church’s legal strategy to secure the property of the Diocese of San Joaquin, US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said on March 12. However, the flawed trial has created a legal anomaly leaving Bishop Schofield in place as Episcopal bishop of San Joaquin, when neither he, nor Bishop Schori, want him to hold that post.
“The current public dispute over the canonical legality of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops’ recent vote to depose Bishops Schofield and Cox amounts at best to a severe embarrassment to the Presiding Bishop, her advisors, and the House itself; at worst, it exposes a travesty of Christian justice and prudence,” the Anglican Communion Institute noted.
“The result of this dispute and the failures of good order leading up to it will inevitably be the further erosion of [the Episcopal Church's] standing in the public’s eye and in the Communion’s councils,” it said.
Bishop Schofield was consecrated Bishop of San Joaquin in 1989. Last December, he presided over a diocesan convention at which clergy and lay delegates voted overwhelmingly to leave the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone. For this action Bishop Schofield was found by a review committee to have abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church, and was suspended from office pending a trial.
Title IV, Canon 9 section 2 of the Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons requires that the House of Bishops “by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote” must give its consent to depose a bishop under the abandonment of communion canon.
Eligible voters are defined as both active and retired bishops. Of the 294 bishops eligible to vote, less than a third were present for the trial. To lawfully depose Bishop Schofield, 148 votes would have to have been cast in favor of deposition.
As of breakfast on the last day of the House of Bishop’s March 7-12 meeting, 115 active and retired bishops were present. However, by the start of the trial only 68 active bishops answered the roll call, as did an undisclosed number of retired bishops.
The two hour trial in absentia began with a reading of the charges, followed by prayers from the chaplain. The bishops then broke apart into small groups and then gathered in a plenary session for debate.
A voice vote was held, first for Bishop Schofield and then for Bishop Cox, and both were declared to have been deposed. Questioned about the canonical inconsistencies at a post-meeting press conference, North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry defended the proceedings but admitted that there had been no discussion of its legality. “We have acted in recommendation to our canonical advisers,” he said. ”We acted in accordance with the canons.”
During the press conference, Bishop Schori said she had refused to accept Bishop Schofield’s resignation from the House of Bishops because the canons required a sitting diocesan bishop of the Church to receive permission to resign from the House of Bishops. His letter of resignation was flawed, she said. “He resigned his membership in the House of Bishops, not his status as a bishop with jurisdiction.”
The Episcopal Church had to bring him to trial and to refuse his resignation, as it needed to “clarify the status of the Corporate Sole. It is inappropriate for him to retain control of it.”
Trusteeship of the property of the Diocese of San Joaquin is vested in the Bishop, under California law, by means of a Corporate Sole-whereby the bishop by virtue of his office is trustee of the property.
Bishop Schori told the press conference that Bishop Schofield following the trial was “outside my sphere of influence. No longer a member of the House of Bishops. Not a member of the clergy. Not my concern.”
However, the revelation that the trial failed to conform to canon law, and by failing to garner enough votes to depose Bishop Schofield, had resulted in his legal acquittal, sparked a firestorm of controversy.
The Presiding Bishop’s lawyer, David Booth Beers released a statement on March 15, stating that his “position” was that the requirement that all bishops eligible to vote could be interpreted to mean all eligible to vote who happened to be present at the meeting.
What steps will now be taken to remedy the situation are unclear as both sides are confused as to how to act. Bishop Schori has already nominated a new bishop to serve as her designee in San Joaquin—retired Northern California Bishop Jerry Lamb. However, leading clergy of the diocese who wish to remain within the Episcopal Church have declined to meet with him, citing the failed trial as evidence that Bishop Schofield remains the Episcopal bishop.
On Palm Sunday, Bishop Schofield preached in his cathedral in Fresno—with Bishop Lamb seated in the front row of the congregation. Greeted with applause, Bishop Schofield defended his decision to affiliate with the Southern Cone as an act of moral necessity.
Bishop Schori had called a special convention of the diocese for March 29 to ratify Bishop Lamb’s appointment as Episcopal bishop. However, under civil and canon law the failed trial leaves Bishop Schofield as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in the US Church, and Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin in the Province of the Southern Cone.
HOB Secretary: ‘No One Challenged’ PB’s Ruling: TLC 3.17.08 March 17, 2008Posted by geoconger in House of Bishops, Living Church.
The Rt. Rev. Kenneth Price, Bishop Suffragan of Southern Ohio and secretary of the House of Bishops, said it is his understanding, “based on private conversations held prior to the meeting,” that the number of votes necessary to depose bishops John-David Schofield and William J. Cox was determined prior to the house’s March 12 business session by David Booth Beers, chancellor for the Presiding Bishop, and the Rt. Rev. John Clark Buchanan, House of Bishops’ parliamentarian.
Bishop Price told The Living Church he was not consulted on the number of votes needed for a deposition and he does not recall the resolutions approving the depositions of bishops Schofield and Cox being “singled out” as requiring a higher threshold of consent prior to enactment.
Title 4, canon 9, section 2 states that the vote requires “a majority of the whole number of bishops entitled to vote,” a higher threshold than that necessary to conduct business. There were 116 bishops registered at the meeting at 6 a.m. on March 12. The total number of bishops eligible to vote is 294, according to online sources.
“None of the votes taken were unanimous, each having both negative votes and abstentions,” Bishop Price said.
“However, the affirmative votes were so overwhelming that the Presiding Bishop declared them as having passed and no one challenged her ruling.”
In a statement published by Episcopal News Service, Mr. Beers contended that the vote conformed to the canons. His statement came following publication of an article on The Living Church News Service website on March 14 that raised the issue of whether the house had the canonically necessary number to depose two of its members.
“In consultation with the House of Bishops’ parliamentarian prior to the vote, we both agreed that the canon meant a majority of all those present and entitled to vote, because it is clear from the canon that the vote had to be taken at a meeting, unlike the situation where you poll the whole House of Bishops by mail. Therefore, it is our position that the vote was in order,” he said.
Bishop Price said the House of Bishops had “well in excess” of the minimum 68 bishops needed for a quorum to conduct business. Article I, section 2 of the constitution of The Episcopal Church, which defines a quorum as 50 percent plus one of all bishops “exclusive of bishops who have resigned their jurisdiction or positions.”
Selected documents in the matter of the Rt. Rev. William Cox March 15, 2008Posted by geoconger in House of Bishops.
