Peer’s objections to central heating overruled by church court: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 25, 2013Posted by geoconger in Canon Law, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Chichester, Lady Margaret Baldwin, Re Burwash Weald St. Philip  Chichester Const Ct
The Consistory Court of the Diocese of Chichester has overruled objections to the installation of a heating system for St. Philip’s Church in Burwash, holding the objections made by a nonegarian peer, while no doubt well intentioned, had “served in this instance only to obfuscate and delay the carrying out of the now long-overdue process of renewing the heating system”.
In Re Burwash Weald St. Philip  Chichester Const Ct, Chancellor Mark Hill QC, noted Lady Margaret Baldwin, a prominent member of the congregation, had made formal objections to the installation of a natural gas boiler and radiators to heat the church.
The chancellor wrote he had had “some difficulty in comprehending the nature of the objection advanced by Lady Baldwin,” which had been made in a “good number” of letters written in “dense text in a small font.”
“Their content strays considerably from relevant material – they are at times contradictory and at others repetitive.
“Lady Baldwin expresses herself to be animated by ‘habitual concern for the congregation’ – a worthy objective, but an intrusive and debilitating one if the concern is misplaced or rooted in a flawed understanding of the proposals.”
Chancellor Hill said the objections by Lady Baldwin, who was well into her 90’s, centered round fears the installation of central heating would damage the organ, which had been accidentally damaged during renovations in 1962.
The parochial council had engaged an “eminently qualified” architect to oversee the project had had raised the £51,000 necessary to undertake the project through a public appeal and a loan facilitated by the Diocesan Board of Finance.
He added: “As a dispassionate observer, I am saddened that Lady Baldwin’s ‘habitual concern for the congregation’ seems to have served in this instance only to obfuscate and delay the carrying out of the now long-overdue process of renewing the heating system.
“It has led to further faculty fees and may have increased the overall cost for the parish. That is much to be regretted,” the judge ruled in granting the faculty.
Malicious prosecution warnings for Episcopal clergy: Anglican Ink, January 25, 2013 January 25, 2013Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, Canon Law, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: CanonLawyer Inc., Michael Rehill, Title IV Ecclesiastical Discipline
A bulk email offering assistance akin to a pre-paid legal services plan has refocused the Episcopal Church’s attention on flaws within the new Title IV Ecclesiastical Discipline canons.
A 17 January 2013 email from CanonLawyer, Inc., an organization set up by long-time General Convention deputy and the former chancellor of the Diocese of Newark, Michael Rehill, elicited a wave of chatter amongst the clergy of the Episcopal Church after it warned of the risks of malicious prosecution under the new code.
In the personally addressed email, Mr. Rehill states: “I am writing to you because you are a Member of the Clergy of the Episcopal Church, and you are at risk of facing a proceeding under Title IV of the Canons of The Episcopal Church.”
He states that “as a result of recent revisions to Title IV, many more Members of the Clergy are now facing ecclesiastical discipline,” adding “You need to be prepared before it happens to you.”
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Conciliator appointed for Fort Worth & Quincy cases: Anglican Ink, November 20, 2012 November 20, 2012Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Canon Law, Fort Worth, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: Clayton Matthews, Fort Worth 7, John Douglass
The Presiding Bishop’s office has appointed a former federal prosecutor and law school dean to serve as a mediator in the Fort Worth and Quincy cases.
On 19 Nov 2012 the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews wrote two letters to the nine bishops subject to complaints of misconduct for having express opinions contrary. Bishop Matthews informed the nine that Prof. John Douglass had been appointed to be “conciliator” between the accused and the complainants.
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
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 backs ecclesiastical coup in South Carolina: Anglica Ink, November 11, 2012 November 12, 2012Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Canon Law, Property Litigation, South Carolina.
Tags: Mark Lawrence
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has declared the ecclesiastical authority of the Diocese of South Carolina vacant and has backed a faction within the diocese that is seeking to fill the “vacuum” created by the suspension of Bishop Mark Lawrence.
The loyalist “Transitional Committee” has also declared the South Carolina Standing Committee to be vacant and has formed a “steering committee” to act in its place.
On 11 Nov 2012, the steering committee announced that it had taken charge of the diocese. “We write to assure you that The Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina is continuing,” they said, noting they had formed a “steering committee of faithful Episcopalians” to “reorganize our continuing Diocese over the next few months. This committee will serve as the broad-based group in the Diocese that communicates with the Presiding Bishop during this period when the Diocese has no functioning ecclesiastical authority.”
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.
Anglican Unscripted Episode 54, October 26, 2012 October 27, 2012Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Covenant, Anglican.TV, Canon Law, Church of England, Church of Nigeria, Church of North India, Church of South India, Fort Worth, Persecution, Zimbabwe.
In this weeks episode Kevin and George bring an update on the Diocese of South Carlina and their separation from the Episcopal Church. Also this week they talk about Women’s Ordination and the new task force created by the Anglican Church in North America. And what episode would be complete without news from one of the broken Anglican “Instruments of Unity”. Peter talks about the reality of Women Bishops in England and Allen Haley guildes the viewer thru the Kangaroos courts found in Title IV. Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com #AU54
SSPX bishop threatened with expulsion: The Church of England Newspaper, September 20, 2012 September 22, 2012Posted by geoconger in Canon Law, Church of England Newspaper, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: Richard Williamson, Society of St Pius X
The controversial British bishop of the breakaway Catholic Society of St. Pius X, Richard Williamson, faces expulsion from his order following his unauthorized episcopal visit to a breakaway group in Brazil.
