Fort Worth 7 indicted on charges of failure to inform on other bishops: Anglican Ink, November 13, 2012 November 13, 2012Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Canon Law, Fort Worth, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: D. Bruce MacPherson, Daniel H. Martins, Edward L Salmon Jr., F. Clayton Matthews, James M Stanton, John W. Howe, Katharine Jefferts Schori, Maurice M. Benitez, Paul Ambos, Paul E. Lambert, Peter H. Beckwith, William H. Love
The episcopal defendants in the Fort Worth 7 case have been charged with fraud, financial misconduct and failing to inform on their fellow bishops who held opinions on church order contrary to those advocated by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
In an email dated 2 Oct 2012 seen by Anglican Ink the Fort Worth 7 were informed of the specific canonical violations they had committed by filing an amicus brief in the Fort Worth case before the Texas Supreme Court.
The intake officer for the House of Bishops, the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews told the seven:
“The complaints were filed by the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Fort Worth and Mr. Paul Ambos, a member in good standing of Christ Church, New Brunswick, New Jersey and a Deputy to the 77th General Convention from the Diocese of New Jersey. They allege you violated Canons IV.3.1, and Canons IV.4.Sec1(c),(e),(g),(f),(h)(6),(h)(8), and possibly IV.4.Sec.1(h)(2).”
The canonical violations enumerated by Bishop Matthews were:
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Presiding Bishop finds theological opponents guilty of misconduct: The Church of England Newspaper, November 4, 2012 p 7. November 6, 2012Posted by geoconger in Canon Law, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: Andrew Doyle, Bruce MacPherson, C Wallis Ohl Jr, Daniel Martins, Edward L Salmon Jr., Garry Lillebridge, James Stanton, John W. Howe, Masterson et al. v. Diocese of Northwest Texas, Maurice Benitez, Michael Vono, Paul Lambert, Peter Beckwith, William Love
A 3-member Reference Panel led by U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has found that a prima facie case of misconduct can be made against nine serving and retired bishops of the Episcopal Church for voicing public disagreement with her view of church polity.
Bishops Peter Beckwith, Maurice Benitez, John W. Howe, Paul Lambert, William Love, Bruce MacPherson, Daniel Martins, Edward L. Salmon, Jr, and James Stanton were told on 19 Oct 2012 a reference panel consisting of Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, her aide Bishop Clayton Matthews, and the retired Bishop of Upper South Carolina and chair of the church’s disciplinary board Dorsey Henderson had found there was merit in the charges brought against them for having dissented from her view of the nature of the church’s hierarchy by testifying in court or having submitted an amicus brief to a court.
The Reference Panel recommended the accused bishops pursue “conciliation” with their accusers. Conciliation is not defined, however, in the canons.
In his email to the accused informing them of the panel’s decision, Bishop Matthews said that “after obtaining the agreement of the complainants, we will include in the process some representatives from the House of Bishops, in the spirit of our closed sessions, appointed by The Presiding Bishop. After some research for potential persons to serve as a Conciliator, I will meet on October 29th with the person, who we hope will serve as the Conciliator. I hope following this meeting, a schedule for proceeding will be forth coming.”
Under the Title IV disciplinary canons adopted in 2009, an intake officer must first determine if the offense described in the complaint warrants action. As intake officer for the House of Bishops, Bishop Matthews held that having endorsed an amicus brief with the Texas Supreme court that defends one view of Episcopal Church history and canon law, or in the case of Bishops Beckwith, MacPherson and Salmon, for having testified to their views of church polity in a case involving the secession of the Diocese of Quincy, the nine bisohps violated the canons.
Bishop Matthews then referred his findings to the panel, of which he is one of three members, and which was led by the presiding bishop whose views on church polity were the subject of the dispute, for determination of guilt.
Canon lawyer Allan Haley said the system adopted by the Episcopal Church to try political dissent was absurd. “No man shall be judge of his own cause is a maxim of law from the time of Solomon,” he said. In this case the presiding bishop and her staff are the investigators, prosecutor, judge and jury.
This “reeks of the kangaroo courts of rough justice of the mining claim” of the old West, he said.
One of the nine accused told CEN he has yet to be told what it was about his actions that violated the canons. Is it the “issue” or “expressing the issue in court” he said.
If it is the issue, the bishop noted the position set forth in their brief was identical to that put forward in 2009 in the Bishops Statement on Polity. If it was stating this belief in court, “what is illegitimate about that,” he asked.
Canon law experts note the prosecution of the nine bishops was politically motivated, as the actions for which they are accused are not considered “triable” when done by bishops who endorsed the party line.
