5/30/2008

The Standing Committee of Pittsburgh is willing, but are they able?

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pittsburgh has posted the following on the Diocese of Pittsburgh pages:

"Editor's Note: The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has released the following statement regarding the threatened deposition of Bishop Robert Duncan at the September 2008 meeting of The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops. Their statement has been faxed and mailed to the office of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.
The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is saddened to learn the Presiding Bishop and her chancellor will continue to press for the deposition of our Diocesan Bishop, Robert W. Duncan, Jr. for the Abandonment of Communion at the September 2008 House of Bishops Meeting. Although we recognize the authority of the Episcopal Church to discipline and remove its ministers for violations of its canons, we believe Canon IV.9, Sec.1 has been misapplied and Canon IV.9, Sec.2 has been misinterpreted in this instance.

Should our Diocesan Bishop be validly deposed pursuant to the requirements set forth in the canons, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is prepared to exercise its role as the Ecclesiastical Authority of this diocese.

Unanimously affirmed by the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, May 27, 2008."

There are several things to note:

(i) The Standing Committee does not agree to the plan to depose Bishop Duncan.

(ii) The question as to whether or not Bishop Duncan is validly deposed is not addressed, but the Standing Committee of Pittsburgh has already bought on to the idea, now in the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of Pittsburgh that "In cases where the provisions of the Constitution and Canons of the Church in the Diocese of Pittsburgh speak to the contrary, or where resolutions of the Convention of said Diocese have determined the Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, or resolutions of its General Convention, to be contrary to the historic Faith and Order of the one holy catholic and apostolic church, the local determination shall prevail."

The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church has determined that this and other attempts to limit the primacy of the Episcopal Church Constitution and Canons are invalid, null and void. Never the less, having made this decision, the Standing Committee might well determine ON ITS OWN that the actions of the House of Bishop are invalid as well. So, assuming the Bishops depose in September, the Standing Committee of Pittsburgh might counter by ignoring the deposition as invalid.

(iii) The Standing Committee is ready, if necessary, to become the
ecclesiastical authority. If so, and assuming it is made up of people loyal to Bishop Duncan and in agreement with the canonical changes made in Pittsburgh, it might well act to do exactly as might Bishop Duncan have done, and itself attempt to remove the Diocese of Pittsburgh from The Episcopal Church and to seek primatial oversight from The Southern Cone or some other Province. That is, the Standing Committee might well continue the process initiated by Bishop Duncan.

While there are indeed Canons concerning Bishops and their abandonment of the communion of this church, the
ecclesiastical authority of the Standing Committee is less immediately challenged by findings of a Title IV Committee or the House of Bishops.

At this point the Episcopal Church needs to act definitively. Having already found the changes in the Constitution and Canons of Pittsburgh to be in violation of the Episcopal Church's Constitution and Canons and having determined that the Standing Committee as currently constituted is likely to allow constitutional changes to go forward for a second reading and passage and act as Bishop Duncan would have acted in carrying out those changes, the House of Bishops needs to appoint a temporary bishop to oversee the diocese at the time of deposition so that the Standing Committee, however
constituted, continues in its normal function.

I believe that the full proof of abandonment is assumed to be a matter of reality on the ground - on the reality that the bishop has indeed left. But in the case of Pittsburgh we have a seeming contradiction. The Bishop of Pittsburgh has clearly stated to the Presiding Bishop that he intends to be a bishop of this church so long as he is active. That can either mean until retirement (which he could take at any time) at which point he could become a Bishop
Bena and wander off to Nigeria or the Southern Cone, or until such time as the Diocese passed on the new canons and he declares that he has resigned and now is taking up new digs. Or, of course, it could mean precisely that Bishop Duncan intends to remain as a member of the House and part of the Episcopal Church until death. On the other hand there is the contradictory behavior of his promoting changes so that the Diocese of Pittsburgh can leave the Episcopal Church (or so he thinks), and he argues for and leads an effort to establish a new "orthodox" Anglican entity in North America to replace the Episcopal Church.