In a 6 Sept 2012 letter published on the SSPX website, the society’s superior for South America, Fr. Christian Bouchacourt said Bishop Williamson had committed a “serious act against the virtue of obedience” and “an attack upon the most elementary demands of courtesy” by confirming 100 people at the invitation of the prior of the breakaway Benedictine Monastery of the Holy Cross in Nova Friburgo in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro.
Fr. Bouchacourt said the illicit confirmations had “deceived” those being confirmed as they had been led to believe the bishop was acting on behalf of the SSPX. The society, which has distanced itself from the bishop’s Holocaust-denial statements, is investigating the charges, which if proven true could result in his dismissal from the society.
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.
Anglican Unscripted Episode 48, August 18, 2012 August 18, 2012Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, AMiA, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York, Canon Law, Church of England, Church of the Province of Uganda, Church of the Province of West Africa, South Carolina.
Tags: Crown Nominations Committee
Not a week goes by (even in August) when the Unscripted team can’t dig up some interesting news. Kevin and George discuss the “new thang” with AMiA and the turmoil at Pawley’s Island. They also reveal some Crown Commission secrets, Anglican Job Postings and Affinity Dioceses. Peter Ould talks about an Englishman trying to sell more books and Allan gives some interesting history about leaving and staying in TEC at the same time.
Anglican Unscripted Episode 43, June 18, 2012 June 18, 2012Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Church of Rwanda, Anglican Covenant, Anglican.TV, Canon Law, Church of England, Church of Ireland, Property Litigation, Scottish Episcopal Church.
Tags: U.S. Supreme Court
After a one week hiatus George and Kevin return. Allan Haley brings breaking news from the Supreme Court concerning TEC churches and the Dennis Canon. Your hosts talk about their adventures at the Anglican Church in North America’s Assembly, including the topic everyone was ‘not’ talking about. David Ould brings news from Australia and England while his twin brother Peter is enjoying a vacation with is family at Eurodisney.
Tags: Diocese of Brisbane, Phillip Aspinall
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia is backing a rethink of the Church’s sexual abuse reporting polices.
Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane told the Australian that he was having “second thoughts” about the policy of mandatory reporting of child abuse allegations to the police – regardless of the victim’s wishes.
In the wake of the child abuse reporting scandal that forced the former Archbishop of Brisbane, Dr Peter Hollingworth, to resign as Governor General of Australia in 2003 after he was found to have inadequately investigated child abuse claims in his diocese, his successor, Dr Aspinall, introduced the mandatory reporting requirement.
The diocesan protocol, which is followed by most Australian dioceses, is to turn over all complaints of child abuse to the police for investigation. Brisbane follows this policy, the Archbishop said, but he did see the wisdom of arguments that the wishes of the victim should be considered.
“When you’re dealing with an adult who is reporting abuse that happened to them as a child, it’s really important to empower that adult,” he said.
“And if you take that decision out of their hands and say, ‘Regardless of what you want, I’m going to report it to the police’, you are disempowering that adult and maybe even re-abusing them.
“I understand that position. But we have taken the view that because of the need to be accountable to the wider public, and because of allegations of cover-up and what have you in the past, then we will report everything.
“And then it is a matter between the police and the complainant … the Church will not interpose itself in that relationship and lay itself open to the allegation of covering up.”
Dr Aspinall has asked the diocese’s professional standards commission to review the policies, and to see whether Australia should adopt the policy currently in force in the Church of England, which takes the victim’s views into account.
The Australian reported that under the current protocol, three clergy have been defrocked. In 2005, 29 cases were reported to the Church. Only one complaint was filed last year and none have been submitted this year – there were no active investigations, the diocese reported.
The House of Bishops’ policy and its accompanying guidance ‘Protecting all God’s Children’ and government guidelines found in ‘Working together to Safeguard Children 2006’ forms the basis of diocesan policies in Britain.
The Church of England’s policy commits it to the “safeguarding, care and nurture of the children within our church community;” to “respond without delay to every complaint made, that a child or young person for whom we are responsible may have been harmed;” to “fully cooperate with statutory agencies;” to “offer informed pastoral care” to those who have “suffered abuse;” and to “care for and supervise any member of our church community known to have offended against a child.”
Motion denied in the Dating Game lawsuit: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 14, 2011 p 7. October 18, 2011Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Canon Law, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Brian Farran, Diocese of Newcastle, John Gumbley, Professional Standards Board
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.
The New South Wales Supreme court has rejected a bid by a former Diocese of Newcastle priest to compel the Diocesan Professional Standards Board to turn over a transcript and documents used in a hearing that ruled he be removed from the ministry.
Newcastle District Court Judge Margaret Sidis dismissed the motion to produce documents of John Gumbley and ordered the former priest to pay costs after she ruled on Sept 28 that he had failed to present a case to the court.
In August, Mr. Gumbley charged Bishop Brian Farran and the Professional Standards Board with using unlawful and immoral means to remove him from the ministry. In May 2010 the bishop defrocked Mr. Gumbley after the board found he had engaged in misconduct by consummating a sexual relationship with a member of his congregation. The 40-year-old unmarried clergyman had protested his innocence, but his veracity was questioned after the board reviewed journals that chronicled his private life.
Mr. Gumbley charged the diaries had been stolen and should not have been used in evidence against him. The Bishop conceded the diaries had been unlawfully downloaded from the priest’s computer by a spurned lover who had handed them over to the Diocese. But the bishop defended the propriety of using them in an ecclesiastical trial. However, the solicitor for the diocese, told the court the “stolen” reference was “an allegation, not a fact,” according to a report printed in the Newcastle Herald..
