Bishop MacBurney has been inhibited pending trial. A letter to that effect was sent on April 2, 2008 by the Presiding Bishop to him and the other persons to whom it was required to be sent. The letter has occasioned considerable web noise because of Bishop MacBurney's age and the fact that his son had just died. May his son Page rest in peace and may the Bishop find consolation and comfort in the faith.
The Bishop is retired, but still a member of the House of Bishops, although now serving in a church under the auspices of the Province of the Southern Cone, and therefore guided by the Constitution and Canons of the Church. The charges are reportedly those brought by the Bishop of San Diego, Bishop Mathes.
As with most litigation, religious or secular, the process grinds away with built in points where notice is given, occasions for rebuttal, and on and on take place. Canonical land is mostly an unattractive place, filled with sausage making, but it also is the only place where bishops mucking about, even with the best of intentions, can be called to account.
I am glad that Bishop MacBurney is willing to challenge the basis of the charges against him. It will be an occasion to test out the meaning of Article II, Section 3 of The Episcopal Church Constitution which states: "A Bishop shall confine the exercise of such office to the Diocese
in which elected, unless requested to perform episcopal acts in another Diocese by the Ecclesiastical Authority thereof, or unless authorized by the House of Bishops, or by the Presiding Bishop by its direction, to act temporarily in case of need within any territory not yet organized into Dioceses of this Church" and Title III, Canon 12, Section 3 (e) which states: “No Bishop shall perform episcopal acts or officiate by preaching, ministering the sacraments, or holding any public service in a diocese other than that in which the Bishop is canonically resident, without permission or a license to perform occasional public services from the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese in which the bishop desires to officiate or perform episcopal acts.”
On the face of it, it would appear that Bishop MacBurney did indeed perform episcopal acts in a diocese not his own. Whatever argument there is for his doing this on behalf of the Province of the Southern Cone, IF he is indeed a member bishop of this church he is bound to ask permission of the Episcopal Church bishop of that territorial jurisdiction first. Bishop MacBurney does not contest the fact.
The Living Church quotes his lawyer as saying, “However those facts alone do not establish a violation of the constitution and canons. Bishop MacBurney intends to resist the charges.”
I will be interested to see how Mr. Stephens, lawyer for the Anglican Communion Network, pulls this one off.
Meanwhile, the Network, not to be outdone by Mr. Stephens and his confidence, posted a message from Forward in Faith North America regarding the inhibition and charges. That message ends,
"Internationally this is an attack upon the many world leaders of Anglican Churches (Primates) who have responded to the “burning house” of the ever increasingly post-Christian theology of TEC and its abandonment of the Bible as the Word of God in any meaningful sense.Bishop MacBurney welcomes the opportunity to defend his actions from the scandalous neglect of Christian charity led by Katharine Jefferts Schori and the leadership of TEC."
So, rather than this being about Bishop MacBurney and his actions, the twist and turn is that it is about the "burning house" of "ever increasingly post-Christian theology of TEC and its abandonment of the Bible as the Word of God in any meaningful sense," and, oh yes, "the scandalous negelect of Christian charity led by (no title at at all) Katharine Jefferts Schori and the leadership of TEC."
Good try. When I was growing up we lived in Venezuela. My brother Christopher had a friend Tito, and when he got in trouble for this or that he would say, "I didn't do it, Tito did."
We all grew up and gave up childish ways, more or less.
Bishop MacBurney admits doing what he did, but apparently does not admit that the canons do not permit what he did. His friends, if not he, have responded on his behalf that the mess that ensues is not his, but rather that of some woman named Katharine.
"I didn't do it, Tito did."