December 20, 2014

July 2, 2012


Fast and Furious: as GC 2012 Prepares to Open, the ACI Weighs in on the TEC-9 Charges

The Anglican Communion Institute has now published its assessment of the spurious complaints filed against nine Bishops in the Episcopal Church (USA), as discussed in this previous article. The ACI provides an excellent factual background for the reasons leading up to the signing of the affidavits in the Quincy litigation and the signing of the amicus brief addressed to the Supreme Court of Texas. Here is just an extract, to show their perspective (bold emphasis in the original):

Many in the church fail to comprehend the legitimacy of the bishops’ claim that they are defending the traditional polity of TEC. But consider three authorities whose works were standard texts when today’s senior clergy were trained. First, in 1961 Canon Powel Dawley in the volume on polity in the official and widely-distributed series, “The Church’s Teaching,” summarized the role of the diocese as follows:

At the time that the American Revolution forced an independent organization upon the Anglican colonial parishes, the first dioceses existed separately from each other before they agreed to the union in 1789 into a national church. That union, like the original federation of our states, was one in which each diocese retained a large amount of autonomy, and still today the dioceses possess an independence far greater than that characteristic of most other Churches with episcopal polity….Diocesan participation in any national program or effort, for example, must be voluntarily given; it cannot be forced. Again, while the bishop’s exercise of independent power within the diocese is restricted by the share in church government possessed by the Diocesan Convention or the Standing Committee, his independence in respect to the rest of the Church is almost complete.

Second, in his widely used 1965 canon law handbook Daniel Stevick, a long-time faculty member at the Episcopal Divinity School and its predecessor, relied on Dawley and concluded:

The Episcopal Church is not, strictly speaking, a single jurisdiction. A diocese is free to accept or reject or qualify its national responsibilities….Work done, programs initiated, or social witness borne by departments of the Executive Council acting under general mandate of [General] Convention can be ignored or repudiated….[A]t present, diocesan support of the work of the national church is voluntary; commitment can be withheld. An entire group can, in effect, contract out of responsible participation in the life of the larger body.

Finally, the pre-existence of separate independent dioceses is also recognized in the current edition of White & Dykman, the official commentary on TEC’s constitution and canons: “Before their adherence to the Constitution united the Churches in the several states into a national body, each was completely independent.”  White & Dykman describe the national body they created as “a federation of equal and independent Churches in the several states.”

The point of including these authorities here is not to recapitulate the polity analysis but only to show that the views expressed by the accused bishops has long been the mainstream understanding of TEC polity. Significantly, witnesses on behalf of TEC are now testifying under oath in courts around the country that these propositions are false.

At no time since the Bishops’ Statement was published in 2009 has any Title IV complaint been made that holding or publishing these views is a canonical violation.

The ACI article next cites three concerns they have written extensively on, and which they continue to have, with regard to the new Title IV disciplinary canons—concerns about which, they painfully note, the present General Convention and its Standing Committee on the Constitution and Canons propose to do exactly nothing:

The revisions purport to give unconstitutional metropolitical authority to the Presiding Bishop, giving that office precisely the same authority over other bishops that diocesan bishops have over their clergy. Not only is there no constitutional basis for this unprecedented step, this approach is fundamentally incompatible with the ordination vows of the different orders of clergy: priests and deacons pledge obedience to their diocesan bishops, but bishops’ vows contain no such promise of obedience to any other office or body. The new Title IV thus subverts both the Constitution and the Ordinal in the Book of Common Prayer and re-defines the episcopal office.

The revisions infringe on the exclusive constitutional authority given to dioceses for the trial of priests and deacons. Few things are as clear in TEC’s history as the fact that the Constitution allocates to the dioceses the authority for disciplining diocesan clergy. That clarity derives in no small measure from the fact that almost from its inception, TEC has had a vocal contingent of canonical experts who disagreed with this constitutional allocation of authority and who made sustained efforts to change it. All of these efforts were unsuccessful, and their repeated failure only serves to underscore that the constitutional authority for clergy discipline very intentionally rests with the dioceses. (To those readers skeptical of this conclusion: please read the article linked below, “Title IV and the Constitution”; the conclusion is irrefutable.)