The dissonance in the statements of the Bishop of Pittsburgh, also the Moderator of the Common Cause Partnership, is astounding.

I believe that at the very least the House of Bishops ought to address this dissonance and determine if Bishop Duncan has indeed crossed the line from loyal critic to determined leader in an abandonment effort - one which does not only include himself but members of the diocese as well.

In order not to have a repeat of the Reformed Episcopal Church mess, it will not do to act after the fact. But matters are moving rapidly and there may not be time to institute proceedings around Bishop Duncan's support of invalid changes in the Constitution and Canons of Pittsburgh. So it may be important to declare in deposition that by his actions approving changes in the Constitution and Canons effectively prove his abandonment and his clear unwillingness to withdraw those invalid changes are indication of his abandonment.

So the Standing Committee statement is no help at all. They ABSOLUTELY should not be regarded as the
ecclesiastical authority of the diocese, having acquiesced and made no effort to oppose the changes in Pittsburgh's canons and made no effort to remove the changes made.

If Bishop Duncan is deposed it may not be necessary to replace the Standing Committee, but it will be necessary to immediately appoint a bishop with
ecclesiastical authority. The first actions of that bishop will be to determine that the Constitution and Canons of Pittsburgh will be those in effect prior to the invalid changes.

41 comments:

  1. you write here as if there are simply no limits to the authority of--who? you pronounce upon what "must be" done, what we "must not" permit, as if (who?) we? are omni-competent ecclesiastical dictators, ready to get whatever we think best, canons be damned.

    the canons give those accused rights, and as one who has been railroaded in the past, can i protest that doing so here is bogus?

    we have plenty of time to try the relevant people for their actions. there is no giant emergency, there is nothing which prevents bringing Duncan up for trial by the relevant court, not using summary process, but a full and fair process.

    i'm confident he would lose, and lose roundly. and what a victory that would be for us! but instead, you are urging more questionable tactics, which may work, but at the cost of any claim to legitimacy.

    if the clergy on the standing committee violate their vows, they can be charged, in due course.

    i find it repugnant that the call to rise up, and, canons be damned, do what we please, is pronounced in the name of--canonical obedience! (never mind that violation of the canons is not abandonment; it just gets called that by you and others b/c you want to use the fastest most summary process in the book.)

    frankly, i'm sick and tired of people with ecclesiastical power refusing to admit that there are any obstacles to doing whatever they please, however they please. i am finding it very hard to distinguish your methods from Duncan's.

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  2. This seems most likely a reaction to the "lack of recognition" of the split and twice-rejected Standing Committee of San Joaquin. As you observe, I don't know quite what this accomplishes, except to assert their own "recognizability" should the deposition move forward.

    The single thing that seems most likely to prevent is precisely your suggestion. I certainly think the Presiding Bishop did well to intervene in San Joaquin; but her actions in calling a special convention of sorts to accept an interim bishop were to a great extent premised on the essential dissolution of the Standing Committee of that diocese. In this case, by asserting that they continue if the bishop does not, they might try to maintain control of the process of bringing in the next bishop; and "the second may be worse than the first."

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  3. To be perfectly honest, this whole mess is looking more and more like a childish game of drawing lines in the sand. Depose the crackpot and be done with it; you know that they'll attempt to kidnap the entire diocese so be prepared with a game plan for that. I cannot imagine that an entire diocese is so solidly behind this nut case that there is no dissension at all. Along with deposition, there should be a committee formed to find out just who actually is following Mr. Duncan down the path to oblivion.

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  4. thomas: You say, "frankly, i'm sick and tired of people with ecclesiastical power refusing to admit that there are any obstacles to doing whatever they please, however they please. i am finding it very hard to distinguish your methods from Duncan's."

    Well, you clearly state the other side of the problem. I believe the issue of time is central. You seem not to.

    We both agree that the abandonment canon assumes the person has clearly left (Bishop Cox for example). We may not agree on how the vote for abandonment was handled, but at least there was no doubt that he had left. I agree that that is the primary way this canon should be used.

