Episcopal Cafe has learned that Bishop Edward MacBurney, retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, once inhibited and then returned to retired status, has agreed to serve as "interim" bishop for the clergy and people formerly of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy now formed under the Province of the Southern Cone as a diocese there.
Preludium had observed only yesterday, "Nothing has been heard from the Diocese of Quincy. But one can be sure that some sort of episcopal oversight of the breakaway group is being organized beyond having a deputy appointed from the Southern Cone to supervise." I had supposed that the Anglican Church in North America would take on the issue of episcopal oversight. It now appears that the Province of the Southern Cone and the leadership of the breakaway group are not waiting.
He had been inhibited for acting in an episcopal capacity in the jurisdiction of a diocese not his own, San Diego. Episcopal Cafe details the events and the reaction from various conservative groups.
Inhibition was later lifted and Bishop MacBurney was admonished to make amends. He was returned to his former status as a retired bishop in good standing.
The decision to act in an episcopal capacity for a group now part of another province but active in the jurisdiction of a diocese of The Episcopal Church once again puts Bishop MacBurney's status in The Episcopal Church at risk. Indeed, if true Bishop MacBurney is subject to the charge of abandoning the communion of this church and possible inhibited and deposition.
The Bishop is now 80 years old and it could be hoped that his desire to serve people he has served in the past in communities he has loved is guided by the very best of pastoral intentions. Under other circumstances we might wish him every success in this pastoral ministry taken at this time in his life.
But in the current situation, when it has been made clear to Bishop MacBurney what the limits of his ministry entail, the news of his willingness to undertake this work leads to questions about the bishop's state of mind. Has his generosity of spirit combined with some slip in understanding of the canonical limitations on his right to act in an episcopal capacity led to this as an unfortunate but well intentioned willingness to serve? Or is he in some way becoming limited in capacity to know the consequences of an agreement taken with those who have become part of another province?
One way or another this decision raises questions, either of his willingness or ability to understand the limits of his office. This is sad news.