March 23, 2017

January 28, 2009

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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Oh good, ACI issued a statement.  They, like, totally issued a statement!!

I feel so much better now…

[1] Posted by st. anonymous on 1-28-2009 at 09:59 AM · [top]

What did you expect them to do, st. anonymous? Fire shots? Launch missiles?

[2] Posted by oscewicee on 1-28-2009 at 10:01 AM · [top]

Do something. Anything.

[3] Posted by st. anonymous on 1-28-2009 at 10:02 AM · [top]

They did what they do, and I’m glad for the statement. I’m glad they’ve been hammering the presiding bishop’s misuse of canons and making it known. (Mark McCall has a great piece on the ACI website about the pb’s actions regarding +Scriven.)

[4] Posted by oscewicee on 1-28-2009 at 10:18 AM · [top]

“Messrs Seitz, Turner, Radner and McCall unload on Katharine Schori” - yet encourage people to cling to her and her organization as though it were life itself.  Now what was that about “clearly erroneous,” ACI?

[5] Posted by Phil on 1-28-2009 at 10:23 AM · [top]

Phil, they believe in and support the Anglican Communion, not the pb.

[6] Posted by oscewicee on 1-28-2009 at 10:27 AM · [top]

More spitballs from the ACI. Handwringing par excellence. Certainly did buck up my spirits, let me tell you.

[7] Posted by Dilbertnomore on 1-28-2009 at 10:32 AM · [top]

Oscewicee, do you honestly believe any of this “statement” will trickle down to the people in TEC’s pews?

No, me neither.

[8] Posted by st. anonymous on 1-28-2009 at 10:33 AM · [top]

Oscewicee, I know they support the Anglican Communion, but they also support, in particular, the Schori-led embodiment of it.

[9] Posted by Phil on 1-28-2009 at 10:46 AM · [top]

Is it ACI’s mission to educate the people in the pews? I thought that was ours. They do give us some clear-sighted, pithy documents that can be shared.

[10] Posted by oscewicee on 1-28-2009 at 10:51 AM · [top]

They also believe the church is more than corrupt bishops, clerics and polity, Phil.  The authors are all members of TEC, I believe, and 3 of the 4 are TEC priests, refreshing alternatives to the usual ones.

From the ACI article:

“Has the Presiding Bishop now broken communion with the Church of England?”

In her habit of incoherence or worse, she will deny that she has while acting as though she has.

“At this point, one must ask whether the Presiding Bishop is incapable of interpreting the canons or incapable instead of following them.”

Incapacity, whether of perception or action, is of secondary concern at this point.  It should be sorted out, if even possible, later.  Whether she can follow the canons is not so important now as whether she does.  Given the disintegration of TEC and the AC, any response in other areas of the AC must attend to her actions more than speculations about her capacities versus incapacities.

“The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, in seeking to deal with what is regarded as a problem within her own province, has so misused the canons that it is no longer clear if The Episcopal Church understands what ordination and interchangeability of ministry in a Communion entails.”

Seeking an heretofore elusive “understanding” in the face of repeated, clear and consistent abuse, should not determine a response from the rest of the Communion.  Rather, the repetition, clarity, and consistency of the abuse itself must be the primary, if not sole, basis for the response.

[11] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 1-28-2009 at 10:57 AM · [top]

Phil, I know everyone gets frustrated with the ACI, but frankly, I appreciate their cool heads, their carefully thought out responses, because they are speaking in a way that reasonable, persuadable people might here. Mine is not often like that, alas. The only power they have is the power of their words, as I understand it. They don’t have authority over anything, they don’t get a vote. If they launch hot-headed diatribes, like I am often tempted to do, they won’t reach anyone who is reachable. With their charity, their forthrightness and their clarity, they merit respect. I don’t think we can expect them to do more than they are doing - and I am grateful for what they do. If it doesn’t make a difference, in the end, I don’t think that’s their fault but the fault of the people who aren’t listening to them. The same people who aren’t listening to us. Their writing has been a resource for me, personally, and I am also grateful for that. I share your frustrations, I just don’t think the ACI is really the target for them.

[12] Posted by oscewicee on 1-28-2009 at 10:59 AM · [top]

Forgot to ask:  who is the present Bishop of Oxford?  For any who know, is he likely to respond publicly to the PB’s border crossing into his territory?

[13] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 1-28-2009 at 11:06 AM · [top]

Well thought and uttered, oscewicee, especially #12.

[14] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 1-28-2009 at 11:16 AM · [top]

I understand, oscewicee and STM.  What I’ve always asked them, though - and we’ve been fortunate to have Chris Seitz comment here and Ephraim Radner at T19 - is whether there’s ever anything that can be too much.  And, as far as I’ve ever seen, they don’t bother to answer that question.

Unfortunately, with fallen human beings - very much including myself - we are only moved to amend our ways by the threat of action.  The ACI, in contrast, wants to offer only words.  And, remember: based on past comments here by Rev. Seitz, it holds itself out as having influence with Canterbury.  Who can forget the promises, ca. 2006 of, “just wait till you see what’s coming from Rowan?”

Lacking either the desire to ultimately do something about it, or that influence (the lack of both having been shown, in my opinion), these are just a few smart guys making good arguments.  That’s great, but you’re a smart guy making good arguments, too, so, if the ACI isn’t going to deliver results, why do they keep receiving the special spotlight?

Taking this in total, I think, is why the ACI is frequently a target.  But, again, I do understand where you’re coming from, so I’ll stop now.

[15] Posted by Phil on 1-28-2009 at 11:19 AM · [top]

There are still some of us left in TEC, and the ACI continues to post serious reflective critiques of the PB’s actions, and I appreciate them. 

