The Moderator claims to be the Bishop of Pittsburgh.

There are two websites claiming to represent the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh: Here and Here. The second, www.pitanglican.org, announces that "Bishop Robert Duncan is once again the diocesan bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh."

It is no surprise. The Moderator of the Common Cause Partnership, made up at this point of bishops mostly not recognized as part of the Anglican Communion or deposed by a church in the Anglican Communion, was clear that if invited "back" he would become the bishop of those clergy and laity that became part of the Province of the Southern Cone. He insists, however, that this is the Diocese of Pittsburgh and that he has taken the Diocese into the Southern Cone for a temporary period prior to the development of a new improved Anglican Province in North America.

The Moderator has been deposed and is no longer a bishop in the Episcopal Church. So it seems oddly unnecessary to say that he cannot therefore be the Episcopal Bishop of anything. He may, as a bishop in the Province of the Southern Cone, exercise a ministry in the United States and in the Pittsburgh area. In doing so he stands in violation of long standing ecclesiastical authority that would consider him an intruder and usurper. There is nothing much to be done about his saying he is the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh except to say that he is not speaking the truth.


  1. I don't know if this is significant or not, but the Southern Cone Diocese of Pittsburgh's website does not feature the diocesan seal. Could that be because of legal fears?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hmmm...will Presiding Bishop (Southern Cone) Gregory Venables treat this situation like the one in San Joaquin? He didn't seem to cozy up to the idea of one of his bishops claiming to be part of another independent church in the Anglican Communion. I recall rapped Southern Cone Bishop Schofield's knuckles in a very public way.

  4. Bob of Fremont8/11/08 8:02 AM

    The country has just elected its first minority President.

    Walls and barriers are falling, so perhaps the antiquated notion that in a modern - cyberspace - world there is any such thing as "geographic" jurisdictions should be dismantled.

    People should be free to align with whichever expression of Anglicanism they believe.

    What made sense in the horse and buggy days, makes little sense today.

    Welcome back, Bp. Duncan. We celebrate the new dawn of Anglicanism in America.

    Bob of Fremont

  5. It seems to me that the organization that ordained and consecrated Mr. Duncan has seen fit to depose him. That which was solemnly done, has been solemnly undone. Two points, there is no organization that can automatically say "Oh gee, we recognize your order" because he has no orders. They could, I suppose if they want to, take him through the ordination process all over again and then recognize him. The TEC letter of deposition goes to EVERY province in the world because of this. Saying the emperor has clothes on does not make it so.
    Second, and for a similar reason, the diocese has "selected" Mr. Duncan as a bishop? Don't think it can be done. His ability to deliver any of the sacraments is severely impaired. Those who knowingly receive the sacraments from this person not only do not receive grace from the sacrament but there could be a good case made for those who knowingly bring this person into a situation such as this could be putting their souls in trouble because of the harm they do to others who do not know.

  6. "Bishop Robert Duncan is once again the diocesan bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh."

    That's a good one! Thanks for your careful reporting on this and Quincy's situation. The wording has to be very carefully done, but it's clear that a bunch of people left.

    I'm still trying to figure out a story I saw this morning about how "The Synod of The Episcopal Diocese of Quincy is now back in session."... they voted to quit and then they're hanging around still? How does that work? Are they just there for the lunch platters? If you voted to leave, well, leave, for goodness sake! Do they need some deacon to go through the crowd and tell them to get going?

  7. Fred,

    I think that you need to review both the sacramental nature of the priesthood, and the definition of docetist.


  8. Walls and barriers are falling, so perhaps the antiquated notion that in a modern - cyberspace - world there is any such thing as "geographic" jurisdictions should be dismantled.

    Well, that makes sense. Geographic jurisdictions are just old fashioned. Yeah, sure, that's it - you guys are on the cutting edge of the future. Why, y'all might even be termed progressive! Yeah, sure, that's the ticket...

    (With apologies to Jon Lovitz)

  9. Joel, what do Fred's remarks have to do with the heresy which held that Christ's physical body was an illusion?

    I'm a bit confused.

  10. Christopher (P.)8/11/08 10:12 PM

    Joel-- on your comments on sacramentalism and docetism. It's always a bit dicey to quote canons when not a canon lawyer (which I'm not), but here goes: Canon IV.12.1.d.3: "A Member of the Clergy deposed from any order of ordained ministry is deposed entirely from the ordained ministry." That may not be the RCC understanding (I don't know!), but that is the TEC understanding. As to the comment about docetists--isn't it rather donatists that might be pertinent? And I don't think that it is. That dispute was whether a morally compromised priest, even one in a state of mortal sin, could administer valid sacraments--and the Catholic position is that he (and for Catholics, it is a "he"!) can. But from that position, it in no way follows that those who once were, but now no longer are in the priesthood, can administer valid sacraments, such as consecrating the elements in the Eucharist. Perhaps you would like a church where the sacrment of ordination is eternally valid, but I don't see that we are that church.