Letter from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to Bishop Cox dated Jan. 8, 2008.
Title IV review committee report on Bishop Cox dated May 29, 2007. Page 1, Page 2.
Letter from Bishop Cox to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori dated March 28, 2007.
Certificate of Deposition of Bishop Cox dated March 12, 2008
Bishop Cox March 15, 2008Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), House of Bishops, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America.
The Rt. Rev. William Cox, Assistant Bishop of Oklahoma retired and Acting Provincial Assistant Bishop of the Southern Cone. Unpublished photo taken July 30 at the ACN conference in Fort Worth.
First published in The Living Church.
Slightly more than one-third of all bishops eligible voted to depose bishops John-David Schofield and William J. Cox during the House of Bishops’ spring retreat, far fewer than the 51 percent required by the canons.
The exact number is impossible to know, because both resolutions were approved by voice vote. Only 131 bishops registered for the meeting March 7-12 at Camp Allen, and at least 15 of them left before the business session began on Wednesday. There were 294 members of the House of Bishops entitled to vote on March 12.
When questioned about canonical inconsistencies during a telephone press conference at the conclusion of the meeting, Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina said the bishops had relied on advice provided to them by canonical experts, and did not examine canonical procedure during plenary debate prior to the votes to depose bishops Schofield and Cox.
Bishop Schofield was consecrated Bishop of San Joaquin in 1989. Last December, he presided over a diocesan convention at which clergy and lay delegates voted overwhelmingly to leave The Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone. Bishop Cox was consecrated Bishop Suffragan of Maryland in 1972. He resigned in 1980, later serving as Assisting Bishop of Oklahoma from 1980 to 1988. In 2005, Bishop Cox ordained two priests and a deacon at Christ Church, Overland Park, Kan. Christ Church affiliated with the Anglican Church of Uganda after purchasing its property from the Diocese of Kansas.
Both bishops were charged with abandonment of communion. The procedure for deposing a bishop under this charge is specified in Title IV, canon 9, sections 1-2. The canon stipulates that the vote requires “a majority of the whole number of bishops entitled to vote,” not merely a majority of those present. At least a dozen bishops voted either not to depose Bishop Schofield or to abstain, according to several bishops. The number voting in favor of deposing Bishop Cox was reportedly slightly larger than the number in favor of deposing Bishop Schofield.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was questioned about the history of the canonical proceedings against Bishop Cox. At first she said during the press conference that she had not sought the canonically required consent of the three senior bishops of the church for permission to inhibit Bishop Cox pending his trial. However Title IV, Canon 9, sections 1-2 do not describe a procedure for deposing a bishop who has not first been inhibited.
Consent Never Sought
Later in the press conference, Bishop Jefferts Schori clarified and extended her remarks, saying she had been “unable to get the consent of the three senior bishops last spring. That’s why we didn’t bring it to the September meeting” of the House of Bishops. One of the three senior bishops with jurisdiction confirmed to The Living Church that his consent to inhibit Bishop Cox was never sought.
In 2007, Bishop Cox sent a written letter to Bishop Jefferts Schori, announcing his resignation from the House of Bishops. Since he was already retired, he did not have jurisdiction, and therefore unlike Bishop Schofield, his resignation did not require consent from a majority of the House of Bishops. A trial of the 88-year-old retired bishop was not mandatory.
Bishop Cox also does not appear to have been granted due process with respect to a speedy trial. Once the disciplinary review committee formally certifies that a bishop has abandoned communion, the canons state “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.” The review committee provided certification to Bishop Jefferts Schori on May 29, 2007. His case should have been heard during the fall meeting in New Orleans last September. When asked about the apparent inconsistency, Bishop Jefferts Schori said initially she did not include Bishop Cox’s case on the agenda for the New Orleans meeting “due to the press of business.”
Title IV, canon 9, section 1 requires the Presiding Bishop to inform the accused bishop “forthwith,” in other words immediately, after the review committee has provided a certificate of abandonment, but Bishop Jefferts Schori did not write to Bishop Cox until Jan. 8, 2008, more than seven months afterward.
The two-hour business session at which the deposition votes were taken ran slightly longer than originally scheduled. First a resolution was read followed by prayer from the chaplain. A period of silence followed the prayer. After the silence was broken, the bishops discussed the resolution in small table groups followed by plenary discussion. When it appeared that everyone who wanted to speak had done so, the voice vote was taken. Each resolution was read and voted on separately.
US bishops explain their actions over inhibitions: CEN 2.01.08 p 5. February 1, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, Pittsburgh, San Joaquin.
The three senior bishops of the Episcopal Church have released statements explaining their views on charges of “abandonment of Communion” lodged against the Bishops of Pittsburgh and San Joaquin.
The bishops of Texas and Virginia, Don Wimberly and Peter Lee, last week stated that they had consented to the inhibition, or suspension, of Bishop John-David Schofield, but had refused to countenance the suspension of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan. However, the senior bishop of the church, the Rt. Rev. Leo Frade of Southeast Florida stated he had concurred with the request to inhibit both men.
Under the canons of the Episcopal Church, if the church’s Title IV review committee issues a recommendation that a bishop be brought to trial before the House of Bishops on the charge of abandonment, the presiding bishop must ask the three senior diocesan bishops for permission to inhibit the accused pending trial. The three must be in full agreement for the suspension to take place.
Bishop Wimberly of Texas, a member of the “Windsor Coalition” of bishops stated he had consented the inhibition of Bishop Schofield “because the Diocese of San Joaquin had recently voted to leave the Episcopal Church”
“We did not consent to the request for Bishop Duncan because the Diocese of Pittsburgh has not held their annual convention yet and therefore has not formalized any change to their membership within the Episcopal Church, as the Diocese of San Joaquin had,” Bishop Wimberly explained.
Bishop Lee concurred with this sentiment saying it was “clear” Bishop Schofield had abandoned the Communion of the Episcopal Church. However, Bishop Duncan’s Diocese of Pittsburgh had “not formalized any change to their membership within the Episcopal Church.”
House of Bishops plan Strategy: CEN 1.18.08 p 8. January 17, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops.
“The Planning Committee has outlined a meeting that will allow the House to focus on our upcoming time at Lambeth. With over 100 bishops consecrated since the 1998 gathering, it is helpful to offer some historical perspective, as well as consider the practical realities of our time there,” Bishop Schori said.