The revisions deny accused clergy due process protections widely seen as essential to fair trials. The definitions of offenses, the procedures for initiating and conducting proceedings and the standards for interim disciplinary measures are vague and overbroad and have already led to numerous and frivolous proceedings, inexplicable inconsistencies and arbitrary applications of discipline. Unlike professional disciplinary matters in other professions in which egregious lapses in due process can be remedied by judicial review, church discipline cases will not be reviewed by the courts due to First Amendment constraints. The only due process accused clergy will get is that specified in the church disciplinary code.

Clergy in ECUSA should take note particularly of one proposal before General Convention (by canon lawyer Michael Rehill, linked at the end of the ACI article) which would reinsert the Constitutional privilege against self-incrimination into the disciplinary canons—a provision which the 2009 amendments to Title IV deleted. That deletion is expressly worrying because of this provision, which was also in the 2009 amendments as Canon IV.19.1 (emphasis added):

Members of the Clergy have voluntarily sought and accepted positions in the Church and have thereby given their consent to subject themselves to the Discipline of the Church. They may not claim in proceedings under this Title constitutional guarantees otherwise associated with secular court proceedings.

As the ACI article notes, the extraordinary over-reach of the new Title IV canons, in all the particulars which it details (and see also the links at the end), is particularly worrisome in light of (a) the charges filed against the TEC-9 under their provisions, (b) the recent proposal by the Fort Worth deputation to subject all new bishop candidates for confirmation to an examination for their conformity with the views being advanced by ECUSA’s attorneys in the civil courts, and (c) the timing of the charges now, on the eve of General Convention and more than a year after the affidavits in Quincy were signed, but just months after the Bishops filed their amicus brief in the Texas Supreme Court. All these indications point to disgruntled representatives of the faux diocese in the Fort Worth litigation as having instigated these baseless Title IV charges. The ACI is not shy in drawing that conclusion, just as I did in my earlier post, and as Bishop Dan Martins has surmised, in his own post on this debacle.

One other indicator, which I just noticed as I was writing this article, is another sure signpost to the kind of forces behind this Putsch: the Episcopal blogs on the left have been remarkably silent in covering the ramifications at stake, and instead voice only a “wait and see what comes out of this” attitude. There is at best a weak defense of the clergy’s First Amendment rights of free speech, which takes back seat to the (assumed) powers of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops. It is the same phenomenon one can observe on the national scene, in the mainstream media’s studious silence in the face of all the evidence accumulating in the affair I referred to in my title. The left does not want to deal with the evidence there, any more than it does here. In contrast, we at StandFirm have now devoted no less than five substantial articles to covering this donnybrook.

The ACI article concludes strongly, as follows:

It cannot be coincidence that on the same day—the last Friday before General Convention meets—notice was served about the Quincy complaint, notice was served about the Fort Worth complaint and the Fort Worth General Convention deputation circulated a letter to other deputies asking that bishops-elect be interrogated as to their interpretation of TEC polity before consents are given. The conclusion is inescapable that abuse of the Title IV process is being coordinated with the anomaly of General Convention consents to promote a rigid uniformity of opinion on controversial issues of polity. Those who adhere to the views expressed in one Texas amicus brief are to be welcomed; those who share the views of the other amicus brief are to be blacklisted. We appear to have reached the point where Messrs. White, Dykman, Dawley and Stevick—if they were alive today—would be banished from the church were they to testify truthfully that they believed what they wrote—and the point where the abuse of canonical disciplinary processes is thought to be an acceptable tactic to obtain political and secular legal objectives. Our hope for TEC and those at this General Convention is that they will resist this creeping totalitarianism, dismiss these frivolous complaints, reconsider the ill-advised Title IV revisions and start to restore some health and dignity to our canonical processes.

Be sure to take the time, as Kendall Harmon says, to read the whole thing.


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21 comments

Here is my favorite paragraph in the entire ACI document

Again we note that no Title IV complaint was lodged against these bishops in 2009 when they published these opinions in the Bishops’ Statement. Nor can anyone contend that submitting an amicus brief is a canonical offense; other TEC bishops have submitted a different amicus brief to the Texas Supreme Court this year expressing different opinions. Have we come to the point that amicus briefs expressing approved opinions get a nihil obstat but others, no matter how ancient and venerable their pedigree, are met with canonical reprisal? If so, our point that TEC’s polity is being transformed through secular litigation is proved beyond doubt.


