Friday, March 30, 2007

For Those Who Missed It: The Chapman Memo

It appears that some of our bishops have been oblivious to what the Network folks have been up to for the last few years. We have heard of at least one bishop hunting around for something called "the Chapman Memo" after hearing Bp. Sauls' report on property disputes (mentioned here).

For future reference, the text of the Chapman Memo can be found here. Note that it is dated December 28, 2003. The Washington Post summary of the content can be found here.

But probably the best summary of this document, and of the responses from various Network leaders when it was leaked to the Post, was offered in a Via Media press release issued January 2004:

...Chapman advises a two-phased strategy by which parishes would request oversight from an AAC-approved bishop, join the NACDP and then seek to transfer their property and financial support to the diocese of the AAC-supplied Bishop. The letter also outlines a plan for clusters of parishes to leave the ECUSA and "realign" with the Network. Chapman confidently asserts that by the end of 2004, the heads (primates) of other regional churches in the Anglican Communion will recognize the NACDP as the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and negotiate property settlements between ECUSA and the Network parishes. If the primates fail to negotiate such settlements, then "disobedience of canon law on a widespread basis may be necessary."

Since the Post broke the news of the strategy, Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, AAC Vice President, Chairman of the Network of Anglican Bishops, and the appointed Moderator of the NACDP; the Rev. David Anderson, President of the AAC; the Rev. Kendall Harmon, Diocese of South Carolina Canon Theologian; and the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner of the Anglican Institute, a conservative church think-tank in Colorado, all have claimed that there was "nothing new" in the letter, and reiterated that they are working within the ECUSA to effect the changes they desire. Early reactions portrayed the letter as just about episcopal oversight. But the reading public could see that the letter covered much more. The most recent "explanation," offered in a letter to AAC members by Anderson, tries to shift responsibility and blame to everyone but the AAC. It is notable, however, that none of those associated with the AAC or the organizers of the new Network (except for Bishop John W. Howe of Central Florida) have disassociated themselves from any of the plans laid out in the letter.

The letter speaks for itself. Property, not piety is keeping dissident parishes in the Episcopal Church. In the longer term, the AAC expects to use foreign intervention to trump American law and the Episcopal Church Constitution and Canons. Its leaders are assuring dissident parishes that the Anglican primates, a consultative body with no governing authority or standing in the United States, will ride to the rescue of Network parishes, negotiate property settlements and transfer the assets of 2.3-million-member church to a group representing perhaps a tenth of that body. The Chapman letter reveals the AAC's "realignment" for what it really is -- the overthrow of the Episcopal Church by extra-legal means...
This is old news, and it's a little late in the game, but better late than never.

A handful of folks, primarily bishops, priests, and attorneys, are trying to orchestrate a takeover of the Episcopal Church; building this "parallel universe" on the backs of our gay and lesbian members. So it was in 2003. So it is today. Inform those who need to know.

One final note; I learned today that Henry Luke Orombi, Archbishop of Uganda, was in three parishes in the Diocese of Los Angeles for confirmations on March 18. Bp. Bruno of Los Angeles was attending the House of Bishops Meeting at the time. Was there a letter or even a courtesy call from the Archbishop before entering another's diocese? Of course not.

J.

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