Heads Up: Lawyer McCall and “Communion Partner” bishops play the diocese card.

In the next few days a position paper signed by a number of bishops connected to the "Communion Partners" bishops group will be published, in all likelihood by the Anglican Communion Institute. It will challenge the notion that dioceses of TEC are part of TEC in any other way except by voluntary association, and that therefore they are free to independently subscribe to the Anglican Covenant and maintain pastoral visitation and oversight independent of any agreement with TEC or its leadership. At least that is the conclusion to be reached from a thread of emails send to Preludium today (April 21).

The document is sure to be a best seller in the Anglican blogsphere. It remains to be seen if it has any depth. The potential signatories to this letter include the majority of the "Communion Partner" bishops. There may be as many as ten signers.

The Communion Partners bishops are those who wish to disavow TEC leadership but will stay in TEC and have determined that individual dioceses in the Episcopal Church might sign on to the Anglican Covenant (in its apparently final draft) and thereby establish their purity of relationship with the Anglican Communion in spite of what they see as the drift of The Episcopal Church and its leadership away from "orthodox" belief.

The Communion Partners take as their beginning point of reference the comment made some time ago by the Archbishop of Canterbury that dioceses might well be able to sign the Covenant even if the Province to which they belonged did not. There is some thought that the Archbishop of Canterbury regrets ever having said that. But there it is, and the Communion Partners have grabbed on to it.

The second point of reference is the belief that Episcopal Church polity legitimately arises out of the autonomy of dioceses who gather in voluntary association at The Episcopal Church in General Convention. In this view it is the diocese and not The Episcopal Church that is the "basic unit" of The Episcopal Church. In this argument TEC is not a metropolitical entity, but rather a free association of dioceses.

The principal legal brief for this position has been offered by Mr. McCall whose credentials as a lawyer seem established, but whose expertise as a canon lawyer are totally untested, save by inclusion in the community of writers and advisers in the Anglican Communion Institute roster.

That roster includes the following: The Rev’d Professor Christopher Seitz, The Very Rev’d Dr Philip W. Turner III , The Rev’d Dr Ephraim Radner, The Rev’d Dr Andrew Goddard, The Rev’d Dr. Russell J. Levenson, The Rt. Rev’d Anthony Burton, The Rt. Rev’d William Frey, The Most Rev’d Drexel Wellington Gomez, The Rt Rev’d John W. Howe, The Rt. Rev’d Bruce MacPherson, The Rt Rev’d Edward L. Salmon, Jr, The Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt, The Rt Rev’d James M. Stanton , The Rev’d Frank Fuller, The Rev’d Dr. Charles D. Alley, Mark McCall, Esq., Professor Russell Reno, Mrs Elizabeth Cooper.

The American Bishops on this roster, a number of the priests on the roster, and Mr. McCall are addressed or mentioned in the email exchanges concerning the lead up to the publication of this paper.

The paper is purported to state unequivocally that the basic unit of The Episcopal Church is the diocese and that TEC is a voluntary organization. It will maintain that TEC has misread, misunderstood or misapplied the provisions of the canons of the church. It will contend that dioceses are enabled to independently relate to the Anglican Communion by individual sign up with the Anglican Covenant and are able to establish their independence from what they view as a heretical and divisive Episcopal Church leadership without having to leave TEC for ACNA.

Additionally the paper will also support the possibility that individual parishes may seek out Pastoral Visitors as a way to continue as part of TEC in a structural way without having to deal with a bishop who is understood as revisionist. They would be covenant affirming by way of a Pastoral Visitor.

One of the email exchanges addressed the need of parish / priest connection to a communion affirming diocese or bishop. "At issue here is said parish understanding that they have some connective tissue to a covenant their Diocesan may wish to avoid, without challenging the Diocesan as to his authority, and so underscoring a way to remain in TEC and not leave for ACNA but also to affirm Communion life and differentiation.

But also, hence, the importance of the Pastoral Visitors. They need to come into play in time as independent of deal-making and/or mild forms of extortion."

One of the email writers opines that the Presiding Bishop need not be consulted in any of this - on conflicts on either a diocesan or parochial level or in more general terms. Concerning the suggestion that the Communion Partner bishops might meet with the Presiding Bishop, he responds,

"I am not persuaded there is any value in visiting the PB unless we have gone down this road first. She does not have the authority, and should not be given it, to endorse or be asked to approve of things like this, and we need to avoid giving it to her or continually to reinforce a perception she and her agents are cultivating that she is a metropolitan. Hence, if we were to pay a visit in time, for my part at least, it would be to a) indicate that we believe in the covenant and its ultimate success as a reality, and in b) the PV idea as an extension of CP work, and so how does she view the situation in the light of a) and b) and her public work of litigation and of forcing only two options: leave and join ACNA or buckle under her hierarchy novelty."