Mr. Gumbley’s solicitor told the court her client needed the documents to determine whether the professional standards board acted improperly. The court said it was “not going to allow this to be a fishing expedition” and rejected the motion.
Evangelical bishop under assault in America: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 14, 2011 p 5. October 14, 2011Posted by geoconger in Canon Law, Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina.
Tags: Dorsey Henderson, Josephine Hicks, Mark Lawrence
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.
The Bishop of South Carolina reports that he is being investigated by a church disciplinary committee for having abandoned the Episcopal Church.
One of the few remaining conservative bishops in the Episcopal Church, Bishop Mark Lawrence has been sharply critical of the Church’s embrace of the gay agenda and the new morality. While removing him from the House of Bishops would silence his voice, it will also provoke a constitutional crisis for the Episcopal Church, canon lawyers tell The Church of England Newspaper.
The national church’s Title IV Disciplinary Canons — which went into effect in July — do not have legal force in South Carolina following amendments to its bylaws made by the diocesan convention. The South Carolina Supreme Court has also nullified the Dennis Canon, saying the national Church rule that property is held in trust for the diocese and the national Church is invalid in that state –- effectively placing the diocese and its property beyond the reach of the national Church and its allies.
On 5 October Bishop Mark Lawrence and the president of the diocesan standing committee, Dean Paul Fuener, reported that on 29 September the diocese received a letter from Bishop Dorsey Henderson, the president of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, stating that “serious charges” had been lodged against the bishop.
Bishop Henderson forwarded a 63-page indictment of 12 charges brought by unnamed accusers alleging Bishop Lawrence’s actions violated canon law. A Church attorney had also been appointed to investigate the charges, South Carolina learned.
The Church attorney, Josephine Hicks, was the Episcopal Church’s lay representative to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). At ACC-14 in Kingston she gave a spirited defence of the Episcopal Church’s legal war against defecting dioceses when questions were raised by delegates from the Global South about the about the probity of the Episcopal Church’s conduct.
In an unusual twist to normal jurisprudence, the prosecutor in the case, Ms Hicks is entitled to vote in the deliberations on the bishop’s guilt or innocence.
Among the charges listed was the accusation that an October 2009 synod vote violated national canon law. The diocese voted to “begin withdrawing from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them, the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference which have expressed the mind of the Communion, the Book of Common Prayer, and our Constitution and Canons, until such bodies show willingness to repent of such actions.”
The diocese’s endorsement of the Anglican Covenant, its opposition to national Church support for abortion, and the content of a number of articles and speeches made by the bishop have been cited as evidence of his unfaithfulness to the church, as well as his decision to ordain his son to the priesthood.
The charge sheet alleges the Rev Chadwick Lawrence was not a proper deacon when he was ordained a priest by his father.
On 10 October, Bishop Henderson released a statement saying the disciplinary board would not follow the new canonical procedures, but would follow an expedited process to review the charges as Bishop Lawrence was being charged with abandoning the communion of the Episcopal Church. The Anglican Communion Institute has criticised this decision, noting the canons do not allow Bishop Henderson to dispense with the rules of procedure.
In an interview with Anglican TV, canon lawyer Allan Haley stated the prosecution of the case presents problems for the national Church. “South Carolina doesn’t recognize the new canons” used to indict Bishop Lawrence and it is likely they will refuse to cooperate with the investigation, he said.
Mr Haley noted the Episcopal Church “has no constitutional court to decide this issue” of a conflict of laws and should it take action against Bishop Lawrence and South Carolina, it could not enforce its decisions through the civil courts.
On 10 October Bishop Lawrence met with the South Carolina clergy to discuss the case. A response to the charges from the diocese is expected shortly.
Anglican Unscripted, Oct 9, 2011 October 10, 2011Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Canon Law, Property Litigation, South Carolina, Traditional Anglican Communion.
Tags: John Henry Newman, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Mark Lawrence, Occupy Wall Street
Episode 13 of Anglican Unscripted aired on Oct 9. The caption for the show reads:
Episode 13 brings a fresh perspective on the Diocese of South Caroline Vs 815. Kevin and George also discuss the death of Steve Jobs and Kevin gives his unique perspective on Steve Jobs’ legacy. Alan Haley provides detailed legal options for the Diocese of South Carolina… perhaps too detailed. And, Today-in-history is about the first Anglo-Catholic.
‘Prohibition for life’ on theft charges for Carlisle vicar: The Church of England Newspaper, July 8, 2011 p 5. July 9, 2011Posted by geoconger in Canon Law, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.
An ecclesial tribunal found a Carlisle vicar guilty of fiscal misconduct last week and has imposed a sentence of “prohibition for life” against the Rev. Karl Wray.
According to papers filed with the disciplinary tribunal, in 2009 the Archdeacon of Carlisle, the Ven. Kevin Roberts was alerted to “pastoral and governance concerns” at St Luke’s Church in Morton. A review of the parish returns raised a red flag as the vicar reported conducting one marriage and 17 funerals between 2000 and 2008. “In a parish the size of St Luke’s,” Archdeacon Roberts testified to the tribunal, the diocese expected “to see about 40 funerals a year.”
Confronted by the discrepancies, Mr. Wray admitted to not turning over fees for services and withholding information from the diocese, but testified there had been no attempt to be “dishonest.” However, he admitted that his handling of parish fiscal affairs was marked by “incompetence and inefficiency.”
Mr. Wray (60) was appointed vicar of St Luke’s in 1992. He was suspended from office in 2009 and resigned his post in January of this year. The investigation concluded Mr. Wray had pocketed approximately £21,000 in wedding and funeral fees.
