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Bishop Iker dismisses legal threat: CEN 7.03.09 p 5. July 5, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America.

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The Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone has rejected assertions made by lawyers representing the Episcopal Church that the clergy of the Anglican Church in North America are un-Anglican.

In a June 30 letter to the clergy of the Diocese of Fort Worth, Bishop Gregory Venables reminded them that the Alexandria primates meeting had affirmed the Anglican bona fides of the American breakaway dioceses and clergy.

While it would “take some time before the institutional structures catch up to the realities of the present day situation in the Communion,” the Diocese of Fort Worth and clergy of Fort Worth remained in “good standing and favor with me” and the Southern Cone. Your “orders and ministries are secure in the Lord and as Anglicans,” he said.

The February 2009 Primates Meeting had reached a “clear agreement” that the breakaway dioceses, their bishops and clergy are “fully members of the Anglican Communion. Any other assertions are,” in the view of the primates of the Anglican Communion, “completely unfounded,” he said.

Bishop Venables’ salvo comes in the wake of a broadside from a lawyer representing the loyalist faction of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and a letter from the Provision bishop of the diocese, Bishop Edwin Gulick of Kentucky. Last week, Bishop Gulick wrote to the Fort Worth clergy, stating he would depose unless they acceded to his authority.

A second letter from attorney Jonathan Nelson to the clergy and wardens of Fort Worth’s parishes asked them to turn over their property to the national Episcopal Church of face litigation.

On June 30, Bishop Iker told his clergy to ignore the demand letters, as they were “now in the hands of our attorneys.”

“We are no longer members of [the Episcopal Church] and are not subject to their discipline,” he said.

Bishop Iker further noted that under the Episcopal Church’s canon law, Bishop Gulick had no authority to act in Fort Worth. The special convention called by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on Feb 7, 2009 was not lawfully organized, he said, adding that “there was no quorum present at the February 7, 2009, meeting, because less than one-third of all clergy and lay delegates of the Diocese entitled to seat was present for the meeting.”

Any actions arising from the loyalists’ special convention were “null and void,” under canon and Texas civil law, he said—a point disputed by Bishop Gulick and the loyalist faction. The Tarrant County, Texas courts are studying the preliminary pleadings in the dispute, and a decision is not expected until next year.

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