He later writes,

"But I would be loathe to negotiate a single thing with her. The tide, in my view, is not running in her direction, and we must in all things avoid the idea that she is giving gifts or has any to give. Indeed, this is what is at issue in the McCall/ACI work. My instinct--for what it is worth--is to declare victory and work from that premise, and so to put some decent facts on the ground of our own. We have not done that yet and we need to in CO, and then in other places.

The ACI statement with ten or so signatories will signal where our principles in this matter are by what logic we are defending the polity of this Church and so of this Church in Communion."

The McCall/ ACI work is the paper to be published, the signers are the Communion Partner bishops, or at least some of them, and the purpose appears to be to:

(i) declare victory - the right to independently sign on to the Anglican Covenant and thereby keep their status as members in good standing in the Communion, (ii) to deny that the Presiding Bishop or the leadership of TEC have any metropolitical authority, or any authority at all for that matter, and (iii) to present themselves as a "middle way" between leaving and joining the Anglican Church in North America or staying in TEC whose revisionism will lead to denying the Anglican Covenant.

Too bad that (i) the new revised Anglican Covenant Draft does not offer the option for individual dioceses to sign on to the Covenant, but rather asks for the Churches of the Anglican Communion to do so; (ii) The Presiding Bishop's authority does not have to be completely metropolitical in order to have meaning; and (iii) they are not the middle way but rather a conservative thread in TEC that needs to be honored but not coddled.

The paper will come forward from the head of that regularly vocal Zeus, the Anglican Communion Institute, will make the rounds and be quietly retired. Meanwhile we will continue to ask just why Mr. Mark McCall carries weight as a canon lawyer in the Episcopal Church, just why the signers of this letter believe that ignoring the Presiding Bishop is a really good idea, and just who the Anglican Communion Institute represents, save four primary writers and a committee.


  1. Perhaps I am being cynical but I see the hands of IRD, Karl Rove, Grover Norquist and his "Club for Growth", CPAC, and other rightwing political organizations in these sorry attempts to "create reality" that will benefit the reasserters.

    So many of these tactics are taken from and imitate the skullduggery of the Republican party's conservative wing.

    The merging of political machinations and church polity is a bad marriage indeed and will lead to the same ends it has in American politics: nowhere.

  2. I wonder why, o why, would Mr Radner get involved in this fudge.

    He should worry instead about his exile refuge, I mean, his opportunately secured chair at Wycliffe College and the students therein enrolled.

    So far, his biggest push appears directed towards putting his name on as many silly documents are produced by anglican conservatives.

    And I wish Mr Radner would at least be willing to acknowledge that he is no conservative -what, teaching at a theological college of the Anglican Church of ultra-liberal Canada?- but an ideologue. It would be sooo much easier to relate to his writings if that was clear enough from the getgo.

  3. Deacon Charlie Perrin22/4/09 9:20 AM

    One wonders if they would be so dismissive if the PB were a man.

    Then again, as I understand it, in our polity it is not the PB (male or female) who exercises "metropolitical" oversight, but the General Convention. I think these esteemed folks would benefit from a more thorough study the history of our Church.

    And some US History would do them well too. This is beginning to sound more and more like the runup to the Civil War.

  4. I think that this letter demonstrates quite forcefully the destabilizing nature of this covenant given that Radner has let slip his little secret timebomb regarding other "churches". The current draft is nothing more than a tool to dismantle TEC. The skullduggery at work here is very disturbing.

  5. Rule #1 for sneaks: Don't let the evidence of your sneakiness get out there for the whole world to see.

  6. Hi Father Mark,
    Here are a couple of additional reflections on the issue of the Communion Partners, Holy Crap on a Cracker! Or, Here We Go Again. Off Topic; Easter Monday and The Light Of Day a Real Anglicans; and, Which Side Are You On from Real Anglicans.

    These folks have been half-baked for many months -- no it seems they are full baked.

  7. It continues to amaze me that these folks get things entirely backward: they treat the Anglican Communion like a church non-autonomous provinces or dioceses and treat the Episcopal Church like a communion of autonomous dioceses.

  8. Tom S. nails this. The leapfrog notions of autonomy are startling: parishes arene't autonomous, dioceses are, national church isn't, etc., completely misses the carefully fractal structures of TEC, and the whole notion of subsidiarity.

    There are slso a number of striking misreads of history in McCall's work. I hope to reflect on this once the official version appears. He really seems not to understand the history or structure of the Episcopal Church -- why it was formed, what were its ambitions, and how has it actually addressed notions of diocesan independence (i.e., only when involving the existence of another nation).

  9. Michael Russell22/4/09 1:13 PM

    Thanks for your vigilance in posting this. We have known for weeks that Dr. Radner wrote in a backdoor to evade the necessity for a Communion wide vote on the Ridley draft, now we see the full plan for using that back door to create more mischief in TEC.

    If we have not already done so, we should reclaim our seat on the ACC and vigorously advocate removing the backdoor language that allows other churches and smaller than Province entities from adopting or implementing the Ridley draft. If the ACC passes it forward it must be with clear language that it is for further discussion and review and NOT for adoption and implementation.