On May 7, 2009, Cumbria police arrested Mr. Wray on suspicion of theft and false accounting. However the Crown Prosecution Service said that while it was “clear” the vicar had been “negligent in his handling of money,” the CPS was “not satisfied that we could prove beyond reasonable doubt that he had been criminally dishonest,” the tribunal reported.
At his hearing, Mr. Wray said “he had failed to pay the correct amount because of his bad record keeping. His returns were, he accepted, inaccurate but not false and not dishonest or fraudulent,” the tribunal’s records show.
However, the tribunal was not persuaded by his arguments
It said: “Mr. Wray’s misconduct was systematic, over a long period of time, and in breach of trust. Also, there appears to be no attempt by Mr Wray to learn from his misbehaviour, and no suggestion of remorse or repentance.
“There has been no attempt by him to put matters right, and no expression of contrition.”
A sentence of prohibition for life means Mr. Wray will be banned from the parish ministry for life.
Silence from NY on clergy abuse case: The Church of England Newspaper, July 8, 2011 p 7. July 7, 2011Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Canon Law, Church of England Newspaper.
Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori broke national Church canon law by receiving a Catholic priest with a history of sexual misconduct into the ministry of the Episcopal Church, a leading canon lawyer has concluded.
The Presiding Bishop’s office has refused to respond to questions about her alleged violations of Episcopal Church canon law, stating they do not comment on litigation. However, an investigation by The Church of England Newspaper suggests there is a prima facie case that the Presiding Bishop also violated rules she put in place in the Diocese of Nevada governing clergy sexual misconduct when she received the Rev Bede Parry into the priesthood in 2004.
The Presiding Bishop’s silence and the subsequent uproar comes as the Church’s new disciplinary canons came into effect on July 1, making her liable for ecclesiastical discipline for her actions as Bishop of Nevada. It also raises questions about the fairness of the clergy sexual abuse rules, as the canons presume that change of life and rehabilitation are impossible for those who have committed sexual sins.
Last month Fr Parry (69) resigned as an assistant priest on the staff of All Saints Episcopal Church in Las Vegas. On 23 June he was named as a sexual predator in a lawsuit filed by a Missouri man against Conception Abbey, a Roman Catholic monastery and seminary.
The lawsuit, filed in Nodaway County Circuit Court in Missouri, alleges that Fr Parry abused a teenage boy attending a choir camp at the abbey in 1987. The boy’s parents complained to the abbot and Fr Parry, who had previously confessed to four earlier incidents of abuse, was suspended and sent to a church-run clinic for sexual abusers in New Mexico. Upon completion of his treatment Fr Parry worked as a church music director in the Southwest and in 2000 applied for admission to another monastery.
The Missouri lawsuit contends that a psychological profile administered in 2000 by the monastery “revealed that Fr Parry was a sexual abuser who had the proclivity to reoffend with minors.”
Fr Parry began work as music director at All Saints in 2000 and in 2004 was received into the ministry of the Episcopal Church by Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
Joseph Paul Smith, an attorney for Fr Parry told CEN his client “has been open since 1987 about his involvement in the misconduct. Fr Bede went to church-prescribed treatment and has obtained treatment on his own since that time. There have been no episodes of misconduct at all since 1987.”
When he applied for reception Fr Parry “did inform” Bishop Jefferts Schori “of the incident in 1987 and his subsequent treatment,” Mr Smith said, adding that “Fr Bede has not been guilty of or participated in any misconduct during his tenure as an Episcopal priest.”
At the time of the 1987 incident, Conception Abbey notified the police of the abuse and “participated and fully cooperated” in their investigation, Mr Smith said, rejecting suggestions there had been a “cover-up”. “The District Attorney at that time made a decision to not prosecute,” he noted.
However, the Diocese of Nevada’s October 2003 Manual of Policies and Procedures Concerning Sexual Misconduct states: “There shall be no ministerial or pastoral role within a congregation for any professional … with a civil or criminal record of conviction of sexual misconduct.”
The diocesan manual further states: “There shall be no interaction with children and youth by anyone with a civil or criminal record of child sexual abuse or who has admitted prior sexual abuse.”
Canon lawyer Allan Haley finds the Presiding Bishop violated the national Church’s canons when she received Fr Parry. The canons governing the reception of Catholic clergy require a certificate “that the departure of the person from the Communion to which the person has belonged has not arisen from any circumstance unfavourable to moral or religious character.” The canons further require background checks and a psychological evaluation.
Mr Halley noted the “questions of what Bishop Jefferts Schori was told, what information she had available to her in the 2000 report, and any subsequent updating of it, and as a result of the background check done on Parry, thus become key to evaluating her decision to allow him to become a priest under her jurisdiction.”
“But her spokesman” he observed, “says only this: ‘We do not comment on lawsuits or allegations’.”
However, Bishop Jefferts Schori was not being asked to comment on lawsuits or the allegations, Mr Haley stated, but to explain her “overriding of the highly disturbing conclusion supposedly reached by the 2000 report: that Father Parry was a sexual abuser who had the proclivity to re-offend with minors.”
“The report was sufficient to keep Father Parry out of a Catholic monastery. Was it not also sufficient to keep him out of a position as an Episcopal priest? If not, why not?” Mr Halley asked.
Asked “who was harmed by Bishop Jefferts Schori’s casual reception of a paedophile,” Mr Halley stated: “Surely the other clergy in the Diocese of Nevada have a right to expect that their bishop would adhere to a standard that a candidate for orders in the Church who is caught in a lie about his background would not be accepted? And do not all Episcopalians have cause to be concerned about the adverse publicity that would come upon the Church once the facts came out, as is happening now?”
