11/26/2007

Patterns of Betrayal

This past week Bishops Donald Harvey and Malcolm Harding, retired in the Anglican Church of Canada, resigned from the ACofC and joined the Province of the Southern Cone (PSC). There are now twelve bishops in the PSC. Here is a list of the bishops as near as I can tell, on November 27, 2007:

  • Most Reverend Gregory James Venables, Presiding Bishop and bishop of Argentina
  • Right Reverend Mario L Marino, Assistant bishop — Diocesan vacant at present.
  • Right Reverend Frank Lyons Diocese of Bolivia
  • Right Reverend Héctor Zavala Muñoz, Diocese of Chile
  • Right Reverend Manuel Apeleo, Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Chile
  • Right Reverend John Alexander Ellison, Diocese of Paraguay
  • Right Reverend Harold William Godfrey, Diocese of Peru
  • Right Reverend Miguel Tamayo Diocese of Uruguay

External bishops:

  • The Right Reverend Robinson Cavalcanti, deposed bishop of the Diocese of Recife, of the IEAB (Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil), now a bishop in the PSC.
  • The Right Reverend Donald Harvey, retired and now resigned bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada
  • The Right Reverend Malcolm Harding, retired and now resigned bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada
  • The Right Reverend William Cox, formerly of Oklahoma and Maryland, retired now retired bishop in Argentina.

This growth in the number of bishops took place by two patterns of betrayal: In the case of Bishop Cavalcanti, betrayal took the form of direct denial of the authority of the Brazilian bishops under the Constitution and Canons of the IEAB (Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil).

In the case of Bishops Harvey and Harding, the betrayal took a more circuitous route. They are both retired bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada (Harding in 2001 and Harvey in 2004.) Having taken full advantage of ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada and receiving perfectly legitimate retirement benefits they now have leapt to accept the invitation from Bishop Venables that the PSC would invite bishops and dioceses needing rescue to join them. Bishop Venables only announced the invitation on November 11th, just two weeks ago. That leap had considerable run-up.

Bishop Harvey has been moderator of the Anglican Network in Canada, the Canadian parallel of the Anglican Communion Network in the US for several years, has been in a continuing argument with Bishop Ingham about his interventions in the Diocese of New Westminster, and in recent days has been traveling about. He took part in the ordinations of two Americans by the Church of Kenya this last summer, along with his new colleagues Bishops Venable and Cavalcanti, bishops who are deliberately ordained to minister within the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church without any reference to this Church. He was present at the Common Cause Bishops meeting in September.

Bishop Harding is less well knows, but the Anglican Journal reported, "Bishop Harding, who since retirement has been ambassador for Anglican Renewal Ministries, said his decision to leave the Canadian church has been "a growing process." He also said in a statement that "I am deeply grieved that the church I have loved and served for over 30 years has left me no choice … I now realize that we cannot have unity at the expense of truth." Anglican Renewal Ministries described his ministry as follows, "AMBASSADOR: Bishop Malcolm Harding has been the ARM Ambassador, and until December 2006 travelled the length and breadth of Canada to promote 'renewal in the Church that he loves and serves.'" The Church in question is the Anglican Church of Canada, at least to a large extent. AIM in its history noted that, "In the process of incorporation the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs asked the Anglican Church of Canada to approve the use the word "Anglican" in the proposed corporate name "Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada". The National Executive Council of the Anglican Church of Canada did so in April 1989." It further states, under the heading, "Relations with the Church":

"ARM's purpose is to be of service to the Church. Even though there has been a tendency in some renewal circles to stand apart from the institutional church, we believe this is not only wrong but that it is also short-sighted. The renewal community can best affect the decision-making of the church if its members participate directly in the process. Therefore we encourage supporters of ARM to become involved in all aspects of church life at the parish, diocesan and national levels." Well, Bishop Harding no longer seems to love and serve that particular institutional church as much.