    My question is, is that the only way? I believe Bishop Duncan intends to abandon this church just as soon as the new Constitutional and canonical changes in Pittsburgh allow. If not deposed prior to the fact of abandonment, deposition will wait for the next meeting of the HoB or a special meeting called for that purpose. Either way he will have already been able to effect the beginnings of transfer of properties and assets as well as clergy and congregations to a new configuration. I am told that there are already some assets that he has that will provide some comfort if the whole thing explodes.

    To untangle that will be very difficult. I don't believe the Standing Committee is committed to resending the invalid canons already introduced or to withdrawing the Constitutional changes. My primary concern is that while Bishop Duncan might be deposed using the abandonment canon after the fact, the canon does not seem to apply to a committee. Removing them would require a much longer process.

    One way to deal with that problem, perhaps, would be to inhibit the Standing Committee by virtue of its actions contrary to the canons and then with a bishop put in temporary control let trial play out.

    I do not write "as if there are simply no limits" etc. I agree very much that accused have rights.

    I am cautioning that The Standing Committee of Pittsburgh may be willing but perhaps not able to be the ecclesiastical authority in the diocese, by virtue of their actions and inactions.

    Your caution not to go outside the canons to put a break on their actions is useful.

    Let's keep working on this.

    About the similarity of methods, I disagree. I am raising concerns about a problem. He has produced the problem.

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  5. And what of Assisting Bishop Henry Scriven? How does he fit into the picture?

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  6. Rev. Harris, whether you like what the Standing Committee may do or not, doesn't it have the right to act as the ecclesiastical authority in the absence of a bishop - exactly as it says it does? In other words, aren't you arguing that there needs to be an extracanonical strike made against the SC? I wasn't aware the HOB had any such right - to appoint a temporary bishop - any more than the PB had such a right in the case of San Joaquin. Perhaps I'm wrong, though.

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  7. Mark,
    I have a question with regard to the Abandonment of the Communion.
    As far as I know, TEC is NOT a Communion. It is part of the Anglican Communion, as is Nigeria, and the Southern Cone etc. All of those being charged with abadoning the Communion are still in the Anglican Communion but not in the TEC. Does that make sense?
    Rev. DR. J+
    Rev. Dr. J+

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  8. Rev Dr J+ The language is a problem, but it is clear from the Canons that the phrase, "the communion of this church" that it means The Episcopal Church. It means, just as it is used, that the person is not part of the community of this church.

    It has often been assumed that someone whose orders are not recognized or licensed by one member church would not be given license in another. So if an ordained person were charged with abandoning the communion of this church they were likely not to be licensed in other Provinces. Recent experience says otherwise. So it is possible that a priest or bishop might be licensed in another Province but not here.

    So...the upshot I think is that if someone is deposed for abandoning the communion of this church it means they have left the Episcopal Church for whatever reason and are no longer part of it. Their license and permission to act as a deacon, priest or bishop is thereby taken away, whether or not such ordinations are recognized elsewhere.

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  9. time is important, but there are rules here. actions outside the rules are not allowed, even if time is important.

    sometimes bad things happen because bad people abuse their position to get them to happen. it's time to get over it. bad things happen.

    but one of the ways bad things happen is by good people getting upset with the slow pace of due process, and rushing headlong into things.

    yes, there is a problem. and i want the problem dealt with. but i will not accept ways of dealing with the problem that treat the canons as having no real role to bound your actions or the PBs actions.

    a large part of the problem has been that liberal/progressive clergy have been ignoring the rules they don't like for so long, many have forgotten what is wrong with that.

    all we are left with is the bare exertion of raw power. and i want no part of that. it is dangerous, and it is demeaning to what the church stands for. the bare exertion of raw power--whatever your intentions--is bad.

    so your attempt to turn the conversation back to, "there's a problem, what's the best way to deal with it?" as if we should just do the "best thing" no matter what vows or obligations that breaks, is repugnant to me.

