+PB Tries To Inhibit +Duncan; Senior Bishops Refuse; Charge of Abandonment To Come Before HOB At The Meeting After Next

Holy Cow.

The Episcopal Church’s Title IV Review Committee has certified that Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan has abandoned the communion of the church.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori informed Duncan on January 15 of the certification and sent him a copy.

Her letter told Duncan that she sought the canonically required permission from the House’s three senior bishops with jurisdiction to inhibit him, based on the certification, from the performance of any episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts.

“On 11 January 2008 they informed me that such consents would not be given at this time by all three bishops,” Jefferts Schori wrote.

“Pursuant to the time limits stated in Canon IV.9, the matter will not come before the House of Bishops at its next scheduled meeting in March 2008, but will come before the House at the next meeting thereafter,” the Presiding Bishop wrote in her letter.

“I would, however, welcome a statement by you within the next two months providing evidence that you once more consider yourself fully subject to the doctrine, discipline and worship of this Church,” Jefferts Schori wrote in her letter to Duncan.

The three senior bishops with jurisdiction — Leo Frade of Southeast Florida, Peter Lee of Virginia, and Don Wimberly of Texas — did give their permission on January 11 for Jefferts Schori to inhibit Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield in another case where the Title IV Review Committee certified an abandonment of the communion of the church. The House will consider the case matter involving Schofield in March.

The time limit to which Jefferts Schori referred is a two-month period afforded to bishops subject to such a certification to retract their acts, demonstrate that the facts alleged in certification are false, or renounce their orders by way of Title IV, Canon 8, Sec. 2 or Title III, Canon 12, Sec. 7.

The Title IV Review Committee told Jefferts Schori on December 17 that a majority of its nine members agreed that Duncan had abandoned the communion of the church “by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline or Worship of this Church.”

The Review Committee’s certification from Upper South Carolina Bishop Dorsey Henderson, committee chair, said that the committee received submissions alleging Duncan’s abandonment of communion from “counsel representing individuals who are either clergy or communicants in the Diocese of Pittsburgh” and from the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor, David Beers, and his colleague, Mary E. Kostel. They asked the Review Committee for a determination.

20 Responses to “+PB Tries To Inhibit +Duncan; Senior Bishops Refuse; Charge of Abandonment To Come Before HOB At The Meeting After Next”


  1. 1 Peter Frank January 16, 2008 at 4:03 am

    We have posted a short response to this here:

    http://www.pgh.anglican.org/news/local/failedinhibition011508

  2. 2 Rick Arllen January 16, 2008 at 4:10 am

    Brad, with respect, the summary comment should be ‘bovine scatology’ and not ‘holy cow.’

  3. 3 Alice C. Linsley January 16, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Schori is intent on setting her own house of fire. The Global South Primates who watched her sign the Dar Communique and then heard her tell the world that she didn’t mean anything by that, are going to support Bishops like Duncan and Schofield because these men uphold the historic Faith and speak and act with integrity.

  4. 4 danny iselin January 16, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Every time I see Mrs. Jefferts Schori I get a flashback of somebody who said in a movie: “I’ll get you, my little pretty, and your little dog too! Hahahahaha!!!!” I’m 55; does anyone else see the resemblance???

  5. 5 danny iselin January 16, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    The irony of all this is Mrs. Jefferts Schori would never do this to the likes of a Bishop Pike or a John Spong. It’s the property, damage to national church prestige, and defiance to central authority (so assumed) that must be making her to her thing.

  6. 6 Christopher T. Cantrell+ January 16, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Brad,

    But isn’t the inhibition part of the due process? Canonically, can she move to depose if there has been no inhibition, even though there has been certification by the Review Committee? Sounds to me like she has hit a snag.

  7. 7 descant January 16, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    No. An inhibition is like a preliminary injunction pending a permanent one. Not having the preliminary one doesn’t stop the permanent.

  8. 8 Mad Potter January 17, 2008 at 2:24 am

    Brad,it’s good to have you back blogging! Alice, The Global South primates can support anyone they like….They can take them in…It won’t change a thing among leaders of the Global North / West. Since we are talking religion, I can say hell. What the hell did Mr Bob think was going to happen to him? What the hell do the other proto GS bishops that are leaving TEC think is going to happen? It is not an attractive picture.

    What amuses me is that we know that Mr Bob is going to abandon TEC. He has already started the process in P’burgh. And he still professes his loyalty to TEC! What bovine scatology.