Both bishops having retired have now relinquished their license to minister in the Anglican Church of Canada. It is abundantly clear that they are intent on forming all or part of a new provincial Anglican structure in North America. The Anglican Journal termed their departure "defection."

The Anglican Network in Canada reaffirmed the general plan already in place through the Common Cause Partnership. According to the Anglican Journal,

"Conservative leaders told the 250 attendees that the Network, as a member of a North American conservative coalition called Common Cause, is setting up a new Anglican structure for disaffected churches.

"We have the higher goal of becoming a parallel province in North America," said Rev. Trevor Walters of the diocese of New Westminster. He noted that a meeting of bishops last September "outlined a 15-month timetable to create a separate ecclesiastical structure in North America" that could replace the Anglican Church of Canada or the Episcopal Church in the U.S.

He said that could occur if those churches failed next year to sign an international covenant, or statement, of agreed points of faith. "We might become the rightful inheritors of Anglicanism in North America," he said. "

Bishops Harding and Harvey have decided to take the retirement and run a new show. Having disavowed their vows of ordination they are perfectly willing to make use of their quite legitimate pensioned life to begin a new ministry as active bishops in the PSC. Bishop Harvey will start off with a bang, ordaining two deacons as priests next week.

The pattern of deceit here is simple: start a new ministry in retirement, based on legitimate pensions from church service, the purpose of which is to replace the church they served with a new structure and ministry based in the Province of the Southern Cone, with the final end of being players in an emerging collective effort to supplant the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church with a new North American Synod, hopefully part of the Anglican Communion. Why deceitful? Because Bishops Harding and Harvey did not leave the Anglican Church of Canada until such time as they felt they had a safe haven. They acted like the spouse who waits until they have a new lover before breaking up the marriage, although they haven't believed in the marriage for some time.

This particular pattern is not unrelated to similar antics by several Episcopal Church bishops, notably Bishops Bena, Fairfield and Cox (although Bishop Cox is even in Argentina considered retired.) With retirement the possibilities of new mission in organizations devoted to the overthrow and usurpation of the place of the Episcopal Church became too enticing. In the case of Bishop Bena it took only days for him to realign. In the case of Bishops Fairfield and Cox it took a bit longer.

Another emerging, but not easily documented pattern is that of bishops who have gone to the Roman Catholic Church. Some, I believe, will go as lay persons or perhaps as priests, but some perhaps are looking for hope in the formation of some sort of Anglican jurisdiction under Roman Catholic Canon Law. This is hinted at in Ruth Gledhill's blog comments this past week. There have been rumblings all year about some sort of accommodation with Rome and hope springs eternal in some breasts that homecoming to Rome is possible. Too bad about women priests and bishops, married bishops, etc. Life is like that. Oh, and don't forget non-closeted gay folk.

But here too there are varying levels of deceit: I don't for a moment doubt the sincerity of those who have gone to Rome. But I do fault their logic in hanging around until retirement to do so. Protestations to the contrary – that they felt the need to fulfill their terms of office and ministry before doing so – the move to Rome carries with it the implicit repudiation of the validity of their orders as bishops in apostolic succession. So if they were longing to go and felt their orders to be something they could leave behind, since they were not in some sense indelible, they were living some sort of life of finger-crossing denial. That borders on deceit.

The pattern here is to hang around 'til the time is ripe.

Well, it remains to be seen just how happy the Roman Catholic Church will be to receive ex-bishops as lay persons or maybe married priests. It remains to be seen just how happy those in the Province of the Southern Cone will be to have more bishops part of their synod whose focus is up north and not down south.

Bishops Harvey, Harding, Bena, Fairfield, Cox, Pope, Herzog, Steenson and Lipscomb are all free in the Lord to make decisions to move on out and away from the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church. The sad thing, in my way of thinking, is that these decisions were often made under the heading of "wise as serpents" and not "innocent as doves." With the notable exceptions of Bishop Steenson, who left when it was time, Bishop Cox who left a bit addled, and Bishop Pope who has been jerked around by too many institutions, the serpent that is in all of us rose to the surface and bit back with poisonous effect.

