9/11/2007

Diocese of Pittsburgh Council proposes a mess.

The Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Pittsburgh cuts to the chase.


Just so we get this straight: The Diocesan Council is proposing several quite unique and ultimately unconstitutional changes in its Constitution and Canons.

The first Proposal, re Constitution reads:

Proposed Constitutional Amendments

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RESOLVED, that Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution of the Diocese of
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Pittsburgh be, and it hereby is, amended and restated in its entirety to read as follows:
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The Church in the Diocese of Pittsburgh is a constituent member of the Anglican
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Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of those
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duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces and regional churches in communion with the See
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of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the
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Book of Common Prayer.


Just in case one might not notice, the change in this and the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is the wording in red: replacing “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, otherwise known as The Episcopal Church (which name is hereby recognized as also designating the Church)…” with "the Diocese of Pittsburgh." In doing this the Diocese of Pittsburgh (DP) will be considering itself an independent constituent member of the Anglican Communion, if necessary in the same way as say the Spanish Reformed Church, but possibly as part of another province. But the operant idea is that it is no longer directly part of the Anglican Communion by way of inclusion in the Province known as TEC.

Of course that is silly.


12 RESOLVED FURTHER, that a new Section 2 of Article I of the Constitution of
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the Diocese of Pittsburgh be, and it hereby is, adopted to read as follows:
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The Diocese of Pittsburgh shall have membership in such Province of the Anglican
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Communion as is by diocesan Canon specified.



Well there you are: The Diocese of Pittsburgh will determine just what Province of the Anglican Communion it wishes to align with. One presumes they might ask the receiving Province. But the idea is clear: we can belong to whatever Province will take us in.”



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RESOLVED FURTHER, that the former Section 2 of Article I of the Constitution
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of the Diocese of Pittsburgh be, and it hereby is, amended and restated in its entirety as
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Section 3 of Article I to read as follows:
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The Diocese of Pittsburgh embraces all those counties of the State of Pennsylvania
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known as Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana,
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Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland. Additionally, for reasons found satisfactory
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to any Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, parishes outside of the boundaries of the
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aforementioned counties may be considered for admission into union with the Diocese of
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Pittsburgh, provided that they meet all other requirements set forth in the Constitution
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and Canons of the Diocese of Pittsburgh for canonical admission.
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Which means, good friends, that it can grow to include whatever parishes need a home with them, no matter where the parishes formerly found themselves jurisdictionally. And by the by, the Diocese can do this without any reference to the former Diocese. At least there is no mention of having to think about that.


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RESOLVED FURTHER, that Article XII of the Constitution of the Diocese of
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Pittsburgh be, and it hereby is, re-titled “Deputies to Extra-Diocesan Conventions or
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Synods” and amended and restated in its entirety to read as follows:
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Section 1. At each Annual Convention, there shall be elected [four] Clergy and an equal
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number of lay persons to serve as deputies or delegates to any extra-diocesan
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conventions, synods or meetings that may occur between Annual Conventions and to
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which the Diocese shall be invited to send deputies. They shall possess the same
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qualifications as member of Standing Committee and shall be elected by a concurrent
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majority of both orders.
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Section 2. At the same Convention, there shall be chosen in the same manner and with
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the same qualifications, the same number of Clergy and Laity to serve as alternate
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deputies.
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Section 3. Should a vacancy among the deputies or delegates occur by reason of
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resignation, removal from the Diocese, death or otherwise between the stated times of
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election, it shall be filled by the highest ranking Alternate, as determined by the General
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Rules of Order.
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Section 4. In case of failure or neglect of the Convention to elect deputies or delegates,
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those already in office shall continue until successors are chosen.
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Section 5. It shall be the duty of the persons so elected to signify to the Bishop, in
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writing, at least one month before the meeting of the extra-diocesan convention or synod,
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their acceptance of the appointment and their intention to perform its duties. If a person
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so elected fails to give this notice or fails to attend the convention or synod, the Bishop
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shall notify a replacement in accordance with Section 3 hereof.



Well, nothing if not consistant, this Constitutional Change makes it possible for those elected to be Deputies and Alternates to General Convention to serve in the same role in whatever Province they find themselves. One supposes that the Province to which they might think themselves aligned have a form of governance in which these representatives might be welcomed.