An addition to the agenda was added by Bishop Schori on Jan 11, after she set down Bishop Schofield for trial for abandoning the Communion of the Episcopal Church at the March 7-12 meeting.
The bishops “will also discuss communications strategies and reflect on how best to work with the media both leading up to and following from the [Lambeth] Conference.” Other topics to be discussed include “Reconciliation training, The Episcopal Identity Project, Bishops for a Just World, ethnic mission and ministry, and theological education.”
Last month Bishop Schori told the US Bishops she had appointed three bishops to approach the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, to ask him to reconsider his ban on New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson.
Speaking to the BBC on Jan 1, she said was “still hoping” Bishop Robinson would be invited to Lambeth. Dr. Williams could yet change his mind as “it’s a long time until July,” she observed.
Archbishop will act ‘in collaboration with Primates’ : CEN 11.29.07 November 30, 2007Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops.
| The Archbishop of Canterbury has told the Primates of the Anglican Communion that his response to the American crisis will be taken with their collaboration.
Writing to the Primates on Oct 2 Dr. Williams said he was “seeking the counsel of the Primates in the first instance.”
“My intention is firmly to honour the discernment of all the primates and the wider Communion at this juncture, which is why it is important to me to have frank assessments from all of you at the earliest opportunity,” he said.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
US Bishops fail to convince primates: CEN 11.30.07 p 6. November 28, 2007Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops.
The Primates have returned a vote of no confidence in the Episcopal Church. Lambeth Palace reports that a majority of primates have rejected the conclusions of the ACC/Primates Joint Standing Committtee (JSC), and have told the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams the Episcopal Church has failed, in whole or in part, to honor the recommendations of the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Dar es Salaam communiqué.
The majority rejection of the JSC report comes as a blow to Dr. Williams’ hopes to avert a showdown between the liberal and conservative wings of the Communion. It also marks an unprecedented repudiation of the competence and judgment of the central apparatus of the Anglican Consultative Council.
Following the publication of the positive assessment by the JSC of the actions of the New Orleans meeting of the US House of Bishops, Dr. Williams wrote to the primates asking “How far is your Province able to accept the JSC Report assessment that the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops have responded positively to the requests of the Windsor Report and those made by the Primates in their Communiqué at the end of their meeting in Dar es Salaam?”
Of the 38 primates, including the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, Lambeth Palace reported it had received 26 responses, and no reply from 12. Of the 26, 12 stated they could accept the JSC’s findings, 12 stated they rejected the JSC’s findings, while three offered a mixed verdict, and one said it was continuing to review the matter.
Of those who had not responded, three were from Africa, three from the Indian subcontinent, two from Central and South America, and four from other areas. However, based on past statements from the African and South Asian provinces, the majority reporting a mixed or negative response will be increased to roughly a two third’s margin once their views are communicated to London.
Details of who voted how were not released, nor did the summary stand close comparison to the body of the report. While the summary graph reported 10 provinces as not having responded, the paper identified 12 no responses. Twelve provinces were stated to have rejected the report in the summary, while the body of the paper stated this number was 10. Three provinces were listed as having given mixed responses in the summary, while the body of the paper said two provinces had so spoken.
In characterizing the differences between Provinces that accepted and rejected the JSC’s conclusions, the report said “that the former have looked for the spirit of the HoB’s communiqué (and the JSC’s analysis), whilst the latter have looked more closely at their language.”
Dr. Williams’ queries to the individual members of the ACC were inconclusive. Of the 75 members, 13 reported they agreed with the JSC’s conclusions, 8 disagreed, two offered a mixed response, with the remaining members not responding.
Lambeth Palace stated Dr. Williams would offer his views in his Advent letter to the primates.
Global South Primates: Postpone Lambeth: TLC 11.13.07 November 13, 2007Posted by geoconger in Global South, House of Bishops, Lambeth 2008, Living Church.
The House of Bishops’ statement following their Sept. 20-25 meeting in New Orleans failed to answer the primates’ Dar es Salaam communiqué, according to nine Global South leaders who met Oct. 25-30 in Shanghai, China.
In a statement posted on the Global South Anglican website, the archbishops wrote that The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops “has not given an unequivocal response to the requests of the primates.” However, the Global South group stopped short of calling for immediate disciplinary action against The Episcopal Church.
They called for an “urgent meeting of the primates to receive and conclude the draft Anglican Covenant and to determine how the Communion should move forward,” and also urged the postponement of the Lambeth Conference in 2008 to a date when all of the Communion’s bishops could “participate in a spirit of true collegiality and unity in the faith.”
Primates present at the Shanghai meeting were Archbishops Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Justice Akrofi of West Africa, Mouneer Anis of Jerusalem and the Middle East, John Chew of South East Asia, Fidèle Dirokpa of the Congo, Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Bernard Malango, (retired) Central Africa, and Henry Orombi of Uganda. The Primate of Korea, Archbishop Francis Park, was present for the consultation but did not endorse the final communiqué.
Archbishop Akinola subsequently sent an open letter on All Saints’ Day to the primates of all 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. He defended his province’s decision to offer temporary oversight to parishes and individuals who have left The Episcopal Church (TEC). A report prepared by the Joint Standing Committee of the primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, who met jointly with the House of Bishops in New Orleans, severely criticized those primates who have welcomed former Episcopalians into their provincial structures.
“These pastoral initiatives undertaken to keep faithful Anglicans within our Anglican family have been at a considerable cost of crucial resources to our province,” Archbishop Akinola wrote. “There is no moral equivalence between them and the actions taken by TEC.
“Until the Communion summons the courage to tackle that issue headlong and resolve it, we can do no other than provide for those who cry out to us. It is our earnest prayer that repentance and reconciliation will make this a temporary arrangement. One thing is clear, we will not abandon our friends.”
Published in The Living Church.
Australia divided: CEN 11.09.07 p 7. November 11, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, Women Priests.
The Anglican Church of Australia heard conflicting views on the adequacy of the American Episcopal Church’s response to the Primates’ during their General Synod in Canberra last month.
In his presidential address, Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Brisbane told Synod he believed the US Church had substantially complied with the primates’ request to imposea moratorium on gay bishops and blessings. He acknowledged the US church had failed to provide adequate support for its embattled traditionalists, but noted that overall the response had been “positive.”
ACC general secretary Canon Kenneth Kearon told synod he believed there had been a “genuine attempt” by the US church “to seriously repair the breeches of trust which have arisen.”
