3/13/2007

The Moderator is losing it...

While the "Pastoral Letter from the Network Moderator" has been around on the internet for the last four days, I chose not to comment on it until it was posted by the Network itself. That happened Monday.

The letter is a collection of observations by the Moderator on matters arising from the Primate's Meeting in Tanzania. He claims "generosity and graciousness" in his patient response. But in reality the Moderator heaps doom and gloom on the prospects of a successful "last attempt at reconciliation in the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church." The Moderator is losing it.

The Moderator's letter makes creative use of several words and concepts:

Insulation: ""a sufficiently strong plan must be found for the congregations and dioceses of the Anglican Communion Network (plus any others from the wider Windsor coalition that may desire similar insulation)." The desire to be insulated from The Episcopal Church is clear. But I suppose the Moderator might want to think about the fact that insulation works both ways.

Responsibility for developing a system: The Moderator puts great stock on the "wider coalition of Windsor Bishops." The Moderator says, "The responsibility for developing such a system has been given to the wider coalition of Windsor Bishops who signed on to the " Camp Allen principles" – a group that includes the Network Bishops – to shape such a system, a system to be led by a Primatial Vicar.(3)" Unfortunately the footnote simply references the Key Recommendations section of the Primates Communiqué. Had he tried to give specific quotes he would have been hard pressed to make his case that the "Windsor Bishops" are responsible for developing a "system." First the scheme involves several activities of a Pastoral Council that engage the Windsor Bishops (among others): (i) The Pastoral Council, none of whom are chosen or recommended by the Windsor Bishops, will "work in cooperation with The Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop and the leadership of the bishops participating in the scheme proposed below (that would be the Windsor Bishops). The Pastoral Council, the Presiding Bishop, and leadership of the WB's, will do a variety of things. (ii) The Presiding Bishop will appoint a Primatial Vicar. (iii) In consultation with the Pastoral Council, and with the consent of the PB, the WB's will nominate a Primatial Vicar, who is responsible to The Pastoral Council. The Presiding Bishop, in consultation with the Pastoral Council will delegate specific powers and duties to the Primatial Vicar.

Now the Moderator is clearly not reading the same document that was published by the Anglican Communion Office. The only place in that document for work specifically assigned the Windsor Bishops (called "bishops expressing a commitment to 'the Camp Allen principles'") is in the work of nominating a person to be Primatial Vicar and the Council will "work in cooperation with The Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop and the leadership of the bishops…(The WB's)." The Pastoral Council and the Presiding Bishop "invite the bishops..." and gives opportunity to them to "participate in the pastoral scheme." So there is all sorts of cooperation and participation, but it is absolutely false that "the responsibility for developing such a system has been given to the wider coalition of Windsor Bishops, etc."

The Moderator has once again overstepped his dreams.

Within and Under: The Moderator then moves to the truly strange – a long discourse on the difference between being "within" the Episcopal Church or "under it." He begins by observing, "There is much question as to the degree to which the vision for an international Pastoral Council and a domestic Primatial Vicar would leave the Network "within" the Episcopal Church."

The Moderator observes, "One can be "within" something and not "under" it." Well, whatever that means it is at least logically correct that the "within" is different than "under." But then he says, "The Network has been proving that for the last three years." Proving, I suppose that he and the Network are within the Episcopal Church but not subject to its Constitution and Canons, not in communion with its leadership or its General Convention. To put it another way, proving that he and other network ordained persons are in violation of their oaths at ordination.

After a wonderfully contrived comparison to separation in marriage, he then opines, "Any sense that the Pastoral Council and Primatial Vicar are "under" majority TEC is absent from the documents themselves, would surely doom the vision to failure, and could hardly prove "a sufficiently strong scheme."

It will come as a very great disappointment to the Moderator to know that the Key Recommendations clearly state that "with the consent of the Presiding Bishop, those bishops who are part of the scheme {that is those invited by the Pastoral Council and the Presiding Bishop} will nominate a Primatial Vicar." And I am sure he will be disappointed that "The Presiding Bishop…will delegate specific powers to the Primatial Vicar."

