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Presiding Bishop finds theological opponents guilty of misconduct: The Church of England Newspaper, November 4, 2012 p 7. November 6, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Canon Law, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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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.

12 Bishops say no to gay blessings — Indianapolis Statement released: Anglican Ink, July 11, 2012 July 11, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, The Episcopal Church.
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A coalition of conservative and moderate bishops attending the 77th General Convention have released a statement denouncing the passage of Resolution A059: “Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships”.

The “Indianapolis Statement” joins declarations by the bishops and deputations of South Carolina and Central Florida in rejecting the authorization of provisional local rites for gay blessings as being contrary to Scripture, the Prayer Book, the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and the undivided theological, pastoral and moral witness of the universal church for the past 2000 years.

The Rt. Rev. Michael Smith, Bishop of North Dakota, rose at the start of the morning session of the House of Bishops today and said:

“Presiding Bishop, thank you for allowing me to rise to speak on behalf of at least twelve members of this House. Those of us known as the Communion Partners have expended a great deal of energy for at least the past six years working to persuade theological conservatives to remain in the Episcopal Church and theological liberals to remain in the Anglican Communion. Two actions of this General Convention have made this task more difficult: the authorization of same-sex blessings through the passage of Resolution 049, and our decision to ‘decline to take a position on the Anglican Covenant’ by the passage of Resolution D008.”

“We find ourselves between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place’. We struggle to hold together the evangelical faith of the Church, from which we see this Convention as departing, and the catholic order of the Church, which causes us, for the sake of the unity for which Jesus prayed, to resist the temptation to leave this fellowship.”

“Therefore, we submit to this House the following Minority Report:”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Accused bishops protest loyalty to TEC and Truth: Anglican Ink, July 7, 2012 July 7, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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Six bishops have written an open letter to the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops repudiating charges of disloyalty brought against them by the provisional bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy.

On 6 July 2012, six of nine bishops accused of misconduct by Bishops C. Wallis Ohl Jr., and James C. Buchanan stated there was no truth in the accusations leveled against them.

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, 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 stated they had been forced to act in order to protect the Episcopal Church – not to harm it.

“No charge is more serious to us than the one that we have acted against our own Church—in other words, that we have been disloyal. We assure each of you that we have acted out of a profound loyalty to this Church we love,” they wrote.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Episcopal Church polity under scrutinty by the courts: The Church of England Newspaper, May 13, 2012 p 7. May 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation.
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Seven bishops of the Episcopal Church have filed a legal brief with the Texas Supreme Court urging it to reject the theory that the General Convention or the presiding bishop holds metropolitan authority over the church’s dioceses.

In an amicus brief filed on 23 April 2012 prepared by the Anglican Communion Institute in the case of the breakaway Diocese of Fort Worth, seven bishops and three leading Episcopal scholars argued the trial court misconstrued the church’s constitutions and canons by holding that the Episcopal Church was a hierarchical body with ultimate power vested in the General Convention.

The 29-page brief stated that attorneys for that national Episcopal Church sought “to establish an alternative authority to that of the diocesan bishop” in their pleadings, which they said was contrary to the church’s Constitution and Canons.  Attorneys for the national church have argued the Episcopal Church possesses a unitary polity, where dioceses are creatures of the General Convention.

The ACI disagrees, citing the church’s history and constitution and canons.  Its friend of the court pleading follows upon their 22 April 2009 paper endorsed by 15 Bishops entitled Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church that stated the “fundamental structure of the Episcopal Church from the outset has been that of a voluntary association of dioceses meeting together in a General Convention as equals.”

Signing the document were the Bishops of Albany, Springfield, Western Louisiana, Dallas, the Suffragan Bishop of Dallas and the retired Bishops of Central Florida and Texas, along with the Rev. Christopher R. Seitz, the Rev. Philip W. Turner, and the Rev. Ephraim Radner from the ACI.

Canon lawyer Allan Haley observed the amicus brief filed in the Fort Worth case “must be both an embarrassment, and also no small irritant. After all, if the “Church” is at the top of the ‘three-tiered hierarchy,’ why can’t the “Church” keeps its bishops and clergy in line?”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.