However, the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen stated he had not been persuaded. On Oct 22 he told Synod he believed that though the US response might have been “well intentioned” it had not “healed the rift.”
Dr. Jensen argued the “the matters at stake are theological, not legal; about the heart, not mere politics. Integral to the discussion is the authority and interpretation of the Bible. Scripture is the way in which God rules his church and we as Anglicans are committed to listening to scripture with unique attentiveness.”
“We have learned from the American experience that the matter of human sexuality is never going to be regarded as a minor one. It goes to the heart of our humanity and God’s authority,” he said.
Synod also divided on the question of women bishops. Evangelical and Anglo-Catholics bridled over a request to “welcome” a church tribunal’s ruling that held that as a matter of grammar, women could be appointed bishops under canon law.
An ad hoc group, the Association for Apostolic Ministry, headed by Dr. Jensen and the Anglo-Catholic Bishop of Ballarat, Michael Hough, drew almost a third of the delegates to a meeting of those opposed to women bishops.
Delay could wreck the Communion: CEN 11.02.07 p 7. November 1, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, House of Bishops.
Indecision and delay in responding to the crisis of faith and order over homosexuality will likely wreck the Anglican Communion, the Primate of the West Indies told his diocesan synod last week.
On Oct 22 Archbishop Drexel Gomez told the 107th session of the Diocese of the Bahamas synod gathered at Christ Church Cathedral in Nassau that reform was needed now to save the Communion.
“It is clear that the future of the Anglican Communion is unclear at the moment but there can be no doubt that the future shape of Anglicanism will have to undergo significant adjustments if the Communion is to remain intact,” he said.
The adoption of an Anglican Covenant would go a long way towards restoring trust and accountability within the Communion, he said. However, the crisis of gay bishops and blessings could not be papered over without dire consequences to the integrity of the Church as the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 “changed everything,” he explained.
Archbishop Gomez also said the Communion must also resolve the issue of bishops acting outside their territories and the plight of embattled traditionalists in US and Canadian dioceses and restore catholic order to the church.
Chairman of the Anglican Covenant Design Group, Archbishop Gomez is considered one of the key international players whose support Dr. Williams’ needs to keep the Communion going. The West Indian primate is not likely to lend his support to the ACC’s attempt to rehabilitate the Episcopal Church, however.
Speaking to The Christian Challenge magazine, Archbishop Gomez said the ACC’s joint standing committee report of Sept that gave the US church a passing grade in complying with the primates’ requests was “was more generous than I feel they should be.”
The Global South coalition of primates is expected to issue a statement this coming week that endorses the position of the African provinces, which held that the New Orleans statement failed to adequately respond to the requests made of the American Church by the wider Anglican Communion.
The New Orleans statement by the US House of Bishops has generated a wide and contradictory spate of explanatory letters and speeches from the American bishops to their dioceses. While the Primates ACC Joint Standing Committee’s report of Sept 30 argues the New Orleans statement complied with the primates’ request for a moratorium on gay bishops and blessings, liberal and conservative bishops in the US are united in saying it promised no such thing.
Speaking at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral on Sept 30, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the US Church was “not going backward” on gay rights. “All people, including gay and lesbian Christians and non-Christians, are deserving of the fullest regard of the church,” she said, noting the New Orleans statement was part of a larger conversation leading to the full inclusion of gays and lesbians into the life of the church.
Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison told his diocese he had voted against the New Orleans statement because he would not honor the gay bishop ban. The 2006 statement by the US General Convention to withhold consent for new gay bishops had been “recommendatory, not canonically mandatory,” meaning that “compliance is voluntary” he said.
“I honestly could not promise I would not consent to the election of a gay or lesbian priest to the episcopate,” Bishop Bennison said.
Nor would Vermont honor the gay blessing ban. On Sept 28 Vermont Bishop Thomas Ely explained that the bishops had stated that “the majority of bishops make no allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions. Of course that means some bishops do” permit gay blessings.
Bishop Ely said that “I am one who makes allowance for such blessings, and I intend to continue the current pastoral approach we have in place in the Diocese of Vermont for the blessing of holy unions.” He added that this was “clearly addressed and understood in the House of Bishops” and that gay blessings would be permitted.
Writing in the October issue of his diocesan newspaper, Washington Bishop John Chane stated that while his diocese did not yet have an official rite for the blessing of same sex unions, the New Orleans statement would permit same sex “blessings to continue in the diocese.”
On Oct 9 the Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson stated the Primates-ACC Joint Standing committee had “misunderstood us” when it reported the American House of Bishops had “declared a moratorium on all such public Rites” of same-sex blessings.
“Neither in our discussions nor in our statement did we agree to or declare such a moratorium on permitting such rites to take place,” Bishop Robinson said, adding that while it may be true of some dioceses it “is certainly not the case in my own diocese and many others.”
Bishop Robinson said that he had urged the Bishops’ statement “be reflective of what is true right now in the Episcopal Church: that while same sex blessings are not officially permitted in most dioceses, they are going on and will continue to go on.”
He stated he was unhappy with the final statement that said a “majority of Bishops do not sanction” gay blessings. This “implied that a minority do in fact sanction such blessings, and many more take no actions to prevent them.” It was a “mistake” not to “come right out and [say] so.”
The conservative bishop of San Joaquin John-David Schofield agreed with Bishop Robinson that the New Orleans statement was “neither [a] prohibition nor [a] restraint.” It merely turns a “blind eye” to the issue.
The Bishop of Dallas James Stanton was more sanguine than Bishop Schofield about the statement, stating the deliberations surrounding the report had been the most open and frank in his 15 years as a bishop in debating the topic.
“But the final result, I must confess, is disappointing to me. I do not believe the answers requested by the Primates have been given. I do not believe we have moved very far – if at all – from where we were before this meeting in terms of the assurances sought,” he said.
The majority of US Bishops did not believe “our decisions as a House might be wrong and at any rate ought to be subject to the advice and concerns of our Communion brothers and sisters.” The final statement, he observed, was an admission that the center could not hold and that the Church was “walking apart” Bishop Stanton concluded.
In a letter to the clergy of Central Florida, Bishop John W. Howe stated he had voted against the final statement, saying it did not “fully comply” with the primates’ requests “but we came much closer than I ever thought we would.”
The Bishops had made a “distinction between ‘public Rite’ and ‘private blessings’,” he said.
