March 26, 2017

July 3, 2012

Central Florida Responds to TEC Charges

First the statement from the Bishop and Standing Committee:

It is both disheartening and baffling that a few days before the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Clayton Matthews acting in his capacity as Intake Officer, informed seven bishops of The Episcopal Church that a complaint has been filed against them regarding their endorsing a friend of the court brief in litigation involving The Texas Supreme Court, The Episcopal Church, and the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.  At issue is not a matter of doctrine but a disputed matter of law on which people in The Episcopal Church clearly disagree. Why does signing such a brief warrant a complaint that Bishop Matthews takes seriously enough to send such a letter? Is this an attack against free speech? Are we not free to state our opinions in a court of law without retaliation by our church?  Is this an intentional act of intimidation? Or given how close this is to General Convention, is this a diversionary tactic to throw the spotlight away from weightier matters facing our Convention? Until the content of the complaint comes to light we do not know.  However, I want to assure these bishops of my prayers; and I join with the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Central Florida in offering our support, prayers, and friendship. 

+ Greg Brewer

The Right Reverend Gregory O. Brewer
Diocese of Central Florida

And this from Retired Bishop Howe, against whom the charges were filed:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

There has been much discussion on this list (and elsewhere) over the past few days regarding a complaint leveled against seven bishops (myself included) who filed an Amicus Curiae (“Friend of the Court”) Brief back in April in the Texas Supreme Court related to the dispute between Bishop Jack Iker, the departing “Diocese of Fort Worth,” and The Episcopal Church.

(First, thanks to all who have expressed sympathy and concern both on the list and in posts to me personally.  Please allow me to respond to everyone in these general remarks.)

The seven bishops (Benitez, Howe, Lambert, Love, MacPherson, Martins, and Stanton) signed onto a brief that was written by three theologians of the Anglican Communion Institute (Professors Ephraim Radner, Chris Seitz, and Philip Turner) that objected to, and attempted to correct, the way in which the court in Texas interpreted the structure of The Episcopal Church.

The question is: is The Episcopal Church “hierarchical” beyond the level of the diocese?  Our brief largely followed the argument the Anglican Communion Institute spelled out in great detail back in 2009, which in turn stemmed from an understanding of the structure of the Anglican Communion expressed in a letter the Archbishop of Canterbury sent to me, personally; and the brief itself can be found on the ACI web site.

In our opening “Statement of Interest” we stipulated that: “All of these bishops and all of the officers and directors of ACI remain in The Episcopal Church, and have submitted this brief solely because they disagree with the characterization of the governance of The Episcopal Church as submitted in support of the motion for summary judgment that the trial court granted in this case.”

We went on to say, “As is well known, these bishops and ACI oppose the decision by the Diocese of Fort Worth to leave The Episcopal Church.  They have no intention of withdrawing from the Church, but it is precisely because they intend to remain in the Church that they are concerned that the trial court ruling has misunderstood, and thereby damaged, the constitutional structure of The Episcopal Church.”

I am at a complete loss to know how the filing of this brief could constitute an offense for which any of us could be charged!

At this point, formal “charges” have not been filed.  A “complaint” has been submitted, but we have not been told who filed it.

My understanding is that Bishop Matthews (Director of the Office for Pastoral Development, and “Intake Officer” regarding this matter) could dismiss the complaint on his own reconnaissance - unless the Presiding Bishop were to direct otherwise.  He has said that “in the next few weeks” he will “initiate a disciplinary process according to title IV Canon 6 Sec. 3 & 4 of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.”

I have just written him to express surprise that he foresees “‘a disciplinary process’ for the filing of an Amicus Curiae Brief…the purpose of which was simply to inform the court that (in our opinion) it misconstrued the structure of The Episcopal Church according to the Constitution and Canons.”

I asked, “In what way can such a filing be considered an offense that warrants ‘a disciplinary process’?”

I concluded by saying, “I look forward to hearing more fully from you.”

When I do I will keep all of you informed.  You are free to further distribute this post if you do so in its entirety.

Warmest regards in our Lord,

Bishop John W. Howe

Backstory on the charges can be found here, along with responses from Bishops Love and Martins.

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IF the new Title IV process was abused, by announcing the “complaint” before an actual decision to take action, would it be possible for some of us to make a complaint against, at the very least, Bishop Matthews?

[1] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 7-3-2012 at 11:42 AM · [top]

At least Bp. Howe didn’t snivel around and say he signed on reluctantly and reservedly like Bp. Martins.  What’s wrong Bp. Martins?  You afraid she’s gonna take that nifty purple shirt?

BigTex AC

[2] Posted by BigTex AC on 7-3-2012 at 02:36 PM · [top]

BTAC-Cheap and uncalled for!  He signed the brief.  If he didn’t take seriously the cost of such action, that would be foolish.

[3] Posted by frreed on 7-3-2012 at 03:54 PM · [top]

The confusion surrounding this action is instantly understood if one pictures the PB as Saddam Hussein and the various and sundry lackeys scurrying around her as so many Udays and Qusays.

[4] Posted by Jeffersonian on 7-3-2012 at 04:17 PM · [top]

#2- It is unfair to characterize Bishop Martins as you do.  Note what he actually says, and WHY he is reserved and reluctant.

I certainly signed on reluctantly and reservedly. As a matter of general principle, I am opposed to litigating church disputes in secular courts. Lots of scripture passages are challenging to interpret, but I don’t think I Corinthians 10 is one of them. “Why not rather be defrauded?”, St Paul says. Moreover, I realize how my action could be construed as one bishop interfering in the affairs of a fellow bishop’s diocese, which is a big No-No. So I had to make a judgment call, and my judgment, after reflection and prayer, was that I had to join the intervention, because to allow such a false read of TEC polity to potentially help form legal precedent constitutes a danger that could bring harm to the church for decades to come, and resisting this outcome trumps my other concerns.

You know what?  I am reluctant whenever I think I may be violating a Biblical injunction, so think that prudence and caution are called for as well.

[5] Posted by tjmcmahon on 7-3-2012 at 05:14 PM · [top]


I read his entire explanation and would note that filing(or signing on to) an amicus brief is not joining the litigatoin or using his words(joining the intervention).  It seems he is more worried about(again, using his words) how his actions “could be construed as one bishop interfering in the affairs of a fellow bishop’s diocese, which is a big No-No.”

Be of good cheer, Bishop, and play the man.

BigTex AC

[6] Posted by BigTex AC on 7-5-2012 at 01:54 PM · [top]

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