  9. 9 Mad Potter January 17, 2008 at 2:30 am

    Mr Brad…just a tech note…Your clock is off…I did not post at 2:24 am…I have kids to get to school soon after that hour, MP

  10. 10 James W. January 17, 2008 at 2:50 am

    Brad: I would have to humbly disagree with your interpretation of Canon IV.9

    Take a gander at its specific language. It is quite clear on its terms that the failure of the three senior bishops to approve the inhibition terminates the procedure. The PB has no authority in Canon IV.9 now to present this to the full HOB. The specific language follows and picks up with the assumption that the three senior bishops have consented to the inhibition and are considering whether that inhibition should be lifted:

    …the Presiding Bishop, with the advice and consent of a majority of the three senior Bishops consenting to Inhibition, terminate the Inhibition. Otherwise, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops…

    (Emphasis added)
    There has been no inhibition, consequently there is no inhibition to lift. Consequently, the conditions precedent specified in Canon IV.9 do not exist for the PB to present the matter to the HOB.

    I understand that the inhibition functions like a temporary restraining order pending the eventual disposition of the case, but Canon IV.9 is a special case. It does not include a trial, and so there are 3 levels of due process hurdles to pass. KJS has failed to successfully navigate the second. I would argue that KJS’s only option now is to pursue a presentment and trial, or try to get Wimberly to reconsider.

    Let me put this another way – where specifically in Canon IV.9 do you find the PB’s authority to present the case for deposition to the HOB absent the approved inhibition?

  11. 11 James W. January 17, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Brad – put another way, let’s say Bishop X was certified for Abandonment of Communion and the 3 senior bishops agreed and Bishop X was inhibited. Then Bishop X made a good faith affirmation and the inhibition was lifted.

    Could the PB still ask the HOB to consider the case for deposition?

    Does not the lack of agreement to an inhibition by the 3 senior bishops amount to their statement that they do not agree that an abandonment of communion has taken place? And that is a necessary and critical check and balance in this otherwise very powerful Canon. Otherwise, what is the point of needing the unanimous consent of the 3 senior bishops?

  12. 12 James W. January 17, 2008 at 3:11 am

    Brad:

    I offer yet further support for my position.

    Section 2 of Canon IV.9 reads:

    Unless the inhibited Bishop, within two months, makes declaration by a Verified written statement to the Presiding Bishop, that the facts alleged in the certificate are false…the Bishop will be liable to Deposition.

    (emphasis added)

    In the case of Bob Duncan, we have no inhibited bishop, ergo we have no bishop liable to deposition.

  13. 13 pendennis88 January 17, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Does anybody have the White & Jackson treatise and know what, if anything, they say about IV.9?

  14. 14 descant January 17, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    That would be White & Dykman – I can get access to one. I agree that the Canon probably ought to be interpreted that no charge lies without the consent of the three senior bishops, but I don’t think that interpretation is going to convince the bishops that can’t depose Duncan. Now, what is interesting is that the September meeting of the House of Bishops wasn’t going to in fact happen because of Lambeth. We’ll see if KJS gets the meeting set.

  15. 15 James W. January 17, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Brad:

    What’s more, isn’t there a legal principle that ambiguous statutes must be strictly interpreted in the defendant’s favor? Well, whoever thought that 815 was especially concerned with due process. Perhaps for Islamic terrorists, but certainly not for (shudder) conservative Episcopalians.

    This is all somewhat academic anyway. Two reasons for that:

    1. If the PB attempts to depose Duncan, even if there is no canonical authority for her to do so, the HOB will not stand up to defend TEC’s precious polity. That is one of the big jokes in this whole situation. We have TEC using “canons and polity” to defend itself from the DES Communique when there is no canon at risk, then turns around and engages in a pretty serious and egregious abuse and misuse of the canons to accomplish a dirty deed, and you know that there will be not a peep of protest from the HOB.

    2. Time will tell over the next few months if the PB is set to go after Duncan in this way. If so, Duncan will simply call the Pittsburgh diocesan convention earlier and realign.

  16. 16 ted mcwhorter January 17, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Good choice of language JamesW. “a legal principle…”

    Serves to remind us that a legal principle is significant only to principled people. In the case at hand Mrs. Schori and the majority of the HOB fail that test. They will do whatever they wish in the persecution of the orthodox, principles be damned. Don’t call upon the Canon Law for help. It will be rewritten or just ignored as suits them.