Here, the PB’s actions seem entirely indefensible.  Is it at all possible that she just got her facts wrong, and did not realize Scriven was a COE bishop—like the recent effort of the Bishop of Colorado to depose a priest who was in good standing in an neighboring diocese?

[16] Posted by Dick Mitchell on 1-28-2009 at 11:20 AM · [top]

An excellent analysis from our brothers at ACI. They do offer a cool-headed analysis of the outrageous actions of the Presiding Bishop and her administration against Bishop Scriven.

One of the things that has puzzled me is that every so often there is a breakout of outrage among progressive leaders in the Episcopal Church toward the scholars who write for ACI.  It has puzzled me because ACI has consistently maintained that they are remaining in The Episcopal Church for the foreseeable future, so why the vehement outrage from progressive leaders against them, as though ACI was the American Anglican Council or the Diocese of Pittsburgh? What happened to their vision of inclusitivity?

I think we can see one significant reason why - this type of analysis is influential at home and abroad, their bridges have not been burned, they continue to obey Rowan Williams direction to remain inside the structures of TEC and work from within, as he said at the press conference in New Orleans a year and half ago.  By being obedient, they continue to enjoy credibility in some influential circles - at least publicly and so a document like this has a power all its own.  That would be the hope, and obviously some progressive leaders believe it or they wouldn’t act the writers so harshly so often.

Now, in order to embrace that view, cynicism on our part must be kept at bay, which is difficult when one has been the recipient of the political maneuvers of the progressive leadership of The Episcopal Church and Bishop Schori and her administration at 815.  We’ve all ready seen this type of behavior and actions for years and so to respond with charity and not with cynicism takes discipline.  But I think that is the correct way to respond, to be grateful for documents such as this to come just before the Primates Meeting and to carefully, rationally, but without reservation make the case that the current administration in New York is out of control.  It could very well fall on deaf ears, but I don’t think we strengthen our own cause by engaging in cynicism - and that is a discipline for me as well.  I am grateful.

It was amazing to witness the same kind of manipulation and re-imagining of Commonwealth law in the Court in Virginia by the legal team of The Episcopal Church, only it didn’t work.  In Virginia, at least at the Circuit Court level, the judges read the law and apply it, they don’t make it up as they go along as TEC has done for decades.  It was amazing to watch - the judge did not fall into their strategic reinvention of the law.

Our brothers at ACI calls the Schori Administration to the mat and for that I am grateful.  Thank you.


[17] Posted by BabyBlue on 1-28-2009 at 11:21 AM · [top]

Phil, I know everyone gets frustrated with the ACI, but frankly, I appreciate their cool heads, their carefully thought out responses, because they are speaking in a way that reasonable, persuadable people might here. Mine is not often like that, alas. The only power they have is the power of their words, as I understand it. They don’t have authority over anything, they don’t get a vote. If they launch hot-headed diatribes, like I am often tempted to do, they won’t reach anyone who is reachable. With their charity, their forthrightness and their clarity, they merit respect. I don’t think we can expect them to do more than they are doing - and I am grateful for what they do. If it doesn’t make a difference, in the end, I don’t think that’s their fault but the fault of the people who aren’t listening to them. The same people who aren’t listening to us. Their writing has been a resource for me, personally, and I am also grateful for that. I share your frustrations, I just don’t think the ACI is really the target for them.

To each and every word: AMEN!

[18] Posted by Nikolaus on 1-28-2009 at 11:22 AM · [top]

Phil, what would you have them offer instead of the words that spring from both their consciences and their hearts, from their deeply held Christian beliefs? As for their not delivering on what they may have thought was coming from the ABC - they would hardly be the first among us to find that he did not do as expected. Ask +N.T. Wright. :-(

I’ll get off my soapbox - and thanks for your patience in responding to me. I haven’t found the answer yet, personally, to what is “too much.” I am Anglican and presently I have no alternative way of being Anglican than as a member of TEC (nope, no breakaway churches near me). I am glad that the ACI contributors are fighting for Anglicanism in America as best they know how.

[19] Posted by oscewicee on 1-28-2009 at 11:27 AM · [top]

Schori’s actions are evocative of the exchange of excommunications in 1054 A.D., the traditional date for the great schism between the eastern and western church.

Shortly before 1054 A.D., east and west were in full communion.  In 1054 A.D., the papacy took the unprecedented position that a new Patriarch of Constantinople had to be approved by Rome to be valid.  Old Rome had not exercised such authority over New Rome in the past (and could not do so under the ecumencial canons), so this was in essence an uncanonical exercise of unprecedented authority.

Humbert (as the papal legate) excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople, who promptly returned the favor and excommunicated the Pope.  The effect of this exchange was initially only a temporary rift that was only partially recognized.

The formal split between east and west came much later and really became a fait accompli only after the Latin captivity of Constantinople during the Crusades.

Nevertheless, the first crack in the landscape that widened into an unbreachable chasm was the Pope’s (or rather his legate’s) unilateral effort to defrock the a bishop outside the Pope’s historical jurisdiction (traditionally limited by canon to a few hundred square miles around Rome).

Schori’s pronouncement of the invalidity of the orders and sacramental authority of a bishop of England may seem like a temporary hiccup in church relations, but it also signals that there is a sense of disconnection on the part of the TEC from from the broader ecclesial reality of worldwide Anglism.  Her viewpoint may presently be uncanonical but the canons may change over time to reflect her view completely just as the views of local bishops about the communion with bishoprics of other provinces (which recognized ecclesial unity even when the presiding bishop or “patriarch” of each province did not) was supplamented formally by canon years later.