    here's the best thing to do: deal with the unfortunate fact that bad people are able to do bad things, and nobody here--PB included--was appointed "head preventer of bad things". respond to offenses as they occur, and follow the canons and stop making up new rules because you don't like the old ones.

    here's the best thing to do:
    1) try Duncan before the Court for the Trial of a Bishop, not by summary process;
    2) file charges against any clergy in the standing committee that you think should have charges filed.

    having invented a new idea ("recognition of a standing committee") you now seem to think that 815 has some kind of power to determine which standing committees it will recognize. Can you not see that this is entirely absent any kind of legitimacy?

    the urgency you feel does not translate to a legitimacy for these actions. it is your subjective feeling of urgency, and maybe there is where the problem lies.

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  10. And no one on this blog wants to deal with the question I will now ask for the third time.
    If canons are so all important, how is it that the Bishop of Los Angeles is in court feverishly fighting four churches for violating the canons of the church, while, at the same time, he is winking at the canon that requires marriage ONLY be between a man and a woman.
    Marriages are set to start on June 16 in the diocese. Can we expect to see the Presiding Bishop come down and replace the bishop and Standing Committee in that diocese for "abandoning" the communion (your definition Dr. Harris, the Episcopal Church) because they are flouting the precious canons of the church?
    I'll continue to wait for an answer to this obvious double standard.

    Jim of Michigan

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  11. Nom de Plume31/5/08 9:10 PM

    Mark said:

    It has often been assumed that someone whose orders are not recognized or licensed by one member church would not be given license in another.

    That is a very important point. The Global South has been howling that ordination of a bishop in one Province is for the whole Church and so the whole Church should have the right to complain when it disagrees with the bishop's lifestyle (viz., obviously, Gene Robinson). But it seems equally clear that the Global South is not prepared to live by the corollary that deposition or renunciation of one's own ministry is for the whole Church. I refer here to the renunciation of ministry by two ex-bishops in the Canadian Church (the equivalent in RC canon law is called "laicization") who were immediately licensed as bishops in the Southern Cone. They are, to all canonical purposes, lay people, but are continuing to purport to function as though they were bishops, sanctioned by the Supremely Reverend Southern Conehead. I take it the same is true of His Lordship ex of San Joaquin. And how many other lay people will the Primate and Grand Poobah of the Americas and his Realms Beyond the Sea license as bishops? Rather takes lay presidency to a whole new level, doesn't it?

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  12. Mark: While I agree that steps must be taken to prevent a repeat of the DoSJ mess, I am not quite sure what can canonically be done. I don't find any way of the Presiding Bishop or anyone else nullifying the Standing Committee as the Ecclesiastical Authority in a diocese, regardless of what was done in DioSJ.

    Since the canons did not anticipate the vote of a Diocesan Convention to remove "the diocese" from the Episcopal Church, I'm not sure how one can use canons to accomplish what you (and others, perhaps rightly) wish to accomplish.

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  13. An assisting bishop does not have any standing in succession. A co-adjutor does, but an assisting is basically an employee.

    I am no friend of bishop Duncan -- I think he should be deposed. But(!) not this way. He has not abandoned the communion, I think he has betrayed it. That is presenatable under the heading of conduct unbecoming, and he should be brought before a court to try a bishop and then deposed in my view.

    I think abandonment has become way to simple a solution for a complex issue. Bishops who attempt to steal church property and discover their Nigerian roots break their given word. They should be held accounatble.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  14. jim of l-town asks a question, and is upset that nobody has answered it. i'll endeavor to do so.

    1) the bishop of LA is not suing churches because they didn't follow the canons. he is suing people who--by their own admission--are no longer part of the Episcopal Church, and who are squatting in property which belongs to the Episcopal Church. the canons have nothing to do with the matter; this is a question of people without any status in the Episcopal Church (by their own admission) who are holding and using property which belongs to the Episcopal Church.

    2) the bishop of Los Angeles has not said that he approves of having same-sex marriages in the church; instead, he has scheduled a meeting with other bishops in California to discuss the appropriate course of action.

