12/07/2008

Jack reads the canonical tea leaves

Bishop Jack Iker certainly has a way about him. His understanding of the Canons is uniquely suited to his personality. When he is for them, the canons are a source of indignant inspiration. When he is against them they are meaningless and he feigns being under a rain cloud of indignation and despair for the church. (cartoon by Dave Walker, Cartoon Church)

Here is how it plays out:

The Canons require that member dioceses be in conformity with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.

Bishop Iker guided his diocese through the process of denying the authority of TEC Canons in any situation in which they were deemed not to be in line with the diocesan understanding of what constitutes orthodox faith or practice. In other words, he supported an uncanonical option.

The Canons stipulate that property is held in trust for the diocese of the Episcopal Church and as a result in trust for the whole of TEC.

Bishop Iker thinks that that canon is of no consequence.

The Episcopal Church has declared that it will not discriminate against women in the ordination process. The Diocese of Fort Worth does and sends them off elsewhere.

When inhibited by the Presiding Bishop on advice of the Title IV Review Committee he declares that he is no a part of TEC anymore. But a bishop is required by canon to seek permission of the House of Bishops to resign his jurisdiction. Of course Bishop Iker believes his see (jurisdiction) goes with him, so he hasn't resigned his see. He has just left TEC for different climes.

But that of course is nonsense: He claims the canons and their use by the House of Bishops, the Presiding Bishop, and the Title IV Review Committee are of no consequence, but the issue is not that he has moved on, but that he took a vow to conform to the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of TEC. Too bad about the canons: he blew them off, like so many flies. (Cartoon by Dave Walker)

On November 24 Bishop Iker responded to the deposition by saying,
"Katharine Jefferts Schori has no authority over me or my ministry as a Bishop in the Church of God. She never has, and she never will.
Since November 15, 2008, both the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and I as the Diocesan Bishop have been members of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. As a result, canonical declarations of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church pertaining to us are irrelevant and of no consequence."

So much for the Constitution and Canons of TEC. He does not consider himself inhibited. He does not believe the canons of TEC are relevant to the question of property. He does not believe the accession to the Constitution and Canons concerns his diocese.

Now it turns out Bishop Iker feels free to lecture the Presiding Bishop, and the House of Bishops members who determined that he ought to be considered as one who has renounced the ministry of this Church, about the use of the canons of TEC, the canons whose validity or relevance to him he has denied.

The Presiding Bishop informed him on December 5th that he had been understood to have renounced his ministry in The Episcopal Church and was therefore removed from the ordained ministry of this church. The letter of November 24th on which this was based on the previously quoted statement enclosed in a press briefing from the Diocese of Fort Worth.

"The Presiding Bishop is misleading the Church and misrepresenting the facts in her recent allegation that I have renounced the ordained ministry of The Episcopal Church.
According to Canon III.12.7, any Bishop desiring to renounce his orders “shall declare, in writing, to the Presiding Bishop a renunciation of the ordained Ministry of this Church, and a desire to be removed therefrom…” and that the PB shall then “record the declaration and request so made."

I have not written to the Presiding Bishop making any such declaration or request. I hope the House of Bishops will hold her accountable for her continued abuse of the canons."

Suddenly he is wonderfully picky about the canons - the canons he repudiated earlier.
He quite rightly states that his November 24th statement was not a letter to the Presiding Bishop. It was a statement to the whole world (or that part of it at all interested.) So it was to her, but not just to her.

The Presiding Bishop we may assume was apprised of this letter and, on the face of it, read that (i) Bishop Iker did not recognize the Presiding Bishop has having authority over her, now or never, and that (ii) it didn't matter anyway, since he had left The Episcopal Church and its ways. It would appear that for all intents and purposes this was a letter of renunciation - renouncing her authority and renouncing the validity of the canons as applicable to him.
Had Bishop Iker sent a letter requesting to resign his see the House of Bishops might have considered that request. Bishop Ackerman did that and they did. But of course Bishop Iker wasn't about to do that, wanting to claim that he and his see are one. He could have countered the statement of inhibition by contesting it in some fashion, but he did not. He rejected it.

Rejecting the inhibition, rejecting the authority of the canons or of the Presiding Bishop, and announcing that he is part of another province all seem very much to be occasion of either abandonment (which charge he simply dismisses out of hand) or renunciation.

Further, Bishop Iker signed off on the Jerusalem Declaration which requires that the subscribers, "reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord. " That of course means TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada.

