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Fort Worth bishop deposed, but he denies renouncing orders: CEN 12.12.08 p 7 December 14, 2008

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

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has deposed Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker from the ordained ministry, saying she had received a written statement from the Anglo-Catholic leader renouncing his orders. However, the Fort Worth bishop denies having denounced his orders.

Writing to the US House of Bishops on Dec 5, Bishop Schori defended her actions saying her estimation of the Anglo-Catholic leader’s intent and her interpretation of his press statement released after she began legal proceedings on Nov 20 to remove him from office could be construed to meet the requirements of the canons.

In her letter to the House of Bishops explaining her decision, Bishop Schori said that she had taken “this course rather than seeking consent of the House of Bishops to Bishop Iker’s deposition for abandonment of the Communion of this Church because I believe it to be a more pastoral response to Bishop Iker’s clear expression of his desire not to be a part of the Episcopal Church at this time.”

On Nov 20 Bishop Schori suspended Bishop Iker from office pending a hearing before the House of Bishops. In response, Bishop Iker issued a statement to the media saying “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. Since November 15, 2008, both the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and I as the Diocesan Bishop have been members of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. As a result, canonical declarations of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church pertaining to us are irrelevant and of no consequence.”

Bishop Schori told the US Bishops that this “public statement” had made “clear” Bishop Iker’s desire to “leave the Episcopal Church and that he no longer wished to carry out the responsibilities of ordained ministry in the Church. Accordingly, I have, with the consent of my Council of Advice, chosen this day to accept Bishop Iker’s voluntary renunciation of his Orders in the Episcopal Church and have removed and released him from our ordained ministry.”

She argued that her actions “fits squarely within the canons,” adding that her decision to interpret the press statement as meeting the requirements of the canon was an act of kindness that “increases the hope for reconciliation with Bishop Iker and his followers at some point.”

On Dec 6, Bishop Iker stated Bishop Schori was “misleading the Church and misrepresenting the facts,” and denied having made a declaration of voluntary renunciation of his orders.

The Episcopal Church’s Canon III.12.7 governs the renunciation of a bishop’s ministry and requires that a voluntary renunciation be initiated by the bishop who desires to quit the church.
The bishop “shall declare, in writing, to the Presiding Bishop a renunciation of the ordained Ministry of this Church, and a desire to be removed therefrom.”

“I have not written to the Presiding Bishop making any such declaration or request,” Bishop Iker said, adding that he hoped the “House of Bishops will hold her accountable for her continued abuse of the canons.”

One traditionalist bishop within the Episcopal Church told The Church of England Newspaper that while it was a “forgone conclusion” that Bishop Iker would be deposed by the House of Bishops, the presiding bishop’s decision to circumvent the canons was unfortunate. However, he said there “was no will” within the House of Bishops to challenge her.

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