Rome (and eastern Christendom) lost a sense of connection with the experience of the other province and in the west in particular this loss of a common perspective was marked by a dramatic and swift evolution in vocabulary, practices, theology, and culture.  Similarly, Schori’s pronouncement suggests TEC has moved so far from its origins that her administration at the national level genuinely does not perceive a “sister” church when it turns its attention to traditional bishoprics overseas.  Instead, there is a sense that the TEC already views itself (again, speaking about the national level and not local dioceses) as a distinct and separate denomination from traditional Anglicanism whereever that may be found.  Should TEC’s liturgy, canons, and confessional statements evolve swiftly in the next few decades, this is in part due to a lobotomization of the ecclesial mind (stripping away all references with and contact to traditional Anglicanism overseas).

The great schism of 1054 A.D. happened just like this, a refusal to recognize bishops on a case by case basis that was initially only a schism at the top (not the local level) but which became irrevocable over time.

—Dn. John

[20] Posted by John Clay on 1-28-2009 at 11:32 AM · [top]

While I am often frustrated with the ACI’s inability to act on the courage of their convictions, I agree with oscewicee (#12), that in this article they are PRECISELY acting on the courage of their convictions, to whit:  they are addressing an audience far above the majority of posters on this excellent forum:  the bishops and primates of the Anglican Communion.  By their repeated documentation, in language suitable for ecclesiastical trial briefs, they are making the case that Dr. Schori and her co-conspirators in TEC MUST be disciplined, even removed from office.  Is there no way in the Anglican Communion to do this?  Ah, therein lies the problem that the primates must face in Alexandria.  The +Scriven case, coming at JUST this precise moment may be in-your-face enough for the primates to turn to Dr. Schori and re-enact that scene in D.C. from 50-odd years ago:  “At long last, [Bishop], have no decency?  Have you no sense of decency left at all?”  But then they will have to deal with the mechanics of disciplining a church which carries the name-brand “Anglican,” but which has, with some in-the-pews hold-outs, left the Christian faith long ago.  Can they do it?  Will they do it?  If “past behaviour is a predictor of future performance,” the hope is pretty dim indeed, but this may be the proverbial “tipping point” which impels action.  The ACI’s repeated statements give the primates enough evidence to remove Dr. Schori for any of a variety of reasons, including legal abuses, the countenancing of immoral actions, psychological dysfunction, but most often cited, for repeated violations of her pledged word to Anglican agreements while at the same time maintaining that she is observing those agreements (but I’ve already said ‘psychological dysfunction’ once). 

In the end, two things will bring TEc to its senses or to its demise, the exodus of faithful Christians (with or without properties) and the mountain of data accumulated by the accountant-types of the ACI.  Theirs is different calling, and they are fulfilling it with dignity and deadly accuracy, and they have my thanks and prayers (and those of you with longish memories may remember that I have been highly critical of them in previous posts; thus my appreciative reversal is the fruit of coming to understand the ACI’s purpose and audience).  We need them too, for the things that we are unable to accomplish with the polish and finesse necessary for a gathering of primates.

R. N. Wightman+ 

PS & OT: surely there must be a collective noun for “a gathering of primates/archbishops” -as in “a gaggle of geese,” “a murder of crows,” “an exaltation of larks.”  If there is such an one, let the knowledgeable one enlighten us; if not, it’s an open game.  Please do remember that this would have to apply to bishops Anglican, Roman, Orthodox (so no “snarkiness”) and it cannot be an official meeting such as a “synod” or “council” or “consistory”.  Think of the old opening line, ” a _____________ of bishops walks into a pub, and the bartender says…..” and we’ll be on the right track.

[21] Posted by rwightman+ on 1-28-2009 at 11:39 AM · [top]

A cope of bishops?

[22] Posted by oscewicee on 1-28-2009 at 11:43 AM · [top]

Yes, that one’s good, but we’re up a notch on the pay grade:  primates/archbishops.  My pub line misspoke.  I’d also thought of a “miter of bishops” but that falls below the pay grade too.  Game on.

[23] Posted by rwightman+ on 1-28-2009 at 11:48 AM · [top]

A panel of Archbishops? (they are experts, right?)

[24] Posted by Bo on 1-28-2009 at 11:55 AM · [top]

If they are non-GS Archbishops - could it be a WAFFLE of Archbishops?

[25] Posted by GillianC on 1-28-2009 at 11:57 AM · [top]

This is low, but wikipedia says a group of monkeys is a “mission of monkeys” - dare we extrapolate? I’m obviously channeling the Yerkes Institute today. :-(

[26] Posted by oscewicee on 1-28-2009 at 11:59 AM · [top]

#20   Dcn John: So therefore, what we have here is, in actuality, The Episcopal Communion… I’ve been saying for several months.  Each action that Dr Schori takes, and every word that she speaks only serves to reinforce this view, and I think that as time goes by, it will become more and more apparent, to the point where it will become fact.

[27] Posted by Cennydd on 1-28-2009 at 12:03 PM · [top]

Geeezzz…sure doesn’t take much to get you booted out of TEC these days.  Unless of course you teach heresy - then you are a member for life!  wink

[28] Posted by B. Hunter on 1-28-2009 at 12:10 PM · [top]

Dear Phil [#15],

What is too much?  Isn’t that a bit like asking a combat soldier at what point short of death he might lose his ability to fight under fire?  For most soldiers, that is the kind of question most civilians who care about them usually don’t ask.  And even if they did, few soldiers know that about themselves, even, or especially, under a fusillade of bombardment.  Did Jesus explain in great detail to each of his disciples what was in store for them?  ACI is far more than “a few smart guys making arguments,” although why begrudge them that?  Do you mistakenly believe that the power of learning, intellect, will or many other human attributes and accomplishments is sufficient to combat evil in the church? 

