10/04/2008

Newman not present, Bennison deposition nearer, Duncan a consultant.

When Ruth Gledhill gets it right, she does it wonderfully well. Her note on the effort to find Cardinal Newman's remains and remove them to an Oratory in Birmingham ends, "As our capitalist world crumbles about us, it seems that Newman is a saint for our times in more ways than we could previously have imagined." So Newman is not to be accounted present for the foolishness of this age.


Bishop Charles Bennison has been found wanting by the ecclesiastical court and they have recommended that he be deposed. Their decision is the harshest they could recommend and brings matters closer to conclusion. The process has been long and unpleasant.

This is the second bishop I have known well in the deposition process. I was priest associate in Bishop Duncan's parish when he was Rector in Newark, Delaware. Bishop Bennison was one of my thesis advisors in the Doctor of Ministry program at EDS. Both were pastorally and personally supportive of me at times when I needed it. While I believe both have acted in ways that warrant deposition, I cannot be happy about that fact.


It will be interesting to see what role Bishop Duncan plays in the unfolding of the Diocesan Convention today in Pittsburgh. He is deposed and has not contested that fact. Apparently he is now a consultant to the Diocese and as such may be at Convention. At any rate, if Pittsburgh does vote to leave the Episcopal Church he will no doubt reappear as the Bishop of the Leaving. He is already bishop in the Province of the Southern Cone, so having gone on before them he will now lead either a majority or minority of the Diocese with him.


If it is the majority, they will claim that "The Diocese of Pittsburgh" has left. That will be completely inaccurate. What will be true is that a majority of the delegates representing their parishes will have voted to leave. Not all the members of a parish voting to leave will do so, just as not all members of a parish voting not to leave will stay. Instead, PEOPLE will leave or stay. There are now more than 16 parishes intending to remain in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

So, Bishop Duncan as consultant will either reemerge as Bishop of the Leaving one way or another. Either a majority or minority of clergy and people will go with him. The property issues will be a mess, as they always are. When he gets to that far shore it will only be for a short visit. Very soon I suspect the powers that be in the GAFCON Primates Council will proclaim the Common Cause Partnership, or some portion of it, sutable as the so called orthodox presence in North America.


At one point I received a comment indicating that if Bishop Duncan were still bishop in the Episcopal Church and if the Convention were to vote down the proposal to leave, he would have resigned. As it is, of course, he can't resign, he has been deposed. So now, one way or another he is taking himself and whoever will follow to southern climes to await a return, triumphal or otherwise. Echoes of MacArthur.

Cardinal Newman will not satisfy the worshipful by providing bones to venerate. And parishes in the Episcopal Church at least are congregational enough that the Sunday following deposition, or leaving or staying in a particular Diocesan fellowship, will look more or less like any other Sunday.

It turns out that Anglican heros and villians, even the ones who leave, do not provide the focus for much veneration. Attention quickly passes to matters more congregational, more local, more precisely missional. It turns out all mission is local.


We are more interested in the Bread and Wine, the Body and Blood, than in the hands that deliver or the minds that invent theological stones on which we can stumble.


12 comments:

  1. Mark,
    Here is a thought for those that have gone or are about to go. Jesus said that when one is not accepted in a town or city to leave and not take a single thing with you. Do not take anything, not even the dust. He said shake the dust from your sandals and move on. So, JDS and Mr. Duncan, and soon to be Mr. Iker -- what gives?

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  2. How come we have yet to hear a peep about the "illegality" of the Bennison deposition from those who continually do cry against the Schofield & Duncan depositions? Surely the same canon applies to all three cases?

    Early in a new Stand Firm post on the Bennison case, Jackie Bruchi states "considering the evidence many wondered why there even had to be a trial." Say what, now, Ms. B?

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  3. Then there were those other pesky observations by Jesus:

    "blind guides", "don't cast your pearls before the swine", "adulterous generation", "white-washed tombs".

    Lots to say about those "majority" religious gear-greasers who don't...won't.. heed the minority clarion voices that they are hearing.

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  4. I hate to be obvious and ask, but what were they going to do with the body if they'd actually found something?
    Sell it on e-bay?

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  5. "If it is the majority, they will claim that "The Diocese of Pittsburgh" has left. That will be completely inaccurate. What will be true is that a majority of the delegates representing their parishes will have voted to leave. Not all the members of a parish voting to leave will do so, just as not all members of a parish voting not to leave will stay. Instead, PEOPLE will leave or stay." -- How is this any different than what GC 03 and 06 did? Either the delegates represent the will of the people or not. If delegates at 03 represented their people, then you have to acknowledge the delegates at Pittsburgh represented the will of those who elected them to serve at this (and let's not forget the last as well) convention. If you do not accept that these delegates represented the will of those who elected them, then why should the orthodox in TEC (what few are left) be forced to accept the decisions of delegates from 03 and 06?
    Peace,
    JB

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  6. I love it that Newman's body, per se, could not be moved from its resting place with his beloved companion.

    Probably that "Protestant" baptism.

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  7. Bob of Fremont5/10/08 9:07 AM

    Dear lapinbizarre:

    Because Bennison had a trial?

    Because Bennison had due process?

    Because Bennison actually did something that was wrong?

    Would you like more reasons why you haven't heard more.

    Bob of Fremong

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  8. Lots to say about those "majority" religious gear-greasers who don't...won't.. heed the minority clarion voices that they are hearing.

    Um, aren't the reasserters the one who are constantly insisting that the jillions of Anglicans in Nigeria make their side the majority of the Anglican Communion?

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  9. Because Bennison actually did something that was wrong?

    Ah, there's the rub. If you think that fomenting schism from ECUSA (as opposed to just leaving and joining another Church) is wrong, then Duncan and Schofield did, indeed, do wrong.

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  10. How is this any different than what GC 03 and 06 did?

    JB,

    GC delegates are authorized, by the TEC's Constitution and Canons, to make (confirm), or not, bishops.

    Episcopal diocesan delegates are NOT authorized by the Constitutions and Canons, to unmake Episcopal dioceses.

    [I live in Michigan, and can vote for U.S. President. I can't vote against California's Prop 8 ("Eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry"), no matter how much I would like to: I don't have that authority.]

    HTH.

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  11. jcf:

    I suppose it's a nice argument, though I cannot see how your last comment applies to the current situation. Pittsburgh was deciding Pittsburgh's affiliation, not Los Angeles'.

    My real quibble with Mark's post was his seeming rejection of the leadership's vote in Pittsburgh as being representative of the majority in the diocese while expecting others to accept the leadership's vote of GC as representative of the national majority. I am all for giving everyone still in the church a vote to decide these important issues, something which our leadership seems loathe to consider (feel free to hollowly explain that the canons do not allow such a vote). If we are going to make decisions which tear at the fabric, we ought to require that the members of a parish, a diocese, or the church have a real voice.

    Peace,
    JB

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  12. Once again we have the wonderful Reasserter double-standard: when it goes my (the Reasserter's) way, majority rules, when it doesn't go that way, Truth cannot be decided by a vote!

    I would also ask how it is "tearing the fabric" in requiring Reasserters to "suffer" through the existence of active homosexuals in their churches, even in positions of leadership, and it is not "tearing" any sort of "fabric" to disregard - utterly - the prayerful, hard-fought, hard-won and truthful witness of gays and lesbians? How is it not tearing fabric to throw them away (feel free to give hollow explanations how it's not throwing them away)?

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