Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Network's "Pledge of Allegiance" to the Global South

An entry by Jim Naughton from last month regarding the court case of Calvary Church vs the Diocese of Pittsburgh has gotten my attention. To explain the issue, allow me to quote extensively from Jim's article:

Last October, Calvary Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Pittsburgh, led by Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, reached a settlement in a lawsuit in which the parish charged, in essence, that the diocese was unlawfully attempting to appropiate the property of the Episcopal Church.

The settlement upheld "current church law that parish and diocesan property belong to the denomination," wrote Steve Levin of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Calvary believes that recent activities by the diocese, including its decision to withdraw from Province III of the Episcopal Church, its withholding of money from the Episcopal Church, and its request for Alternative Primatial Oversight, violate the settlement agreement, and so, on Tuesday, the parish filed a petition "asking the Court of Common Pleas [to] enforce what we believe to be the correct reading of the Stipulation and Order entered October 14, 2005."

Calvary has requested an expedited discovery process to allow it to receive "equitable relief in advance of an international meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion scheduled for February 14-17, 2007 in Tanzania. On information and belief ... [that] Bishop Duncan and Primates of foreign countries are planning to use the occasion of the meeting... to promote Bishop Duncan's organiation and to implement actions directed at impairing the ability of Plaintiffs, TEC and TEC's constituents to maintain or recover their lawful interests in the Property."

Calvary is particularly interested in the November meeting in Falls Church, Va., attended by Duncan, various conservative Episcopal bishops and several African Primates. Citing Bishop John-David Schofield's presentation to his deaneries in the Diocese of San Joaquin, they argue that Duncan and others agreed at that meeting to "submit to the authority of certain foreign Primates"...
In regards to that meeting between Network members and some of the Global South Primates, here is what I included in my report of Bp. Schofield's Deanery Presentations:

...Regarding the recent meeting with the Steering Committee of the Global South Primates, Bp. Schofield offers us some new information. Abps. Gomez (West Indies), Venables (Southern Cone), Akinola (Nigeria), Chew (South East Asia), Nzimbi (Kenya) and Akrofi (West Africa) were present. Those representing the Network that were mentioned by name included Bps. Schofield, Salmon and Duncan and Bill Thompson of All Saints, Long Beach.

The Primates were asking for specific things of the Network;
1. Unity
2. A single spokesman (Bp. Duncan was selected)
3. Signatures on a document which will be submitted to the Primates (all present signed, although the contents of the document were not revealed)...
I have rechecked my sources, and stand by the above as being an accurate reporting of Bp. Schofield's comments.

In an ENS article, the Rev. Rick Matters, rector of St. John's, Lodi, CA, affirms that this is what he also heard Bp. Schofield report:

...Matters said that in pre-convention meetings Schofield told the diocese's deaneries that in November he signed a "pledge of allegiance" to six Anglican Communion bishops, including Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola and Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone (South America), who addressed the convention Eucharist by an internet downlink.

"He is now taking orders from them in terms of how to leave and separate from the Episcopal Church and how to realign," Matters said, adding that Schofield told the meetings that those bishops were setting the timetable for such a move and determining who would be involved...
It is this mysterious "pledge of allegiance" that Calvary Church is requesting from the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

In the Diocese of Pittsburgh's Answer (scroll down to document 6) to this request, we find the following statement:

...neither the Diocese nor Bishop Duncan has signed any document submitting themselves to the authority of the foreign Primates. Plaintiffs have mischaracterized the application for Alternative Primatial Oversight, which was intially submitted to the Archbishop of Canterbury...
The full text of the Request to the Global South Primates, dated November 6, 2006, has recently appeared on the Diocese of Pittsburgh's website, no doubt because of this court case making it public.

I have a couple of problems with Pittsburgh's Answer. First of all, this request for AlPO is clearly not the same one that was submitted to Canterbury, as it is addressed to the Global South Primates, and refers specifically to that relationship. Secondly, and of greater concern, is the denial of the existence of any "pledge of allegiance" to the Primates with whom they met in November.

Bishop Schofield claims everyone at the meeting signed a document that would be submitted to the Primates. Since the request for AlPO was specifically from Pittsburgh, it is doubtful that Bp. Schofield, or others from outside Pittsburgh would have signed it. So, if Bp. Schofield is correct, another document exists. Bp. Duncan is claiming to not have signed this second document.

Obviously, someone is not telling the truth.


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