Claiming that “the ACI…wants to offer only words” is unfair.  If they had the ability to sanction TEC, its HOB, any number of its more absurd, shameless or abusive members, there seems little doubt that they would.  They virtually cry out for TEC bishops to sanction the PB, one another, errant priests, etc.  But they have no authority to impose or enforce sanctions themselves and what they want has little to do with that limitation.  It has a great deal more to do with apathetic, deceived and misinformed TEC members who have not elected them or others like them to be TEC bishops.

Although I don’t read or hear everything that ACI or its members write or say, I would be very surprised if Rev. Seitz thought he knew what the ABC would do, or that he does now, even if he thought he knew at some point and was wrong.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Even the Bishop of Durham seemed to think he knew what the ABC might do before the last Lambeth Conference, and seemed to be wrong.  In the present climate, who could blame anyone for wishful thinking that seems like hope?

[29] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 1-28-2009 at 12:34 PM · [top]

Sheesh! It’s almost like TEc is just asking to be excommunicated from the WWAC! When will +Rowan wake up and smell the burning coffee?

[30] Posted by TLDillon on 1-28-2009 at 12:36 PM · [top]

‘fellowship’ as in ‘f of the ring’

‘flock’ goes w/ the shepherding image, but may not be right for the primate/arch level. 


[31] Posted by maineiac on 1-28-2009 at 01:04 PM · [top]

If we are all so overwrought about doing something I challenge each of us to forward a copy of the letter to our own local diocesans and ask them!

BTW, my vote for a group of bishops - specifically TEC bishops - would be a “slither.”

[32] Posted by Nikolaus on 1-28-2009 at 01:04 PM · [top]

The collective noun for bishops is a “purple.” I’m not sure that Archbishops or Primates have one…

[33] Posted by Grant LeMarquand on 1-28-2009 at 01:08 PM · [top]

May we add the following to the dictionary:

CANONONICAL: Whatever it is that the Presiding Bishop does with or to the canons, i.e.,willing canonical abuse.

[34] Posted by john1 on 1-28-2009 at 01:09 PM · [top]

Seen-Too-Much, again, I see your point and agree with much of what you write.  But, no, I do not believe, “that the power of learning, intellect, will or many other human attributes and accomplishments is sufficient to combat evil in the church.”  I was arguing the opposite.  St Athanasius wrote forcefully with all the sophistication of the ACI folks, but he also acted - not as a colleague and friend of the Arians who had his disagreements, but as an opponent dedicated to bringing their heresy down - niceties be damned.

Respectfully, as I work with several soldiers, I don’t think asking “what’s too much” in the face of scores and scores of Protestant alternatives, two Catholic ones and multiple extra-canonical Anglican ones is even a bit like asking somebody about his would-be behavior in combat.  Whether we are in communion with Katharine Jefferts Schori or Gregory Venables is not a matter of life and death in the same way as is the battlefield.

Still, don’t lose sight of my first sentence.  You and others make a very good case.  If I’m on the other side of my fellow commenters at SF, I wouldn’t be surprised to be wrong.

[35] Posted by Phil on 1-28-2009 at 01:14 PM · [top]

Regarding a collective term for ‘bishops’. I like to start with St. John Chrysostom who said, “The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.” Thus, my contributions is - a deck of bishops.

[36] Posted by Dilbertnomore on 1-28-2009 at 01:28 PM · [top]

Whether or how life and death on the battlefield is like life and death in the church, is an open question, Phil.  I believe that physical life itself ultimately depends upon the life of the church.

Has it been a millenium or so since Athanasius fought the Arians?  There is much that has happened in the church since then, and much that continues from it.  ACI is hardly a friend of those it calls to account, unless you see that that act itself is an act of Christian love.

[37] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 1-28-2009 at 01:45 PM · [top]

Regarding a collective term for ‘bishops’:

How about a ‘clump’ of Bishops, or a ‘Blob’ of Bishops, or a ‘Bunch’ of Bishops.

[38] Posted by doogal123 on 1-28-2009 at 02:02 PM · [top]

Dilbertnomore, that’s a good one! (#36)

[39] Posted by zana on 1-28-2009 at 02:07 PM · [top]

I know ACI is taken seriously by many on this blog, and I have occasionally appreciated some of what it produces. Unfortunately, I tend to believe that though the present statement “unloads” on the Presiding Presider, what it unloads appears to be feathery snowballs, and once again, their words haven’t the force of any recommended actions - meaningful actions. But ACI members do write a lot and there is a great deal of thought in what they write. Without them we might not be able to articulate the obvious.

[40] Posted by Dan Crawford on 1-28-2009 at 02:46 PM · [top]

I posted the following over at TitusOneNine:

I think that KJS knows exactly what she is doing with regard to her misuse/abuse of TEC’s canons, and that she is doing so quite deliberately.  Furthermore, I think that from KJS’s mindset, her actions make perfect sense.

I believe that KJS’s end goal is to become the “chief tyrant” of TEC.  I know that that term is derogatory, but I believe that it is actually very accurate provided one uses the right definition.  I define “tyrant” in this case as follows “3. ancient Greek ruler: in ancient Greece, a ruler who took control of a state without legal sanction and governed with absolute power.” So, I believe that what KJS is attempting here is to take control of TEC without canonical or constitutional sanction and to govern TEC with absolute power.