I did not know about other TEC bishops signing an amicus brief with the opposing view (i.e. TEC approved view). That is indeed quite interesting. IF TEC were dealing evenhandedly with these bishops, ALL the bishops who signed amicus briefs with the court should have complaints of Title IV offenses against them. When will those complaints be lodged? Look forward to those complaints ;- )
Yes, indeed TEC polity has been transformed via secular litigation!!

[1] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 7-2-2012 at 09:27 AM · [top]

If this is not reason enough for the remaining faithful to leave TEC, I do not know what is.  It looks like the organization is about to implode.

David Katzakian
Anglican (and only)  Diocese of San Joaquin

[2] Posted by sactohye on 7-2-2012 at 09:53 AM · [top]

“...the abuse of canonical disciplinary processes is thought to be an acceptable tactic to obtain political and secular legal objectives” is the very definition of an authoritarian dictatorship. One hopes that this is not a correct description of things as they are in TEC.

[3] Posted by A Senior Priest on 7-2-2012 at 09:55 AM · [top]

Superb work, and this would seem to checkmate TEo.  We will see, however, if TEo is playing chess.  It’s just as likely that they are running a professional wrestling match, with all the fealty to rules and suspense of outcome that entails.

[4] Posted by Jeffersonian on 7-2-2012 at 09:57 AM · [top]

What a bunch of hypocrits!!!  On the one hand, they disdain and reject the Anglican Covenant because they disagree with it as it sets theological standards they do not want to adhere to; and now they seek to cast out 7 bishops who disagree with the approved view that the church is a dictatorship; or tyrranically heirarchial.

What more evidence do we need that TEC has fully transformed into a cult.!

[5] Posted by aacswfl1 on 7-2-2012 at 10:21 AM · [top]

Thank goodness the leadership of TEC is so tolerant of different views.  I appreciate their willingness to discuss and be open to views that they may not share internally.

(Beachfront property for sale in Arizona - email me if interested.  wink)

[6] Posted by B. Hunter on 7-2-2012 at 10:23 AM · [top]

RE: “If this is not reason enough for the remaining faithful to leave TEC, I do not know what is.”

HUH?

It’s like some of the leavers cannot grasp that “bad things happening” is fully and completely expected by those of us staying.

It’s not like we’re surprised or shocked that Another Bad Thing Has Happened.  Why do some of the Leavers insist on imagining that the Stayers just don’t grasp yet how bad things are like the Leavers did?  Our staying isn’t that we just aren’t smart enough to recognize that the organization is corrupt and bad and awful.

RE: “It looks like the organization is about to implode.”

Uh . . . yes.

That is the point.

That is what Stayers have been asserting is happening.

That is one point in staying. We *want* to be in the organization as it continues to implode.  We *want* to be here while The Bad Things Are Happening.

Good grief—it’s like some haven’t been reading for 8 long years and they just occasionally pop in make pronouncements and then go back to sleep.

[7] Posted by Sarah on 7-2-2012 at 10:24 AM · [top]

Note: I will continue to use TEC as a short cut, but for me it will mean The Episcopal Cult. 
As for the Ft. Worth delegation’s push for a litmus test how is this:  “only the weak and compliant need apply?  I am sure a directive of some sort can be issued by the presiding tyrant, even without canonical authority, under some sort of Executive Order power she will pretend she has, that mandates this requirement be set forth in all future diocesan calls for election of a bishop..  As for elections now awaiting confirmation: “all bishops shall be required to personally ascertain that the bishop-elect will be compliant before votiing to approve the election.”
Ok that should do it.  Who needs a convention?