    3) the parish of All Saints' in Pasadena has said they won't discriminate in the future, but it is not clear exactly what that means in practical terms. they have not said they would violate the canons, nor has the bishop of Los Angeles said anything about what his response would be if they did. same-sex blessings are not violations of the canons, and much may well depend on how any services in question are conducted.

    4) if the rector of All Saints were deposed, i think he would not sit and squat in the property and insist that it's his, deposition notwithstanding. by contrast, the rectors of the four parishes in question have been deposed. the situation is not parallel at all.

    5) if you think the clergy of All Saints Pasadena should be disciplined for actions you fear they may perform--but haven't yet--you might want to wait until they actually commit an offense, and then proceed to get formal charges going, instead of blathering.

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  15. Thomas, I don't know where your opinion comes from that "liberal/ progressive clergy have been ignoring the rules they don't like for so long, many have forgotten what is wrong with that."

    As one liberal/ progressive (or at least I think of myself as one) let me say that I do not ignore the rules I don't like.

    I do question what we should do when the rules do not seem to cover the situation we find ourselves in. My initial thoughts on the matter may be totally inadequate to the task, fine. But when I raise the question I am also looking for a more perfected response and am willing to take it.

    Some of your comments are making me think again about the issue for which I am grateful. Others of your comments make me believe that you simply have decided that I belong to some cadre of the lawless. that is not true.

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  16. Jim of l-town "the canon that requires marriage ONLY be between a man and a woman"... that would be which canon?

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  17. Fr. Mark,

    I am not (praise God!) a member of General Convention. But I do monitor the HoB bulletin board. I think your post raises an issue the next GC should address that the (dare I suggest) hyper focus on bishops makes it possible to overlook.

    Bp. Duncan will, I fear, be deposed. There is no similar process for the standing committee that is clear, and permits the national church or parishioners in a diocese to act. While I think the PB acted appropriately in San J, a clear canon that permits either the PB or someone else to hold a standing committee accountable when it supports a rouge bishop should be on the '09 agenda.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  18. Mark:

    I simply do not understand the fuss. If a group of duly elected and duly convened representatives of a diocese or church (whether a convention or Standing Committee) makes a prayerfully discerned decision, how can we know or not know that the Spirit is once again doing a new thing? After all, the delegates to convention are elected by the parishes. The members of the Standing Committee are elected by their convention. Maybe God has simply changed His mind again and doing things a different way because we know that the Spirit has inspired the vote . . .

    On a serious note, I hope few non-Christians read your blog. When we attempt to exercise power quickly rather than according to our rules (because we think we are somehow restrained by time even though our Lord claims mastery over of it as well as creation), or we refer to other Christians as the "Supremely Reverend Southern Conehead," or we act in a way which evidences rejection of the servanthood to which He called us, we earn the title of modern Pharisees and the rightly condemnation of being known, not for our love, but as hypocrites. The wisdom of Gamaliel would seem to be so instructive to both sides in these current disputes (and would seem to bring more honor to Christ than the current dishonor both sides give Him), and how few on both sides are willing to listen.

    Peace,
    JB

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  19. Thomas Bushnell: The Bishop and his army of lawyers are using the Dennis Canon to enforce the fact that despite the fact the Title of the property is in the hands of the individual church, that somehow the TEC based on the Dennis Canon trumps that. So I guess your short answer is that some canons are more important than others.

    Mark, From Integrity's release they refer to the language in Canon 18:2b as defining marriage in the Episcopal Church as between a man and a woman. Integrity believes they can overcome that language, but I got the information from them.

    I just find it interesting that some Canons are more important, or at least more vigorously enforced, as others.

    Let's have a little bet right here that Bp. Bruno does not react to All Saints and its violations of the canons in the same way he did to the other churches.

