Bishop Iker - the letter was not to you.

The Presiding Bishop wrote Presiding Bishop (aka Archbishop) Venables of the Southern Cone a letter regarding his planned visit to Fort Worth for "the expressed purpose of describing removal to the Province of the Southern Cone." You can read it HERE. There is no indication that Bishop Iker was copied, although the press release made it clear that the Archbishop of Canterbury was.
The Presiding Bishop's letter was released on April 29th. On April 30th, Bishop Iker responded to the Presiding Bishop as follows:

Dear Katharine,

I am shocked and saddened by the rude letter you released yesterday to Archbishop Greg Venables, concerning his visit this weekend to the Diocese of Fort Worth. Far from being "an unwarranted interference," he is coming at my request as an honored visitor and guest speaker.

You should know that under the canons this does not require either your approval or your support. You have no say in this matter. A diocesan bishop is free to invite other bishops to visit and speak in his diocese.

There are no efforts at reconciliation proceeding within this Province, which is one reason why faithful people continue to leave TEC in droves. Your attitude and actions simply reinforce alienation and bring further discord.

Once again, you are the one meddling in the internal affairs of this diocese, and I ask you to stop your unwelcome intrusions.

Faithfully in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth

cc: The Archbishop of Canterbury

The discerning eye will note that Bishop Iker seems to think the first letter was addressed to him, in spite of his recognizing that it was addressed to Bishop Venables. By the beginning of the second paragraph, the story is about Bishop Iker's right to invite Presiding Bishop Venables.

No one disputes his right to do so. The letter was not about Bishop Iker's invitation, it was about Presiding Bishop Venable's acceptance.

Bishop Iker: The letter was not to you.


  1. My, isn't that a hissy fit.

  2. That is, the letter from Jack is a hissy fit, not what the entry said. Sorry for the unclarified referent.

  3. Jim of Michigan1/5/08 5:23 PM

    OK, do you think if Bp. Bruno of Los Angeles invited Bp. Spong to come to his diocese to infect the believers there with his off-brand of Christianity that PB Schori would issue a similar letter to Spong asking him not to come?
    Since when does a PB have the authority to interfere in the day-to-day operations and invitations of a diocesan bishop.
    You folks may be applauding all this today, but when the tables are turned someday and some future PB who may not agree with you starts meddling in your diocese you might sing a different tune.
    Who appointed PB Schori dictator? I was always taught that TEC, and its precise polity, meant that the PB was simply a peer among his/her fellow bishops.
    Did she suddenly become an archbishop? If so, what canon did we mangle to make that happen?

    Jim of Michigan

  4. The letter from PB Jefferts Schori to PB Venables became a letter to everyone when Jefferts Schori had it published.

    How could Bp Iker not respond when she did that?

    Writing open letters is not an act of someone who wants reconciliation. It is a form of posturing. And everyone can see how constructive it is.

  5. Well said Jim!

    The PB has changed her office to be more centralized than it ever been in the past. When +Chane approved a visit from either visits in September of 2004 did he have to check with the PB? What about her "pay a call on me" letter, that one sounds as if she had no authority but request a visit. It seems that she has morphed her office into something it has never been before.

  6. A polite communication between +Venables and +Jefferts Schori would have been appropriate, jim of michigan. Your comparison with +Bruno/+Spong is apples and oranges.

    Moreover, +Venables and +Iker are in discussion about removing a diocese from The Episcopal Church -- our PB's point being that the consideration is deeply uncanonical, and that +Venables' presence only serves to fan the flames of schism.

    Take your venom for our Presiding Bishop somewhere else.

  7. Uh, not sure (as long as we're talking this way) who the hell wrote the headline here and threw in the phrase "the discerning reader" for, surely, in the first line of his letter Iker acknowledges the letter was written to Venables. He couldn't have been clearer or, for my money, more on target. So, Mark, please engage with the substantive issue at least.

    JOHN 2007

  8. Jim of Michigan (that has a nice ring to it, by the way),

    The difference is that Bishop Spong - whatever one might think of his writings - is a bishop of the Episcopal Church, not the primate (or a bishop) of another province of the Anglican Communion. The issue is one of protocol - protocol that applies to our own bishops, too.

    What's more, it is abundantly clear - isn't it? - that Bishop Venables is coming to this province to encourage Bishop Iker in the illusion that Episcopal dioceses can simply leave the church and take properties with them to another province. Or do you doubt that? That's reason enough to protest.

    Far from simply applauding Bishop Katharine's letter, though, I, for one, honestly wish it hadn't been necessary for her, as our primate, to write it in the first place.


  9. I do think it is highly ironic that Jim of Michigan complains "Who appointed PB Schori dictator? I was always taught that TEC, and its precise polity, meant that the PB was simply a peer among his/her fellow bishops." when that is precisely the problem other Primates have with her--she refuses to rein in the House of Deputies, the House of Bishops, or individual "rogue" bishops who at least condone same-sex union liturgies.