KJS believes she needs this power in order to fully and quickly achieve the progressive agenda in TEC.  If one looks at extremist social liberals in other contexts, one sees a regular pattern of bypassing constitutional or democratic methods of achieving change, and selecting and using quick, easy and autocratic means to achieve their agenda.  KJS was put into power by a cadre of extremist liberal TEC bishops to be their tyrant.

In order to assume absolute control of TEC, KJS would either have to legitimately change the canons in such a way as to completely change TEC’s polity (time consuming and very unlikely to happen) or to subvert the canons.  KJS has chosen the latter approach, as it is faster and may net her a kind of absolute power in TEC that even legitimate canonical change could not give her.

Once KJS had set her mind on this course, she needed to achieve a number of goals.  1) She needed to keep the TEC extremist liberals on side; 2) she needed to cow the “moderate” wing of TEC into letting her get away with it; 3) she needed to be assured that Rowan Williams was sufficiently a milquetoast so as not to seriously threaten her Communion status; and (perhaps most importantly) 4) she needed for the courts to accept her right to be the final arbiter of the canons.

ALL of her actions to date can be seen to serve these causes.  Regarding point 1, she has discovered that her extremist liberal wing is throwing their full support behind her.  She can do whatever she likes, and sycophants like Tom Woodward and others will chirp out their defense of her.  TEC’s liberal faction has shown itself to be completely supportive of this sea-change to TEC’s polity, and supportive of turning the PB into a TEC pope.

Regarding point 2, KJS has used a very basic strategy.  She has started with some very minor biases in enforcing the canons, and then has moved gradually to greater levels of abuse and misuse.  She started by imposing a different standard on Mark Lawrence’s election as bishop of South Carolina.  While there was some modest pushback, in that Lawrence then was confirmed, there was no real outcry.  Her next act was to declare that Schofield had been deposed despite not receiving the requisite number of votes.  But at least he had been inhibited.  She got away with that.  So then she decided to declare Duncan was inhibited despite not getting the requisite votes and despite him not even being canonically liable for deposition.  She got away with that.  So then she went yet another step, and interpreted Iker’s press release as a “renunciation of ministry”.  This was a major step forward as she could now simply depose bishops at will.  Scriven is simply the next step, where she is now deposing bishops at will.  She knows full well that the “moderate” faction within TEC will offer her no resistance.

Regarding point #3, she has pushed the Communion, and Rowan Williams has not pushed back.  She is relatively confident that Sarah Hey is right - she could probably declare that SHE is the new personification of Jesus Christ and demand that all bow down before her, and sacrafice raison cakes to her supreme divinity, and Rowan Williams will do nothing substantive.  In fact, I believe that KJS couldn’t care less what Rowan Williams or the Communion does anymore because she considers that a battle already won.

Her one last outstanding fight is with the secular courts per point 4.  All of the rest of the points, go towards serving this goal.  If she can brazenly violate the canons, with no opposition from the vast majority within TEC, and with no consequences from the Communion Instruments, then it is very possible that a secular court which is applying the “heirarchical church” approach will say that TEC precedent shows that she is clearly the “highest authority” within TEC and that she has the absolute power to authoritatively interpret the canons of TEC.  And once she has that power granted to her by the secular courts, her Quest for Absolute Power in TEC is complete.

[41] Posted by jamesw on 1-28-2009 at 03:38 PM · [top]

I think that many folks on SF misunderstand the goals and purposes of bot the ACI and the Communion Partners.  Regarding, the ACI - what really could they do as a group even if they were so inclined?  They have no formal power.  They are not an official church body.  All what they have is their moral authority to communicate to the Anglican Communion what is happening in TEC.  They are doing a great job at that.

The one warning I would give to the Communion Partners is to read carefully my post above (#41) and to carefully consider what this might mean in light of other events in TEC history.  (1) KJS is clearly subverting the constitution, canons and polity of TEC in such a way as to make her an absolute tyrant with power to dismiss bishops at will.  (2) KJS and her liberal faction regard same-sex marriage as an imperative justice issue.  (3) In the distant past, bishops who opposed WO were told that they would never be forced to do so.  (4) Some time later, GC changed its mind and decided to try to force them (but luckily TEC’s canons gave them no such power to force them).  (5) Points 2,3, and 4 in light of point 1 suggest that any TEC bishop who does not currently permit SSM in his diocese will, in the not-too-distant-future, be at risk of being deposed by the PB.  And if Communion Partners doesn’t think it won’t happen, I would suggest that they take off their rose-colored glasses and seriously consider what they will do at that point.  I am not suggesting that they need to leave TEC and join the ACNA.  Rather, I am suggesting that they need to realistically wrestle with these issues, and be upfront and honest with their laity.  Because past evidence has shown that radical liberal social activists are NEVER content to permit pockets of conscientious objectors to their agendas once they have the power to eliminate such pockets.

[42] Posted by jamesw on 1-28-2009 at 03:51 PM · [top]

Just in from the salt mines and see that some commenters believe that there is no place any longer for closely-reasoned, articulate written statements about why certain actions are lawless and immoral.

Ah well—goodbye Solzhenitsyn!

But I appreciate what they had to say about the PB’s latest. All they have is the pen—may as well wield it.

[43] Posted by Sarah on 1-28-2009 at 04:21 PM · [top]

I for one appreciate the ACI’s analysis, and they have enlightened me on several subjects over the years that were a bit murky without them.  I hesitate to believe that they have any real power (other than perhaps the power of demonstration at a convention, or something like that) but as long as we’re talking about action.