  11. Joel,

    I think you need to review the writings on the sacramental nature of ordination. While true that the "bell of ordination cannot be unrung," the right and authority to administer the sacraments can be removed. This assumes, of course, that you are refering to the catholic view of the ordination; if not, you would have little use for the historic episcopate, and Fred's comments irrelevant to you, and yours to us.

    How does docetism - or any of the gnostic heresies - relate to Fred's comments? He did not write anything that denies the human nature of Christ. Or the dvine nature, for that matter.

    Intelligent disagreements are always interesting, but you have not made your case. Talk to your catechist, please, then perhaps return with a stronger argument. Or at least a more accurate heresy.

    For the record, I know Fred. He is a man of strong opinions and great faith. He speaks from the heart, and it is a decidedly Trinitarian one. And one that sings the great song of faith: that the life, death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, is the greatest act of salvation and love that mankind has ever experienced. God even loves snarky sinners like me.

  12. Christopher (P.)9/11/08 9:15 AM

    Thanks to Lynn for the info. Thus I would correct the last sentence in my posting of 10:12 yesterday, based on this canon (IV.15):

    Deposition shall mean a Sentence by which a Member of the Clergy
    is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority of God's word and sacraments conferred at ordination.

    So it may be that we are a church where the sacrament of ordination is eternally valid: but then we are also a church that, in Lynn's words, can remove the right and authority to actually and validly do what comes with ordination. As I understand it, deposition means that the erstwhile bishop is a bishop no longer, nor a priest, nor a deacon, but rather a layperson, and thus can do no more sacramental actions that can a lay person.

  13. As I understand it, deposition means that the erstwhile bishop is a bishop no longer, nor a priest, nor a deacon, but rather a layperson, and thus can do no more sacramental actions that can a lay person.

    No. The deposed bishop, etc. is treated as a bishop no longer, but rather as a layperson. Their sacramental actions are valid, but illicit. Except in case of emergency (the example given is that if they come across a dying person they not only may hear that person's Confession, but should).

    Of course, the catch is getting the laicized cleric to go along with all this. In too many cases, the person laicized is in some sort of rebellion against their Church, and goes ahead and does whatever they want to do (eg Archbishop Milingo).

  14. John-Julian, OJN10/11/08 12:01 PM

    The matter can be clarified a little by using the term "faculties". True, that a priest or bishop once ordained is traditionally considered always to be an "ordained person", but deposition removes the authority to function -- it removes the "faculties" for priesthood or episcopate.

    The person is no longer authorized to enjoy any of the perquisites of Holy Orders [e.g., clerical clothing, clerical terms of address, administration of sacraments, or even clerical discounts (grin)], and the person is also relieved of the peculiar responsibilities of Holy Orders [e.g. recitation of the Daily Office, Ember Day reports to the bishop, participation in "the councils of the Church", amenability to presentment, etc.]

    By tradition, ontologically s/he remains in Holy Orders, but the authority by which s/he was ordained has removed the right to function (i.e., the "faculties") as an ordained person (except, as billyd pointed out, in emergency cases involving the dying).

    However, a different ("alien") jurisdiction may restore those removed faculties WITHIN ITS OWN JURISDICTION -- as TEC does with converted RC or Eastern Orthodox priests who may have been deposed by their parent jurisdictions.

    [If Southern Cone believes Mr. Duncan to have been validly consecrated, they could receive him into their jurisdiction and lift his deposition WITHIN THEIR JURISDICTION -- although I should think that would require some specific legal/ecclesiastical determination and some formal action or declaration -- again, as an ex-RC priest is "received" into TEC with faculties restored.]

  15. I'm still wondering what any of this has to do with Docetism.

  16. Christopher (P.)15/11/08 8:51 AM

    Thanks to John-Julian for his explanation. It sheds a lot of light. It also raises one further question for me (although the moment for this thread may have passed). Is it or is it not part of being in the Anglican Communion that the different Provinces recognize the ordained ministries of the other Provinces of the Communion? And by "recognize the ministries," I also mean recognize the depositions as well. That is, I see the way this would work with ex-RCC clergy entering the Episcopal Church. I don't see that the analogy holds with deposed TEC clergy going to the Southern Cone, unless they were already, in fact, members of different communions.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.