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Bishop gauging support for move to depose traditionalist bishop: CEN 3.20.08 p 7. March 21, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, Quincy.


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.

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