    Jim of Michigan

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  20. Ok, here's the copy from TEC's website of the Constitution and Canons:

    CANON 18: Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony
    Sec. 1. Every Member of the Clergy of this Church shall conform to
    the laws of the State governing the creation of the civil status of
    marriage, and also to the laws of this Church governing the
    solemnization of Holy Matrimony.
    Sec. 2. Before solemnizing a marriage the Member of the Clergy shall
    have ascertained:
    (a) That both parties have the right to contract a marriage according
    to the laws of the State.
    (b) That both parties understand that Holy Matrimony is a physical
    and spiritual union of a man and a woman, entered into within
    the community of faith, by mutual consent of heart, mind, and
    will, and with intent that it be lifelong.
    (c) That both parties freely and knowingly consent to such
    marriage, without fraud, coercion, mistake as to identity of a
    partner, or mental reservation.
    (d) That at least one of the parties has received Holy Baptism

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  21. Rev. Mark, you don't need to publish this comment, but I'm frankly suprised, considering your high standing in the church, that you were not already aware of Canon 18.2 and the existence of the definition of Holy Matrimony as being between a man and a woman. Or did you thing I was making it up?

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  22. Rev. Mark: There are additional gender specific "husband - wife" language in Canons 18.3 a-f. FYI.

    Jim

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  23. David Wilson+1/6/08 10:44 PM

    What if the PeeBee decided to charge all the bishops in the HOB who allow open communion in violation of the CLEAR language in the canons that restricts communion to baptized beleivers only?

    Yet a godly old man like Bishop Cox is deposed for performing two ordinations and a confirmation service in a congregation that has already legally left TEC.

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  24. dr.primrose1/6/08 11:16 PM

    A comment on the complaint that Bruno will not “discipline” clergy performing allegedly non-canonical marriages.

    Actually, his power (and the power of any other bishop) to “discipline” clergy is quite limited -- and has been for a long time, absent the clergy's accepting voluntary “discipline.”

    Title IV, as it currently stands, greatly limits the power of bishops to unilaterally depose or otherwise “discipline” clergy.

    If the clergy in the Diocese of Los Angeles start performing marriages for same-sex couples, there’s really not a lot that Bruno can do except make public noises and issue pastoral directives. For those clergy to be “disciplined,” someone is going to have to file a Title IV complaint with the Standing Committee, the Standing Committee will have to investigate and, if the Standing Committee thinks the complaint is warranted, issue a presentment. The matter then goes to the Ecclesiastical Court for determination.

    So if folks think that All Saints’, Pasadena, is violating the canons, they should not expect Bruno to violate the “discipline” canons in connection with perceived violations of the marriage canons.

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  25. Jim of l-town....actually I know perfectly well the contents of the marriage canons. in 40 years of service as a priest I've almost memorized them. My initial comment concerned your use of "only." It does not appear in the canons re marriage.

    The assumption of the canon is that it is about a man - woman relationship. But if the laws of the state are changed so that the definition of marriage in the state includes two persons of the same sex, that makes the canon's assumptions of the meaning of the word up for some discussion.

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  26. Jim wrote, "Bp. Duncan will, I fear, be deposed. There is no similar process for the standing committee that is clear, and permits the national church or parishioners in a diocese to act."

    Canon 1.17.8 states, " Any person accepting any office in thei CHurch shall well and faithfully perform the duties of that office in accordance with Constitution and Canons of this Church and of the Diocese in which the office is being exercised.' (Emphasis mine) Thus, failure to work in accord with the national Canons, even if there is conflict with diocesan canons (perhaps such a failure in and of itself, but at least the Canon says "and")is a disqualification for office on a Standing Committee. You're right that the process for acting on this disqualification isn't clear - perhaps an action of a diocesan convention, or by presentments from those within the diocese - but the grounds are.

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  27. The assumption of the canon is that it is about a man - woman relationship. But if the laws of the state are changed so that the definition of marriage in the state includes two persons of the same sex, that makes the canon's assumptions of the meaning of the word up for some discussion.

    I completely disagree. That's only true if the church sees itself as a wholly-owned agent of the state. On the other hand, if there's some kind of theology attached to this, what the state does should have no bearing on the language of the canon.