Canon IV.19.of Title IV states: “No member of the Church, whether lay or ordained, may seek to have the Constitution and Canons of the Church interpreted by a secular court, or resort to a secular court to address a dispute arising under the Constitution and Canons, or for any purpose of delay, hindrance, review or otherwise affecting any proceeding under this Title.”
If the nine are being charged with violating this canon, the question need be asked why the Bishops of Texas, Southwest Texas, Northwest Texas and the Rio Grande have not been brought up on charges also, one bishop told CEN.
In the case of Masterson, et al. v. Diocese of Northwest Texas, No. 11-0332, the Rt Rev. Andrew Doyle, the Rt. Rev. Garry Lillebridge, the Rt. Rev. Michael Vono and the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Jr., filed an amicus brief with the Texas Supreme Court that endorsed the three-tier hierarchy concept favored by attorneys for the presiding bishop’s office.
One commentator asked “why it is OK for some bishops or dioceses and TEC itself to seek to have the courts interpret the C&Cs, but when others specifically advise the courts that they cannot get embroiled in these issues, it is a canonical offense.”
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.
Panel of Reference report on the Fort Worth 7 finds misconduct: Anglican Ink, October 22, 2012 October 23, 2012Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, Fort Worth, Quincy.
Tags: D. Bruce MacPherson, Daniel H. Martins, Edward L Salmon Jr., F. Clayton Matthews, James M Stanton, John W. Howe, Maurice M. Benitez, Paul E. Lambert, Peter H. Beckwith, William H. Love
A Reference Panel has found that a prima facie case of misconduct can be made against nine serving and retired bishops of the Episcopal Church for having endorsed an amicus brief presented to the Texas Supreme Court, or for having given testimony in a trial court proceeding involving the Diocese of Quincy.
The Rt Rev. Peter H. Beckwith, the Rt Rev Maurice M. Benitez, the Rt Rev John W. Howe, the Rt Rev Paul E. Lambert, the Rt Rev William H. Love, the Rt Rev D. Bruce MacPherson, the Rt Rev Daniel H. Martins, the Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr, and the Rt Rev James M. Stanton have been informed the Reference Panel had reviewed the charges brought against them by the provisional bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy and by lay and clergy accusers.
In an 19 Oct 2012 email Bishop Matthews wrote:
“The Reference Panel unanimously decided according to IV. 6.sec.8 that the complaint will proceed with option (c), Conciliation pursuant to Canon IV.10.”
Under the Title IV disciplinary canons, if the intake officer finds that if a prima facie case can be made against the accused – if the charges if proven true would constitute an offense – the proceedings are passed on to a Reference Panel for action.
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
No censure for 9 US ‘disloyal’ bishops: The Church of England Newspaper, July 15, 2012 p 7. July 15, 2012Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: C. Wallis Ohl, D. Bruce MacPherson, Daniel Martins, Edward L Salmon, James C. Buchanan, James M Stanton, John W. Howe, Maurice Benitez, Paul Lambert, Peter Beckwith, William Love
The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has rejected a call to censure nine bishops for disloyalty. Meeting at the General Convention in Indianapolis, on 8 July 2012 the bishops adopted a resolution affirming the loyalty and perseverance of Episcopalians in dioceses divided by secession.
The push by the provisional bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy to censure the nine has likely sunk any attempt to discipline the accused through the church’s legal system also. By pursuing the nine in the House of Bishops and through the church court system, they will have forced all bishops serving on the disciplinary board to recuse themselves from future deliberations.
On 28 June 2012, seven bishops received an email from Bishop Clayton Matthews in the office of the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori stating that “as the Intake Officer for the Church, I am obliged to inform you that a complaint has been received against you for your action in filing of Amicus Curiae Brief in the pending appeal in the Supreme Court of Texas in opposition to The Episcopal Diocese of Texas and The Episcopal Church. In the next few weeks, I will initiate a disciplinary process according to Title IV Canon 6 Sec. 3 & 4 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.”
A second email was sent the same day charging three bishops with misconduct for “signing affidavits in opposition to a motion for Summary Judgment made by representatives of The Episcopal Diocese of Quincy and The Episcopal Church in the Fall of 2011 to secure the Diocesan financial assets from a breakaway group.”
The nine bishops were not notified as to what violation of the canons they had nor were they told the names of their accusers. However, on 5 July the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Jr., Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, and the Rt. Rev. John C. Buchanan, Provisional Bishop of Quincy wrote to the presiding bishop asking the House of Bishops to “set the record straight regarding recent statements by certain bishops in our Church.”