In the above recollection of the Papal Legate leaving Constantinople after being excommunicated and the Patriarch refusing to be at the behest of the Bishop of Rome, I seem to remember on the way out, Humbert and his assistants shook the dust from their sandals and then boarded their boats back to Rome.  Perhaps the ACI could engage in a little dust shaking?  Just a thought.

Now, I vote for a group of high-end Bishops to be called a PHIPS of Bishops.  yes, I made it up, but it stands for Potato Heads in Purple Shirts.

And yes, I’m leaving work early today.  bye!!!


[44] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 1-28-2009 at 04:44 PM · [top]

Those who complain about the Anglican Communion Institute not doing anything probably have them confused with the Anglican Communion Office (which probably cannot do anything either).

The Primates could do something about it (like withdraw her invitation to attend the Primates’ meeting next week), but they run the risk that she will then proceed to accept their renunciations, as well.

[45] Posted by Paul Powers on 1-28-2009 at 04:44 PM · [top]

Sarah!  Touché.

[46] Posted by Phil on 1-28-2009 at 04:52 PM · [top]

Seems to me that this is a very thorough piece of work by the authors - very much needed in order to clear some of the fog which has been generated over the PB’s canon abuse.  Well done gentlemen.

With the pattern of lack of honesty over the meaning of words, lack of due process, twisting of polity, it is necessary to go back forensically through what has really happened rather than relying on urban legend.  There is in reality not an alternative parallel Schori universe, only dishonesty and tyranny.

Whatever may or may not result, the truth is important for its own sake.  Only when one can see the truth of things clearly is there any hope of facing and dealing with things - and that applies to every one of us.

[47] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 1-28-2009 at 05:03 PM · [top]

Whatever may or may not result, the truth is important for its own sake.

Amen, Pageantmaster.

[48] Posted by oscewicee on 1-28-2009 at 05:05 PM · [top]

ACI has done exactly what it should do.  The next step that needs to happen is that the Bishop of Oxford, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and former ABC Carey need to publically insist on public retraction by Dr Schori. 

However, the odds that they will do that instead of privalty expressing that they are miffed and would greatly appreciate is the PB would pretty-please think about maybe possibly considering implementing a moratorium on future attempts to sack COE bishops…

[49] Posted by AndrewA on 1-28-2009 at 05:11 PM · [top]

The other thing that astonishes me since coming to blogworld is that some Americans in TEC, are prepared to set so little store by the truth, due process and the rule of law.  I would have expected better frankly.

Do results really justify the means?  Is that really all that is left of TEC polity and self-respect?  Sad.

[50] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 1-28-2009 at 05:11 PM · [top]

I find this alarming, too, that so many don’t care about the rule of law. If they want it, if they can do it, they do it, never mind if it’s canonically legal. What that means not just now but in the future is alarming - and those who are enjoying their self-given freedom are almost certain to reap what they sow with this. History offers lots of lessons on this one. There is also the consequent loss of respect and loss of trust - who can believe anything TEC’s leadership says if they don’t even abide by their own rules?

[51] Posted by oscewicee on 1-28-2009 at 05:24 PM · [top]

A bumble of bishops?

[52] Posted by Howdy8 on 1-28-2009 at 06:04 PM · [top]

They probably won’t do this, but I think that Archbishop Williams, former Archbishop Carey, and the Bishop of Oxford need to stop being so “British” and tell Schori in no uncertain terms that they will not tolerate her interference.  She understands American English very well, and a point-blank warning is what’s needed.  In this country, we’re inclined to be more blunt than our British cousins.

[53] Posted by Cennydd on 1-28-2009 at 06:17 PM · [top]

A blather of bishops

A pandemonium of primates

An avoirdupois of archbishops

A mulligatawny of metropolitans

[54] Posted by Chancellor on 1-28-2009 at 07:20 PM · [top]

A slither of bishops

[55] Posted by jamesw on 1-28-2009 at 08:44 PM · [top]

An Indaba of Bishops…

[56] Posted by SC Lady on 1-28-2009 at 08:53 PM · [top]

I beat you to it jamesw, see #32.

[57] Posted by Nikolaus on 1-28-2009 at 09:42 PM · [top]

Indeed you did Nikolaus, indeed you did!

Okay, so I will then propose the following:

a pack of bishops
a swarm of bishops
a horde of bishops, or
a mischief of bishops

[58] Posted by jamesw on 1-28-2009 at 10:42 PM · [top]

It’s really kind of embarrassing to read so many comments that seem to say “Of course the ACI is right about the PB in this case, but they really aren’t working hard enough on my behalf, and no matter how smart they are, they are wrong because they don’t agree with me.”

ACI is, in essence, 4 individuals, none of them bishops (they do have bishops on their board of directors, but the BoD is not the public face of the organization).  They are scholars in theology, ecclesiology, canon law, and other related fields.  People seem to expect them to “do” something, as though writing cogent and articulate analysis of the ongoing events in the Communion were not “doing” something.  Let’s not forget that they have “day jobs” (as someone who had a priest for a Dad, I know they have day and night jobs, sometimes).  Much of their “doing” revolves around the training of seminarians, and the day to day life of a priest (or in Mr. McCall’s case, I assume, attorney or law professor).  I suspect that few of us “do” as much for the Church or our fellow human beings.  Certainly, I do not.

