Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Subversion of the Church From Within

Thinking Anglicans points us to a lengthy report of the House of Bishops meeting from Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe.

The report offers much valuable background information and is quite helpful in putting our current situation in perspective. I want to highlight just two segments.

First of all, Bishop Whalon confirms something I mentioned yesterday:

...Further erosion of trust occurred when it was learned that the Archbishop of Uganda was in Los Angeles during our meeting to administer confirmation in three of the diocese’s congregations. The Bishop of Los Angeles asserted that he had written “twenty to thirty” letters to him, none of which had received the favor of a reply...
We are then given more information regarding Bp. Sauls' property disputes presentation:

...A report from bishops working on the matter of property disputes produced several documents from the Anglican Communion Network, an organization specifically set up to promote the replacement of The Episcopal Church, which works closely with those Primates who have taken it upon themselves to “fix” us. These outlined plans for the subversion of the Church from within. The last document reportedly had the phrase, “Wage guerilla warfare in The Episcopal Church,” allegedly in the hand of the Network’s Moderator, Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh...
That last document came to light in 2004 as a result of legal action taken by Calvary Episcopal Church against certain officials of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, including Bishop Duncan. I wrote about this in 2005, including highlighting the "guerilla warfare" comment. The link to the court documents in that post no longer works. Here is the new link, but unfortunately all the incriminating evidence regarding the Network has been removed, by court order.

Fortunately, they still exist on the web (thanks, Jim). Here are just some of the items included in the last document, dated 11/20/03, which Bp. Whalon mentions:

We ask that the Global South Primates...
...Tell Rowan that if he will not support the Network, they will separate from him.
Commit to accept Letters Dimissory from imperiled clergy...
Declare that in the present crisis,the issues of boundaries is suspended...
Demand that no bishop who joined in the consecration of Gene Robinson be permitted to serve on any committee or commission of the Anglican Communion...
Call for a moratorium on license suspensions and lawsuits.
Insist on an invitation to the Moderator whenever the ECUSA PB is invited...
We, as Bishops in North America...
We intend to cross the US/Canada boundaries.
We will no longer be at table with those who consecrated Gene Robinson.
We commit to the guerrilla warfare of the next year...
It is interesting to note that some of these points seem to have found their way into recent Primates' statements, not to mention the Windsor Report.

More revealing documents from the Calvary court case can be found here. Scroll down to the 11/18/04 entry. Here's some of the things you will find:

1. Meeting notes (presumed to be Bishop Duncan's meeting notes) with the handwritten title "mainstream mtg 11/20/03". This is clearly the London meeting of (what the AAC has called) "Mainstream Anglican leaders" at which the "Memorandum of Agreement" for the Network was drafted.
This is the document mentioned above.

2. An email and reply from Late November 2003 between Michael Woodruff, an attorney with AAC ties (he spoke at the October 2003 AAC conference - A Place to Stand: Declaring, Preparing - on the matter of property issues) and the Pittsburgh Chancellor Robert Devlin. They both advise Bishop Duncan regarding possible tactics for subverting the Dennis Canon and separating the properties from ECUSA. It appears that this proposal never got anywhere. They probably didn't pursue it when Rowan Williams didn't recognize the Network.

3. A December 2003 email and reply between Bishop Duncan and Hugo Blankingship, legal Council to the AAC, regarding a trip to England during which he met with John Rees, Legal Advisor to the Anglican Consultative Counsel and the Lambeth Commission. Blankingship is dissappointed that Rees "simply won't listen to anything but our staying in ECUSA."
In case you missed it, John Rees was the legal consultant assigned to the Eames Commission, the body which drafted the Windsor Report. The plan was to have the recognition of a separate province included as one of the recommendations in the WR. Since it looked like that wasn't going to happen (it didn't), plan B was to make sure "that changes if pressure within the Communion builds up."

4. A March 2004 email from Father Jim McCaslin, Dean of the Southeastern Convocation of the NACDP to all the Network leaders. Fr. McCaslin is upset that Don Armstrong, Executive Director of the Anglican Communion Institute, wants to maintain "the broadest appeal" for the Network, and is afraid that appeal "waters down our direction and commitment to the point that our ultimate purpose is compromised..." As an example of this compromise, McCaslin cites that "Don mentions 'exit' and 'parallel church' strategies negatively and a 'staying' strategy positively."
Yes, this is the same Don Armstrong who just left for CANA under a cloud of suspicion regarding other matters. Note that he is depicted here as "Network-lite".

5. An email from Diane Knippers, IRD president, from March 2004, urging the network to engage in Ecumentical Relations and "take on the various functions of a Church."
There is another quote from Ms. Knippers worth noting; "I'm still on the SCER (Standing Committee on Ecumenical Relations) - but not because I could honestly represent the Episcopal Church in ecumenical dialogue...I'll resign when I need to, but I would like to hang in there as an obstinate and contrary voice a bit longer."

6. A draft proposal from Canon Alison Barfoot of Overland Park, KS to the NACDP and the Prmates and Bishops of Ekklesia, dated March 3, 2004.
This is where the foreign bishops come in. It's all spelled out in black and white.

Our bishops now have all this information in their hands. From what I understand, a solid majority of them are committed to thwarting this attempted coup.

For further reading on the history of the Network, I recommend Part 2 of Jim Naughton's Following the Money and our recent discussion of the Chapman Memo.

J.

UPDATE: For those interested in previous subversive actions, dating back to at least 1989, these articles may be of interest:

Bishop Wantland's Attempted Coup d'Etat

Bishop Wantland's Response

Some of the same players and rhetoric show up, although the "issue" is different (women's ordination). The Episcopal Synod, co-founded by Bp. Wantland in 1989, is now known as Forward in Faith. FiFNA is listed as one of the Network's Common Cause Partners.

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