The Episcopal Church becomes a Dictatorship

KJS has moved to depose Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, and in doing so has swept aside the Canons of the Church:

Here’s what KJS has decided that the rules mean:

At this meeting there may be raised the question whether, under Canon IV.9, the House may proceed to grant or withhold its consent to Bishop Duncan’s deposition on the ground that the three senior bishops have not consented to his inhibition. It is the position of my Chancellor, after reviewing the apparent intent of the canon and consulting several other chancellors and former chancellors, as well as the opinion of the Parliamentarian of the House, that the General Convention in enacting this canon did not intend to give the three senior bishops a "veto" over the House’s right to determine whether or not a bishop who has been certified by the Review Committee as having abandoned the Communion of this Church should be deposed. Rather, that decision was intended to be made by the House.

and here are the rules themselves:

Sec. 1. If a Bishop abandons the communion of this Church

(i) by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship of this Church, or

(ii) by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with the same, or

(iii) by exercising episcopal acts in and for a religious body (other than this Church or another Church in communion with this Church),

so as to extend to such body Holy Orders as this Church holds them, or

to administer on behalf of such religious body Confirmation without the express consent and commission of the proper authority in this Church;

it shall be the duty of the Review Committee, by a majority vote of All the Members, to certify the fact to the Presiding Bishop and with the certificate to send a statement of the acts or declarations which show such abandonment, which certificate and statement shall be recorded by the Presiding Bishop.

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.

KJS says "I can do it myself", the Canons say "only with the consent of the three senior Bishops".

Anglican Curmudgeon has this comment:

Notice that there is not the slightest ambiguity in how the Canon is laid out: Section 1 deals with what happens from the time that an "abandonment" is certified to the Presiding Bishop through the period of inhibition, until the matter is taken up by the House. Section 2 deals with the disciplining of the inhibited bishop by the House of Bishops. It makes this crystal clear when it begins with the language: "Unless the inhibited Bishop . . ."

Thus there can be no deposition of a bishop who has not been first inhibited.

It is a gross and fallacious misreading of the Canon to opine that "General Convention . . . did not intend to give the three senior bishops a ‘veto’ over the House’s right to determine whether or not a bishop who has been certified by the Review Committee as having abandoned the Communion of this Church should be deposed." The giveaway to the speciousness of this logic is the fact that the Chief Kaitiff places the word "veto" in quotation marks, and thereby gives the lie to the fact that what the three senior bishops exercise is not in fact a veto, but only a check on what otherwise would be the unbridled power of the Presiding Bishop to bring before the House resolutions of deposition without a trial. There is no "veto", because the Title IV Review Committee or the Presiding Bishop may, if they choose, bring a presentment against the offending bishop—but then, of course, there would have to be a trial.

I would love to see *any* revisionist attempt to defend KJS now.

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2 Comments on “The Episcopal Church becomes a Dictatorship

  1. Are there not 3 bishops with backbone enough to file charges against +Kate?  Getting a conviction would be impossible, since they would find that she indeed broke church law, but that she did so for a good reason.  Still, it might slow some things down, and force a few to open their eyes.

  2. Your reading of the canons you cite is incorrect.  They clearly indicate that the PB cannot inhibit a bishop under the charge of abandonment without the consent of the three senior bishops.  However, the PB has abided by the decision of the senior bishops and has not inhibited Bishop Duncan. 

    The debated point is whether or not the question of deposition can be brought before the HoB without inhibition being declared.  On that point the canons are silent.  They do not say that in the event that the senior bishops decline to consent to inhibition charges cannot proceed under this canon.  Section 2 (which you do not cite even though it is the stongest point in favor of your position) assumes that the senior bishops will agree to inhibition, which gives weight to the claim that Bishop Duncan cannot be deposed without being inhibited first, but it isn’t an open and shut case of a violation of the canons by the PB.  It is also worthwhile to note that IV.9.1 suggests that the HoB is expected to investigate the charges for itself regardless (perhaps) of whether the bishop is inhibited.  As you quoted “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.“  So the PB may in fact be following the canons more accurately than those who defend Bishop Duncan from the possible consequences of his rather blatant attempts to remove himself and his diocese from the discipline of TEC.

    Jon

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