Publicly authorized rites would not be authorized, but there was “an implicit acknowledgement that in some places private blessings are still being offered,” Bishop Howe wrote.
“In our failure to do all that the Primates asked of us I was unable to vote for the Bishops’ Statement, but I was grateful to see a far higher level of concern for the unity of the Communion evident throughout our meeting than I have ever witnessed previously,” Bishop Howe said, adding “whether or not that level was high enough remains to be seen.”
Rebuff for Episcopal Green Light: CEN 10.12.07 p 8. October 10, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Consultative Council, CAPA, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Uganda, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, House of Bishops.
The New Orleans statement of the US House of Bishops has “clarified all outstanding questions” posed by the Primates to the American Church, a report prepared by the Primates/ACC joint standing committee (JSC) has found.
However, the 19-page Sept 30 report has been dismissed as dishonest by US conservatives, and its conclusions rejected by the African churches. Observers note the clumsy attempt of the JSC to usurp the prerogatives of the primates, and to become a de facto fifth “instrument of unity” has served to worsen the already bitter climate within the Communion.
The primates had asked the US Church to clarify the statement of its 2006 General Convention that it would not permit the election of further gay bishops or authorize gay blessings, that an autonomous scheme for pastoral oversight be given traditionalists, and that the lawsuits against breakaway conservative parishes would cease.
At their March meeting the US bishops invited Dr. Williams and the members of the primates standing committee to meet with them face to face to avert a blow up. Over the summer this invitation was enlarged by the ACC staff to include itself and the ACC standing committee.
In New Orleans the US Bishops pledged “as a body” to “exercise restraint” in electing gay bishops, pledged not to authorize “public rites” of same-sex blessings, and agreed to delegated pastoral oversight for traditionalists under the supervision of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. It declined to address the issue of lawsuits, and chastised Global South primates for violating their jurisdictions in providing support for traditionalist congregations.
The JSC concluded that this response satisfied the Primates’ requests and added the US was correct in citing the “ancient councils of the Church” in protesting border crossings. The primates were hypocrites in demanding the US church refrain from implementing gay bishops and blessings while they permitted the border crossings to go on.
“[W]e do not see how certain primates can in good conscience call upon The Episcopal Church to meet the recommendations of the Windsor Report while they find reasons to exempt themselves from paying regard to them. We recommend that the Archbishop remind them of their own words and undertakings,” the report said.
Crafted in a late night session on Sept 24 by Bishop Jefferts Schori and the JSC, the statement was adopted with amendments by the bishops on Sept 25. Critics of the report charge it is ingenuous of the ACC to give an independent endorsement of a report that it helped write, and question the US Presiding Bishop’s role as defendant, judge and jury in the process.
Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda called the report “severely compromised, and the gross conflicts of interest it represents utterly undermine its credibility.”
He said the primates did not envision the ACC inserting itself in the process while the US was “considering our requests. Yet, members of the [JSC] met with Presiding Bishop Schori in the course of the preparation of their House of Bishops’ statement in order to suggest certain words, which, if included in the statement, would assure endorsement by the [JSC]. Presiding Bishop Schori’s participation in the evaluation of the response requested of her province is a gross conflict of interest. We wonder why she did not recuse herself.”
Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt, a member of the JSC delegation in New Orleans repudiated the report saying the US had given an inadequate response. “Instead they used ambiguous language and contradicted themselves within their own response.”
The African archbishops also questioned the integrity of the JSC report, stating on Oct 5 that “on first reading we find it to be unsatisfactory. The assurances made are without credibility and its preparation is severely compromised by numerous conflicts of interest. The report itself appears to be a determined effort to find a way for the full inclusion of The Episcopal Church with no attempt at discipline or change from their prior position.”
The JSC report will be forwarded to all of the members of the Anglican Consultative Council and the primates for consideration. Archbishop Rowan Williams has asked for their responses by the end of October.
Primates Asked to Critique Bishops’ Response: TLC 10.02.07 October 2, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Ireland, Church of Nigeria, Church of the Province of Uganda, House of Bishops, Living Church.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has begun soliciting the views of the primates as to whether the Sept. 25 statement from the House of Bishops adequately responds to the primates’ request for clarification on The Episcopal Church’s stance on gay bishops and rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.
Archbishop Williams has begun telephoning and writing the primates, seeking their views. However, his trip to Armenia and Syria, and the opening of the Church of England’s House of Bishops meeting on Oct. 1, has hindered a speedy response to the New Orleans statement.
Public statements from some of the primates indicate a split of opinion along factional lines, with some declaring the statement adequate, while others have dismissed it as dishonest and non-responsive to the primates’ request.
Archbishop Alan Harper, Primate of Ireland, said the “American bishops have gone a considerable way to meeting the reasonable demands of their critics.”
Bishop David Beetge of the Highveld, the acting primate and vicar general of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, said he welcomed the decision “for the simple reason it gives us more space and time to talk to each other.”
The Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Brisbane said he believed the bishops had “responded positively to the substance of [the primates'] requests.”
Other primates were more critical. “What we expected to come from them is to repent. That this is a sin in the eyes of the Lord and repentance is what we, in particular, and others expected to hear” from the House of Bishops, said Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, Primate of Kenya.
The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, said the bishops’ response fell short. The primates had given The Episcopal Church “one final opportunity for an unequivocal assurance” that it would conform “to the mind and teaching of the Communion,” he said, and the bishops failed to do that. The primates are unwilling to accept further “ambiguous and misleading statements” from The Episcopal Church, he said.
Published in The Living Church.
Split Looming Despite Compromise: CEN 10.05.07 p 3. October 2, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Church of Nigeria, Church of the Province of Uganda, House of Bishops.
Reactions to the US House of Bishops New Orleans statement amongst the Primates have broken along factional lines, with conservatives denouncing the statement as insubstantial and dishonest, while liberals have praised its candor and modesty.
The divergent views of the adequacy of the US response to the Primates request for clarification of American church practices towards gay bishops and blessings further complicates the Archbishop of Canterbury’s hopes of forestalling a schism within the Communion.
Straightened finances and fears of a boycott by the primates of Wales, Ireland and Scotland to an emergency primates’ meeting to discuss the American response to the primates’ Dar es Salaam communique, has led to Dr. Williams telephoning the Communion’s primates to try to find a common mind.