“How can any Episcopalian,” Mr. Halley asked, “be assured that their newly ordained/received priest is not an admitted paedophile?”
The Bede Parry saga takes a further unusual turn critics note, as it is the Presiding Bishop who has stonewalled the investigation, while Fr Parry has freely confessed his guilt and tendered his resignation from the ministry. His attorney told CEN Fr Parry had resigned as “he did not want this scandal to further harm the Church or its important work. He didn’t want the allegations to harm anyone else and did not want to be a distraction.”
At the height of the Roman Catholic clergy abuse scandal in 2005, Cardinal Avery Dulles writing in First Things argued there are times when priests can not only be forgiven of sin but rehabilitated and, with prudence, returned to public ministry: “Permanent exclusion from priestly ministry is the spiritual equivalent of the death penalty.”
Mr Smith sees the Parry case in this light. “It is a rather unfortunate event that some 24 years of good, even exemplary service, are wiped out and an otherwise good priest is given the ‘spiritual equivalent of the death penalty’,” he observed.
The Rev Ed Lovelady, Fr Parry’s former superior at All Saints told CEN his assistant was “faithful to his priestly ministry, a wonderful pastoral presence to me and to members of the parish, and a friend. I never had even the smallest hint of any kind of inappropriate behaviour, or any inclination to such.”
While he was not aware of his past actions, they would not change his opinion that that Bede Parry is a “true and valued friend and fellow priest.”
“I agree that priests should be entitled to the forgiveness and reconciliation in the Church that we preach about during Lent,” Fr Lovelady added. “We, as the Church, are in the forgiveness business.”
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
Misconduct charges have been leveled against the Bishop of Newcastle (Australia) for his handling of the disciplinary proceedings against clergy found by the diocesan Professional Standards Board to have engaged in misconduct.
On May 12 nine complaints were lodged with the office of the General Synod in Sydney against Bishop Brian Farran. The charges will now be passed to the Episcopal Standards Commission for review. If the commission finds that a prima facie case exists, the complaint will then be forwarded to the church’s Special Tribunal for adjudication.
Under canon law, the charges and the commission’s proceedings are not to be made public. At the conclusion of its investigation, which could take up to a year, the commission will file a formal public complaint against the accused, or report that the charges were unproven.
Press reports from Newcastle along with sources in the diocese tell The Church of England Newspaper center around the bishop’s handling of the divisions within the cathedral that led to his dismissal of a warden, and his oversight of the diocesan professional standards commission.
On Dec 15, the diocesan professional standards commission held that the former cathedral dean, the Very Rev. Graeme Lawrence and his partner—church organist Gregory Goyette—had engaged in sexual relations with a 17 year old boy at a church camp in 1984. A second priest, the Rev. Graeme Sturt was found to have observed the incident, but did not report the abuse.
The board recommended Dean Lawrence and Mr. Sturt be defrocked and Mr. Goyette prevented from working in the church. The two clergyman responded by filing suit against the board in civil court, saying its proceedings were arbitrary and capricious. They have denied all charges and the dispute is set for hearing later this month.
In a statement released on May 12, Bishop Farran said that it was “within the rights of those who feel aggrieved” to file a complaint. He added that he would “welcome the transparency that this process will afford.”
“As previously stated, I wish to make it clear that I am very aware of the concerns of some members of the Cathedral community and I wish to assure everyone involved that I continue to take these concerns seriously,” the bishop said.
Archbishop to intervene in Australian abuse case: The Church of England Newspaper, May 13, 2011 p 8. May 17, 2011Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Anglican Church of Australia, Canon Law, Church of England Newspaper.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia has been granted leave to intervene in the New South Wales Supreme Court case reviewing the legality of the church’s clergy discipline canons.
On May 9, the court permitted Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane to be joined as an additional defendant in the lawsuit brought by two Anglican clergymen who had been disciplined by the Diocese of Newcastle’s Professional Standards Board.
On Dec 15, the diocesan board held that the former Dean of Newcastle, the Very Rev. Graeme Lawrence and his partner—church organist Gregory Goyette—had engaged in sexual relations with a 17 year old boy at a church camp in 1984. A second priest, the Rev. Graeme Sturt was found to have observed the incident, but did not report the abuse.
The board recommended Dean Lawrence and Mr. Sturt be defrocked and Mr. Goyette prevented from working in the church. The two clergyman responded by filing suit against the board, saying its proceedings were arbitrary and capricious. They have denied all charges.
In his pleading, Dr. Aspinall said an adverse ruling had the potential to force the church to re-write its clergy disciplinary code in order to comply with civil law.
Five days of oral argument have been scheduled by the court for this month. However, the hearing may have come too late for one of those censured. On April 29, the ABC reported that Mr. Goyette was asked to show cause why he should not resign from his job at Merewether High School where he served as head music teacher. The Department of Education has since confirmed Mr. Goyette, who has also denied the accusations of misconduct, is no longer working at the school.
Australian church court bans diaconal presidency at the Eucharist: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 20, 2010 p 6. August 20, 2010Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Canon Law, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper
The Anglican Church of Australia’s highest church court has thrown out the legal principle behind its 2007 decision to allow the ordination of women bishops. In an Aug 10 decision concerning the Diocese of Sydney and diaconal presidency at the Eucharist, the Appellate Tribunal held that it is not the language of a canon, but the legislative intent in its creation that provides its meaning.