    Pray this good bishop continues “wise as a serpent” when dealing with these folks.

  17. 17 pendennis88 January 17, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Descant – I was not on a first name basis with Jackson Dykman, my memory was just faulty. Anyway, I did a search and it looks like the episcopal archives has an older version free online – except that it crashes whenever I try to downoload the pdf. I also see that Church Publishing now has a paperback version for only $110. A big improvement over the $300-400 or so it costs hardback. The current goings on may make it a bestseller.

  18. 18 James W. January 17, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    I took a look at White & Dykman from 1979 (the online version). Very interesting.

    The first abandonment canon did not have any provision for the inhibition, but rather was accomplished by the HOB vote. The original addition of the inhibition part was clearly meant to solve the issue of what to do with the bishop in question pending the HOB vote. So that would support the KJS interpretation.

    But then I noticed significant differences in language in the canon from 1979 until today. The 1979 language is as follows:

    …The Presiding Bishop, with the consent of the three senior Bishops having jurisdiction in this Church, shall then suspend the said Bishop from the exercise of his Office and Ministry until such time as the House of Bishops shall investigate the matter.

    Sec. 2. The Presiding Bishop shall forthwith give notice to the said Bishop of such suspension, and that unless he shall, within six months, make declaration that the facts alleged in said certificate are false, and shall demand a trial, he will be liable to deposition from the Ministry. And if such declaration be not made within six months, as aforesaid, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to convene the House of Bishops to consider the case…

    But the current version says the following:

    The Presiding Bishop, with the consent of the three senior Bishops having jurisdiction in this Church, shall then inhibit the said Bishop until such time as the House of Bishops shall investigate the matter and act thereon….

    Sec. 2. The Presiding Bishop, or the presiding officer, shall forthwith give notice to the Bishop of the certification and Inhibition. Unless the inhibited Bishop, within two months, makes declaration by a Verified written statement to the Presiding Bishop, that the facts alleged in the certificate are false…the Bishop will be liable to Deposition. If the Presiding Bishop is reasonably satisfied that the statement constitutes (i) a good faith retraction of the declarations or acts relied upon in the certification to the Presiding Bishop or (ii) a good faith denial that the Bishop made the declarations or committed the acts relied upon in the certificate, the Presiding Bishop, with the advice and consent of a majority of the three senior Bishops consenting to Inhibition, terminate the Inhibition. Otherwise, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops…

    The 1979 language suggests strongly that the suspension (as it was then called) is something additional to the deposition process. But the current language really tightens up things – the inhibition now seems to be a prerequisite for further action.

    All in all, my research has shown that in a US secular court of law, I would win hands-down on the ambiguity. But in the court of TEC, where “due process” is something to be avoided and ambiguity is routinely abused, the PB and her minions will undoubtedly point to the legislative history and not the current text of the canon.

  19. 19 pendennis88 January 17, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    On a first read or so, I found different parts of W&D’s discussion to support various interpretations. Of course, I think it is obvious they never thought of how this would be applied today, let alone that a PB would press on after getting turned down by the 3.

  20. 20 Alice C. Linsley January 18, 2008 at 1:57 am

    Mad Potter, you refuse to accept the reality that TEC is in decay and there are some Bishops who wish not to live with the smell. This is more evidence that he Anglican Communion is broken. When something is broken, it is either swept up and tossed out. If it is something one treasures, there is an attempt to piece it together with glue. Some are sweeping and otehrs are trying to glue.

    John Richardson has an interesting take on the brokeness of the Communion. He wrote, “Believe it or not, they used to make cars in the UK without locking petrol caps. I know, I had one. A locking petrol cap was an ‘accessory’ that you had to buy in a store like Halfords. They became popular in the 1970s for one simple reason – people started stealing petrol from cars.

    What this snippet of social history shows, however, is of contemporary relevance for the Anglican Communion: if you are trying to come up with a new solution, you already have a new problem. Just as the advent of the locking petrol cap showed that social mores had changed in 1970s England, so the very existence of the Windsor process, and the accompanying search for an Anglican Covenant, shows that the Communion is not what it was. It is broken – the very fact that people are trying to mend it proves that this is the case.”

    From here: http://ugleyvicar.blogspot.com/2008/01/however-you-try-to-mend-it-anglican.html/


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