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Fort Worth Bishop is inhibited over vote: CEN 11.28.08 p 3 November 30, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Secession.

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has suspended Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker from the ordained ministry for backing his synod’s Nov 15 vote to quit the Episcopal Church and join the Province of the Southern Cone.

While the Nov 21 notice of inhibition directing Bishop Iker to recant of his sins within 60 days or face expulsion, came as no surprise to Episcopal Church watchers, internal documents show a lessening of support within the church’s hierarchy for Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s campaign of preemptive discipline of conservative bishops.

Her inhibition of Bishop Iker also appears to have introduced a new interpretation of the disciplinary canons for bishops. The requirement that the church’s three senior bishops endorse the inhibition of a bishop—which had been deemed irrelevant to the case against Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan in September—has been reinstated in the case of Bishop Iker.

On Aug 26, attorneys for Bishop Schori submitted a 64-page indictment to the Episcopal Church’s Title IV Committee. Bishop Schori believed the Anglo-Catholic leader had “so repudiated the doctrine, discipline and worship” of the church by his “persistent position that the Diocese may choose whether or not to remain a constituent part of the Episcopal Church,” that he should be found to have “abandoned the Communion of this Church.”

Bishop Schori’s lawyer, David Booth Beers asked the committee to address the charges on an “expedited basis, specifically, if at all feasible, before the next meeting of the House of Bishops on September 17, 2008.”

The Title IV Committee declined to deliberate at an expedited pace, and on Sept 12 and Oct 3 Mr. Beers provided further documents in support of its contentions. In his Oct 3 letter, the presiding bishop’s attorney said that his client “has asked you consider again the evidence” against Bishop Iker. Mr. Beers noted the deposition of Bishop Duncan had now set a precedent that permitted a bishop to be deposed for bad thoughts, without recourse to having committed bad acts..

However, the Title IV committee again refused an expedited request to act on the conspiracy charges and did not act until after the Nov 15 secession of the Diocese of Fort Worth. On Nov 20 the committee found that “Bishop Iker, according to his own reported statements and the statements issued by the Diocese of Forth Worth,” was serving as bishop of the “realigned” diocese and had accordingly abandoned the Communion of the Episcopal Church.

Unlike the case of Bishop Duncan, where the three senior bishops of the church had declined as a group to inhibit him, Bishop Iker was inhibited with the “consent” of the Bishops of Texas, Southeast Florida and Virginia. During the Duncan affair, Mr. Beers had argued that the “consent” of the three bishops for inhibition was not a prerequisite for discipline of the Pittsburgh bishop.

On Nov 24, Bishop Iker responded that “Katharine Jefferts Schori has no authority over me or my ministry as a Bishop in the Church of God. She never has, and she never will.”

He noted that since the synod vote, “both the Episcopal Diocese of Forth Worth and I as the Diocesan bishop” have been members of the Southern Cone. “As a result”, he added, Bishop Schori’s declarations “pertaining to us” are irrelevant and of no consequence.”

The President of the Forth Worth Standing Committee, the Rev. Thomas Hightower called upon Bishop Schori to “desist from any further actions in our diocese and that she refrain from any further border crossing.”

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