Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Communion of "This Church"

This is probably about the fourth time I've had to make this point, but it is an important one, and it seems that some folks have very short memories.

From the Canons of the Episcopal Church, Title IV, Canon 9:

CANON 9: Of Abandonment of the Communion of This Church by a Bishop
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...
(emphasis added)
Regarding the phrase "this Church," I refer you to the opening sentence of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church:

The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, otherwise known as The Episcopal Church (which name is hereby recognized as also designating the Church)...
All the references in the Constitution and the Canons to "the Church" or "this Church" (such as "the communion of this Church") is understood to be a reference to the Episcopal Church, not the Anglican Communion.

In case that point is not yet clear, let's turn to page 513 of the Book of Common Prayer, which gives us the vows taken when one is ordained as a Bishop in the Episcopal Church:

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I, N.N., chosen Bishop of the Church in N., solemnly declare that I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church.
(emphasis added)
So, what would be a good example of a Bishop abandoning "the communion of this Church by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship of this Church"? How about this quote from the Cowboy Bishop of Fort Worth?

"There are three Forward in Faith dioceses in the United States, and the three bishops of those dioceses have come to a common conclusion that we have no future in the Episcopal Church," Iker reported to the London meeting. "Our conventions in those three dioceses, Fort Worth, Quincy, and San Joaquin, will be taking constitutional action to separate officially from TEC. Because it is a constitutional change, it must be passed at two successive annual conventions."

On the recording, Iker continued: "…Our plan is not only to disassociate, then, from the Episcopal Church, but to officially, constitutionally re-affiliate with an existing orthodox province of the communion that does not ordain women to the priesthood. These conversations are very far along but cannot be announced until the province that is considering our appeal has made their final decision public."
I'd say there's enough in that one quote to depose the man, wouldn't you?

Those who claim that the use of the term "this Church" in the Canons means anything other than The Episcopal Church either don't know what they are talking about, or are hoping you haven't read the Constitution and Canons, and so will not call them on their misinterpretation. Abandoning the communion of "this Church" has nothing whatsoever to do with the Anglican Communion.

When someone tries to make this erroneous argument, call them on it. Every time.

In regards to the quote from Bp. Iker above, it may be of interest to note that according to Title IV, Canon 1, the offenses for which a Bishop may be presented, inhibited and tried includes "(h)Any act which involves a violation of Ordination vows." What is required to start this process? From Title IV, Canon 3:

Sec. 23 (a) A Bishop may be charged with any one or more of the Offenses other than Offenses specified in Canon IV.3.21(c) by
(1) three Bishops; or
(2) ten or more Priests, Deacons, or adult communicants of this Church in good standing, of whom at least two shall be Priests. One Priest and not less than six Lay Persons shall be of the Diocese of which the Respondent is canonically resident...
Just a bit of trivia that I thought some of you might find of interest.


No comments:

Post a Comment