Bishop Duncan seems to have crossed the line: time to depose him?

Deposition is a hard word to use. It is harder still because on one level I have considerable respect and owe a great deal to Bishop Robert Duncan. But it is the word to use.

Bishop Duncan is reported to have taken part in the ordination of bishops of a province that has declared itself not in communion with the Episcopal Church, ordinations with the specific purpose of establishing a new episcopate in the United States with the explicit mission to replace the Episcopal Church with what the ordaining parties believe is a truly orthodox Anglican community. If this is true he should be deposed as quickly as possible.

Bishop Duncan is bound by canon to exercise his ministry only within the bounds of his own diocese except with explicit permission of the Diocese in which he proposes to minister. (Article 2, Section 3 of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church). It is reported that he has exercised his ministry as an ordaining bishop in a service conducted for the Province of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion.) If he did he did so in Virginia, as a sitting bishop in the Episcopal Church and in the jurisdiction of another bishop, namely Bishop Peter Lee is.

In the case of Bishop John David Schofield the charges will be that he as abandoned the Communion of this Church. In the case of Bishop Robert Duncan the case, if he indeed did ordain, is it just as clear: He has violated the Constitution of the Episcopal Church.

It has been assumed that it would be necessary to wait for the Diocese of Pittsburgh to act as had the Diocese of San Joaquin and abandon the communion in order to bring charges against the Bishop. It may still be that charge that will form the easier route - abandonment of communion requires the affirmation of the bishops of the church for the fact that one of their members has gone. The charge of violation of the Constitution requires trial and that is a longer process. Still, the intention, action and content of the reported event is so clear that violation of the Constitution will be evident.

Bishop Duncan has been busy. He was in the Diocese of San Joaquin Friday and Saturday for the decision taken there, and he flew to Virgnia for the ordinations today. In San Joaquin he no doubt added his take on the history and activities of the Network, a take no doubt as riddled with inaccuracies as was the take of the Bishop of San Joaquin. In the best of circumstances we might suggest that Bishop Schofield took certain liberties with the facts, in the worse he blatantly misled his own flock. Apparently Bishop Duncan has misled his flock by his actions in Virginia which are, if as reported, in violation of his vows taken as a bishop in the Episcopal Church.

Does Bishop Duncan deny that he took part in the ordinations - that is that he did not lay hands on the four ordained? If not he needs to be held accountable.


  1. yes, I believe you are correct than Duncan should be deposed.

    but he has not--yet--abandoned the communion of this church. the summary process is not yet appropriate. participation in an extra-canonical ordination is not grounds for abandonment under Canon IV.9.1, unless the ordination is for a religious body other than this church or a religious body in communion with this church.

    we are still in communion with the church in nigeria, officially, according to our polity. so i think that canon IV.9.1 does not apply.

  2. Don't you think that these presentments, inhibitions and depositions will make the TEC look bad in the eyes of the world as well as moderate episocopalians?

  3. robroy - Not that you asked me, but no I don't. I think allowing chaos to reign makes TEC look like it has neither moral authority nor the legal authority to maintain its own Constitution and Cannons - i.e., isn't a Church at all.

  4. Again, as your PB puts it: "The small, insignificant minority" seems to really get under your skin.
    Bp. Duncan could well have had permission from Bp. Akinola, the PB of the current jurisdiction of the churches where the ordinations took place and therefore is in no way in contravention of any canons.
    Either we who have already left, or those in the process of leaving are "an insignificant minority" or we are a large burr under your saddle.
    It would appear from your constant focus on extra-Episcopal and foreign Anglican churches that we are "significant." Thanks for admitting what your PB can't.

    John from Lansing

  5. John - Please show where the term "insignificant minority" has ever been used by the PB or anyone in leadership position in TEC to describe the schismatics.

    A "burr under the saddle," as you put it, is quite right. Small and if not removed will do much damage.

  6. Mark - it seems as if you have determined what the goal should be: the deposition of Bp Duncan as a bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America. Now it is simply a matter of determining the easiest route to achieve that goal? Isn't it possible that the man is actually remaining steadfast to his ordination and consecration vows to maintain and defend the faith of the Christian church?

  7. Time to start lancing boils, putting in assisting bishops who are not only able to keep their ordination vows but hold diocesan clergy to theirs. All this schism stuff is 99% clergy driven.

  8. (Dan)
    There are pictures and video of the consecration. Check them out. Bp. Duncan is under no obligation to answer your musings. If you can't tell from the pictures, go interview any of the hundreds in attendance. I am enjoying watching y'all squirming.

  9. As near as I can tell from this remove, Bp. Duncan is thisclose but not over the line. I gather he really wants to be there.

    If it were my call I would not present the bishop.

    We need to hold onto opposition, even when that smarts a bit. If there is a besetting sin of the Episcopal mindset it is terminal smugness (cf. John from Lansing and Don's posts above.) Keeping a voice shouting "you are wrong" in the house is a good antidote.

    If Bp. Duncan wants the role, we should applaud him for taking it. If he decides to abandon the community that is another matter entire. But until he does, and using as wide and generous a view as we can, we should merely disagree.

    The bishop has made this a more viable option by agreeing that congregations that disagree with him may use DEPO. I submit several should.


  10. Mia Culpa, Mia Culpa, Mia Maxima Culpa! From the Network as quoted on Stand Firm:

    ...As such, December 18, 2007 will mark the formal beginning of a "separate ecclesiastical structure" in North America. Following this meeting, Common Cause will be in a place to seek official recognition from the Primates of our Communion.

    "We at the Network are pleased to have been given the Kingdom assignment of building unity among the Common Cause Partners. Thank you for sharing with us in this task, and please pray for our work next week."

    Thus begins an announcement that they are formally asking, "the primates" for recognition as the new Anglican province in North America. Think big, attack ACCanada and TEC together. They probably have forgotten the are shooting at the Mexican church too. ;;sigh;;

    OK, so Bp. Duncan has announced that on 18 December he has abandoned the communion of TEC. Are the PB and the 3 senior bishops (who are they by the way) going to act or release press statements? Clearly, they have decided. Clearly waiting for Cantur to lead is silly. Time to inhibit, sue, depose, and then cry.

    How utterly sad and stupid this is. No one has ever suggested that these people be forced to change a single belief. Fr. Lawrence will if this is what S.C. wants be consecrated. In spite of the crud the right wing says, not one conservative has been denied consecration when properly elected. But they are "fleeing." And in the process running right into the arms of a pirate in Bp. Lyons. Sad, and stupid.

    My idiot optimism re: +Duncan is my error and I ask forgiveness. In my defense, I offer only the words of Blessed Martin Luther explaining "thou shalt not bear false witness" to wit: that we should put the best construction on everything.



  11. I am enjoying watching y'all squirming.

    We get that, Dan.

    I suppose 2000 years ago, "He saved others, he cannot save himself!" would have been part of your "joy", too?

    Lord have mercy!


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, 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.