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
3 RESOLVED, that Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution of the Diocese of
4 Pittsburgh be, and it hereby is, amended and restated in its entirety to read as follows:
6 The Church in the Diocese of Pittsburgh is a constituent member of the Anglican
7 Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of those
8 duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces and regional churches in communion with the See
9 of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the
10 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.
12 RESOLVED FURTHER, that a new Section 2 of Article I of the Constitution of
13 the Diocese of Pittsburgh be, and it hereby is, adopted to read as follows:
15 The Diocese of Pittsburgh shall have membership in such Province of the Anglican
16 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.”
18 RESOLVED FURTHER, that the former Section 2 of Article I of the Constitution
19 of the Diocese of Pittsburgh be, and it hereby is, amended and restated in its entirety as
20 Section 3 of Article I to read as follows:
22 The Diocese of Pittsburgh embraces all those counties of the State of Pennsylvania
23 known as Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana,
24 Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland. Additionally, for reasons found satisfactory
25 to any Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, parishes outside of the boundaries of the
26 aforementioned counties may be considered for admission into union with the Diocese of
27 Pittsburgh, provided that they meet all other requirements set forth in the Constitution
28 and Canons of the Diocese of Pittsburgh for canonical admission.
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.
31 RESOLVED FURTHER, that Article XII of the Constitution of the Diocese of
32 Pittsburgh be, and it hereby is, re-titled “Deputies to Extra-Diocesan Conventions or
33 Synods” and amended and restated in its entirety to read as follows:
35 Section 1. At each Annual Convention, there shall be elected [four] Clergy and an equal
36 number of lay persons to serve as deputies or delegates to any extra-diocesan
37 conventions, synods or meetings that may occur between Annual Conventions and to
38 which the Diocese shall be invited to send deputies. They shall possess the same
39 qualifications as member of Standing Committee and shall be elected by a concurrent
40 majority of both orders.
42 Section 2. At the same Convention, there shall be chosen in the same manner and with
43 the same qualifications, the same number of Clergy and Laity to serve as alternate
46 Section 3. Should a vacancy among the deputies or delegates occur by reason of
47 resignation, removal from the Diocese, death or otherwise between the stated times of
48 election, it shall be filled by the highest ranking Alternate, as determined by the General
49 Rules of Order.
51 Section 4. In case of failure or neglect of the Convention to elect deputies or delegates,
52 those already in office shall continue until successors are chosen.
54 Section 5. It shall be the duty of the persons so elected to signify to the Bishop, in
55 writing, at least one month before the meeting of the extra-diocesan convention or synod,
56 their acceptance of the appointment and their intention to perform its duties. If a person
57 so elected fails to give this notice or fails to attend the convention or synod, the Bishop
58 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.
60 RESOLVED FURTHER, that Article XIII of the Constitution of the Diocese of
61 Pittsburgh be, and it hereby is, amended and restated in its entirety to read as follows:
63 Any Parish formed and desiring union with the Diocese, and regularly organized
64 according to the Canons, may be admitted into union with the Convention, on motion, by
65 a majority of votes; provided, it shall have laid before the Convention its Charter and By
66 laws, or its original Articles of Association, or a duly certified copy thereof, wherein it
67 expressly adopts and recognizes the authority of the Constitution and Canons of this
68 Diocese, and commits to upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set
69 forth in the Book of Common Prayer. And provided, also, that it shall have complied
70 with the canonical requirements for such admission.
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?
74 Proposed new Canon relating to
75 Article I, Section 2
77 Canon _____ (number to be determined)
78 “Provincial Membership within the Anglican Communion.”
80 The Diocese of Pittsburgh shall be a member of that Province of the Anglican Communion
81 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.