It is sometimes helpful to remember actions and events of the past: In September 2002, while all the lead up to the 2003 General Convention was brewing, the Bishop of Pittsburgh received the Rev. David Moyer in what was an odd shell game. Fr. Moyer was bounced around by letter and fax from one jurisdiction to another and by slight of hand ended up in
Resident in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, Fr. Moyer was deposed by the Bishop of Pennsylvania. The House of Bishops of the Province of Central Africa approved Moyer as a priest in good standing in a diocese there and they in turn transferred him to the Diocese of Pittsburg. This strange bit of foolishness was concocted in order to avoid dealing with the canonical reality, namely that a deposed priest in ECUSA cannot be reinstated except as the bishop or diocese where the priest was deposed allows. (At least that’s how I read the matter.) This rather clever maneuver was for a moment a BIG DEAL. It has passed and the only big deal is that the Bishop of Pittsburgh got off without most folk remembering the mess he made. The letter from the Bishop of Pittsburgh on this matter can be found HERE.
Now, in the context of the “Hope and a Future” conference, a priest and three deacons have been ordained by the Bishop of Bolivia, Frank Lyons, in the closing Eucharist of this conference. You can read a report of this HERE. It is unclear just how the shuffling of papers worked this time, but Bishop Lyons must have had to work at it to get the requirements met for candidacy and ordination in
These ordinations took place in an extra-jurisdictional space, namely a Network event. So we can only imagine that the Bishop of Bolivia and the Bishop of Pittsburgh worked hard to cover their bases.
But no one seems to care very much that these ordinations are a stretch of canons, the intentions of the Windsor Report and the notion of ordination within a genuinely operating Episcopal jurisdiction.
This is because the shell game that makes it so difficult to know where the pea is, as the shells are moved about, works quite well in cases like that of Fr. Moyer and these four.
For the ordinations to be valid in
Of course it is all a muddle: Was the ordination in the Diocese of Pittsburgh? In the land of the Network? In no jurisdiction at all? It is all too complex to be really engaged. So, of course it is easier to just let it go.
Still, even with the shell game several things are clear:
(i) The Bishop of Bolivia is again active in ordaining clergy to cross boundaries with jurisdictions of the Episcopal Church, against the recommendations of the Windsor Report. He deserves censure from some source.
(ii) The Bishop of Bolivia has many more clergy operating outside his own diocese than within it. The South American Missionary Society,
(iii) The Bishop of Pittsburgh, also the Moderator of the Network, is in collusion with those planning these ordinations.
This of course is no surprise. Neither the Bishop of Bolivia nor the Bishop of Pittsburgh are concerned for the jurisdictional boundaries or authorities of any diocese in the Episcopal Church. But they do seem concerned enough to skate the thin edge between outright guerrilla action and simply disallowing the effects of canon and several of the recommendations of the Windsor Report.
The shell game is part of the guerrilla action promised by the Bishop of Pittsburgh, part of the effort to so confuse and confound the issues that no one wants to take the time to do anything about it.
The latest working of slight of hand is the Bishop of Pittsburgh’s comment that there will be an effort to depose him. By deflecting the eye, so we don’t see the shells moved about, the shuffle is easier. There may well be an effort to depose the Bishop of Pittsburgh, but I hope not. We don’t need him as a martyr. But more, we don’t need to be distracted by that.
Such an effort is unnecessary anyway, given other developments concerning the Network and various Primates of the Global South. He and the Network are clearer and clearer that they will not stay with more liberal folk in the Episcopal Church. The Global South Primates at the Hope and the Future Conference are pushing for decision. Things are cranking up for a call to arms. The guerrilla actions sniping at the edges are about to move into open conflict.
When we keep our eye on the shells as they are moved about, and while remembering to keep our hands on our wallets, remember – the shell game is always finally a con game. The operator always wins, for we can’t watch the shells move, the hands of the operator palming the pea, the line of chatter, and the distractions of others all at once.
The ordinations are a distraction. The bit player, the Bishop of Bolivia, is of no consequence. Even the context of the ordination is a distraction. Our focus ought to be on the fact that in setting up this shell game, as in the previous one, the real issue is the power to proclaim this corner the shell game operator’s corner.
This is about power and turf. The Network is more and more operating with the understanding that
That is, the Network is claiming first this corner and then the next and the next as their own. There is no reason to trust that they will do otherwise. Their supporters from the Global South would be well advised to watch out, for nothing prevents the spread of this method of developing power and influence.
We need to focus on the take over of the streets by ecclesial shell game artists.
About the only thing that will work is to demand to know what they are doing here? Do they have license for any sort of legitimate Anglican engagement here? These ordinations, like the transfer of Moyers, are an ecclesiastical mess.
At the very least we in the Episcopal Church have a right to know why one of our own bishops, in collusion with a bishop of another Province, condoned these ordinations, no matter what the context, in a place where he (