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Fort Worth 7 indicted on charges of failure to inform on other bishops: Anglican Ink, November 13, 2012 November 13, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Canon Law, Fort Worth, The Episcopal Church.
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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.

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Panel of Reference report on the Fort Worth 7 finds misconduct: Anglican Ink, October 22, 2012 October 23, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, Fort Worth, Quincy.
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Bishop F Clayton Matthews

A Reference Panel has found that a prima facie case of misconduct can be made against nine serving and retired bishops of the Episcopal Church for having endorsed an amicus brief presented to the Texas Supreme Court, or for having given testimony in a trial court proceeding involving the Diocese of Quincy.

The Rt Rev. Peter H. Beckwith, the Rt Rev Maurice M. Benitez, the Rt Rev John W. Howe, the Rt Rev Paul E. Lambert, the Rt Rev William H. Love, the Rt Rev D. Bruce MacPherson, the Rt Rev Daniel H. Martins, the Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr, and the Rt Rev James M. Stanton have been informed the Reference Panel had reviewed the charges brought against them by the provisional bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy and by lay and clergy accusers.

In an 19 Oct 2012 email Bishop Matthews wrote:

“The Reference Panel unanimously decided according to IV. 6.sec.8 that the complaint will proceed with option (c), Conciliation pursuant to Canon IV.10.”

Under the Title IV disciplinary canons, if the intake officer finds that if a prima facie case can be made against the accused – if the charges if proven true would constitute an offense – the proceedings are passed on to a Reference Panel for action.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

No censure for 9 US ‘disloyal’ bishops: The Church of England Newspaper, July 15, 2012 p 7. July 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has rejected a call to censure nine bishops for disloyalty.  Meeting at the General Convention in Indianapolis, on 8 July 2012 the bishops adopted a resolution affirming the loyalty and perseverance of Episcopalians in dioceses divided by secession.

The push by the provisional bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy to censure the nine has likely sunk any attempt to discipline the accused through the church’s legal system also. By pursuing the nine in the House of Bishops and through the church court system, they will have forced all bishops serving on the disciplinary board to recuse themselves from future deliberations.

On 28 June 2012, seven bishops received an email from Bishop Clayton Matthews in the office of the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori stating that “as the Intake Officer for the Church, I am obliged to inform you that a complaint has been received against you for your action in filing of Amicus Curiae Brief in the pending appeal in the Supreme Court of Texas in opposition to The Episcopal Diocese of Texas and The Episcopal Church. In the next few weeks, I will initiate a disciplinary process according to Title IV Canon 6 Sec. 3 & 4 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.”

A second email was sent the same day charging three bishops with misconduct for “signing affidavits in opposition to a motion for Summary Judgment made by representatives of The Episcopal Diocese of Quincy and The Episcopal Church in the Fall of 2011 to secure the Diocesan financial assets from a breakaway group.”

The nine bishops were not notified as to what violation of the canons they had nor were they told the names of their accusers. However, on 5 July the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Jr., Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, and the Rt. Rev. John C. Buchanan, Provisional Bishop of Quincy wrote to the presiding bishop asking the House of Bishops to “set the record straight regarding recent statements by certain bishops in our Church.”

The two bishops accused the Rt. Rev. Maurice Benitez, retired Bishop of Texas, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, retired Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. Paul Lambert, suffragan Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. William Love, Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana, the Rt. Rev. Daniel Martins, Bishop of Springfield, the Rt. Rev. James Stanton, Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, retired Bishop of Springfield, and the Rt. Rev. Edward L Salmon, retired Bishop of South Carolina and Dean of Nashotah House of misconduct and called for their censure by the House of Bishops.

Bishops Ohl and Buchanan charged their colleagues with having “falsely claimed” that “dioceses can unilaterally leave” the Episcopal Church. They “denied the Dennis Canon and failed to safeguard Church property”; the “recognize the wrong bishops” thereby injecting “chaos into core ecclesiastical functions” of the Episcopal Church; and they “violated the ecclesiastical jurisdictions” of Fort Worth and Quincy by having endorsed legal documents pertaining to questions outside their dioceses.

The nine had given “aid and comfort to breakaway factions who would take title and control of substantially all of the real and personal property of this Church and cripple its mission and ministry,” the two bishops said.

The charges drew sharp criticism from church scholars.  Canon lawyer, Allan Haley – an attorney for the Diocese of San Joaquin – stated that the Ohl/Buchanan letter was “despicable” and “completely unworthy of the calling of a bishop. It is filled with lies and untruths.”

Professor Christopher Seitz, who also signed the friend of the court brief in Fort Worth, dismissed the charges as unfounded.  “This is a lot of grasping at straws,” he said.