    Michael Russell
    GC Deputy

  10. The paper is purported to state unequivocally that the basic unit of The Episcopal Church is the diocese and that TEC is a voluntary organization.

    I wonder if the writers of the paper intend to imply that other member churches in the Anglican Communion, such as the Church or England, are voluntary organizations of dioceses, or is TEC a special case?

  11. {Disclaimer: snark ahead!}

    My favorite email was the one where it was disclosed that they wanted to be able to choose which visiting "Communion Partner" bishop could go where, but they (specifically, Mark Lawrence in SC) didn't want the "quid pro quo" of an SSB-affirming bishop visiting *his* diocese. (i.e., "What's mine is mine, what's yours isn't")

    Does the phrase "in good faith" mean nothing to these people? Or is it only their precious (self-declared) "Faith Once Delivered"?

    Lord have mercy!

  12. With all due respect to both Fr. Harris and others posting on this blog, whether you like it or not, several of the ACI folks - Radner and Seitz, above all - are well respected scholars in the wider academic world. They have shown themselves capable of functioning - indeed, thriving - in academic settings outside of the Episcopal Church, which is far more than most of us (myself included) can say; it is far more than the vast majority of bishops in the Episcopal Church can say. This is not a defense of the present document - I haven't read it, although I will - but, instead, a point for consideration: academic depth and integrity , like personal depth and integrity, are not bound up with a single statement or with email threads that have been leaked. Rather, they are born out over time, through the toils of academic work and publication on the professional front, and through the longsuffering of love on the personal front.

    Happily, in our culture, scholarship (taken as a whole, I note) does not bow to the various whims of political lobbies and other pressure groups. Sadly, I do not believe that the same can be said about about the culture of the Episcopal Church today. Our seminaries have produced very, very little seriously academic work, and our bishops are, for the most part, average folk who are the products of this same seminary system. Again, this is not a defense of the present document; nor is it intended to say that the document should be accepted simply because the Episcopal Church is, on the whole, academically enclosed and intellectually weak. Rather, it is to say that we ought to pay attention to where the weight of credentials can be found. It can be found, among other places, in the authors of this document. That ought to at least give some weight to why reading the document and taking it seriously (by which I mean, both humbly and critically) should be worth everyone's time.

  13. The actual document with correct names (cf the version referred to here and posted elsewhere on various blogs, obtained by some means) is posted as agreed, today, at anglicancommunioninstitute.com.
    The subject of obtaining private emails and posting them is likewise addressed. C Seitz

  14. Hi Fr. Mark--Well it looks like they will go to very strange extremes to try keep the silver. Court decision after court decision, after court decision has found that TEC has a hierarchical structure and I don't think Ephraim Radner and his crew will get them to change their minds. So, unless and until our courts agree with him, he can dream on. I really wonder what planet they are living on.

  15. David - Oregon22/4/09 5:47 PM

    Why not have a real discussion on the subject matter. I have read no response yet that discuss the issues brought up in the letter. Rather than just name calling , what is it in that is wrong ? It seems to me that it is spot on because on response on the issues raised have been made.When someone raises some valid points we don't want to see just throw some crap on the wall and see if it sticks. So Mr. Harris lets hear a reasoned response from you on the issues raised !!!!!

  16. P.S. Also, just saying, if any of these people still have standing to speak for the Episcopal Church, then perhaps it is time to depose them. I wasn't surprised to see William Frey's name on this list--the former bishop of Colorado who could have and should have reined in Don Armstrong 22 years ago and didn't. TBTG that the loyal Episcopal congregation has the church back.

  17. 4 May 1535+22/4/09 6:14 PM

    I keep thinking, haven't we been over this before? And of course we have, back in November of 2007, with this posting at Jake's+ place of a summary of Dr. James Dator's 1959 dissertation on the structure of the Episcopal Church (to which there were, of course, a whole range of replies and counter-replies). The whole dissertation is on-line with the Diocese of Washington

    And, Guyer, The Rev. Dr. Seitz's enviable skills as an OT scholar don't in themselves give him academic standing as an expert on Anglican ecclesiology, any more than my work in the English Reformation makes me an expert on Jeremiah.

  18. Andrew Carey, in a first-out-of-the-gate comment on Stand Firm, gave this document a remarkably tepid reception. That's an interesting fact, suggesting to me the following:

    1) Grandmère Mimi is right. If this document stands, and TEC is disintegrated into autonomous dioceses, the same will happen in the Church of England also, and everyone in the Church of England knows this. But no one in the Church of England (with the possible exceptions of Anglican Mainstream and the retiring Bishop of Rochester) wants to see that happen.

    2) Those of us who suspected all along that the Covenanters were acting in bad faith have been (alas) proven correct in their suspicions.