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  28. The end result of this discussion, and I'll let it go for now, is that Canons mean whatever those in power say they mean.
    Even the clear gender statements in the canons are up for interpretation.
    It depends what your definition of man and woman is? Bill Clinton must be TEC's new lawyer.
    Sorry, ain't buying it.
    The tyranny of the majority is very apparent, but I would remind you that the convenient interpretations of canons to suit your means and ends could come back to haunt you someday.
    Rev. Mark, you seem like a reasonable person, someone with a way with words. If the clear meanings of words are up for opposite interpretations depending on who wins a majority of votes would you agree that is at least a troubling proposition?
    But a church hell-bent on ridding itself of anyone who disagrees with its current headlong march into secularism will continue to use whatever power it needs and has to make that happen.
    I just wish you guys would quit saying there is room at the table for those who disagree. Clearly, there is no room.

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  29. I am fully in favor of same-sex marriage, but, Mark, I really don't understand your interpretation of Canon 18.2, as quoted. "That both parties understand that Holy Matrimony is a physical
    and spiritual union of a man and a woman ..." doesn't seem to need an explicit "only" to make it clear that the canon only allows different-gender marriages.

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  30. Hi Mark,

    I agree wholeheartedly with your discussion regarding the trustworthiness of the SC of Pittsburgh. Thank you for a cogent (if indeed urgent) discussion.

    The question of what to do is probably being discussed at all levels, not only at "815" but also in Pittsburgh. Personally, I see their statement of readiness as a coy ploy.

    You know--even thirteen year-olds in confirmation classes I have taught over the years have no doubt that all church property is subject to the diocese, and the diocese and the bishop are subject to relationships emmanating from HoB and GC.

    Isn't it sad that a discussion you began about a SC that boasts of its readiness for its bishop to be deposed ends up as a discussion of marriage.... I grieve for the church. I grieve for her bishops.

    blessings,
    margaret

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  31. Hi Mark,

    I agree wholeheartedly with your discussion regarding the trustworthiness of the SC of Pittsburgh. Thank you for a cogent (if indeed urgent) discussion.

    The question of what to do is probably being discussed at all levels, not only at "815" but also in Pittsburgh. Personally, I see their statement of readiness as a coy ploy.

    You know--even thirteen year-olds in confirmation classes I have taught over the years have no doubt that all church property is subject to the diocese, and the diocese and the bishop are subject to relationships emmanating from HoB and GC.

    Isn't it sad that a discussion you began about a SC that boasts of its readiness for its bishop to be deposed ends up as a discussion of marriage.... I grieve for the church. I grieve for her bishops.

    blessings,
    margaret

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  32. jim of l-town, you have switch terms so cleverly!

    your complaint was that "the bishop of los angeles is...fighting four churches for violating the canons". for this to be true, you need to show that
    1) the churches are accused of violating the canons (name the canon, please), and
    2) the violation is the reason for the lawsuit.

    nothing the bishop alleges is that they are violating the canons, nor is there any canon they are accused of violating. (the Dennis canon, of course, is not something you *could* violate, since it issues no instructions but merely states a fact.)

    the Dennis canon is of course relevant--it makes clear that the property is held in trust for the whole church and for the diocese--but the bishop is not compalining that they are "violating" it.

    all the canons are important. which canon do you think the bishop of los angeles has violated? please, give us a reference.

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  33. The situation in Pittsburgh is such that even if Bishop Duncan were to be deposed at a House of Bishops meeting in September, the Standing Committee would go forward with the vote at convention to eliminate the accession clause from the diocesan canons. In fact, the diocesan leadership decided at its spring leadership retreat to move the convention forward to the first weekend in October (usually first weekend in November) so that there would be less time between such a deposition and the convention.