All of this will disappoint the Moderator, but perhaps his readers, unless they read the Communique will not notice that "under" and "consent of and delegation by" the Presiding Bishop are indeed part of the scheme.

The Moderator then, in a meanness of spirit that cannot be over stated makes long suffering explanations as to why he must attend at least part of the House of Bishops Meeting.

"I will do everything I can to bring the hopes of the Primates Meeting to fruition. Necessarily, I will attend the meeting of the House of Bishops about to convene. The Archbishop of Canterbury has asked for "generosity and graciousness" in response to what the Primates have done. I will go in that spirit. Attendance at the meeting of the House of Bishops, however, should not be construed as anything more than doing what the situation requires. It remains that "the theological differences" with the Presiding Bishop and with those Diocesan Bishops who have taught and acted contrary to received Faith and Order (as upheld in the Windsor Report, and the Dromantine and Dar es Salaam Communiques) are of such magnitude that discussion of the issues before us is the limit of our participation in the life of the House of Bishops at the present time." If this is "generosity and graciousness" then we are all in trouble. The Bishop of Pittsburgh will continue to absent himself from the fellowship of that House except to make his claim on its future. I am sure this will be a great comfort to the House of Bishops.

He states, "The Windsor Bishops (which includes the Network Bishops) – all those who adopted the Camp Allen principles(4) – will meet shortly after Easter to shape our part of what the Primates' Meeting has envisioned. Obvious agenda items include discussion about a Primatial Vicar, about a "sufficiently strong" plan for the Network and Windsor minority, and about imagining whether any form of ministry could be designed that would be acceptable to those who have gone out."

It would be interesting to know just who is calling that meeting and why it is meeting at all, given that the scheme in which they are invited to participate is supposedly a matter of cooperation and consultation.

There is the assumption that the WB's will work it all out on their own, not consulting with the Pastoral Council, but bringing to whatever meeting takes place their conclusions. The Moderator's agenda seem to suppose the WB's will dictate the powers of the Primatial Vicar. The Moderator is wrong.

Ultimatums: Having warmed up by extending the power of the WB's and the Network, he now goes for a few ultimatums.

"The House of Bishops will have to respond to us and to the recommendations of the Primates' Meeting in a vastly different manner than has characterized the majority's behavior toward us in recent experience."

"…we owe it to our beloved Communion to follow the Primates' wisdom as to how to take a last step in that discernment. The Primates have established a deadline of September 30th for the Episcopal Church's entire House of Bishops to make an "unequivocal" response.(7) For all that is ahead, the Anglican Communion Network will continue to work with those "within" and with those who have "gone out" for a biblical, missionary and united future for North American Anglicanism."

What the Moderator means is, most of the Network thinks the matter is finished, but we'll give you one last chance.

This Pastoral Letter is neither pastoral nor a letter of encouragement. It is huff and puff, and an attempt to blow the house down. The Moderator misstates the Recommendations of the Communique giving the Windsor Bishops and the Network more authority than they have, continues to refuse the possibility that he is under orders, not just within them, and makes ultimatums.

The whole thing is addressed to "majority TEC," which means, I suppose the constitutionally elected and appointed leadership of The Episcopal Church, along with its General Convention, working within and under its Constitution and Canons, in other words The Episcopal Church.

8 comments:

  1. I wonder what the self-titled "Windsor Bishops" feel about having their group co-opted by the Network. I'm sure more than a few of them are not pleased that +Duncan has made himself their spokesperson.

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  2. christopher+14/3/07 9:46 AM

    One wonders whether "+Bob Pittsburgh" and friends would be quite as excited about the so-called "Windsor coalition" and the so-called "Windsor bishops" if the report of the Lambeth Commission had been issued at, say, Liverpool - or any other place slightly less regal than Windsor.