    3) Anyone who thought +John Howe had given up the fight was wrong (again). He will never stop trying to take over TEC, by fair means or foul, until the breath is no longer in him. The so-called "Communion Partners" organization was in large part his scheme.

  19. Ruth Gledhill's response is also very interesting:


    "Mark Harris, a US episcopal priest in Delaware, has obtained details of an apparent plot by conservatives to subvert the authority of the US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the only woman Primate among the 39at the top table.

    "The idea seems to be that diocesan bishops can take unilateral action to sign up to the new covenant currently going through the long process of approval by the worldwide Anglican Communion...."

    Formerly quite friendly to the English conservative wing, Ruth Gledhill appears to have undergone much the same sea-change. A very striking shift of opinion.

  20. dr.primrose22/4/09 8:33 PM

    I'm reminded of the famous remark of Henry Lewis Stimson, the secretary of state under Herbert Hoover, who justified closing the government's code-breaking office on the ground that, "Gentlemen do not read each others mail."

    It sounds so quaint, doesn't it? Anyone who sends that amount of e-mail around to that many people and thinks that it somehow will remain "private" is unbelievably foolish.

  21. What makes them different from the Southern Baptists? incense?

  22. It appears to me that Dr Seitz, in accusing Fr Harris of posting the e-mail correspondence, has overshot his mark. I see only two brief unattributed excerpts here.

    Then again, I do not look to the ACI for accuracy. Guyver, just because someone is a scholar does not mean he is correct. As it is, the scholarship in the Bishops' Statement is rather selective and fantastic. Not in the good way.

  23. Let us also recall that the currency of academe is the ability to make an argument supporting one's viewpoint. We academics are quite good at the arts of rhetoric and persussion. It's a sport, really. Since much of research is opinion rather than knowledge, it's something we do a lot of. So the ability to argue either side of any proposition is deep in our blood and counts for....nothing.

    PhD after all means Piled Hgher and Deeper

    IT, who is a perfessor and knows these things

    The magic word is "getrat" which I read as "get rat"

  24. hmmmmm..... autonomous. In being generous, yes perhaps so. Just as I am individuated while still living in a relationship where I do not follow through in individualism. Follow my drift?

    Perhaps another way to say it --in being generous, dioceses, yes, autonomous. But certainly not autocephalous.

  25. Tobias, the entire email with email addresses is published on Washington blade: http://tinyurl.com/cl5qfk

    It also includes this quote from Ms Susan Russell: "Russell said she planned to write a public statement 'saying how horrified we are and this does nothing but tell us what we always thought about these cretins.'"

    I find it interesting that yesterday, we had Perez Hilton calling Miss California a "dumb b&*%$" for truthfully answering a question about same sex marriage, and today we have Ms Russell labeling as cretins the good bishops Adams, Beckwith, Frey, Hathaway, Howe, Love, Stanton, Jacobus, Lambert, Lawrence, Little, Love, MacPherson, Salmon, Smith, Stanton, and Wimberly.

    Unseemly is putting it very mildly.

  26. "Gentlemen do not read each other's mail" [that was Henry L. Stimson, actually]. Gentlemen don't plot against their chief, either, even if she is a woman, and if they are caught plotting against their chief, they know it's "time to go." And there are no prohibitions against reading the mail of non-gentlemen (else there would have been no code-crackers at Bletchley Park).

  27. Dr. Primrose, I don't think I read your e-mail carefully enough. Your Stimson and mine are the same man. My apologies!

  28. 4 May 1535+22/4/09 11:24 PM

    Not to pick at nits, but one can't help noticing in the document "When The Episcopal Church eventually was duly organized in 1789, Bishop White and Bishop Samuel Seabury, consecrated by the Scottish Episcopal Church, sat as the first House of Bishops at the first General Convention."

    1789 is, I believe, counted as the Second General Convention, the first having met in 1786, without Seabury, the only bishop available at the time. And, indeed, 1789 at first was without Seabury as well: it was only after various concessions on the part of the sitting Convention (including an apology for the 1786 Convention's having cast doubt on Seabury's consecration) that Seabury and the New England delegates were seated. Iirc, even then the concessions only passed because Virginia's lay delegate had died (in White's home), and continued insistence that state delegations must include both clergy and laity (Seabury's jurisdiction refused to send lay persons) would have disenfranchised Virginia as well as excluding New England.

  29. It's not name-calling, simply the truth. These people are schemers, plotters, devious politicians whose god is their belly. They are not "conservative" because they seek to destroy, not conserve anything of value.

    They are trying to break apart the Episcopal Church for their own ends and their own profit, playing a game in which they appear to bow down before the Great Ego in Canterbury, who desires to be the Anglican Pope. They will, of course, betray him, as well, but not before destroying the Anglican Communion and worldwide Anglicanism. The Episcopal Church existed, however, before the Anglican Communion, and will exist after.