Whether the primates’ round robin will produce an amicable resolution appears to be further hampered by the different world views of the players in Anglicanism’s great game. Aides to the Archbishop told The Church of England Newspaper during his meeting with the American bishops in New Orleans that Dr. Williams hoped to find the right combination of words that would satisfy the church’s disparate factions.
However, leaders of the Global South coalition have demanded not words, but action from the American church, and have little trust in the veracity of American promises of good behavior. Leaders of the liberal wing of the US Church and across the Communion are also divided, with some arguing that truth must not be subordinated to expediency while others hope their place within the councils of the church can be saved through the artful use of semantics.
The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Alan Harper of Armagh lauded the American response, saying the American “Bishops have gone a considerable way to meeting the reasonable demands of their critics.”
Archbishop Harper noted the “generous agreement” of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori “to put in place a plan to appoint Episcopal visitors for dioceses that request alternative oversight” and stated that while the bishops had declined “participation in the ‘Pastoral Scheme’ offered by the Primates,” they had “at least” recognized the “useful role” of the Communion in these debates.
Dr. Harper stated this seemed to be a “balanced and relatively generous response in a very delicate area of inter-provincial relationships.”
Bishop David Beetge of the Highveld, the acting primate and vicar general of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, said he welcomed the decision “for the simple reason it gives us more space and time to talk to each other.”
The Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Brisbane said he believed the US had “responded positively to all the requests put to them by the Primates in our Dar es Salaam communiqué.”However, he went on to damn the American Church with faint praise saying “Certainly they have responded to the substance of those requests.”
However the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen was not as sanguine. “At first reading, the statement from the TEC bishops does not seem to say anything new,” he noted. “The situation may not then be changed in any way.”
The African churches were stronger in their condemnation. “What we expected to come from them is to repent. That this is a sin in the eyes of the Lord and repentance is what me, in particular, and others expected to hear coming from this church,” Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said.
The Assistant Bishop of Kampala, David Zac Niringiye told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme Uganda believed the statement was inadequate as it was “not a change of heart”, but a temporizing solution.The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola stated the US response fell short of what was required. The primates had given the US “one final opportunity for an unequivocal assurance” that it would conform to the “to the mind and teaching of the Communion.”
He said the primates were unwilling to accept further “ambiguous and misleading statements” from the US Church. “Sadly it seems that our hopes were not well founded and our pleas have once again been ignored.”
Meanwhile the Anglican Mainstream group said they were disappointed with the response because it failed to address the specific questions asked of it by the Primates’ Meeting in February, and backed the Common Cause College of Bishops. In a statement they said: “The first two points — on the election of non-celibate gay and lesbian bishops, and on public rites for blessing same-sex unions — suggest that the TEC House of Bishops has agreed not to walk further away from the rest of the Anglican Communion for the moment.
“However, the TEC House of Bishops gives no indication of being prepared to turn and walk back towards us so that we may walk ahead together, and in reality same-sex blessings are continuing.
“Moreover, there is no response to the Primates’ request to suspend all legal action.”
The Church Society also rejected the House of Bishops statement saying it demonstrates TEC has ‘abandoned orthodox Christianity’.
House of Bishops New Orleans October 2, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), House of Bishops.
Bishops seated in the Moriel Convention Center in New Orleans before the start of the Sept 20 Jazz Evening Prayer Service. In the front row, Bishops Coleman, Herlong and Love. Second row: Knudson, Walker, Caranza, Allen, Guerrero
Bishop Jeffrey Steenson of the Rio Grande: CEN 9.28.07 p 8. October 2, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, Rio Grande.
Jeffrey Steenson of the Rio Grande. This photo first published in the Church of England Newspaper, 9.28.07
Bishop quits after summit: CEN 9.28.07 p 8. October 2, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, Rio Grande, Roman Catholic Church.
The Episcopal Church’s civil war over homosexuality claimed another victim this week, after the Bishop of the Rio Grande, Dr. Jeffrey N. Steenson announced to the US House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans that was renouncing his orders and planned upon entering the Roman Catholic Church at year’s end.
Bishop Steenson becomes the third American bishop to quit the Episcopal Church for Rome this year following in the wake of the former Bishop of Albany, Daniel Herzog and the former Bishop of Fort Worth, Clarence Pope.
“The reason for this decision is that my conscience is deeply troubled about where the Episcopal Church is heading, and this has become a crisis for me because of my ordination vow to uphold its doctrine, discipline, and worship,” Bishop Steenson wrote in a Sept 21 letter to his clergy.
In an interview with The Living Church magazine Bishop Steenson said the March meeting of the US House of Bishops had decided the matter for him. It had been a “profoundly disturbing experience” he said.
“I was more than a little surprised when such a substantial majority declared the polity of the Episcopal Church to be primarily that of an autonomous and independent local church relating to the wider Anglican Communion by voluntary association. This is not the Anglicanism in which I was formed; inspired by the Oxford Movement and the Catholic Revival in the Church of England … honestly, I did not recognize the church that this House described on that occasion,” he said.
Elected bishop of the Albuquerque-based diocese in 2005, Bishop Steenson was the last bishop consecrated by the American Church who would not ordain women to the priesthood. Women candidates for ordination in the Rio Grande have been ordained on his behalf by his predecessor, Bishop Terry Kelshaw.
On Sept 26 Bishop Steenson and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will meet with the Rio Grande clergy “for mutual conversation,” writing that he acknowledged “with regret for how this may complicate your own ministry.”
However, in his statement to the House of Bishops announcing his resignation, Bishop Steenson wrote, “My conscience is deeply troubled, because I sense that the obligations of my ministry in The Episcopal Church may lead me to a place apart from scripture and tradition. I am concerned that if I do not listen to and act in accordance with conscience now, it will become harder and harder to hear God’s voice.”
House of Bishops New Orleans October 1, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), House of Bishops, South Carolina.
The Rt Rev Edward L Salmon, Acting Bishop of South Carolina. Photo taken Sept 20, 2007 at the Moriel Convention Center in New Orleans.
House of Bishops New Orleans October 1, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Fort Worth, House of Bishops, Rio Grande.
Bishops Jeffrey Steenson of the Rio Grande and Jack Iker of Fort Worth during a quiet moment in the House of Bishops on Sept 21, 2007.
Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies September 29, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), House of Bishops.
An unpublished photo of the President of the House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson taken during the Bishops’ day out in New Orleans, Sept 23, 2007.