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RESOLVED FURTHER, that Article XIII of the Constitution of the Diocese of
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Pittsburgh be, and it hereby is, amended and restated in its entirety to read as follows:
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Any Parish formed and desiring union with the Diocese, and regularly organized
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according to the Canons, may be admitted into union with the Convention, on motion, by
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a majority of votes; provided, it shall have laid before the Convention its Charter and By
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expressly adopts and recognizes the authority of the Constitution and Canons of this
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Diocese, and commits to upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set
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forth in the Book of Common Prayer. And provided, also, that it shall have complied
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with the canonical requirements for such admission.
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So the oath of conformity or the recognition of authority now settles solely in the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese. That’s nice. I wonder what any new Province would make of that?


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Proposed new Canon relating to
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Canon _____ (number to be determined)
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“Provincial Membership within the Anglican Communion.”
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The Diocese of Pittsburgh shall be a member of that Province of the Anglican Communion
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known as The (Protestant) Episcopal Church in the United States of America.


Here is the clincher: Having said that the determination of just what Province the Diocese relates to is a matter for Canon, this canon states the present status of things.

It can be changed at any convention of the Diocese to read the Province, say, of Nigeria or more importantly the Province of the new improved Anglican Communion in North America.

The problem is…. All these changes still acknowledge communion with the See of Canterbury. And why, particularly, should the See of Canterbury decide that the Diocese of Pittsburgh has any business free floating itself into some other Provincial realm, attaching itself there, and then claiming that it still has any business being in communion with the See of Canterbury.

The case of the vagabond bishop of Recife who has gone to the Southern Cone should give a hint: That bishop is not invited to Lambeth, the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone will have to answer eventually to the miserable decision it made to end up with two competing dioceses of Recife – one part of the Province of Brazil, the other part of the Province of the Southern Cone.

This thing is a clever and well done legal two-step. But who wants to dance?

These will be voted on later, copied I am sure in other realignment dioceses, and will be no end of trouble. These are the workings of canon lawyers who are not busy at the moment with much else to do except stir the pot and chase ambulances. Well, there is always wreckage in the fast lane, and always work in the trashing of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh, a diocese in The Episcopal Church, will rise from the ashes of this strange bit of legal craziness. But what a waste of time.


8 comments:

  1. Well, I do hope that faithful Episcopalians in that diocese will raise a point of order when these amendments are introduced so that the bishop's ruling on the point of order can be charge number 1 in his eventual presentment.

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  2. In Bob's latest letter he states "If the Convention adopts the constitutional amendments proposed, it is re-alignment within the Anglican Communion that would be made possible."

    Possible, but maybe not probable. It takes two successive votes to make the changes. So, it won't be until 2008 that it becomes a fact. I guess we might know by then what kind of welcome Canterbury is likely to give them. And if it's thumbs down, Bob propose a resolution to redefine the Anglican Communion too.

    I imagine Calvary is preparing papers to file in its suit as I write this.

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  3. Unfreaking believable, that one(s) who have purported to commit their lives to God could be so utterly devoid of integrity and character. There seems to be a growing collective pathology. T19 has an article that Quincey is preparing similar action. Can Ft. Worth and San Jauquin (or however you spell it) be far behind. Time to stop the insanity; time to purge.

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  4. To say the very least, this shall make for a VERY interesting GC 2009.

    i wonder if the Executive Council will take this up on its agenda at its next meeting?

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  5. If they are leaving TEC, why then would they want to send deputies to General Convention and, more important, why would General Convention recognise them?

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  6. The other possibility is that GC 2009 recognizes a smaller Diocese of Pittsburgh, determines it is unable to support itself, and merges it with the Diocese of NW Pennsylvaina, to become the Diocese of Western Pensylvania. Let the mapmaking begin!

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  7. Hey, Tom, please give young +Sean Rowe a month or two to try to deal with our problems before you lump Pittsburgh on us. 8>)

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  8. It's very possible that the scenario Tom Sramek, Jr. envisions will come to pass, and that the remnant of Pittsburgh is absorbed into a new and larger diocese.

    I'd like to take a step further and recommend that this be the preferred method of supporting the Episcopalian remnant in realigning Network dioceses, or dioceses in which a substantial proportion of the parishes choose realignment.

    The atmosphere in a Network diocese (I speak from experience here) is a poisonous one. These dioceses are spiritually unhealthy places for everyone in them.

    Over the years, liberal and moderate Episcopalians drift away, not wishing to put up with the stridency, the undermining and backbiting from those who are left. It's not easy to get them back; a clear break with the past needs to be signaled.

    The faithful remnant needs contact with healthy and loving members of the body of Christ to begin to heal and grow. I can't think of a better way to achieve this then to dissolve the remnant into a larger, healthier diocese. (If there is a better way, then I'm for that.)

    ReplyDelete

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