    What is as voluntary organization, though, is the Anglican Communion, our own little golden calf that we helped build. It has become, as all idols, a desperate danger to following Christ. We can turn away, find partners and build true and lasting relationships built on our mission for God. Let Rowan's pet lions tear him apart, because he will not take counsel or help.

    The AC has become the beam in our eye, and, I hope and believe that, even if our bishops sign onto this cowardly and shameful covenant, their people will not follow them and will not obey it. We must obey God, instead.

  30. Can any of the experts here please show me, in the C&C, where dioceses are not permitted to leave union with GC? Can you show me where GC creates (rather than recognizes) dioceses? Can you show me where the PB has the authority to remove members of a diocesan Standing Committee? Can you show me where she has authority to call a diocesan convention or to ignore diocesan rules regarding special conventions?

    In my reading of Article V, the diocese exists, approves C&C and then asks to be granted union with GC. Yes, GC sets up "missionary districts" but they do not set up dioceses, they admit dioceses that already exist.

    Phil Snyder

  31. Dr. Seitz,

    So glad you stopped by to comment. I'm curious why you think the Presiding Bishop's supporters are cultivating the impression that she is a metropolitan. We have no metropolitans in TEC, though we do have a primate: the Presiding Bishop. (Canon I.2.4.a.) That does give her a bit more authority than most metropolitans, no? Not that a bishop can't be both a metropolitan and a primate...in many churches.

    Alas, the devil's in the details if you wish to instruct me about my church's governance, history and polity. But it was interesting to read the string of email messages published by the Washington Blade.

  32. Charlotte I'm afraid is slightly misleading about what I said about the ACI/CP document. She's right to suggest I'm ambivalent about the issue because I'm not in TEC. I was merely pointing out that both liberals and conservatives have at one time or another argued for and against diocese vs hierarchy at times of their own convenience.

    In my Standfirm post I also made it clear that because of its established status, the CoE is necessarily hierarchical. So contrary to what has been said by Charlotte this debate has absolutely no implications for the Church of England except insofar as it continues the inevitable trajectory towards the fragmentation of Anglicanism worldwide caused by TEC's unilateralism.
    Andrew Carey

  33. Actually, Susan apologized for the word "cretins," as that implied a level of intellectual impairment which would relieve the offenders of their culpability. They are, she is quite right, entirely aware of and culpable in their attempts to use communion as a cover while corrupting from the inside.

    Your "good bishops" are hardly good.

    As far as I'm concerned, any number of people from an Episcopal diocese are free to leave TEC, also leaving the names "Episcopal" and "Episcopalian" and any churches, cathedrals, etc. They may be Anglican, Baptist, or the First Church of Molech and the Holy Barbecue if they like. But they are no longer a part of us, nor entitled to rights of property or name. If you wish to say those who do not adhere to the understanding of the "larger" Anglican Communion are not Anglican, you can't claim that those who reject the "larger" TEC are any longer Episcopalian.

    Good bye, good luck, leave the keys on the way out.

  34. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

    John 3:20

  35. Andrew Carey is trying to mute the effect of his critique on Stand Firm, but it won't wash. If dioceses in the Episcopal Church are autonomous, then dioceses in the Church of England are autonomous. It's a strange piece of special pleading to claim otherwise.

  36. plsdeacon-

    Art V of the Constitution of TEC begins with the following sentence:

    Sec. 1. A new Diocese may be formed, with the consent of the General Convention and under such conditions as the General Convention shall prescribe by General Canon or Canons ...Now, I may not be a lawyer, but it looks like the Constitution says that a new Diocese is formed only with the consent of GC. Also, and here in is the rub, for the most part the C&C of TEC are documents of empowerment. In other words, they serve to outline what may be done, in other words what may be done. The times that they are put in the negative are limited to applying boundaries to powers granted. It is not so much that the cannons say that a diocese can’t, but rather they do not say that they can.

  37. Some posts here seem to think the Communion Partners should now join those who have left TECUSA (as long as they leave the buildings, of course, so that they an be sold to be coffee shops etc)....... people can take that attitude but please remember they (and ACNA) are perfectly acceptable and welcome in most of the AC....... and losing them would just make TECUSA look even more different to most of the AC........ which would make life harder given TECUSA does want so badly to retain a place on the AC stage

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  39. Well, one thing is for sure, this just might as well kill any pleas for "dialog" and this ridiculous Covenant for a while.

    It's clear that while good faith conversations have been going on, the ACI has been plotting behind the curtain all along to do the rest of us dirty.

    How can you dialog with someone you can not trust to act openly or even talk to you sincerely?

  40. BIC Phil,
    I address the first two of your concerns at my blog. I have in the past noted that the silence of the TEC Constitution on dioceses leaving is no stranger than the silence of the US Constitution on states leaving. It is so strange that McCall, who trots out John Jay, should miss that point. Jay was a Federalist, after all -- devoted to a strong central government. Once a state has entered the union they cannot unilaterally withdraw. The same goes for the domestic dioceses of TEC. You will note that the TEC Constitution does have provision for the eventual departure of overseas dioceses. The lack of a provision for independence of the domestic dioceses is not an oversight -- it was unthinkable.