[8] Posted by aacswfl1 on 7-2-2012 at 10:47 AM · [top]

B. Hunter, you get at the heart of the matter. The Episcopal Church has become a pseduo-ecclesiastical organization wherein it is possible to deny any article of faith, but where absolute fealty to a specific view of polity (earthly governance) is mandatory. It’s an amazing inversion, and as clear a demonstration that the Episcopal Church is no longer a Christian church in any meaningful sense. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t lots of faithful Christians and congregations, perhaps even dioceses, in the denomination, but any pretensions for the denomination as a whole to still be an authentic Church of Christ have been stripped away.

[9] Posted by David Fischler on 7-2-2012 at 11:03 AM · [top]

Never having been TEC, this particular story has amazed me.  I had wondered at the influence our own nation’s break from an authoritarian structure had in the formation of a church that, unlike most of the rest of the Anglican Communion, is led by a Presiding Bishop, not an Archbishop… And here it is:  “At the time that the American Revolution forced an independent organization upon the Anglican colonial parishes, the first dioceses existed separately from each other before they agreed to the union in 1789 into a national church…”

The whole approach reminds me of the legal defense of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  It is a penalty when it would be bad for it to be a tax, and it is a tax when it is bad for it to be a penalty.  The Supreme Court allows it to stand only because it’s a tax?  We’ll take their allowing it to stand, but they are wrong in calling it a tax.  [Too bad the Court can’t come back and strike the PPACA because it’s proponents now don’t consider it a tax]

In other words, let’s not be consistent, standing on guiding principles.  Let’s do what we want to do, and come up with some justification to support it.  Say we’re part of the Anglican Communion, try to get the Archbishop of Canterbury to endorse our heresies, refuse his and Lambeth’s responses as non binding, then decree that TEC has total control over all properties and bishops.  I can thumb my nose at the ABC, but by Ned don’t you thumb your nose at me!

Good leadership is when people WANT to follow you, because you’ve convinced them that the direction you are going in is good.  THAT is a whole lot easier when the direction you’re going in IS good.  Transparency, consistency, competency, true dialogue all are important.

Punishing these bishops may seem like a good idea, to protect the legal ability to claim properties, stifle opposition, or for whatever other reason.  It can’t help but to come, though, with severe long term costs.

[10] Posted by Father Wash-Ashore on 7-2-2012 at 11:24 AM · [top]

My Dear Sarah:

Just to set the record straight, I have not been asleep these past 8 years.  I have been closely following events all along.  I only pop in once in a while to comment.

I guess what perplexes me is why those, like you who do understand what is happening in TEC, choose to remain.  If your goal is to pick up the pieces after everything falls apart, that’s fine.  I just hope there is something left to rebuild and that you survive the wreck.  I certainly do not think those who choose to stay are not smart, I just do not understand their reasoning.  Perhaps you can enlighten us.

David Katzakian
Anglican (and only)  Diocese of San Joaquin

[11] Posted by sactohye on 7-2-2012 at 11:39 AM · [top]

David,

I’ll bet Noah got a lot of the same questions.  Why in the world would you .......

[12] Posted by Jackie on 7-2-2012 at 01:33 PM · [top]

#11, David, if you truly wish to listen and discuss why I am still in TEC, please feel free to call me 972.347.9700.  FWIW, to establish my cred, I have a San Joaquin pedigree.

[13] Posted by Michael+ on 7-2-2012 at 02:28 PM · [top]

RE: “I have been closely following events all along.”

Obviously not, since I’ve explained dozens of times over the past 8 years why I’m very happily staying in TEC.

One more explanation won’t “enlighten” you, since the previous ones haven’t.

Further, I’ve learned to be indifferent to the caws and hoots of some of those who left TEC who are not capable of understanding repeated explanations from the Stayers as to why they are staying.  It just serves to demonstrate further why the two groups don’t belong together anyway.

Just a reminder—the one we seem to always have to make every single time that Something Bad Happens In TEC—calls to leave TEC or “wondering aloud why people haven’t left TEC” are off-topic at StandFirm.  They are tedious and get us away from the subject at hand.

[14] Posted by Sarah on 7-2-2012 at 02:41 PM · [top]

Um, I think we are all actually on the same team, right? 

I attend Faith Church of Collin County in Plano, TX.  We left TEC several years ago - walked away from our buildings, after 3 years of prayer, because it was the right decision for our church at the time. 

