Wednesday, October 01, 2008

TEC cheatsheet on Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh

Did you know that our very own Bishop Mathes here in San Diego is on this task force, the House of Bishops Task Force on Property Disputes (as he continues to sue several churches here who are unable to continue in heresy)?

And remind me again why a task force on property disputes is commenting on an issue of "abandonment of communion"??? Huumm???

So when they try to tell you the action against Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh has nothing to do with holding on to the property or keeping the money, just remind them that their own Task Force on Property Disputes is issuing info on Bishop Duncan's deposition - not exactly in their purview.

Questions and Answers about matters involving the Bishop of Pittsburgh

Meeting of the House of Bishops, September 2008

Q: Why is the House of Bishops contemplating action against Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh?

A: At its meeting Sept. 17-19, the House of Bishop will be considering the report from its Title IV Review Committee, which certified in December 2007 that Bishop Robert Duncan had "abandoned the communion of this church," primarily because he has been involved with actions and decisions to remove the Diocese of Pittsburgh from The Episcopal Church and affiliate it with the Province of the Southern Cone. Under the provisions of Canon IV.9, this certification goes to the House of Bishops for it to consider whether or not to depose Bishop Duncan.

The House of Bishops' Task Force on Property Disputes, through its work to protect property assets within The Episcopal Church, also has concluded that Bishop Duncan openly renounced the discipline of The Episcopal Church, which constitutes abandonment of the communion of this church and requires his removal from ordained ministry, or deposition.

Q: What does "abandonment of communion" mean?

A: The Canons of The Episcopal Church define abandonment as "...an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship of this Church ..." (Title IV, Canon 10, Sec. 1)

Q: What kind of things has Bishop Duncan done to constitute this "open renunciation"?

A: Bishop Duncan has actively worked to remove the Diocese of Pittsburgh from the authority of The Episcopal Church. (see House of Bishop’s Property Task Force Memo. "Evidence of Abandonment by Bishop Duncan") He has supported and encouraged the diocesan convention to change its constitution to accomplish this. He also has sought out affiliation with the Province of the Southern Cone, located in South America. All these actions point to his open and conscious renunciation of the authority of The Episcopal Church for him personally and, he hopes, for the entire diocese under his care.

Furthermore, he has used assets of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to accomplish this goal, and he has stated that he does not now, nor will he, have any obligation to protect the assets of the Diocese of Pittsburgh for the use of The Episcopal Church.

Q: What has caused this rift between The Episcopal Church and Bishop Duncan?

A: This case is about Bishop Duncan's actions, not about his beliefs. For years Bishop Duncan has been a leading spokesman for conservative theological positions. But there are a wide range of theological convictions within The Episcopal Church, and there is room for all those within the church. The issue here is that he has renounced the authority of The Episcopal Church over him and seeks to have his diocese adopt the same policy through a vote of its convention.

Q: The final vote by the Pittsburgh Diocesan Convention to split from The Episcopal Church doesn't take place until October 4. Why not wait until after then?

A: While the House fervently hopes that the Pittsburgh convention may yet decide not to vote to sever ties with The Episcopal Church, action involving Bishop Duncan is not tied to a vote on that date. Any action by voters in the Diocese of Pittsburg does not lessen the culpability of Bishop Duncan, since he is encouraging his diocese's departure from The Episcopal Church and is actively working to that effect. Whether or not delegates to the Pittsburgh convention vote to follow Bishop Duncan's abandonment of The Episcopal Church is one thing. That Bishop Duncan already has abandoned The Episcopal Church through an open renunciation and repudiation of its discipline is another, and already is well established.

Also, should the House wait until after October 4 to consider action against Bishop Duncan, the matter normally would not come up again until the spring meeting of the House in March, 2009. People in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, both supporters and opponents of Bishop Duncan's theology, have said that waiting until then to finalize the matter would leave the diocese in far too long a period of limbo to be sustainable. Acting before October 4 also would have significantly positive effects in protecting the assets of the Diocese of Pittsburgh for use by Episcopalians.

Additionally, because the Title IV Review Committee has certified that Bishop Duncan has abandoned the communion of this church, the canons call for consideration of such matters at the next meeting of the House after such a certification.

Q: Is this action just about trying to keep property in The Episcopal Church?

A: This matter, at its root, is about maintaining accountability for one's actions as a bishop within The Episcopal Church. However, there are a complex set of pastoral imperatives involved as well. As Bishop of Pittsburgh, Bishop Duncan controls millions of dollars in assets within the diocese. In a hierarchical institution like The Episcopal Church, canon law vests ultimate ownership of parish property with dioceses, and diocesan property with the wider Episcopal Church. Property is owned not for the benefit of individuals but of the church as a whole.

We are sacramental people who believe in the importance of "outward and visible signs." What happens to the sacred spaces in Pittsburgh matters a great deal to the many faithful members there who want to remain in The Episcopal Church and who have worked hard and given sacrificially to support these facilities. It is the obligation of The Episcopal Church to make certain that property intended for use by Episcopalians is available to future generations of Episcopalians for worship and for mission.

The House of Bishops Task Force on Property Disputes
The Right Reverend Stacy Sauls, Bishop of Lexington, Chair
The Right Reverend Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles
The Right Reverend Mark Hollingsworth, Bishop of Ohio
The Right Reverend John Howard, Bishop of Florida
The Right Reverend William Persell, retired Bishop of Chicago
The Right Reverend Dean Wolfe, Bishop of Kansas
The Right Reverend Mark Andrus, Bishop of California
The Right Reverend Philip Duncan, Bishop of Central Gulf Coast
The Right Reverend James Mathes, Bishop of San Diego

Read it all, and head over to Stand Firm to get a good break-down of the erroneous points in this Q&A.
H/t to Stand Firm.

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