    The "creation" of dioceses depends on what you mean by "diocese." To my mind, until a diocese has a bishop it is a diocese in formation. Most of the original "states" did not have bishops, and only gained them after they joined together to form the Church. (Note, they were "states" not "dioceses"). Many of the later dioceses were formed as missionary endeavors; and those created by division were allowed to do so by General Convention.

    To some extent I agree that the PB acted outside the law to deal with a number of violations of the law. It is an unfortunate reality that the framers of our Constitution and Canons never conceived there would be such a wholesale abandonment of ordination vows, and so did not provide a means to deal with, for example, a standing committee leaving the Episcopal Church. Of course, on doing so, they also lost their standing... but that is part of the problem, as the standing committee is supposed to be the body that exercises discipline. Qui custodet ipsos custodes? The whole mess is anomalous -- lawless -- but to blame the PB for trying to deal with such lawlessness is, I think, blaming the fireman for using unorthodox methods to quench an arsonist's work. Far from ideal, yes, but the real critique needs to be addressed to those who are fanning the flames.

    And robroy, I agree that "cretin" is unfortunate. However, this does not address the essential inaccuracy of Seitz' charge against Fr Harris. Blame the Washington Blade if you will -- but it seems to me Fr Harris citation of the transcript is modest and discreet.

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  42. Susan Russell has apologized for calling the signatories (15 world respected bishops and members of the ACI)? Umm, no she hasn't:

    So, for the record, I do regret using the word "cretin." I regret it because cretin infers ignorance -- and I will not grant the architects of this schism the cover of ignorance.
    Regretting using the term is not an apology. This is about an ingenuous as "Perez Hilton's" apology for calling Miss California a "dumb bitch."

    The whole proposition that these widely respected bishops and clergy were "conspiring" to release a public document is hilariously absurd. Cabals don't release public statements.

    And call Bishop Duncan schismatic, but to call the Communion Partner's schismatic is,...well, one has to use the same phrase...hilariously absurd.

  43. 4 May 1535+23/4/09 7:44 PM

    One finds oneself tempted to begin every post with "And another thing..."--a habit that might quickly become tiresome. Nonetheless, here is another thing, by way of underlining a point that Mark+ and others have made in passing:

    Contrary to the opinion of The Rev'd Dr. Radner, a diocese cannot become a signatory of the Ridley Cambridge draft covenant, taking the language of the draft on its face. Section (3.1.2) has each Church affirm its "resolve to live in a Communion of Churches. Each Church, with its bishops in synod, orders and regulates its own affairs and its local responsibility for mission through its own system of government and law and is therefore described as living 'in communion with autonomy and accountability'[15]" [emphasis added]. A "Church," then, is something which has "bishops" (plural) in "synod"--but a diocese, if it has a synod, can have only one bishop in that synod, that is, the Ordinary. Suffragans, Auxiliaries and others don't, on the ordinary understanding, count. Of course, there may be a special definition of "synod" at work, but Prof. Radner's public position is that there are no special meanings involved. It would appear, then, that a Church is a group of dioceses with a synod of bishops--that is to say, an ecclesiastical province, a national church, or a worldwide church (a possibility I mention just in case the Holy Father decides to sign on to the document).

  44. I thought the intention of the ACI was to provide a safe place and a middle way for conservatives to be able to survive within ECUSA, free from threat of having to revise their theology, free from threats from 815 and GC of having to ordain women, or recognise homo-sex relationships and bless them, free from having to recognise and receive homosexual clergy, free to continue to elect and consecrate their bishops of choice. All with the ultimate objective of remaining within ECUSA - how is that schismatic. Are you not willing to cut the conservatives any slack for them to be able to remain within ECUSA in good conscience - or do the progressives really want to drive them out entirely?

  45. Regretting using the term is not an apology.Well, then, I guess you'll just have to get along with as much of an apology for mistreatment as we have.

    Again, you people expect a level of respect you extend to no one else.

  46. Brian F, perhaps you have ACI confused with one of the other organizations in the Orthodite alphabet soup of entities. I am not too sure how four guys with a website can provide any kind of refuge to anybody. Plus, you obviously are unaware of the ACI connection to Don Armstrong, and all the money missing from church trusts, etc. at Grace and St Stephen's Church in Colorado Springs, CO.

    As far as room for conservative folks in TEC, or for that matter any Anglican province, yes there is always room for those who truly wish to love and serve the Lord, regardless of their position in the spectrum. But there is more to this story than the document published today.

    What rankles us is that we keep finding these particular folks, who are part of the same group always screaming that they are victims, scheming and conniving to betray and bring down our provinces.

    Although this document is a bad understanding of the history of TEC and a bad and selective interpretation of the Constitution & Canons of TEC, what pisses us off is the shenanigans revealed in the emails. Besides letting the cat out of the bag that this document was in development, they show that these folks tried to use the bishop of South Carolina, the one already on everyone's list of folks to not trust, to make a fool out of the bishop of Colorado regarding one of his conservative parishes. Time and time again, we learn they are NOT to be trusted.

  47. RobRoy,

    What next, RobRoy, are you going to cast aspersions on the Rev. Russel's degree's?

  48. So robroy thinks that Susan Russell is rude. Pot. Kettle. Black. I can unhesitatingly recommend vintage RR nastiness on Ruth Gledhill's current post about Fr Harris and the "email conspiracy". Misogynist stuff about the PB. Ms Gledhill cut two of his posts before she would publish.

    "... as someone who has both an MD and PhD [sad, but perhaps telling, how some of these people seem obsessed with the bolstering of personal status] and have ["has", RR] taught at large state universities, I know that a PhD in oceanography confered to a woman in the 80's is .... [cut by Ms G, but "BS" perhaps, RR?]"

    The ad hominem attacks of RR and fellow defenders of "the faith once delivered" are to be treasured, demonstrating, as they do, to the uncommitted and to the neutral observer, what impulses lie at the heart of the "reasserter" agenda.

    From time to time I draw folks' attention to Richard Hofstadter's 1964 essay The Paranoid Style in American Politics If not familiar with it, check it out. The full text of Hofstadter's essay is linked at the foot of this page.

  49. guyer,

    This is precisely what I mean by unacknowledged and unrecognized "will to power". No number of degrees or scholarly accolades covers over the fact that this was a nasty bit of gaming and scheming on the part of ACI et al.

    Where is a distancing from this kind of behavior?

  50. nlnh said...

    "Rule #1 for sneaks: Don't let the evidence of your sneakiness get out there for the whole world to see".

    Yes. Get their private e-mails and "out" them without permission in advance to spin their forthcoming public statement to your way of thinking. That way the heat is off of your stealing from them in the first place.

    GAG! I just guessed that this Church was being led by some dishonest people, but this "outing" was the cherry that tells all about the mind of this blog.

  51. Jacques l'Organiste24/4/09 11:55 AM

    Hi--with all respect to all sides, I find the statement on the polity of the church by the Communion Partners to be both brilliant and irrefutable.

    Yes, there does clearly seem to be a huge difference between C of E polity and ECUSA polity. That is permissible in theory, clearly understandable in light of history, and unmistakable upon a careful perusal of the documents in question.

    I am not writing this to cause pain or distress, nor to give aid and comfort to a particular ideology. Frankly, I'm on the verge of calling down a "pox on both your houses"!!

    But if a Great Big Conflict can produce any benefit, perhaps it's in the intensive study of the issues. Let's not try to move forward, beyond, or past any issues without such study.

    I agree with the "Polity" statement that ECUSA organization parallels the Articles of Confederation. I agree that there is no "metropolitical" language to stand on, no vow to an Archbishop. I think the left wing only wants to refute this because they agree with the current PB. If a different ox were being gored, their position would be different.

    I believe that there is a middle-class horror in the air that the soft leftism of the good old 1970's actually has persistent (and young!) adversaries. I hate to remind you all, but Reagan won back in 1980.

    The "old folks" haven't "died off" and left the liberals in charge. Liberalism is fundamentally at issue, chronically and systemically; and you must, repeat MUST, engage this faithfully or you will surely drag our Church to perpetual obscurity.

    The sons of the revolutionaries become policemen, so it's said; in the Church, the revolutionaries themselves have done so.

    What would happen--just for grins, now--if you immediately apologized to liturgical traditionalists and permitted the return of the 1928 prayer book, no holds barred?

    If you found this little dram of courage somewhere inside you, I think the issue of gay ordination would immediately recede into its proper perspective--way off in the distance.

    Lots of people would let you "italicize the pronouns" as long as some of the pronouns remained "thee" and "thou"!

    Don't choke on your granola. Just consider that your carefully-cobbled-together ad-hoc path of "the taste of wild hickory nuts" doesn't work for the overwhelming majority of Episcopalians.

    I think our quarrel is ultimately as simple as that.

    Remember: if you love something, let it go...you can read the rest on that "Argus" poster on your wall.

    That, in any case, is the view from this organ bench.

  52. What would happen--just for grins, now--if you immediately apologized to liturgical traditionalists and permitted the return of the 1928 prayer book, no holds barred?All the disagreements would go away? Is that the correct answer, Jacques?

    What does the 1928 BCP have to do with the Bishops Statement? Is it even mentioned in the document? I did a cursory check, and I did not see it, not even in the list of references, where only the 1662 and the 1979 BCP are listed.

    ...I find the statement on the polity of the church by the Communion Partners to be both brilliant and irrefutable.I suppose that meaning, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

  53. Well said, Mimi! We all know how well it went when we gave the orthodites what they wanted in allowing them to maintain female priest-free dioceses and parishes, lo these many years. They were the first ones to hop on the Southern Cone and Nigerian express out of TEC (trying very hard to take TEC's property with them, of course.)

    Take a cue from the current American political scene: the far-right screams bloody murder about something, the Democrats fall all over themselves to apologize and include them, they stab the Democrats in the back anyway, over and over again. It's the political equivalent of Groundhog Day and the operators of the split are deeply tied to the political operators and take many of their strategies from them, via IRD and other far-right entities. It is a deep sickness in American culture that has poisoned the media, the government, and now the churches.

    Even if every female priest, bishop, and the PB resigned tomorrow, every 1978 BCP was burned, every GLBT priest, bishop, and layperson vowed celibacy for life and/or walked out of the church for good, and every remaining bishop denounced Spong+, et al, the orthodites STILL wouldn't be satisfied.

    After engaging in this war against the religious right for too many years I have come to realize that nothing will satisfy the conservo-orthodites because their greatest desire undo all progress, in effect an attempt to go back in time to a perfect church/society that NEVER existed and NEVER will.

    They can exclude, condemn, and outright destroy everything that has happened in America since the 1960s and they will still fret about how things still aren't as good as they used to be.

    I am weary with battle fatigue and am quickly accepting the fact that not only do we need to go our separate ways ASAP but we also need to make clear why we are parting ways in as frank a way as possible to allow the division to be whole and complete.

    God, in infinite Godly wisdom, can bring us back together when it serves God's purpose, but for the sake of all our souls, the church, and its mission, I think we need to get as far away from each other as possible and stay apart for a good long while.

    It isn't safe to attempt covenanting with a group when trust has already been abandoned, ends justify means, and deep-seated dislike is the basis for attempting to create new reality out of whole cloth, as the "Bishops' Statement" has done.

    Enough already! It's time for TEC to get back to God's business of loving God and neighbor and let the perpetually unhappy with the present times be, well, perpetually unhappy.

  54. Lapinbizarre, being part of the laity, I can use more colorful language. In contrast, clergy need to use more decorum. As such, "cretins", as Tobias+ says is unfortunate. (Actually, it much more than that.) And I saw that Katie Sherrod stated that Bp Geralyn Wolf was an "honorary man." Now, that might pass muster for a layperson, but Ms Sherrod is now the communications director for the Remnant diocese. Bp Wolf is a bishop in (very) good standing in the TEC. All ecclesiastical authorities in the TEC should vigorously condemn the nasty remark.

    I don't use honorific titles implying respect with people that I do not hold in respect. Thus, you will note I refer to Mark+ and Tobias+, the plus sign indicating that I do hold them in respect while disagreeing vigorously with them.

    I wondered why Ms Gledhill "snipped" me when I said that "I know that a PhD in oceanography conferred to a woman in the 80's is 'pretty much worthless.'" Perhaps, not politically correct but hardly scatological. (Besides, I resolved not to swear in 2009.)
    Priscilla writes, "Enough already! It's time for TEC to get back to God's business of loving God and neighbor and let the perpetually unhappy with the present times be, well, perpetually unhappy."

    Sort of like, the first wife just needs to leave the bucks up surgeon and she shouldn't even think about alimony. Would that be fair? I am all for amicable parting. Let parishes have a vote TEC or ACNA. The constant fighting is hurting the TEC but helping the ACNA. It could end tomorrow...

  55. Jacques l'Organiste28/4/09 9:05 PM

    Chere grandmere, forgive my reference to the 1928 prayer book. I have a stupid habit of thinking creatively, outside of the box, hoping to seed reconciliation. In my silly non-dharmic ignorance, I thought maybe kindness would open some doors.

    I should realize that, for the middle-class baby boomer liberal mindset, it's just plain groovier to talk about the Jewel of Buddha, the Jewel of Dharma, and the Jewel of Sangha.

    I'm such a dumb, boring white boy.

    PS--you're going to lose!

  56. Jacques, I forgive you.

    I'm hardly a boomer. I am old.

  57. Mark,
    Having just read the report issued by the Committee reporting on the "state of the church", then having read all the comments on this particular article, I find it very very sad. There has been created an enormous WE vs THEY in the Church. The split, according to the "state of the Church" report is now, 6 years after the vote to consecreate Father Robinson, exactly the same as it was at Convention. No one has changed their mind regarding the consecration or ordination of gays and lesbians. It has not, as predicted, blown over, and I don't think it will. A split was created within the Church which is killing it, that is what General Convention has the power to do. There is no longer a single focus that everyone gets behind and endorses, like the great commission it is very much fragmented and a mess. Everyone acts like and espouses that whoever disagrees with them is an idiot, and name calling and justification for positions is the way to solve something. For an organization whose primary focus is supposed to be "Reconcilliation", we have a long way to go, and may Almighty God have mercy on all of us.
    Rev. Dr. J+

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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.