At this point, I am not sure who is resident where, but I believe Dr. Radner is canonically resident in Colorado.  Certainly, after his essay last week, it would be difficult to believe that Bp. O’Neil is feeling particularly fond of him.  And, I’m just guessing here, but I am inclined to think that the presiding bishop of TEC is none too happy with him either.  He may have “renounced his orders” by signing his name to this document.  How many parish priests do we know (or laymen for that matter) who won’t stand up to their bishop in public?  Well, the ACI is not those priests.  They have put their jobs on the line here- they are telling us exactly what they think.
  ACI has never told any of us, progressives or conservatives, “what we want to hear.”  They tell us what they believe to be the truth.  Sometimes their predictions have been inaccurate, sometimes their analysis flawed.  But these “4 guys with a website” do their homework better than most of us, and just maybe we should listen to them.  At least, for this case, would we not all be better off praying that the Primates of the Communion and the bishops of TEC read this report and act upon the facts presented and ACI’s analysis than wasting time taking potshots at ACI?
  The fault is not with the people who have provided the information and analysis, it is with the people who have not acted upon the information.

[59] Posted by tjmcmahon on 1-28-2009 at 11:49 PM · [top]

Slightyly off topic:  has there been any reaction out of 815 to either this or +Scriven’s letter?

[60] Posted by Florida Anglican [Support Israel] on 1-29-2009 at 11:57 AM · [top]

How about, a “murmer” of bishops? Or a “reverence” of bishops?

And I second all of the appreciative comments made about this piece by the ACI and the high quality of their work in general.  I am speaking as one who is no longer in TEC.

[61] Posted by evan miller on 1-29-2009 at 12:48 PM · [top]

Tjmcmahon, the bishops of TEC may read this report, but whether or not they’ll pay much attention to what it says is another matter entirely.

[62] Posted by Cennydd on 1-29-2009 at 12:56 PM · [top]

Cennydd, grant that, but it is not ACI’s fault if they don’t. ACI is doing what it does and doing it admirably. They can’t be blamed for others’ indifference or failure to pay attention to what is happening in the church.

[63] Posted by oscewicee on 1-29-2009 at 01:18 PM · [top]

“Indifference” is, and has been from the beginning of this mess, the single biggest destroyer of the Episcopal Church, aside from the revisionists’ agenda of “progressive” change for the sake of “inclusivism.”

[64] Posted by Cennydd on 1-29-2009 at 02:36 PM · [top]

The ACI has done a great job at what they do, and they should be thanked and appreciated.

Regarding who should be “doing something”, I think that perhaps those most culpable are orthodox laity currently in TEC who unquestionably write checks to their local TEC parish.  I am convinced that the orthodox laity within TEC have FAR more power then they realize.  They need to stop expecting everyone else to ride in on a white charger and save the day for them, so that they don’t have to do the hard work themselves. 

If all orthodox Christians currently in TEC turn the financial spiggot off NOW, then you could be sure that the powers-that-be in TEC would sit up and listen, or else TEC would run out of money for litigation pretty quickly.

[65] Posted by jamesw on 1-29-2009 at 03:20 PM · [top]

Why doesn’t the PB-ess go ahead and inhibit the Pope while she is at it ?

[66] Posted by Anglican Observer on 1-29-2009 at 03:24 PM · [top]

jamesw, I am not expecting any white chargers. The only money from our parish that goes to the diocese comes from one parishioner. Do you suggest I cut her off?

[67] Posted by oscewicee on 1-29-2009 at 03:33 PM · [top]

Saw this further post from ACI linked on T19:

[68] Posted by oscewicee on 1-29-2009 at 06:01 PM · [top]

oscewicee:  I am actually referring to individual parishioners, not to clergy blocking what their parishioners want to do.  What annoys me is lay people (and I’m a lay person) sitting around complaining about the ACI, when the ACI is doing all they can, and when the real problem right now in North America is a lot of orthodox laity giving all sorts of money to KJS’s litigation machine via giving to their local parish.

The laity CAN do a LOT if they would actually get up and do something.  Of course, you aren’t responsible for somebody ELSE giving money - you are responsible only for yourself.

My point is that if the folks on SF who complain so bitterly that the ACI isn’t “doing anything” would instead work on a campaign to educate TEC laity and encourage them to stop funding the KJS litigation machine, that would have much greater power then anything that the ACI did or said.

[69] Posted by jamesw on 1-29-2009 at 07:04 PM · [top]

oscewicee: For what it’s worth, my comments were not in any way critical of you.  With you I agree.  I sometimes get a little tired of us Americans wanting the ACI, GAFCON, the Global South, the courts, the Nigerians, the Ugandans, the British, the Queen, and you name it, to come in and “save us” in TEC, when maybe - just maybe - God is telling us that we aren’t going to be “saved” by anybody.  And that might not be such a bad thing.

[70] Posted by jamesw on 1-29-2009 at 07:07 PM · [top]

My point is that if the folks on SF who complain so bitterly that the ACI isn’t “doing anything” would instead work on a campaign to educate TEC laity and encourage them to stop funding the KJS litigation machine, that would have much greater power then anything that the ACI did or said.

Sorry, jamesw - I agree. The ACI is on the moral high ground, IMO, and hopefully their words will not go unheard, but we in the pews do indeed have a big responsibility in trying to educate our fellow parishioners. The dear lady in our parish who gives to the diocese is in her late 80s and a lifelong Episcopalian. I think her real motive in giving is to get the diocese to leave the parish alone.

[71] Posted by oscewicee on 1-29-2009 at 07:11 PM · [top]

The sad part of all this, as laudable as the articles by the ACI are, they are ineffectual because those in power to act positively upon the recommendations, to speak to the call to conscience, will not. Oh, maybe one or two will “stand firm” in the face of withering and farcical tolerance to their faces, while in the background the floor is eroded out from under them, they are lovingly stabbed in the back and betrayed with kisses. Seems Scriptural somehow. The major failing in understanding, is that, for whatever it is worth everyone supporting the progressive movement within TEC believe in their heart of hearts that they are right, they are serving God ™ as they believe the Spirit ™ has in fact revealed this to them. The disingenuous are in it for the vocational perks, the “power” the manipulation, the retirement fund, perhaps as a rescue from a truly disappointing career elsewhere, or else the superficial respect given a collar and a colored shirt. But they, all in all, view their road as the right and only road, and the recalcitrant whistle-blowers of the ACI, the grim and battle-worn conservative remnant, the escapees trying to build an ark on native soil are only to be treated as immaterial statistics. And diminished at every public revelation, but politically undermined - just in case.

