On Reading Bishop Howe's Convention Address

Bishop Howe's address to the Diocesan Convention in Central Florida was the subject of an article on the Living Church website. There it was titled, "Bishop Howe: Church litigation a travesty." That title came from this paragraph in the bishop's address:

"There are those who simply have to leave The Episcopal Church for conscience sake. I understand that. I don’t agree, but I don’t believe we should punish them. We shouldn’t sue them. We shouldn’t depose the clergy. Our brokenness is a tragedy. The litigation that is going on in so many places is a travesty."

The title is a bit of a stretch of what the bishop said, but is probably about right. Bishop Howe does not believe people should be punished or sued or clergy deposed. His pastoral response is clearly spelled out in the quite detailed report he gave on the several groups of persons and clergy that have determined to leave. It actually makes heartening reading. It confirms the idea that clergy and people can leave a church in peace, but it also confirms the notion that the deposition of the church is still a diocesan matter. In most of the cases Bishop Howe presented, the parish will indeed continue as an Episcopal Church parish although clergy and some members of the congregation have left or are leaving. In most cases the property remains.

There is a lot of meat in this address. Bishop's addresses are not often very interesting for those outside a diocese, but this one is. I suggest you read it.

It remains to be seen just what Bishop Howe plans to do about the clergy who have left, for at some point he must officially determine that they are no longer clergy in The Episcopal Church. Where transfer makes sense, fine. But in some cases deposition is the only avenue for determining that the leaving clergy are no longer part of the Episcopal Church. Not all deposition is travesty.

Bishop Howe says several things that I think are incorrect, but that's not surprising. He puts considerable value on a statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury that I think is unwarranted.

On the other hand he said this,

"... while people can call themselves anything they like, the only true “Anglicans” are those in full communion with Canterbury. The Anglican Mission in the Americas, The Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Charismatic Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Episcopal Church, the Anglican Province in America, and so on…are NOT.

So, the process of “disaffiliation,” and “realignment” – in order to be more truly “Anglican” seems to me a fairly specious and vain enterprise. The way to remain Anglican - at least for now - is to remain Episcopalian!"

Bishop Howe, it appears, is disassociating himself from the notion that the Common Cause Partnership scheme is an Anglican way forward. The Network has become more and more identified with the dissenter's agenda of establishing an alternative post-Canterbury, post-Lambeth Anglican Communion. Bishop Howe is having none of it.

Good for him!

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