Bishopsgate Plot Thickens: Complaint Timed to Intimidate Witness
Earlier today, Greg posted a copy of a message sent out by the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe of Central Florida about the complaint made to the Disciplinary Board for Bishops against him for signing his name to an amicus brief filed with the Texas Supreme Court in the Fort Worth litigation. The brief, written by the Anglican Communion Institute, took issue with the ahistorical and very questionable position being advanced by ECUSA in the Texas courts that it is in a hierarchical relationship with its own member dioceses.
It is as if the United Nations—to take a parallel example of a conglomeration of individual members—were to claim that it could order its members what to do, or could prevent them from withdrawing any time they so choose. Bishop Howe and six other Bishops in ECUSA, along with the ACI scholars, merely pointed out the obvious flaws in that argument.
Bishop Howe writes, in part:
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….
Well, Bishop Howe—and any others who may be wondering about both the timing and the substance of these complaints—let me shed some further light on the matter for you.
It turns out that in the Diocese of Quincy litigation, each side was scheduled to file last Friday, June 29, a list of the witnesses, both lay and expert, whom they plan to call to the stand at the trial scheduled for next April.
What a curious coincidence, then, that on the day before the Anglican Diocese of Quincy had to file its statement (i.e., on June 28), one of the Bishops which they planned to list as an expert witness received an email from the Intake Officer, the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews, that a complaint had been lodged against the Bishop for providing testimony earlier in that same case.
To drive the point home, the Intake Officer did not say in his email anything like “Of course, I find the acts alleged could never constitute an offense under the Canons, and will be recommending dismissal of the complaint.” No, instead, what he said was just the opposite: “In the next few weeks, I will institute disciplinary proceedings [under the new Title IV] ...”
The timing of the complaint, and the instant notification by email to the concerned Bishop, while hinting at several weeks delay in actually looking at the sufficiency of the charges, could not be a coincidence.
It has to have been a calculated effort to intimidate—not just this particular Bishop, but any of the nine Bishops who might be thinking of offering testimony on behalf of the Diocese of Quincy.
And now, your Curmudgeon comes to the most disturbing question: Who knew??
Who knew about the court’s deadline for naming witnesses in Quincy, but at the same time knew about the filings in Fort Worth—and also knew about how disciplinary proceedings against Bishops worked under the new Title IV?
As a reader has reminded me, there are candidates in two categories: (1) bishops involved in the litigation; and (2) attorneys involved in the litigation.
As for bishops, both the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Jr., the Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth and the Rt. Rev. John C. Buchanan, the Provisional Bishop of Quincy, are involved on the ECUSA side. And of those two, Bishop Buchanan would have read the Quincy affidavits, and would also have known about each side’s deadline to designate witnesses. Moreover, Bishop Buchanan is the bishop whom the Presiding Bishop has designated to sign and verify pleadings on behalf of the Episcopal Church (USA). He also serves at her pleasure as the Parliamentarian of the House of Bishops.
As for attorneys, there is only one law firm which is involved in both cases. And there is one attorney in that law firm who also happens to be the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor. His name is David Booth Beers.
There is also only one attorney on the Presiding Bishop’s own staff who also could have known about all three items, and she used to work under Mr. Beers. Since then, she was hired by the Presiding Bishop as her “Special Assistant for Property Litigation”—i.e., for the Quincy case, among others. Her name is Mary E. Kostel.
So we have one Bishop and two attorneys who happened to be in the unique position of having the big picture in front of them: the Bishops who had submitted testimony in Quincy, the Bishops who had signed the amicus brief offering similar arguments in Texas, and the need for Quincy to commit itself to the expert Episcopal witnesses it would be calling at trial.
When it comes to Church property litigation, Bishop Buchanan and those attorneys both work directly for the Presiding Bishop, the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori.
Who just happens to be the “Diocesan Bishop” with authority to agree to dismiss the complaints filed against the Bishops.
Enough said. This whole affair reeks to high heaven.
Post scriptum: The intimidation did not work. The Bishop told the Quincy attorneys to keep his name on the list, and he will testify in April. And by the way—for those who are as outraged about these tactics as I am, you should know that the little Diocese of Quincy, whose savings and bank funds the Episcopal Church bullies managed to have frozen at the outset of the litigation, could use some financial help as it faces the trial against those same bullies in April. Send your donations, marked “Quincy” on the memo line, but made out to the “American Anglican Council”, at 2296 Henderson Mill Road, NE, Suite 406, Atlanta, GA 30345-2739.
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