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  3. I wonder if at least some of the "windsor bishops" are begining to doubt the wisdom of their association with the group. It seems to me that the Network or at least the immoderator can be seen as engaged in a a desperate search for status in an Akinolaista world. What any of that has to do with "go and teach all nations" is quite beyond me.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  4. I think there can be no question that +Duncan's vision has not changed from the strategy originally laid out in the Geoffrey Chapman Memo through his November letter to the global south bishops. Because of the Calvary lawsuit, two days prior to its compulsory release by court order, that letter was released earlier this year. Of special note, however is an additional document not made public by the diocese of Pittsburgh but turned over with the discovery in Calvary's continuing legal action. Its text is contained in "Reply In Opposition to defend motion to dismiss or strike petition." pg. 29 of 32. It is filed at:http://prothonotary
    .county.allegheny .pa.us/WebMomCacheDir/vol436000000C0.pdf filed on 3/02. I am providing the text for you here as my experience is that it's fairly easy to crash the Allegheny court website. It is as follows:
    "Private and Confidential Westfields Response to the Global South Steering Committee
    November 16,2006 Chantilly, Virginia

    The undersigned, having convened with the Global South Steering Committee in Chantilly, Virginia, on November 15-17, 2006, declare:

    ARTICLE I: We are firmly committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the authority of holy Scripture and historic Anglican faith and practice.

    ARTICLE II: We have chosen the Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan as our leader and hereby submit to his leadership without reservation in building unity among us and as our representative for the present in the councils of the Anglican Communion.

    ARTICLE III: We pledge to lay aside all obstacles, which may prevent us from achieving our common purpose.

    ARTICLE IV: We solemnly pledge not to withdraw from these commitments."

    Legible signatures: John M. Heidengren, Robert W. Duncan.. One other looks like RGal...

    The plaintiff's attorneys (i.e.Calvary) imply and allege that further "Westfield Response" documents exist. Since it was Bishop Schofield who informed his diocese that he had "signed" some sort of document, it is reasonable to believe that the other bishops meeting with global south representatives signed copies of this document. Clearly Calvary attorneys will use it as proof of their allegation that Bishop Duncan has left the Episcopal Church and is attempting to take property belonging to TEC congregations and TEC with him. Motions and Responses etc. will be going back and forth until April 16th on the defendants "Motion to Strike or Dismiss" Calvary's request that the court enforce its previous order. We'll see, but to me, it is ironic that it may be only to the civil authority must one turn for honesty. Without the legal action of Calvary Pittsburgh, we would have no knowledge of the agenda or strategy.

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  5. What about the "insulation"? Is Bishop Pittsburgh's desire for "insulation" from the Episcopal Church due to fear of contamination? It's a strange word to choose.

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  6. Lawrence Duggan14/3/07 12:04 PM

    The Moderator has always overstepped the bounds, even when he was Rector of St Thomas's in Newark, DE. He has always gone farther than needed, causing untold harm and damage. He has no sense of Christian boundaries.

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  7. The court document that I pulled up that is posted on the daily Episcopalian shows 8 copies of the same Global South Steering Committee document.

    epfizh refers to only three signatures being legible. From my viewing, only three are present. And oddly spaced. With one at the top and two at the bottom and a large blank space between. Were the other signatures redacted (or removed)?

    Here we have a document which is signed in secret, pledging to submit to Duncan's "leadership without reservation" in the councils of the AC. The existence of which is denied - so that it won't be made public before Tanzania, which is totally contrary to polity and purposes of TEC and quite possibly the AC, itself.

    Come on folks, a bright light needs to be shined down this horny little toad hole. And they all need to be flushed into the daylight.

    There is no trust to be gotten. This is subterfuge. Were the Primates aware that Global South had already undertaken this tact within the TEC? Was the ABC? How naive they all seem now, and worse if they knew and still tried to foist the Communique on us. So, we would be the ones to "walk away."

    A copy of this document should be forwarded to every bishop today to read, at Camp Allen.

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  8. My fear is that Duncan may not be that far off.

    When I read in the Communiqué that "The Primates will establish a Pastoral Council to act on behalf of the Primates," and that "those bishops who are part of the scheme will nominate a Primatial Vicar, who shall be responsible to the Council," those words seem strong and clear: they choose the PV, and he's answerable only to the primates.

    With the AC primates in charge, the call for this to be done with "cooperation" and "consultation" is likely to be no more enforceable than the Windsor Report's calls for a "listening process" or for the primates to cease their interventions.

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