However, there are those who are called to stay, and I respect their decision and believe they are following God’s will as much as we followed God’s will to leave.

[15] Posted by B. Hunter on 7-2-2012 at 04:25 PM · [top]

To Sarah and all those who remain in TEC:

After talking to Fr. Michael (#11), I understand that you are called to be where you are to fight the good fight.  I hope and pray you win.  I just do not like to see good people such as yourselves being persecuted.  As far as I am concerned, an attack on your Bishop (your shepherd) is an attack on all of you as well.

You have my admiration for staying in TEC, so fight the good fight and let us keep each other in prayer.

David Katzakian

[16] Posted by sactohye on 7-2-2012 at 05:18 PM · [top]

#16, sactohye, David, beat me to the post.  Props to David - unique props I might add - for calling and doing so in great humility.

[17] Posted by Michael+ on 7-2-2012 at 06:04 PM · [top]

#16 writes, “I just do not like to see good people such as yourselves being persecuted.”

Friend, that’s part of the Christian journey. Nobody likes it. Not even Jesus liked it. We all live it out in different ways, and the persecution affects us in different ways. Events in TEC of the last few years have changed my relationship with Holy Scripture, and with God. If it weren’t for this, I might still be one of those people who goes to church on Sunday only because my momma told me to.

God is severely testing modern Christianity, just as He has tested peoples, nations, and their leaders throughout history. The TEC leadership are failing the test spectacularly, but others are being transformed by it.

God will hold all accountable for their actions. Behind Door #1, the Outer Darkness. Behind Door #2, the Second Death; the lake that burns with fire and sulphur.

One of the operant scriptural passages these days is God’s call to Isaiah, in Isaiah chapter 6. I’ll bet that most TEC parishes stopped the reading after the 8th verse, and then blissfully sang “Here I Am, Lord” at the communion a few Sundays ago. But, keep reading. Suddenly, you stop singing “Here I Am, Lord.”

“How long, O Lord?” Maybe not much longer. It’s hard to tell. But, no matter how bad it gets, the holy seed always remains. God doesn’t go away, but He does transform and renew.

In the meantime, stock up on popcorn and beer and get ready to watch the shenanigans at General Convention! It’s gonna get worse.

Oh, here’s another one for General Convention. Revelation 2:19-21. (I’m not thinking of anyone in particular, of course.)

And, be careful out there. ACNA is not invulnerable against spiritual attack.

[18] Posted by Ralph on 7-2-2012 at 07:00 PM · [top]

Ralph, You have expressed many of my feelings and thoughts. I believe it is God’s will that I am where I am at this time. It is where I am supposed to be. I have grown a lot and have deepened my faith and certainly scripture speaks to me in much deeper ways than it previously has in my life.  I took part in a study of the Book of Daniel.  Talk about incredibly relevant to today’s world and church. WOW!  is all I can say.

Agreed, ACNA just like any other body of Christians can be under spiritual attack. Let’s not forget those who are under physical attack with Christians being killed and churches being bulldozed in some places. Whether spiritual or physical or both, we are indeed being attacked.

I agreed with those especially Lakeland Two who have said Prayer is what is needed. Spread that far and wide- a call to prayer for General Convention and all deputies- clergy and lay.

On a lighter side, agreed,  yes get the popcorn and nuts and beverage of your choice ready for GC because it is going to be a spectacle.  The fireworks from July 4th celebrations may just continue for several days longer as Gen Con starts on the 5th.

[19] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 7-2-2012 at 07:31 PM · [top]

It is very important that issues like this are publicised to the wider Anglican Communion.  There are naive Anglicans even in Global South provinces, and I shouldn’t need to tell anyone that there are many naive Anglicans in the western provinces - England, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia.

In particular, Anglicans in CofE must be warned about this sort of behaviour, as the liberal Beast is making a concerted effort there to get its nose further into the tent.

[20] Posted by MichaelA on 7-2-2012 at 07:37 PM · [top]

ACI just emailed out a new article “How to kill a Christian Church in four easy steps.”  Those are some irate scholars.  BTW, anyone can join their email list by going to the site directly.

[21] Posted by The Plantagenets on 7-2-2012 at 08:16 PM · [top]

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