    Someone make up their minds--either +KJS is the Archbishop of TEC (which she is not, BTW) and so has the authority to at least ask a fellow Primate not to come with the intention of leading a diocese out of the Episcopal Church, or she does not have such authority, meaning she cannot go against General Convention nor does she have too many options to reign in bishops.

    The point is that +KJS did NOT bar Archbishop Venebles from coming or discipline Bishop Iker for inviting him, she simply asked the Archbishop not to come and foment more conflict and strife than already exists. I'm still waiting for bishops from TEC to start showing up in Nigeria or South America without the Primates permission.

  10. Sir, you normally strive for fair and balanced comments....even if I disagree with you sometimes, I know this.

    Do you really want to argue the +Iker has no right to comment?

    Surely, he does have the right to comment on a letter (released on the net) to his guest from a third party who wishes the guest had not accepted +Iker's invitation?

    I guess you would defend bishops' independence in their dioceses in other situations......

  11. I'm sorry, Mark - but if the letter was addressed to the Archbishop, why was 815 so quick to make it public?

    To everything, spin, spin spin, there is a reason, spin, spin, spin ...


  12. I'm with several others- the PB made it public, and clearly tried to interfere with a Diocese. This is her mistake, not Bishop Iker's. As much as you would like to think it's always the other side that's wrong, that is not the case here.

  13. Baby Blue,

    He is not an Archbishop.


  14. Mark, your zinger ("The letter's not for you") might have some moral force if you were not engaging in a show window case of "the pot calling the kettle black." In February of last year, the Primates made a specific request of TEC's Bishops--a request that the bishops were well within their canonical authority to grant or deny (they denied it)--yet Executive Council proceeded to respond to the requests anyway, even though nothing was asked of that body. I would think that any argument you might offer as a member of Executive Council in defense of that action could plausibly be used by Bishop Iker in defense of his action as well.

  15. Baby Blue: How about "transparency". But then, it's the mindset and tactic of the militants to never be satisfied with anything; even if all the evil homosexuals were banned from existence, the militants would find something else to militate against. In other words, and I'll use your words here (spin, spin, spin), it doesn't matter what our Presiding Bishop does, nothing will satisfy you folks. If she sends it privately to Venables, she's trying to keep her evil intentions a secret. If she makes it public in an effort to be transparent (for something that affects everyone - isn't that y'all's argument against Bro. Gene?), then she playing politics. You people really need to take a serious look at your own psychology and knock off the spin and childish finger pointing. It is harming Christ's Body.

  16. Dan: I wrote, By the beginning of the second paragraph, the story is about Bishop Iker's right to invite Presiding Bishop Venables.

    No one disputes his right to do so. The letter was not about Bishop Iker's invitation, it was about Presiding Bishop Venable's acceptance."

    Neither the Presiding Bishop's letter or my admittedly uninvited commentary say anything about Bishop Iker's right to invite, or for that matter about his writing a letter of his own in reaction to the letter between the Primates. What I was working at was the oddity that BIshop Iker turned the subject to himself -about his inviting and the Presiding Bishop supposedly "meddling in the internal affairs of this diocese."

    I think the PB made an appropriate request of another Primate. She said nothing about Bishop Iker's invitation. She was speaking to Presiding Bishop Venables about accepting.

    As to the actions of Executive Council last June re the Primates Communique, the EC response was requested by the HoB. We knew to whom the Communique addressed their concerns, waited for the HoB response, studied the matters referred to us and responded in June.

  17. I love how 815 gets its knuckles caught in the ringer and then wants to scream abuse.

    Iker reminded KJS of her responsibility to be quiet and not insert herself as a pope would with regard to Venables standing down from an invitation.

    Next knuckle coming up. New scream coming.

    Many Episcopalians are dying and leaving their fortunes to this Church. Good thing, because the people sure are disposable and shrinking more by the month. We'll be the richest virtual internet Church in the world at this rate.

  18. ...and Tom,
    you assume that plane fare to Africa with a load of TEC bishops will amount to anything at all. Look at 100 dioceses in America. Plenty to do here. Where's the growth? Let some lazy American bishop show up in Africa and be put to real work in a real Church with real growth. The plane back to America wouldn't get here fast enough.

  19. Golly. Mark simply noted that Bp. Iker responded to a letter that was not addressed to him and noted that he changed the subject in response to the letter not addressed to him. Why all the fuss?

    As for Bp. Katharine's publication of her letter, I like that. I prefer transparency.

  20. Bill in Ottawa3/5/08 11:56 AM

    +KJS' letter to Archbishop Venables has the same problem as the letter published from +Hiltz of Canada: It was never intended as private communication. +Venables' travel plans were known months ago and announced to the the world through the websites of ANiC, Dio San Joaquin and Dio Fort Worth.

    If it was an actual request to stay away, it should have been sent in early March, to allow for proper consideration. As an open letter published on April 29, two days before the event when +Venables was already in the US, this is nothing but posturing.

    From what I've seen, +Venables makes plenty of time to speak with Canadian reporters; surely +KJS can pick up the phone?


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