The two bishops accused the Rt. Rev. Maurice Benitez, retired Bishop of Texas, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, retired Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. Paul Lambert, suffragan Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. William Love, Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana, the Rt. Rev. Daniel Martins, Bishop of Springfield, the Rt. Rev. James Stanton, Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, retired Bishop of Springfield, and the Rt. Rev. Edward L Salmon, retired Bishop of South Carolina and Dean of Nashotah House of misconduct and called for their censure by the House of Bishops.
Bishops Ohl and Buchanan charged their colleagues with having “falsely claimed” that “dioceses can unilaterally leave” the Episcopal Church. They “denied the Dennis Canon and failed to safeguard Church property”; the “recognize the wrong bishops” thereby injecting “chaos into core ecclesiastical functions” of the Episcopal Church; and they “violated the ecclesiastical jurisdictions” of Fort Worth and Quincy by having endorsed legal documents pertaining to questions outside their dioceses.
The nine had given “aid and comfort to breakaway factions who would take title and control of substantially all of the real and personal property of this Church and cripple its mission and ministry,” the two bishops said.
The charges drew sharp criticism from church scholars. Canon lawyer, Allan Haley – an attorney for the Diocese of San Joaquin – stated that the Ohl/Buchanan letter was “despicable” and “completely unworthy of the calling of a bishop. It is filled with lies and untruths.”
Professor Christopher Seitz, who also signed the friend of the court brief in Fort Worth, dismissed the charges as unfounded. “This is a lot of grasping at straws,” he said.
One bishop told The Church of England Newspaper the letter was “ill-timed” and an “end-run” around the church’s disciplinary canons.
The nine rejected the charges of disloyalty. In a 6 July letter to the House of Bishops they conceded their actions had been “controversial. We took these actions, however, precisely because we thought it our duty to do so in order to uphold the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church as we all have pledged to do.”
The charges brought were untrue, they said as they had never defended the actions of Bishop Iker and the Diocese of Forth Worth in seceding from the Episcopal Church nor had addressed the question of diocesan secession. They had not discussed the Dennis Canon nor challenged the church’s right to “recognize its own bishops.” They fourth charged that by exercising their civic duties they had violated their ecclesiastical responsibilities was false. “To our knowledge, no one has ever before suggested that petitioning the legislatures or courts in Washington or state capitols—our brief was filed in Austin, not Fort Worth—requires the consent of the local bishop.”
In two and a half hours of private discussion, the bishops heard representations from the accusers and accused. One bishop told CEN that while the discussions had been “warm” and at times “emotional” and “tearful”, the animus and partisan bickering present at past meetings was absent in Indianapolis.
By the end of the third session it was clear that the push to punish the nine “had no legs” one bishop said. Writing in his blog on 8 July Bishop Dan Martins said he had put forward the Mind of the House resolution that affirmed the Episcopal bishops ministering in the divided dioceses.
“This motion carried on a unanimous roll call vote. And it is in no way inconsistent with the amicus curiae brief that seven of us recently signed. My sense is that this has significantly lowered the thermostat in relations between the bishops. What effect it might have on the Title IV complaints remains to be seen. But I am hopeful.”
Speaking to Episcopal Café Bishop Buchanan said: “Bishop Ohl and I triggered this resolution by writing our letter. The House of Bishops spent nearly two and a half hours discussing this matter in productive and collegial conversation that worked toward reconciliation. The matter will continue to be discussed at future meetings of the House of Bishops.”
However, the Bishop of Chicago, the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey Lee told an 8 July press conference the resolution adopted was “virtually” identical to one adopted in 2009 and broke no new ground.
While the conversations will continue, the push to punish with the House of Bishops has effectively ended, CEN has learned. With the church’s intake officer assigned to review the charges, the members of the review panel that will first see the charges, the disciplinary board that will try the charges and the appeals board that will review the findings present at the meeting, along with the presiding bishop’s chancellor — one of the key witnesses for the prosecution — the impartiality of any future proceedings has been compromised, one of the nine observed.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: C Wallis Ohl Jr, D. Bruce MacPherson, Daniel Martins, Edward L Salmon Jr., House of Bishops, James C. Buchanan, James M Stanton, John W. Howe, Maurice Benitez, Paul Lambert, Peter Beckwith, Title IV, William Love
The push by the provisional bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy to censure nine bishops for disloyalty to the Episcopal Church has failed in the House of Bishops and has likely sunk any attempt to discipline the accused through the church’s legal system.