    Please note that Bishop Duncan has assured himself of a comfortable transition. He has built a retirement house on land owned by the diocese and he and his wife have been deeded (as of November 2007) a life interest estate (to the longest lived survivor) in that house. The diocese also loaned Bishop Duncan the money to build that house (terms not in the public record.) In addition we understand that he AND Bishop Scriven have signed consultant contracts with the diocese for two years at full pay which will go into effect SHOULD BISHOP DUNCAN BE DEPOSED.

    The Standing Committee has an overwhelming majority that supports "realignment," but there is one member who signed a public letter saying he was not realigning. This person is working hard to encourage parishes to stay in TEC. Trying to bring members of the standing committee up on charges before "realignment" would be useless because the group ("The Array") that would conduct any Title IV proceedings is itself packed with supporters of realignment. Furthermore, there is no provision for trying the 4 lay members of Standing Committee.

    However, rest assured that there are people planning for the future of the EPISCOPAL diocese of Pittsburgh. The group doing the planning represents the full cross section of those who will still be Episcopalians AFTER convention. This includes clergy and parishes who until this year have voted for all the measures put forward by those now pushing "realignment." We are a larger group than you might think.

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  34. Mark Harris,
    How do you depose someone for something they might do? How do you make this stuff up?

    John Moss

    ReplyDelete
  35. David Wilson+4/6/08 11:14 PM

    Just to set the record straight, the consultancy contracts are for one year not two and also include Canon Mary Hays as well as the two bishops

    David Wilson+
    Pres. Standing Cmte, Pgh

    ReplyDelete
  36. Jim requests, I just wish you guys would quit saying there is room at the table for those who disagree. Clearly, there is no room.

    The problem lies with your side's definition of "being welcome" in TEC.

    You are welcome, you're just not being agreed with by everyone.

    So please, be welcome as long as you follow the rules and can maintain reasonable standards of courtesy. But the whinging which results from the confusion of "feeling welcome" = "everyone agreeing with our position" is really both disingenuous and tiresome.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I too am in disbelief that Fr. Harris believes that the language of 18.2 would somehow not mean what it means because of a state action, and that the absence of an "only" somehow makes it fungible. I'm half tempted to contact Bishop Wright; after all, under Fr. Harris's interpretation of the rules, priests can be deposed or disciplined for things they "might" do in the future.

    What an embarassment this church is becoming.

    ReplyDelete
  38. And David, you have just perfectly described how those of us on the other side look at your precious "listening" process.
    Listening does not mean agreeing.
    Thanks for making my case.

    Jim of Michigan

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  39. I was a priest in the diocese of Pittsburgh for 24 years until I retired in 1999. I watched as Bob Duncan attempted to remove the diocese from the Episcopal Church from the moment that he was consecrated.

    I have no idea what will happen in terms of his deposition, but it is certainly time that this horrible mess be over.

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  40. I was a priest in the diocese of Pittsburgh for 24 years, from 1975 until I retired in 1999. From the moment Bob Duncan was consecrated he worked to remove the diocese of Pittsburgh from the Episcopal Church. This had nothing to do with disagreement, it had everything to do with undermining and diminishing the authority of the diocesan convention and the standing committee. He worked to install people who were in his camp into positions of authority until the diocese has come to the place where it finds itself today.

    There are many, many Episcopalians in the pews in Pittsburgh who are deeply discouraged by this turn of events. They wish for harmony with the National Church and would hate to see the Bishop deposed. Yet, I don't know what else the church can do. He has clearly violated the canons and has already abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church. The time has come to put and end to it.

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  41. I agree with thomas bushnell here. The canons are in place for a reason, and it's important to follow them - or, where they are unclear, to clarify them. We really don't have that many rules in this church, so it seems reasonable to ask the people in charge to follow what few we do have.

    And I agree with thomas on another thing: bad things are going to happen. Too bad for that, but there it is; if Duncan wants to try to "get away" with something, well: maybe he will, ultimately. And so? Again, it won't hurt or shame us; what will hurt us and shame us is acting unjustly and unfairly.

    There's nothing worse than ecclesiastical bullying; that's the very thing we're supposed to be fighting against.

    ReplyDelete

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