In its 2007 ruling the court came to an opposite conclusion, finding that while women bishops were not contemplated in the drafting of the canons governing the episcopate, its language could be construed to allow the innovation.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Sydney declined to comment on last week’s ruling, stating “the advisory opinion of the Tribunal will doubtless receive attention at the Diocesan Synod to be held in October.”
The ruling on lay and diaconal presidency at the Eucharist came in response to a petition filed by opponents of the Oct 21, 2008 resolution adopted by the Sydney Synod that stated “lay and diaconal administration of the Lord’s Supper is consistent with the teaching of Scripture” and affirmed that the “Lord’s Supper in this diocese may be administered by persons other than presbyters.”
The synod resolution followed a 1997 ruling by the Appellate Tribunal that held that deacons or lay people could administer Holy Communion so long as General Synod authorized the practice. Some parishes in Sydney had authorized deacons to administer the Eucharist in the absence of a priest, but lay presidency has not been permitted in the diocese.
The Sydney Synod believed that three revisions to the Ordination Service for Deacons Canon passed by General Synod in 1985 “radically” reformed the Ordinal to allow diaconal presidency. Under the new rite, deacons were charged to be “faithful in prayer, and take your place with bishop, priest and people in public worship and at the administration of the sacraments.”
In his question to the diaconal candidates for ordination, the bishop under the revised Ordinal asked, “Will you take your part in reading the Holy Scriptures in the church, in teaching the doctrine of Christ, and in administering the sacraments?” And in his authorization of the new deacon the bishop stated “receive this sign of your authority to proclaim God’s word and to assist in the administration of his holy sacraments.”
These three portions of the 1985 ordination service “expressly authorizes the deacon to assist the priest in the administration of the sacraments,” a report accepted by the 2008 Sydney Synod held, adding that the word “assistance equally applies to Holy Communion as it applies to baptism; and there is no dispute that a deacon can administer baptism in its entirety.”
The authors of the Sydney report, led by the Bishop of North Sydney Dr. Glenn Davies, conceded that it may not have been the intention of the 1985 Ordinal to authorize diaconal presidency, but the principle that authorial intent does not bind interpretation of the canons had been set by the Appellate Tribunal the year before.
In a split 4-3 decision released on Sept 28, 2007 the Appellate Tribunal found the language of the Law of the Church of England Clarification Canon 1992 did not require a bishop to be male in order to meet the definition of ‘canonical fitness’ for the Episcopal ministry. While the canon may not have contemplated women bishops, grammar allowed the canon to be construed to permit it, the court held.
Objections to the 2008 Sydney vote were submitted to the Appellate Tribunal in 2009 by 25 members of General Synod led by Dr. Muriel Porter of the Diocese of Melbourne. In its opinion, the court said the objections to the Sydney vote arose from the view that the “1985 Canon and the service for making deacons contained in it, the deacon’s role is clearly to take his or her place in the administration and to assist the priest in the administration.”
The Diocese of Sydney did not participate in the Tribunal’s proceedings, while Bishop Davies appeared in a personal capacity to defend his committee paper on diaconal presidency and the 1985 Ordinal only.
The court by a vote of 6 to 1 rejected Bishop Davies argument, finding a distinction with the phrase “assist in” found in the canon, and the concept “assist by.” As a deacon may only “assist in” it was “logically correct” to argue that a priest was necessarily present when a deacon could “assist in” administering the Eucharist.
Archbishop Phillip Aspinall wrote that he believed that Bishop Davies’ view that words “are to be given their plain and ordinary meaning” must be modified by context.
The archbishop argued that “there is a context that impacts upon the meaning of the words in the 1985 service, namely the BCP ordinal and the longstanding norms and practices governing the manner in which a deacon assists the priest in ministering the sacraments. That context impliedly limits the meaning of the words in the 1985 service and does not permit them to be construed in the manner submitted by Dr Davies.”
The effect of the Tribunal’s decision will be to halt the administration by deacons of the Eucharist in the Anglican Church of Australia, pending a canon authorizing the practice adopted by General Synod.
Church retirement rules upheld in the Bahamas, The Church of England Newspaper, March 7, 2010 March 24, 2010Posted by geoconger in Canon Law, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper
The Bahamian Supreme Court has rejected a petition to throw out the mandatory retirement canons of the Diocese of the Bahamas.
On March 3 Senior Justice Jon Isaac (pictured) discharged the injunction that had prevented Bishop Laish Boyd from removing 72-year old Archdeacon Etienne Bowleg from office as rector of Holy Trinity Church in Nassau, and dismissed the archdeacon’s appeal.
In his petition Archdeacon Bowleg argued the failure of the diocese to gazette, or give formal legal notice by publishing the canons in a journal of legal record, of the changes to its canons providing for mandatory retirement, rendered it void.
A similar case had been brought against the Diocese of Barbados by the Rev. Edward Gatherer, rector of St Andrew’s parish, who argued that when the Church of England was disestablished in 1969, the reorganized diocese failed to gazette its new retirement canons making them void.
The case of Gomez v Gatherer eventually came before the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Privy Council which held in 1992 the diocese had failed to follow its rules of procedure and was barred from enforcing canons not properly enacted. Fr. Gatherer, now 87 years of age, currently remains in office as priest in charge of St Andrews.
In last week’s case, Justice Isaac dismissed the archdeacon’s appeal without proceeding to the merits of his case after the diocese submitted a copy of the Deed of Institution naming Archdeacon Bowleg as rector of Holy Trinity which stated he “served at the pleasure of the bishop.”
As an ‘at will’ employee of the bishop, Archdeacon Bowleg had no standing to contest his dismissal, the court found, declining to address the constitutionality of the diocesan canons.