After two and a half hours of discussion over three private sessions at the 77th General Convention meeting in Indianapolis, on 8 July 2012 the House of Bishops responded to claims of misconduct leveled against the nine by the provisional bishops of Quincy and Fort Worth. The House of Bishops responded with a “Mind of the House” resolution proposed by one of the accused, the Rt. Rev. Daniel Martins, Bishop of Springfield, affirming the loyalty of Episcopalians in the dioceses of Fort Worth, Quincy, San Joaquin and Pittsburgh.
The House of Bishops had “no stomach” to discipline Bishop Martins, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, retired Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. Maurice Benitez, retired Bishop of Texas, the Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, the retired Bishop of Springfield, the Rt. Rev. Paul E. Lambert, suffragan Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana, the Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, retired Bishop of South Carolina and Dean of Nashotah House, and the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas, a participant in the 6-8 July meetings told Anglican Ink.
The “Mind of the House” resolution does not end the Title IV investigations into misconduct made against the nine, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the bishops. However, by seeking an immediate resolution to the dispute the Title IV process has effectively been shut down as those bishops present in the discussions who serve on the disciplinary board will have to recuse themselves from adjudicating the case. All of the episcopal judges that will hear the case are now disqualified from participation in a decision on grounds of personal involvement.
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Tags: John W. Howe, Title IV
The retired Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, reports that his name was omitted from the list of signatories to the 6 July 2012 in error. He tells Anglican Ink that he has endorsed the statement given to the Presiding Bishop and stands with his colleagues in their defense — though physically absent from the convention hall in Indianapolis.
Anglican Ink has updated its detailed report on the letter to correct this mistake.
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Tags: Anglican Communion Institute, D. Bruce MacPherson, Daniel Martins, James M Stanton, John W. Howe, Maurice Benetiz, Paul Lambert, William Love
Seven bishops have been charged with misconduct for having endorsed a friend of the court brief prepared by the Anglican Communion Institute in the Diocese of Fort Worth case.
On 28 June 2012, the Rt Rev Maurice M. Benitez, retired Bishop of Texas, the Rt Rev John W. Howe, retired Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt Rev Paul E. Lambert. Suffragan Bishop of Dallas, the Rt Rev William H. Love, Bishop of Albany, the Rt Rev D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana, the Rt Rev Daniel H. Martins, Bishop of Springfield, and the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas were informed they had been charged with misconduct.
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Episcopal Church polity under scrutinty by the courts: The Church of England Newspaper, May 13, 2012 p 7. May 21, 2012Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation.
Tags: Anglican Communion Institute, Bruce McPherson, Christopher Seitz, Daneil Martins, Diocese of Fort Worth, Ephraim Radner, Jack Iker, James Stanton, John W. Howe, Maurice Benetiz, Paul Lambert, Philip Turner, William Love
Seven bishops of the Episcopal Church have filed a legal brief with the Texas Supreme Court urging it to reject the theory that the General Convention or the presiding bishop holds metropolitan authority over the church’s dioceses.
In an amicus brief filed on 23 April 2012 prepared by the Anglican Communion Institute in the case of the breakaway Diocese of Fort Worth, seven bishops and three leading Episcopal scholars argued the trial court misconstrued the church’s constitutions and canons by holding that the Episcopal Church was a hierarchical body with ultimate power vested in the General Convention.
The 29-page brief stated that attorneys for that national Episcopal Church sought “to establish an alternative authority to that of the diocesan bishop” in their pleadings, which they said was contrary to the church’s Constitution and Canons. Attorneys for the national church have argued the Episcopal Church possesses a unitary polity, where dioceses are creatures of the General Convention.
The ACI disagrees, citing the church’s history and constitution and canons. Its friend of the court pleading follows upon their 22 April 2009 paper endorsed by 15 Bishops entitled Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church that stated the “fundamental structure of the Episcopal Church from the outset has been that of a voluntary association of dioceses meeting together in a General Convention as equals.”
Signing the document were the Bishops of Albany, Springfield, Western Louisiana, Dallas, the Suffragan Bishop of Dallas and the retired Bishops of Central Florida and Texas, along with the Rev. Christopher R. Seitz, the Rev. Philip W. Turner, and the Rev. Ephraim Radner from the ACI.
Canon lawyer Allan Haley observed the amicus brief filed in the Fort Worth case “must be both an embarrassment, and also no small irritant. After all, if the “Church” is at the top of the ‘three-tiered hierarchy,’ why can’t the “Church” keeps its bishops and clergy in line?”
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.