Reject has as its nearest parallel in the Canons the word renounce. So it seems to me that (i) Bishop Iker wrote the whole world, including the PB, that her authority and that of the canons were rejected and (ii) that it is within the authority of the PB, the members of her Council of Advice and others to determine that he had indeed renounced the ministry of this church by that message.

Of course, if he wished to Bishop Iker could accept the inhibition and go for facing into the charge of abandonment. But, well, he already blew that one. On the other hand, why does he care that he has been declared as having renounced his orders? As is clear from the letter pronouncing his renunciation, this doesn't concern his moral character, it has to do with his wishes (that is he has renounced) rather than the judgment of a court.
The only thing Bishop Iker has got going for him in this strange exchange is that it is true - he did not write a specific letter to the Presiding Bishop renouncing the ministry of bishop in this Church. Instead he wrote the world and proclaimed his rejection of both TEC and its leadership.

I believe the Presiding Bishop and her advisers responded in a much less confronting way by accepting his rejection as a form of renunciation. To have continued with the charge of abandonment would have simply put off the matter of deposition for a few months.

Ah, but now we know why Bishop Iker protests so much: Accepting his renunciation of the ordained ministry in this church immediately impacts his authority to exercise administrative control in the Diocese of Fort Worth. His objection is about the money and the goods. He doesn't care for the canons, he claims the PB, House of Bishops, and any other aspect of The Episcopal Church have no hold on him, but he needs the breathing space of these months to attempt to consolidate his holdings.

Jack reads the canonical tea leaves, not to find righteousness but to find time.
To late, Jack.

9 comments:

  1. What we need to do is, just ignore him. Egotists with delusions of grandeur hate to be ignored.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Never has and never will?" Hmmmm. I realize I may well be the "village idiot lay person" talking here, but when Iker took his ordination vows, like on page 526 of the BCP, he agreed to obey his bishop and other ministers in accordance with the canons of the church...and if that isn't enough, when he did the bishop ordination thing, on page 518, didn't he agree to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church?

    I don't think I'm being terribly nit-picky here...

    ReplyDelete
  3. This isn't the first instance of Bishop Iker wanting to have it both ways. However, even he should see the absurdity of saying first, "the structures of the Episcopal Church don't apply to me," and then, "I continue to participate in the structures of the Episcopal Church." I continue to wonder, not just why he doesn't acknowledge the absurdity, why those who purport to "recognize" him don't acknowledge the absurdity. Why would he - why would any of them - think, much less want, that this moves anyone?

    ReplyDelete
  4. "The Episcopal Church has declared that it will not discriminate against women in the ordination process".

    Before TEC declared THAT, it agreed via General Convention to allow a conscience clause to those who didn't see ordinations as appropriate for women.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Deacon Charlie Perrin8/12/08 11:17 AM

    This is proof positive that the Episcopal Church would be well served by being more careful in consenting to Episcopal elections.

    Yes, people's choice of a particular person as their bishop is not to be dismissed easily; but when that person has genuine animosity towards the faith as expressed by the Church, then the choice is best rejected.

    For that reason, I would not be surprised if Bishop Lawrence of South Carolina doesn't end up like Iker, Schofield, and Duncan.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Deacon Perrin, I can’t let that one go, especially as you used the capital C “Church.” It is the accusers of Lawrence, Iker, Schofield and Duncan that more closely fit the description of having, “genuine animosity towards the faith as expressed by the Church.” Perhaps you should be more careful in your wording, viz.: “genuine animosity towards the faith as expressed by the Episcopal Church.” There’s a difference.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Deacon Charlie Perrin8/12/08 5:44 PM

    HoW TrUe PhIl. I sHoUlD bE MoRe CaReFul. I pRoMiSe To Be So In ThE fUtUrE.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Perhaps you should be more careful in your wording, viz.: “genuine animosity towards the faith as expressed by the Episcopal Church.” There’s a difference.

    Not for Episcopalians there isn't.

    ReplyDelete
  9. They want to leave, but after they go they want to stay. It's sooo bizarre!

    Despite this observation about the Duncanites, the Ikerites and the Schofieldovians I've really tried to rachet back further online comment about this Internet-driven ecclesiastical fantasy world. I realy do think James is right saying,

    "What we need to do is, just ignore him (them). Egotists with delusions of grandeur hate to be ignored."

    I am tired to the bone with all of this ultra-conservative nonsense. Hanging in with this ongoing Anglican church drama is draining, counterproductive and a collosal waste of our time.

    ReplyDelete

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