Archbishop of Canterbury in New Orleans: CEN 9.28.07 p 9. September 27, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops.
Dr. Rowan Williams visiting members of All Souls Episcopal Church in New Orleans’ 9th ward. Photo taken 9.21.07 and was first published in The Church of England Newspaper.
Archbishop’s Press Conference: CEN 9.28.07 p 9. September 27, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams and US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori address the media at a press conference held on Sept 22 at the Intercontinental Hotel in New Orleans.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
Schori Moves to Avert Schism: CEN 9.28.07 p 1. September 27, 2007Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops.
The Bishops of the Episcopal Church have agreed to maintain the status quo within the Anglican Communion and refrain from consecrating any more gay bishops or authorizing public rites for same-sex blessings.
However the agreement hammered out in a late night session between Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and members of the joint ACC-Primates Standing Committee may be too little, too late, as plans are already well underway for up to five American dioceses to quit the church to affiliate with other provinces of the Anglican Communion.
After a day spent trying to reconcile half a dozen competing “mind of the house” resolutions on Sept 24, Bishop Schori proposed an eight point resolution that encompassed the essential elements of the competing plans. Bishop Schori adjourned the meeting and held a late night session with members of the joint standing committee to craft an acceptable statement.
Bishop Schori presented the results of her labors to the bishops on Sept 25. Bishops present at the closed door debates told CEN that it was understood among the House that the Joint Standing Committee would give the US Church a “passing grade” if it adopted the 8-point plan. After a half day of discussion and tinkering with the language, the bishops adopted the resolution with only the Bishop of Pennsylvania, Charles Bennison voting against—and an undisclosed number of bishops declining to vote.
The Bishops agreed for the present to: Halt the consecration of gay bishops; Not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions; and Endorse Bishop Schori’s primatial visitor plan for conservatives.
The bishops repeated their objections to “incursions into our jurisdictions by uninvited bishops”, asked for a wider implementation of the Lambeth “listening process”, endorsed the civil rights of homosexuals, and called upon Archbishop Williams to find a way to invite Gene Robinson to Lambeth 2008.
The bishops also backed Bishop Schori’s call for a “communion-wide consultation” on doctrine and discipline “in accord with our Constitution and Canons.”
Bishops on both the left and right were left discouraged by the compromise resolution, which the Bishop of Massachusetts said was crafted so as to satisfy the Joint Standing Committee. However, the Bishop of Los Angeles, Jon Bruno told a press conference the Episcopal Church would not turn back the clock on gay rights.
Dr. Williams is expected to give his blessing to the statement as having met the conditions of the Dar es Salaam communiqué. However, the ambiguous and tortuous language of the document is not likely to satisfy the primates, with many observers predicting a split within the American Church by year’s end.
Archbishop Williams’ pleas for restraint “unlikely to be heeded”: CEN 9.28.07 p 9. September 27, 2007Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops.
Dr. Williams greeting a parishioner at All Souls, New Orleans
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s pleas for restraint to the American bishops are likely to fall on deaf ears, with division of the American Church by year’s end a potential outcome of the Sept 20-25 meeting in New Orleans.
Invited to visit the US House of Bishops meeting along with members of the Joint ACC-Primates Standing Committee, Dr. Williams spent two difficult and at times emotional days urging America to rethink its stance towards the Communion and accept a moratorium on gay bishops and blessings. Bolstered by some light airplane reading on his flight to New Orleans, Dante’s Purgatorio, Dr. Williams found himself in a no-win situation, with few minds changed or positions apparently altered by the trip.
Dr. Williams’ thankless task awoke the ire of both liberals and conservatives. Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan told The Church of England Newspaper that he was disappointed with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Dr. Williams had privately encouraged conservatives to form the Anglican Communion Network, the Common Cause Coalition, and the Camp Allen group of “Windsor-compliant” bishops, but had declined to give his public backing once the groups were organized, he said.
Massachusetts Bishop M. Thomas Shaw said he also was disappointed with Dr. Williams for failing to recognize the “prophetic” witness of the Episcopal Church in electing a partnered gay priest as bishop.
Dr. Williams’ seven hours of meetings with the American bishops began on Sept 20. At the start of the first morning session US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced that she was extending to conservatives a primitial visitor plan, naming eight moderate and conservative visitors who would act in her stead.
No discussion and questions about the plan offered in response to the Primates’ call for a ‘pastoral scheme’ for traditionalists were raised, and the meeting moved on to other business. At the break conservative bishops rejected the visitor plan as a non-starter, telling CEN it offered less than the plan they rejected in November.
Nor were the Presiding Bishops’ eight visitors any more informed as to what the plan might entail. None of the visitors questioned knew details of the plan, each stating they had offered their assistance, but knew nothing further.
Seated at round tables spread across a hotel ballroom, the bishops spent the first part of the meeting in their “table groups”. Approximately two dozen bishops then rose to address Dr. Williams, who sat silent taking notes.
Dr. Williams heard complaints from the bishops of African leaders who had violated American diocesan boundaries. One bishop told CEN that “nothing new” was offered in the meeting, with well-worn positions restated.
The Bishop of Quincy, Keith Ackerman told Dr. Williams that the changes of doctrine and discipline made over the past twenty years in the Episcopal Church no longer made it recognizably part of the catholic church, while the Bishop of California Marc Andrus explained that his San Francisco-based diocese was the “main refuge” for gays and lesbians seeking to live a “Christian life.”
Following a lunch break, Dr. Williams offered a theological reflection, asking the bishops to reflect upon their office and its role within a catholic church. During a question and answer session following his unscripted remarks, the Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson attacked Dr. Williams saying that although he had supported him in the past, he could no longer do so.
According to one bishop present, Gene Robinson said Dr. Williams’ juxtaposition of fidelity to the catholic faith and fidelity to the aspirations of gay clergy to higher office was one of the “most dehumanizing things” he had heard.
Several liberal bishops politely rubbished Dr. Williams and his office as Archbishop of Canterbury, denigrating his motives and his knowledge of the American Church. They explained that the catholic faith meant not fidelity to theological norms, but to inclusion of all people. The bishops explained that the revision of the Baptismal service in the American 1979 Prayer Book had created a doctrine of a “baptismal covenant” that made inclusion and social activism the primary sacramental virtues of the Church.
