ACI: A Statement on the PB’s Misuse of the Canons in the +Scriven Matter
Messrs Seitz, Turner, Radner and McCall unload on Katharine Schori:
To the extent Bishop Scriven continued to function in the Diocese of Pittsburgh it was with the permission of its ecclesiastical authority as a bishop consecrated by the Church of England canonically resident in another church. But on October 16, 2008, Bishop Scriven informed the Presiding Bishop, by letter copied to the Bishop of Oxford, that he was returning to the Church of England where he would become an Honorary Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Oxford and be subject to the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Oxford. The Presiding Bishop clearly acknowledged this fact in her letter of response, dated November 12, 2008: “I understand your request to resign as a member of the House of Bishops to mean that you will become a bishop of the Church of England, serving as assistant to the Bishop of Oxford.” Bishop Scriven has now resumed his residence in the Diocese of Oxford in the Church of England, where he is recognized as a bishop in good standing and has been asked to perform episcopal duties.
Notwithstanding these facts, on January 15, 2009, the Presiding Bishop purported to accept Bishop Scriven’s renunciation of his ministry “of this Church” and claimed to remove him from all ministry conferred in his “Ordinations.” Canon III.12.7, the canon under which the Presiding Bishop claimed to be acting, plainly applies only to a “Bishop of this Church.” The only way Bishop Scriven could have been a bishop of TEC on January 15 is if the deposition of Bishop Duncan were invalid. In such a case, Bishop Duncan would have continued to serve uninterrupted as Bishop of Pittsburgh and Bishop Scriven’s tenure as Assistant Bishop would not have ended by operation of Canon III.12.5(e). We doubt, however, that this is the theory under which the Presiding Bishop is operating.
Moreover, in addition to constituting an abuse of the canons, the Presiding Bishop’s action has profound consequences for TEC’s status as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion and its communion with the Church of England. The Declaration of Removal and Release states categorically that Bishop Scriven “is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God’s Word and Sacraments conferred on him in Ordinations.” Those ordinations occurred, of course, in the Church of England. On its face, this declaration appears to prohibit a bishop in good standing in the Church of England from acting sacramentally in TEC. Since the use of Canon III.12.7 carries with it a certification that the bishop is not in violation of the constitution and canons and is not taken for causes that affect moral character, Bishop Scriven in this regard stands in no different position than any other bishop in the Church of England. If Bishop Scriven is so barred, is not the Archbishop of Canterbury barred as well?
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