[72] Posted by masternav on 1-29-2009 at 07:32 PM · [top]

Do you know, masternav, I think the truly saddest thing of all is that many revisionists may just be people who have found that they have lost their faith and, no longer believing in orthodox Christianity, have decided to develop something that “makes sense” to them. When you don’t believe anything can be true, absolutely - how can you believe in God? Whether Christian, Muslim or Hebrew?

[73] Posted by oscewicee on 1-29-2009 at 07:40 PM · [top]

Agreed oscewicee. Spong is an excellent example. Although I suspect that he never actually had belief as such. That his “belief” was merely an intellectual exercise in moralizing from a secular humanist perspective. Perhaps he saw the Episcopal church as just exactly the right venue for him to pursue the cloth in order to deliver a secular humanist/new age/60s liberal generational “new thing”. It is hard to not despair entirely of TEC, as so much of its life blood gushes out of it and it stand pale and faltering, unable, and perhaps even unwilling to turn from its suicidal course, as it leaders slowly and methodically slash into it. Having work for a short time with a crisis hotline (and therefore no expert at all) and listened to the detachment from reality that so many suicides experience, it seems eerily familiar.

[74] Posted by masternav on 1-29-2009 at 10:48 PM · [top]

Oscewicee, You are exactly right. That’s what makes it all so tragic.

[75] Posted by Liz Forman on 1-29-2009 at 10:53 PM · [top]

Speaking of breaking canons…this just in:

A press release from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth:

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori has recommended the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. “Ted” Gulick Jr., bishop of Kentucky, to be the provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. If elected by the special meeting of the convention of the diocese, Bp. Gulick will be installed during the meeting. Bishop Gulick will serve part time as he continues to serve as bishop of Diocese of Kentucky.

[76] Posted by Intercessor on 1-29-2009 at 11:45 PM · [top]

“As we pointed out in our original statement, Bishop Scriven ceased to be an Assistant Bishop in TEC and thereby ceased to be a member of TEC’s House of Bishops the moment Bishop Duncan was deposed. This was a constitutional disqualification imposed on Bishop Scriven by Article I.2 of TEC’s constitution. Canonically speaking, he ceased to be a bishop in TEC at that point. His original status as a bishop of the Church of England was not thereby affected, of course, and upon requesting and receiving an honorary role in the Diocese of Oxford that became his formal diocesan home. All that was necessary in January 2009 was for TEC to conform its records to this fact.”
              ACI (from article linked in post #68)

PM, if you read this, could you tell us something about the Bishop of Oxford, why he would have taken Bishop Scriven in as described above?  It appears that this protection was afforded him after TEC’s PB tried to illegally remove him from Holy Orders; is this the case?  Do you have a view of how the Bishop of Oxford might view the PB’s actions towards Bishop Scriven?  Since most of us here know little about the BofO, could you explain some of this to us?

[77] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 1-30-2009 at 10:57 AM · [top]

I just read that the Bishop of Oxford “read law at St. Peter’s College, Oxford.”  Do you think, PM, this has any import about how he might react to the PB’s border crossing into his Diocese?

[78] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 1-30-2009 at 11:05 AM · [top]

Hi Seen-Too-Much
It probably makes sense as the joint CMS-SAMS mission agency +Scriven heads mission for is Oxford based

+Scriven announced he was leaving for his new position in mid-August long before the deposition of Bp Duncan or any of the PB’s peculiar letters.  I imagine the arrangement with the Bishop of Oxford pre-dated all this as well.

How might the Bishop of Oxford view the PB’s actions crossing boundaries to England and kicking him in the shins?  I can only imagine.

[79] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 1-30-2009 at 11:14 AM · [top]

Do remember that Bishop Scriven was an English bishop to begin with- ordained by the CoE and consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself (++Carey).  He was “licensed” in TEC to be the assisting bishop in Pittsburgh, after serving as CoE suffragan in Europe and holding other positions, including working with SAMS.  Until a few days ago, it appeared that KJS had accepted what amounted to a transfer of Bishop Scriven back to the Church of England.  But apparently she couldn’t leave it at that.  She made a fool of herself- neither she nor TEC has any say over Bishop Scriven’s ordination or consecration (or “ordination of a bishop”, hence the use of “ordinations” in her, ummmmm….“acceptance of renunciation”).
  By her logic, ++Peter Akinola could accept one of her many ridiculous statements of the past 3 years as her renuncication of orders, and she would no longer be PB.

[80] Posted by tjmcmahon on 1-30-2009 at 11:32 AM · [top]

Anglican bishops:
beacon of bishops ... or ... bridge of bishops
TEC bishops:
drive of bishops

[81] Posted by monologistos on 1-30-2009 at 12:31 PM · [top]

GADZOOKS!  I found it:  A <u>GRANFALOON</u> of Archbishops!

GRANFALOON (noun): a “proud and meaningless association of human beings” (Vonnegut); a group that purports to “have a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is actually meaningless in terms of fulfilling God’s design” (Wiki).

[82] Posted by Nikolaus on 1-30-2009 at 03:43 PM · [top]

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