Bishops Harvey and Harding join a mess in the making. Bishop Venables is the spoiler and he needs to be sent to bed without his dinner.

It is time for the Archbishop of Canterbury to say something… like, "Stop it."

7 comments:

  1. I suppose you use a reasonable analogy to the bishops having given up any belief in the marriage some time ago, but deceitfully remained in it until a safe haven was available for them. But you have again ignored the reason they gave up any belief in the marriage - the central issue is not the marriage in itself, but the common faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is where the analogy breaks down, and the deceit is on the other side, since it their fellow bishops who abandoned the orthodox faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and still pretended to be Christian. Many bishops in ACoC, as in ECUSA have been unfaithful and pursued other theologies which variously deny the divine inspiraton of Scripture, the trinitarian nature of God, the incarnation, the atoning death, the bodily resurrection, and the glorious return of Christ; and yet they still call themselves Christian because they go through the forms of religion inherited from their fathers - although some clown liturgies make me wonder even about that.

    It seems to me from outside North America that you guys have made a rigid kind of ecclesiology the centre of your faith, and have abandoned orthodox Christology and soteriology. The problem is that the church doesn't save us: Jesus Christ does. And I can't get a clear straight answer out of Susan Russell for example about how Jesus's death on the cross saves us, except some waffle about him saving us from fear to pursue the MDG's.

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  2. Oh, and another thing dear Mark - 3 (?) times or so you refer to them receiving legitimate pensions now that these bishops have retired. Since these pensions are legitimate and have been earned and accrued to their account over many years of faithful work, and if you don't really have a problem with them receiving these pensions, then why do you often refer to the fact that they are on pensions. So what? Does it really matter what the source of their income is? Surely the work they are doing of ensuing an orthodox Anglican presence within these 2 provinces is far more important work. Clearly it has become impossible to continue that work within the established ecclesiastical structure, with its heterodox training institutions, bishops who refuse to promote traditional or evangelical ordination candidates, and authorities which insist on imposing women's ordination.

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  3. Jim from Lansing27/11/07 8:00 AM

    Once again you are focused on those who are leaving or have left.
    Again, I ask you, why do you care? America and Canada are free countries and any group of believers may set up any leadership model they want.
    After all isn't your PB's mantra:
    "They are a small, insignificant minority." Keep repeating that enough times and maybe you will someday believe it.
    Your obsession with the new structures belies your nervousness over what your actions have wrought.
    If we who have left, or those contemplating leaving, were truly a "small, insignificant minority" you and your colleagues would not be wasting so much time and space talking about us and worrying about us. Trust me, we are no longer worrying about you. We pray for you, but worry, no.
    Oh, yes, and suing us.

    Peace brother. Many of us have moved on, so should you.

    Jim from Lansing

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  4. Your comments about the ethics of bolting from the Episcopal Church on retirement struck a raw nerve with me, for our previous bishops, Herzog and Bena, did just that. I think their departures were overdue, but it appalls me that Bp. Herzog was pondering a return to the RCC even while he was prodding the Diocese of Albany to join the Anglican Communion Network. Talk about a false prophet!

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  5. Mark - this needn't be added to the comments, but I couldn't find a way to email you off-blog.

    I wanted to let you know I've entered the blogosphere. My first (and so far only) post is related to this issue.

    http://simplemassingpriest.blogspot.com/

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  6. Bishop John Ellison, retired from the Diocese of Paraguay, and returned to England on November 16.

    Diocese is now vacant. During their last Convention, the delegates approved a resolution stipulating that the new diocesan bishop must be a Paraguayan citizen.

    As far as can be ascertained, to this date no Canadian bishop has requested Paraguayan citizenship... yet.

    Thomas+

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  7. Collecting his pension and going to work on the other side - horrors - like a politician retiring and becoming a lobbyist. Appalling

    and a curiosity question - wasn't there a mandatory retirement age....In all honesty I have no idea the answer to this

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