Communion Partner Bishops and ACI mull things over.

The Living Church magazine, on-line has issued a "pre-release" notice of a paper to be posted by the Anglican Communion Institute and the Communion Partner Bishops tomorrow, March 12th. (This is being written March 11th at 11 PM, the TLC article having been posted today.) They seem to believe that the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council have overstepped their bounds. The title of the article is, "ACI, Communion Partner Bishops Mull Petition in Pittsburgh." It would seem their mulling has been trumpeted before they actually got around to releasing the statement. The article is unsigned. It states:

"A friend-of-the-court petition filed in the ongoing litigation in Pittsburgh by the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor represents a new, serious challenge to the long-standing polity of The Episcopal Church, according to a joint statement to be issued March 12 by the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) and the Communion Partner bishops."
“The historic episcopate has long been recognized as an essential, non-negotiable element of Anglican identity,” the statement notes. “The polity of The Episcopal Church, clearly expressed in its name, its constitution and its history, is that of dioceses and bishops meeting in a general convention as equals. The Presiding Bishop and the Executive Council are the agents, not the superiors of dioceses.”

The statement, which has not been released and is known only by way of this "scoop" article in TLC, appears to be about the charge being tested from the ecclesiastical right that the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council are exceeding their constitutional rights in continuing to recognize the remaining Episcopalians in San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Quincy and Fort Worth as the Episcopalians gathered in those places, and that the remaining communities of faithful Episcopalians constitute the actual Episcopal Church on the ground in spite of the fact that most of the leadership and many communicants have left.

What do these people suggest the Episcopal Church do? Decide that, yes indeed, these dioceses did in fact leave and that the people remaining, because they did not go as well, are the ones who left the diocese? What do they suggest we do? Simply decide that the remaining Episcopalians do not constitute the remaining Episcopalians, now devoid of the leaders previously pledged to uphold the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church? What do they suggest we do? Abandon any claim by them to be the continuing diocese of this or that place?

I can hardly wait for the full, or even the brief, statement of the Communion Partner Bishops and the ACI. The Anglican Communion Institute is a community of three, perhaps four, theological types and a lawyer. The Communion Partner Bishops, yet another straw that the Archbishop of Canterbury is grasping at, consists for purposes of this statement of Bishops D. Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana and John Howe of Central Florida.

TLC claims that these worthies said, “We have made it very clear that we will not choose sides in the fight between Bishop [Robert] Duncan [of Pittsburgh] and the Presiding Bishop,” he said. “We seek only to preserve the historic polity of The Episcopal Church from interference by the civil courts and a Presiding Bishop acting beyond her constitutional authority.”

Well, this is their song and they will sing it. But the sides are taken. The "historic polity" issue is a sham as is the "historic episcopate" invoked as as something that relieves bishops of conformity to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. The Presiding Bishop, acting in concert with the House of Bishops and / or The Executive Council has every business in determining that bishops have abandoned this church, that communities of Episcopalians abandoned by their bishops and standing committees have the right to regroup with the assistance of bishops part of The Episcopal Church.

The Living Church jumped the gun. In doing so it may have made news, but it became the news, not the news report. TLC has a lot of work to do to regain anything like creditability.


  1. Father Harris, I am distressed to see that Blogger has been unable remove these spurious links to unrelated posts, all because I choose to show your site in the blogroll of recommended sites at my blog. (At my site, every post I put up receives an automatic link from the Sanctus blog.)

    Sometimes I find that as author, I can remove them by clicking on a trash-can icon that appears to the right of the link (only for site owners), but it doesn't always work. I would ask that you let me know if you would prefer that I remove your site from my blogroll until they get this fixed, or if you want to continue to try to remove them yourself. I regret any annoyance this has caused.

    You do not have to post this comment, if you like; let me know by (email posted with my profile page).

  2. heh. Historically, I know the three or four members of the ACI. I think they are full of you know what, and, as I listened to a sermon preached by one of them many years ago, my sponsoring Rector whispered into my ear, "never preach a sermon like that."

    LOL...this is actually starting to be fun!

  3. Thanks, Mark, for putting me on alert. I have read the ACI statement and it seems to me to be nothing new. It asserts that "The polity of The Episcopal Church, clearly expressed in its name, its constitution and its history, is that of dioceses and bishops meeting in a general convention as equals." I do not disagree with this, but the statement then poses two questions, one about the authority of General Convention over dioceses and diocesan bishops, and the second about whether dioceses can sign on to the Anglican Covenant independently of the General Convention. All of this seems to me to be part of an attempt, which is also being made by the Anglican Curmudgeon, to establish diocesan conventions as superior to General Convention. What I find particularly odd about this argument is that it is often being made by people who also want to grant authority over the life of TEC to some of the "Instruments of Communion." But that may not be odd at all as both paths would lead to the weakening of the General Convention, and that, I suspect is the real goal.

  4. The same ACI that has Don Armstrong's egg all over its face?

  5. What an odd and sad paper. These folks are scholars enough to do better than this.

    What I find most remarkable is that, although there is reference to "actions of the Presiding Bishop which are widely perceived to be contrary to the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church" (emphasis mine), when the paper finally tries to look specific all reference to Canons disappears. While it is true that, "The constitution [sic] of The Episcopal Church does not purport to define the authority of a bishop," the Canons certainly do. They also define the process for forming dioceses, which must be ratified by General Convention - which seems sufficient metropolitical authority for me, at least for these questions, both for General Convention and for its Executive Council, of which the Presiding Bishop is Chair.

  6. If The Living Church said it was raining outside, I would go check to be sure.

    They are the ecclesiastical answer to Fox News.

  7. "nlnh said...
    If The Living Church said it was raining outside, I would go check to be sure.

    They are the ecclesiastical answer to Fox News."

    It is not every day one sees someone being unfair to Fox News.....

    TLC is the only institution that still thinks the ACI matters.



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