One bishop told The Church of England Newspaper the letter was “ill-timed” and an “end-run” around the church’s disciplinary canons.

The nine rejected the charges of disloyalty.  In a 6 July letter to the House of Bishops they conceded their actions had been “controversial. We took these actions, however, precisely because we thought it our duty to do so in order to uphold the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church as we all have pledged to do.”

The charges brought were untrue, they said as they had never defended the actions of Bishop Iker and the Diocese of Forth Worth in seceding from the Episcopal Church nor had addressed the question of diocesan secession.  They had not discussed the Dennis Canon nor challenged the church’s right to “recognize its own bishops.” They fourth charged that by exercising their civic duties they had violated their ecclesiastical responsibilities was false.  “To our knowledge, no one has ever before suggested that petitioning the legislatures or courts in Washington or state capitols—our brief was filed in Austin, not Fort Worth—requires the consent of the local bishop.”

In two and a half hours of private discussion, the bishops heard representations from the accusers and accused.  One bishop told CEN that while the discussions had been “warm” and at times “emotional” and “tearful”, the animus and partisan bickering present at past meetings was absent in Indianapolis.

By the end of the third session it was clear that the push to punish the nine “had no legs” one bishop said.  Writing in his blog on 8 July Bishop Dan Martins said he had put forward the Mind of the House resolution that affirmed the Episcopal bishops ministering in the divided dioceses.

“This motion carried on a unanimous roll call vote. And it is in no way inconsistent with the amicus curiae brief that seven of us recently signed. My sense is that this has significantly lowered the thermostat in relations between the bishops. What effect it might have on the Title IV complaints remains to be seen. But I am hopeful.”

Speaking to Episcopal Café Bishop Buchanan said: “Bishop Ohl and I triggered this resolution by writing our letter. The House of Bishops spent nearly two and a half hours discussing this matter in productive and collegial conversation that worked toward reconciliation. The matter will continue to be discussed at future meetings of the House of Bishops.”

However, the Bishop of Chicago, the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey Lee told an 8 July press conference the resolution adopted was “virtually” identical to one adopted in 2009 and broke no new ground.

While the conversations will continue, the push to punish with the House of Bishops has effectively ended, CEN has learned.  With the church’s intake officer assigned to review the charges, the members of the review panel that will first see the charges, the disciplinary board that will try the charges and the appeals board that will review the findings present at the meeting, along with the presiding bishop’s chancellor — one of the key witnesses for the prosecution — the impartiality of any future proceedings has been compromised, one of the nine observed.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Show’s over – No censure for Fort Worth 9: Anglican Ink, July 9, 2012 July 9, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The push by the provisional bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy to censure nine bishops for disloyalty to the Episcopal Church has failed in the House of Bishops and has likely sunk any attempt to discipline the accused through the church’s legal system.

After two and a half hours of discussion over three private sessions at the 77th General Convention meeting in Indianapolis, on 8 July 2012 the House of Bishops responded to claims of misconduct leveled against the nine by the provisional bishops of Quincy and Fort Worth.  The House of Bishops responded with a “Mind of the House” resolution proposed by one of the accused, the Rt. Rev. Daniel Martins, Bishop of Springfield, affirming the loyalty of Episcopalians in the dioceses of Fort Worth, Quincy, San Joaquin and Pittsburgh.

The House of Bishops had “no stomach” to discipline Bishop Martins, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, retired Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. Maurice Benitez, retired Bishop of Texas, the Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, the retired Bishop of Springfield, the Rt. Rev. Paul E. Lambert, suffragan Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana, the Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, retired Bishop of South Carolina and Dean of Nashotah House, and the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas, a participant in the 6-8 July meetings told Anglican Ink.

The “Mind of the House” resolution does not end the Title IV investigations into misconduct made against the nine, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the bishops.  However, by seeking an immediate resolution to the dispute the Title IV process has effectively been shut down as those bishops present in the discussions who serve on the disciplinary board will have to recuse themselves from adjudicating the case.  All of the episcopal judges that will hear the case are now disqualified from participation in a decision on grounds of personal involvement.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Seven more TEC bishops charged with misconduct: Anglican Ink, June 30, 2012 June 30, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Fort Worth, Property Litigation.
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Seven bishops have been charged with misconduct for having endorsed a friend of the court brief prepared by the Anglican Communion Institute in the Diocese of Fort Worth case.

On 28 June 2012, the Rt Rev Maurice M. Benitez, retired Bishop of Texas, the Rt Rev John W. Howe, retired Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt Rev Paul E. Lambert. Suffragan Bishop of Dallas, the Rt Rev William H. Love, Bishop of Albany, the Rt Rev D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana, the Rt Rev Daniel H. Martins, Bishop of Springfield, and the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas were informed they had been charged with misconduct.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.