Bishop Boyd told the Nassau Guardian he was pleased with the ruling, while retired Archbishop Drexel Gomez said he too was pleased the issue had been “resolved for the sake of the church and for general order.”
The Bahamian Supreme Court will hear a challenge this week to the Anglican Church’s canons governing the retirement of clergy.
On March 3 the court will hear the petition of Archdeacon Etienne Bowleg, rector of Holy Trinity Church in Nassau, who is fighting Bishop Laish Boyd’s order that he step down upon reaching the mandatory age of retirement of 70.
This will be the second go round before the courts in the Bowleg affair, as the archdeacon had previously sought to have eight years subtracted from his age, claiming his birth certificate was in error. The archdeacon’s new claim is that the diocese’s failure to properly gazette, or publish the canon, renders it void.
The archdeacon’s claim is being given close consideration by the Bahamian courts, as a similar case in the Diocese of Barbados went to the Privy Council in London, which found in favor of a clergyman who was able to show the publication of the diocese’s canons had not been legally perfected.
In 2007 Archbishop Drexel Gomez informed Archdeacon Bowleg that as he was 70 years of age, he would have to step down at the end of the year. Under Bahamian canon law, clergy must retire at the age of 65, but may with the permission of bishop remain in office until the age of 70.
Archdeacon Bowleg responded that he was born on Dec 18, 1945, but when his birth was recorded it was registered with the wrong date: Dec 18, 1937. The mistake was only discovered when he moved to Nassau to live with his father. In 1962 he stated his parents signed an affidavit stating the year of his birth was 1945, but he had subsequently lost the affidavit.
The court granted an ex parte order to the archdeacon changing the date of his birth, but following the protests of the diocese which produced a baptismal certificate and the intervention of the attorney general, the order subtracting eight years from his birth certificate was rescinded.
In an affidavit sworn on Aug 20, 2008 Acting Registrar General Shane Miller stated the archdeacon’s birth had been recorded by his mother as Dec 18, 1937. A further search of the records revealed that a daughter had been born to the archdeacon’s mother on May 28, 1945 in Ragged Island. “It should be noted that this birth was seven months prior to the alleged birth of [Bowleg] on Dec 18, 1945,” Miller stated.
However, in light of his second cause of action, the Supreme Court has granted Archdeacon Bowleg an injunction, preventing his ouster pending the March hearing. The canons governing mandatory retirement were not properly advertised, the archdeacon has argued, and should be of no legal effect.
When he was Bishop of Barbados, Archbishop Gomez was party to a similar case. In Gomez v Gatherer, the Privy Council held that the failure of a Church to follow its rules of procedure served as a bar to enforcement of acts not properly enacted.
In 1969 the Anglican Church in Barbados was disestablished and the 1947 Anglican Church Act rescinded. New regulations were made by the church providing for retirement of clergy, but the church failed to publish the new regulations in the Official Gazette as was required by law.
The rector of St Andrew’s Church, the Rev. Edward Gatherer upon reaching retirement age was asked to stand down by Bishop Gomez. He declined and the case was brought to trial, and on appeal the Privy Council in 1992 held no obligation to retire was created because the regulations had not been properly published.
In affidavit filed with the Court in Nassau, Archbishop Gomez said he was disappointed that Archdeacon Bowleg was now seeking to impugn the diocesan constitution, when he had supported their adoption, and had acted on the premise that they were binding upon him and required his retirement at the age of 70.
Another bishop “released” in the US: CEN 1.31.09 p 7. January 31, 2009Posted by geoconger in Canon Law, Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Secession.
US Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori has “released” the Assistant Bishop of Fort Worth from the ordained ministry, saying that she had accepted the voluntary renunciation of orders given her by the Rt. Rev. William Wantland.
On Jan 23, Bishop Schori stated this action was taken in response to the Forward in Faith leader’s letter of Nov 15. She wrote that Bishop Wantland “stated that as a result of the Diocese of Fort Worth’s recent attempt to realign with the Province of the Southern Cone, ‘I am . . . now canonically affiliated with the Southern Cone and its Primate, The Most Rev. Gregory Venables.’ Bishop Wantland then declared that ‘I am no longer a member of the Episcopal Church.” These statements make clear that Bishop Wantland has chosen to leave the Episcopal Church and that he no longer wishes to carry out the responsibilities of ordained ministry in this Church.”
As a result she had accepted “Bishop Wantland’s voluntary renunciation of his Orders in the Episcopal Church and have removed and released him from our ordained ministry.”
Bishop Wantland responded that the Presiding Bishop was either a liar or a fool. In a statement released by the Diocese of Fort Worth, Bishop Wantland said his Nov 15 letter “specifically declared that ‘I am not resigning my Orders’,” and that her actions did not conform to church canons.
“I can only conclude that either you (1) do not understand the plain and fairly simple language of either the Canons or my letter to you, or (2) have deliberately violated the Canons for your own purposes and contrary to your obligation as a Christian not to bear false witness,” he said.
The Bishop of Fulham, the Rt. Rev. John Broadhurst, on Jan 23 said Forward in Faith was “appalled” by Bishop Schori’s “intentional disinformation and abuse of Church Law.” He noted that while she acknowledged that Bishop Wantland had transferred to the Province of the Southern Cone, her claim to then have deposed him from his clerical orders was a demonstration of “her disregard for other provinces of the Anglican Communion and the canons of her own TEC denomination.”
“Clearly her statements misrepresent Bishop Wantland’s letter,” Bishop Broadhurst wrote.