After his meeting with the Bishops, the American Church organized a visit to a hurricane ravaged neighborhood in New Orleans to cheer up Dr. Williams. The Archbishop of Canterbury blessed the beginnings of a new mission in the flood ravaged 9th ward of New Orleans, telling reporters it had so far been the best part of his trip.
In a service of Evening Prayer with festive jazz music held at the New Orleans convention center, Dr. Williams avoided mention of the presenting issues, confining his remarks to the reconstruction and relief of the city. Upon the return to business the following morning, representatives from the Anglican Consultative Council addressed the bishops.
Mrs. Philipa Amable of Ghana, Bishop James Tengatenga of Southern Malawi, Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis of Jerusalem and the Middle East and Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Australia offered similar messages of rebuke to the American church, though offered in contrasting styles.
Mrs. Amable and Bishop Tengatenga, speaking without notes, stressed their desire for the American church to remain part of the Communion, but noted the discord prompted by the unilateral actions of promoting gay bishops and blessings. Bishop Tengatenga compared the Episcopal Church’s actions to American foreign policy adventures, saying the Episcopal Church had behaved like its government in Iraq and in Vietnam, convinced of its own righteousness and ignoring the pleas of the international community.
Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis offered a robust critique, saying America should have the courage of its convictions and state clearly whether it wanted to be on its own, or conform to the teachings of the wider church. Dr. Aspinall concluded the presentations with a review of the Primates Dar es Salaam communiqué.
He stated the American bishops appeared to have read the communiqué in its most restrictive light, and had misheard what the primates were seeking. Dr. Williams then offered a 15 minute reflection and heard closing comments and questions.
The ACC’s calls for repentance were not well received, and the early release of Dr. Annis’ speech via the internet served to discredit it among some. At the start of the meeting copies of Dr. Annis’ presentation were placed on a back table along with other documents from the meeting. From there it made its way out to the press where a ‘blogger’ posted the presentation on to the internet while the meeting was still in session.
The leak of the speech prompted harsh comments, with some bishops complaining Dr. Annis had been engaged in a “stunt” and was not addressing the bishops but speaking over their heads to conservative supporters. Asked if the leak had damaged his standing, one member of the joint standing committee told reporters that remained to be seen, but cautioned that if his actions had been deliberate it would not bode well.
Speaking to the press at the close of the meeting, Dr. Williams reiterated that the Sept 30 deadline from the primates was not an “ultimatum”, but a date set so as to coincide with the timing of the House of Bishops meeting.
After the American bishops had given their response, the joint Primates ACC standing committee would give its impressions to Dr. Williams, who would then discuss the statement with the primates over the coming weeks, with collective action to follow.
Dr. Williams’ nuanced statement was interpreted in different ways by the US bishops. Mississippi Bishop Duncan Gray said that a number of bishops were relieved to hear that they were not under a deadline to reply to the primates. Bishop Gray said he was “cautiously optimistic” that a compromise could be reached that would satisfy all parties.
However an aide to Dr. Williams said there had been no change to the position taken by Dr. Williams at the close of the Dar es Salaam primates meeting, that if the US bishops declined to act, there would be consequences.
Over the final two days of the meeting, the US bishops will hammer out a statement, expected to be released at the close of business on Sept 25.
Details Sketchy on Episcopal Visitor Proposal: TLC 9.21.07 September 26, 2007Posted by geoconger in House of Bishops, Living Church.
Neither observers nor participants received many public clues how the new episcopal visitor proposal, introduced on the opening day of the House of Bishops’ Sept. 20-25 meeting in New Orleans, was conceived or how it is intended to function.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori began the first plenary session with an announcement that eight bishops had accepted her invitation to serve as episcopal visitors. Other than the names, no further details were given and there was no follow-up discussion.
Some of the eight episcopal visitors who spoke with reporters for The Living Church were equally uncertain of the scope of the proposal or how it would be implemented. None of those surveyed by TLC said they knew the identities of the other seven ahead of time. To a person, they said their primary reason for accepting was a willingness to be helpful at what they considered a critical time.
“The Presiding Bishop is open to considering more episcopal visitor invitations,” said the Rev. Charles Robertson, Canon for the Presiding Bishop. Canon Robertson said the Presiding Bishop envisioned the episcopal visitor plan being potentially applied in a wide variety of circumstances for parishes and dioceses. He noted it would be possible to discuss the plan in greater detail, including a consultative contribution by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, after Archbishop Williams’ final session with the bishops Friday morning.
Archbishop Williams held two of his three plenary sessions with the bishops on Thursday. During the morning session he listened, quietly taking notes as about two dozen bishops were recognized by Bishop Jefferts Schori. Many of the comments and questions were directed to Archbishop Williams personally.
Archbishop Williams then addressed the bishops shortly after lunch. The bishops are seated at table groups which were assigned at the start of the triennium. After Archbishop Williams spoke, the bishops participated in table group discussion which subsequently was reported and discussed further.
During a media briefing at the conclusion of the afternoon session, Bishop Robert O’Neill of Colorado described the conversation throughout the day as respectful. Prior to the start Bishop Jefferts Schori assured Archbishop Williams he would be received “with great respect and hospitality.” The primates and Anglican Consultative Council representatives from the joint steering committee who are present have been given seat and voice.
Archbishop Williams made a late afternoon pastoral visit to greet the neighborhood residents around All Souls’ Chapel, a newly planted congregation in the city’s Lower Ninth Ward. Many of the residents who have returned to the neighborhood in the wake of Hurricane Katrina remain in substandard, flood-damaged housing. Nearby, the Diocese of Louisiana has recently started converting a former Walgreen’s Drug Store into a church.
In the evening Archbishop Williams led an ecumenical jazz vesper service at the city’s rebuilt Morial Convention Center, which suffered severe damage after serving as a shelter for evacuees made homeless by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Published in The Living Church.
Bishops Day out in New Orleans: TLC 9.24.07 September 25, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), House of Bishops, Living Church.
The Rev. Quin Bates (right), a deacon in the Diocese of Louisiana, briefs Bishop Robert Ilhoff of Maryland (left) and Bishop Paul Marshall of Bethlehem Sept. 22 at the start of their tour of a mobile medical clinic operated by the diocese in New Orleans.
First printed in The Living Church.
Rowan Williams in New Orleans: Religion & Ethics News Weekly 9.21.07 September 24, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Archbishop of Canterbury, House of Bishops, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.
Kim Lawton interviewing Archbishop Rowan Williams in New Orleans 9th ward on 9.21.07
Published by Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly