Was the Presiding Bishop asked to step down?

This from a story by George Conger, first published in the Church of England newspaper. (Note the material highlighted in red.)

"The Archbishop’s Pentecost letter is the public half of a campaign to rein in the Episcopal Church, The Church of England Newspaper has learned, and follows a private letter delivered to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori asking her to consider withdrawing from active participation on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.

A letter from the Archbishop is believed to have been given to Bishop Jefferts Schori at the April 17 consecration of the Bishop of Connecticut, Dr Ian Douglas. Neva Rae Fox, a spokesman for the Presiding Bishop said she could not comment as she was not present at the Connecticut consecration. Dr Williams’ office would neither confirm nor deny the story, citing its policy of not commenting on the Archbishop’s private correspondence."

If indeed there was such a letter it was entirely out of line.

If there was such a letter it appears that the Presiding Bishop did not in any event "consider withdrawing from active participation on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion."

If indeed this letter was delivered to the Presiding Bishop at Bishop Douglas' ordination in Connecticut it was no doubt delivered by Canon Kenneth Kearon who was present and spoke at a dinner in Bishop Douglas' honor the night before, attended but did not vest or process in the ordination service.

The Archbishop's "Pentecost Letter" (28 May) and Kearon's letter to Anglican participants (7 June) both came out much later then the letter supposedly given at Douglas' ordination (17 April).

If that letter indeed was written and delivered it means that the Archbishop of Canterbury first attempted to get the Presiding Bishop to step down from her place on the Standing Committee, and failing that turned to lesser stars who could more easily be swept out of office. It also points to the level of despiration that led to Kearon's dismissals of US participants in ecumenical dialogues.

If such a letter existed, and the suggestion was not taken by the PB, then what follows was determined to be the second best option. But of course it was not the second best option at all, it was and is a disaster. The people serving on those ecumenical dialogues were not chosen because they represented The Episcopal Church. They were not representatives. Bishop Katharine is and was.

Perhaps, as sometimes happens, Conger's story is conjecture.

But if there was such a letter it is a smoking gun. It shows that all the posturing of the Archbishop's Pentecost Letter and the Kearon dismissal letter are not a stepping up to the plate of needed discipline, are not a matter of consequences, but a step down from what might of been but wasn't.


  1. The ecumenical disinvitations would not be 'fall back' but rather a signal that the ABC has the authority. The ABC did not say he was backing away from requests for the PB to step back, but that he was consulting with the Primates about the next meeting. Everything we are seeing is consistent with that. JinSC.

  2. The truly unfortunate thing about this is, it won't surprise me if it is true. The temerity of his hubris is truly amazing.

  3. If it happened, and if she said "No!", then good for her.

    Comments at the blog of David Hamid, suffragan bishop in Europe (Gibraltar) emphasize the hypocrisy of removing Carola Von Wrangel from the Anglican-Old Catholic International Co-ordinating Council. Several churches represented on the council already ordain openly gay clergy, and in the case of the Church of Sweden, one of whose dioceses - Visby - is actually "twinned" with Gibraltar, consecrate openly gay bishops.

    Do not miss a comment at that site that fondly remembers a former bishop of Gibraltar.

  4. What is hypocritical about that? The Anglican Communion decides that it wishes to be recognizable on the teaching of marriage, before its ecumencial interlocutors. That some of these are recognizable as holding a different teaching is neither here nor there. What the ABC is seeking is a consistent view. You can disgree with this, but it is not hypocritical.

  5. Using spiritual violence by attempting to demoralize/rightsize the Episcopal Church inclusive welcome will not enhance, or show any real power for the ¨first amongst¨ at the Anglican Communion.

    As +Rowan emerges from the cobwebs and muddle of his own cowardly leading, he again makes matters worse. The man doesn´t know what he is doing to himself and others (nor does he apparently have any mind for self-searching) as his silly pride and games of castigation block the way. So bright and dim, a human rehostat of wisdom gone sour clammouring for the appearance of full fledged control...the worst is yet to come for him and other instruments of desperation, fear and hate at The Anglican Communion...they have nowhere to go as their threats and worst fears go OUT (and leave most of them in the dark scrambling for the power switch)!

  6. Just out of curiosity, too. Are you saying that the ABC cannot write a letter and make the request that the PB recuse herself, in the light of Glasspool and his warnings? Or are you saying he should not have done this, but he has the authority to all the same? My sense is that people mistook patience from the ABC for interminable indulgence. So now he has been pushed too far, and he acts in accordance with everything he has said and people are shocked and outraged. There is nothing illegal or improper about the ABC exercising his authority to gather the Primates, just as he exercised his authority not to gather +NH at Lambeth. It is just that americans in TEC believe they can act with impunity because, well, they have the right to do as they please. +South Africa said as much to the PB yesterday at the USPG meeting. JinSC.

  7. Deacon Charlie Perrin11/6/10 11:29 AM

    Anonymous wrote: "What the ABC is seeking is a consistent view. You can disgree with this, but it is not hypocritical."

    Perhaps it is not hypocritical, O Anonymous One, but it certainly _is_ not Anglican.

  8. "What the ABC is seeking is a consistent view." Believe that was William Laud's spin, wasn't it, Anonymous? Check 450 years of history and you may notice that a "consistent view" is pretty-well the antithesis of Anglicanism.

  9. I just got done telling my young female cousin that the only response to creepy old men who are providing unwanted suggestions in the Starbucks line is to loudly tell them to step right the heck off, otherwise he will continue to take liberties.

    The next click of my mouse was to my news reader and this article. If it is true, and I emphasize *IF IT IS TRUE*... then dude, my advice to my young cousin also applies to inter-Communion politics.

    I know that we're Episcopalians and Anglicans, and we Just Don't Do Confrontation, but let me tell you, my siblings in Christ... There's more and more of us young folk on both sides of that big blue pond from cultures where us young men and women will step right up and tell you when we think you're full of crap. I see it as a sign that the Holy Spirit is giving the Church the kick in the pants it needs through us.

    Wasn't it Joel who said that in those days, the young folk will prophesy, the young folk will dream dreams of a Church bigger than politics, bigger than its buildings, bigger than expected, big enough to encompass everyone?

  10. Anonymous at 10:43

    The hypocracy is to represent a single view when it is clear there isn't. I think the ecumenical folks are bright enough to know that.

    ABC may HAVE the right, but that doesn't mean his IS rigth.

  11. Actually, JinSC, while Williams does get to dole out the Lambeth tea-party invites, there would something highly unconstitutional about his attempting to exercise an authority that he does not possess, and I do not believe that he has the authority to unilaterally exclude KJS, or any other primate, from formal meetings of the primates. The Anglican Covenant is not yet, I think, in force in any of the Communion's provinces, JinSC (incidentally, I love the Church of Canada's approved resolution that it "will consider a formal decision to adopt the proposed Anglican Covenant after the Church of England has formally adopted it" - a model and a template for us all). Even if it is adopted, Williams and his successors - appointees of a small English "establishment" committee - will have no such authority.

  12. And by the way. I clearly recall Mark Harris on this blog, as well as Jim Naughton, referring to people being asked not to participate in Communion life from TEC because of Glasspool etc and how there was a mixture of anger and resentment, in the form of, well, let's attend anyway! So why the sudden surprize about a letter sent to Schori. What did Harris and Naughton mean if not such an occurrance? People being asked not to sit on ecumenical committees? At the time it certainly didn't sound like that. And now we hear of a back down by RDW. My hunch is that both Harris and Naughton were complaining about the letter now being made public, and Harris is trying to say he only now knows about it, and what's more, it is a back down! I doubt that very seriously.JinSC

  13. James in SC:

    While nothing prevents him writing a letter to raise and issue and express an opinion, he doesn't have the authority by himself to ask her to step down from the Standing Committee of the Primates or the Joint Standing Committee/Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. She was elected to that position by the Primates as a whole, and not appointed.

    Now, he has influence among the Primates, and he, I'm sure, has his own assessment of opinions among them as well. He could even conceivably not invite her to the next Primates' Meeting. On the other hand, that, too, might seem an assertion of authority over the Primates, since, once again, she was elected and not appointed to her position.

  14. JinSC, you love to attribute to the ABC more and more authority with almost every passing day.

    With regard to the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, it has five members of the Primate's Meeting who are chosen by the group of Primates as a whole to represent them on that Committee. They are not invited to that position by the ABC. They are not appointed to that position by the ABC. The term of service of the five Primates on the Committee is not at the wish or whim of the ABC, but a term set by the Primate's Meeting as a whole.

    Although the ABC convenes the Primate's Meeting, and serves as its president as it is meeting, he is not in charge. He does not dictate its decisions. Nor does he over rule its decisions. He does not hold any authority to remove someone from the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion elected by the Primate's Meeting to serve as one of its five members of the Committee. So should he write a letter to the Presiding Bishop of TEC requesting that she resign her position on the Committee would be very presumptuous. It would be out of order. It would be overstepping his bounds.

    He is not the Archbishop of the Anglican Communion, he holds no metropolitan authority outside of his province. He is the Primate of the Church of England and primus inter pares, first among equals, among the Primates of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. That is a position one holds by respect of the other equals, not one held by any form of right or privilege.

  15. Yeh, Rowan Williams reminds me a lot of Wm Laud. Nonsense. Like the nonsense that genuine 'diversity' extends to things like same-sex relationshops -- the elite western world speaks again. TOH

  16. If this is the case, it is really sad that our ABC would resort to such tactics... especially using the consecration of a bishop, and this bishop in particular, the one who has been so instrumental (do I dare write that???) in organising the most recent Lambeth Conference. With each day, this story gets more and more sordid.

  17. Marshall--the ABC makes several things clear in in his Pentecost Letter, no doubt after lengthy discussion with his canon lawyers. 1. The Standing Committee answers to the ACC and the Primates; it has no independent authority; 2. The ABC has limited authority vis-a-vis the ACC due to its own constitution; 3. he will consult with his fellow Primates re: 2, and also in the area of its own remit, concerning the standing of the PB in the light of refusal to abide moratoria.
    I think what has happened is--unsurprisingly--TEC has again decided to make Canterbury into its own image. Listen to the responses. RDW has been patient and that has been taken as toothlessness and a lack of authority of any real kind, making him something like the PB with a British accent (and a colonial whip...how ridiculous). So now when he decides to, at last, indicate the consequences for TEC's obdurance--even moderate +South Africa tries to get TEC to see this--the response is: he has no power. Well, he has the power he intimates in the Pentecost Letter and one may assume he has been discussing with the Primates what to do since April. JinSC

  18. Apparently the Canada resolution was ruled out of order. Pity. Still an excellent template for response by others at the provincial level.

    Giles Goddard of Inclusive Church has published a superb open letter to the Archbishop in response to his Pentecost letter.

    WV "foodism".

  19. I'm sorry, JinSC, but I don't see how your assertions invalidate my point. I noted that Bishop Katherine is elected by the Primates as a whole, and not appointed by Canterbury. So, his limited authority, as noted in his Pentecost letter, shouldn't extend to asking for the resignation of a member elected by the Primates. (Others have gone farther, but that was all that I asserted.)

    Since he has acknowledged his limitations, as you have noted, some will question whether the actions in Canon Kearon's letter have appropriate authority behind them. As you may have noted, I don't question whether he can ask to step down those whom he has appointed (whether it's wise is a different discussion). I can, however, wonder with others about making decisions that seem to follow Section 4 of the Draft Covenant, when it hasn't been passed even by his own national church.

    If he really wants to pursue consequences within his own purview, he could ask the General Synod of the Church of England to break communion with the Episcopal Church. I certainly don't want him to, and I wonder whether he'd be able to get it through his own General Synod. It would be, however, entirely within his authority to propose it within the Church of England. That would be a much clearer act, with no question about polity. Appearing to act alone and in private in a way that precludes the Primates Meeting (itself an Instrument of Communion) seems more questionable.

  20. ++KJS shows every indication of not backing down.

    Good on 'er.

  21. Marshall--we could go back and forth on this. The Primates, e.g., could decide to take another vote in the light of the PB's participation in moratoria breaking. This is what you fail to refer to. There is a matter of principle here: how in the world can a Standing Committee member have any credibility when he/she flouts the very principles all have agreed to? That includes border-crossing. RDW has rightly mentioned this problem in the past, and here appears to be down the road of rectifying it. If that means consulting with the Primates about a way forward, that seems deeply reasonable. As for her being gathered to the next Primates meeting, he holds the charge of being the one who calls and gathers, and so could ask that the PB remove herself in the light of moratoria breaking (along with for that matter Rwanda), or she could come without voice or vote. You seem to believe that the moratoria are not relevant. But the ABC along with a vast majority of the Communion have said they are, and the ABC has rightly included the border crossing within the list. JinSC

  22. Wait, wait, wait! Since when has George Conger been a 'reliable reporter.' His perspective is akin to the "Fox News" for the Anglican Communion.

    Whether or not it's true, why are we listening to him?

    And, since when to intelligent people engage in this level of conversation with someone who doesn't have the courage to sign his/her own name - just "Anonymous"?

    Why are we engaging an "Anonymous" person?

  23. Of the 22 contributors to this thread, exactly four have told us who they are. The rest are Lapin, Daaved, mary sue, caminante, TOH, et al.
    Is there a problem, Ms Keaton, with the substance of what is under discussion? Can you not respond to that?
    Also, the idea that Conger made up this letter is wishful thinking. As I have said above, its existence appears to have been known many weeks back by Harris and Naughton. I suspect we will learn more about it in the days to come. J in SC.

  24. No, no, JinSC, from this point we are in agreement. Yes, he could not invite her to the Primates Meeting. I didn't say that was beyond his authority as presiding officer, only that other Primates might have other reactions to that. And, yes, the Primates gathered could vote again. That speaks to the authority of the Primates Meeting as a whole, and not to that of Canterbury. I have only spoken of actions already taken and of Canterbury's specific authority.

    Do I think the moratoria relevant? I don't think they're irrelevant, but I also don't think they're compelling for several reasons. First, they resulted from a report, not some sort of juridictional action. That must be true in that, second, none of those most involved in them (Canterbury and the Primates Meeting) has jurisdictional authority. Third, although "two wrongs do not make a right," the moratorium against boundary violations was clearly not important to six national/provincial churches, thus undermining the meaningfulness of the moratoria in general.

    So, irrelevant? No; but also not compelling.

  25. Madre Lizabet, this person is not anonymous. They are just not using an account. If you look closely at all of the comments in a number of threads they are signed JinSC. And most of us are addressing our replies to JinSC.

  26. Marshall--what if you thinking they are irrelevant is, to put it bluntly, irrelevant? That is, the case for their relevance is not a matter of TEC individual decision making, but inheres with the idea of a Communion. The Communion has said these are important.
    If TEC demurs, that is just fine. It has other options, viz., opt out of the idea of Communion in which the moratoria are deemed relevant.
    TEC, yourself included, simply assumes it can say what is to be a priority, when the Communion is holding otherwise (border crossing, formal SBBs approval, consecration of Glasspool -- these are all things the Communion through its Instruments have said No to).
    To hold otherwise is to make yourself the mirror image of Rwanda, in this case: acting on conscience (presumably) though against the mind of the Communion. Rwanda may decide that is the price they will pay. But they will not get away with pretending the Communion has not said this or that -- even as they have a right to say border crossing is a consequence of a prior anti-Communion action. JinCS

  27. Sorry JinSC, but if you click my account you know exactly who I am, where I live and what I do for a living. Everyone here knows me. I am not anonymous, or unknown in any way. As are most of us known to one another.

    Yes, you sign all of your comments so that we know that they are yours, but we have no idea as to who you are.

    Lapin = Roger Mortimor, Brit in S. Carolina

    Leonardo Ricardo = Anglican, foot of a volcano in Guatemala

    Caminante = the Rev. Canon Lee Alison Crawford, Ph.D., Trinity Episcopal Church, Rutland, VT

    Mary Sue, Episcopalian, Portland, OR

  28. Mr Daaved: What possible difference to the arguments does my identity make? That is one nice thing about the blog format. It allows the substance to dominate the argument. Because I know your name means very little at all anyway. This is a blog, not a segment on a TV newshour with qualified (it is to be hoped) experts.
    All manner of substantive detail is still unclear. Was the letter's existence really not known/all that surprising? On the other side, progress does appear to be made: Marshall has conceded that the ABC has the authority to decide not to invite the PB; Primates have the authority to alter the status of Schori on the Standing Committee via vote. That was all I was ever saying, and it is fully consistent with the Pentecost Letter of RDW, and so nothing like the 'back down' alleged by this blog entry by Fr Harris. Kudos to Marshall for bringing clarity to the matter and apologies if I did not understand his position intitially. J in SC

  29. "America's whoopee cushion, South Carolina", as John Stewart described it yesterday evening, David.

  30. The reality is that Americans do not like to be held accountable for our actions. We are being held accountable and too many of the responses within our Church sound too much like a petulant teenager. I appreciate Marshall's and JinSC's interaction.


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.