Written to respond to cases where a bishop leaves the Episcopal Church for the Roman Catholic church, the canon used by Bishop Schori against Bishop Wantland states the “bishop is released from the obligations of all ministerial offices, and is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts
US Presiding Bishop deposes Church of England Bishop: CEN 1.28.09 January 28, 2009Posted by geoconger in Canon Law, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
|The Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church has announced that she has deposed a bishop of the Church of England from the ordained ministry.
On Jan 23, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced that she had accepted the voluntary renunciation of ministry given to her by the Rt Rev Henry Scriven, Mission Director for South America of the newly merged South American Mission Society (SAMS) – Church Mission Society (CMS) and removed him from the ranks of the ordained ministry.
Under the terms of American Canon law Bishop Scriven is now “released from the obligations of all ministerial offices, and is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a minister of God’s word and sacraments conferred in ordination.”
However in a statement given to The Church of England Newspaper, Bishop Scriven denied that he had ever renounced his orders, and stated that he was at a loss to understand the presiding bishop’s actions.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
The Bishop of Fort Worth has called upon US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to honor due process and the rule of law, and give him an opportunity to respond to charges he has “abandoned” his priestly orders.
On Dec 31, the Rt. Rev. Jack Iker—speaking through his attorney Marshall Searcy—wrote to Bishop Schori contesting the legality of her attempts to remove him from office and from the ordained ministry. He charged the Presiding Bishop had perverted the rule of law in the church and that her novel interpretations of the canons in aid of expelling out the last Anglo-Catholics from the Episcopal Church were creating further division within the Anglican Communion.
By her actions, Bishop Schori had descended to the level of farce, Mr. Searcy said—for like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland the Episcopal Church’s “constitution and canons mean whatever you and your council say they mean, ‘nothing more, nothing less’.”
The US Presiding Bishop released a statement on Dec 5 saying she had accepted Bishop Iker’s renunciation of orders, saying the bishop’s intent could be divined though a press release.
This renunciation was a “fiction” that permitted the Presiding Bishop to circumvent the canons to achieve a desired political end, he charged. The “only reaction one can have to this farcical and imperious action is (again) one of sadness. It so perverts the canons and constitution of your province as to create doubt as to the legitimacy of any provision of your so-called ‘canonical law’ and leaves the clear impression that lawful authority simply does not exist” in the Episcopal Church, Bishop Iker’s lawyer wrote.
It was the “position of Bishop Iker” that the “true basis” of her complaint was that Fort Worth did not “adhere to the social agenda advanced under your tutelage.” This progressive agenda was “at odds with not only Bishop Iker’s reverent beliefs” but with those of the “vast majority” of the clergy and lay members of the Diocese of Fort Worth, the lawyer stated.
He urged the presiding bishop to allow Bishop Iker to respond to the “ludicrous charges” leveled against him, and permit the matter to be adjudicated under the church’s disciplinary canons. However, it was Fort Worth’s “gloomy prediction” that Bishop Schori would have “neither the courage, equity nor conviction” to do the right thing.
As of our going to press, no response has been made to Bishop Iker’s request for a trial.
Presiding Bishop has bungled Iker’s deposition: CEN 12.19.08 p 5. December 20, 2008Posted by geoconger in Canon Law, Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth.
US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has bungled the deposition of Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker, scholars from the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) have charged.
The presiding bishop has either violated church law, or created a legal precedent that prevents disciplinary proceedings against any other cleric who “abandons the Communion” of the Episcopal Church, the ACI’s theologians and canon lawyers have charged.
The Dec 11 claim by the ACI, a center right group of American theologians and scholars that has opposed both the secession of conservatives in the Episcopal Church and the leftward drift of the church hierarchy, has come in response to the presiding bishop’s deposition of Bishop Iker through the use of the renunciation canon—a clause in American canon law that permits the voluntary laicizing of a cleric for reason’s of conscience.
On Dec 5 Bishop Schori announced that she had accepted Bishop Iker’s renunciation of his orders, saying the Anglo-Catholic leader had petitioned her to be removed from holy orders through the vehicle of a press released. On Nov 24 Bishop Iker had said that Bishop Schori “has no authority over me or my ministry” and that “she never has, and she never will.” He added that he was now a member of the Province of the Southern Cone and that her “canonical declarations” were “irrelevant and of no consequence.”
Removing the Fort Worth bishop from the ministry based on this statement, the Presiding Bishop averred “fits squarely within the canons” and was an act of kindness that avoided the time and expense of a hearing before the House of Bishops.
However, Bishop Iker responded the presiding bishop was “misleading the Church and misrepresenting the facts” and denied having written a letter of renunciation.
On Dec 11, the ACI charged Bishop Schori had abused and contorted the canons, and “inexplicably conceded that Bishop Iker has not violated the Constitution and Canons of TEC and that he is no longer subject to its discipline. This clearly unintended consequence not only will have serious implications for any future litigation in Fort Worth, it once again calls into question the canonical validity of numerous actions she has taken over the past year.”
ACI pointed out that the pertinent canon prohibits the voluntary renunciation of orders of a bishop subject to the church’s disciplinary canons. “When the Presiding Bishop chose to pursue Bishop Iker under the non-disciplinary canon, she necessarily conceded that he was not in violation of TEC’s constitution and canons,” the ACI reported.
Her actions were “an admission that Bishop Iker and his diocese lawfully withdrew from TEC and are no longer subject to its discipline,” it concluded.
Bishop Schori had led the US church “not merely into canonical abuse and usurpation of power but into canonical chaos and institutional disintegration. Unless checked, this chaos will have grave implications for the future of the Communion as a whole,” they said.