Saturday, May 17, 2008

No Negotiation With Schismatics

Every once in awhile we hear of a Bishop or Standing Committee who negotiates some kind of settlement with a group that wants to claim Abps. Akinola of Nigeria, Venables of the Southern Cone, Orombi of Uganda or Nzimbi of Kenya as their Primate. I want to suggest that such negotiations are not an appropriate pastoral response. Every instance of negotiation with a congregation who imagines they can pick their Bishop and Primate by a vote is deeply harmful to the Episcopal Church.

To understand why I made that statement, you have to keep the big picture in mind. First of all recall what we learned from the 2003 Chapman Memo:

Our ultimate goal is a realignment of Anglicanism on North American soil committed to biblical faith and values, and driven by Gospel mission. We believe in the end this should be a “replacement” jurisdiction with confessional standards, maintaining the historic faith of our Communion, closely aligned with the majority of world Anglicanism, emerging from the disastrous actions of General Convention (2003)...
(emphasis added)
Keep that phrase, "replacement jurisdiction" in mind. If you read the entire memo, the plan becomes quite obvious. 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.

Consider this 2004 Draft Proposal For Overseas Altenative Episcopal Oversight. It outlines three phases for slowly bringing offshore Bishops into the internal life of TEC.

Phase One is "Dual Citizenship." A priest stays canonically resident in ECUSA, but also becomes canonically resident in an offshore diocese. The suggestion is made that CAPA (Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa) take an active role in this process. Note that this explains the bizarre statement of John-David Schofield the day after he was inhibited:

...Bishop Schofield is currently a member of both the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church and the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone, a position not prohibited by either house. Governing documents of TEC do not prohibit relationships between different members of the Anglican Communion, rather they encourage it...
Continuing with the 2004 proposal for AEO:

Phase Two: The priest leaves ECUSA for the offshore diocese. The congregation leaves with the priest. The ECUSA bishop deposes the priest. The offshore bishop does not recognize the deposition. The example given is David Moyer, who was deposed by his Bishop for refusing the Bishop's visitations for 10 years. He was then immediately licensed to serve by Bishop Duncan. He was then quickly moved under the authority of an African bishop. Moyer now claims to be a bishop himself, which is rather bizarre, since he was deposed as a priest.

Phase Three: The offshore bishop delegates responsibility of spiritual oversight to the Network (a group of extreme conservatives within ECUSA). The U.S. is divided up into "overseas diaspora archdeaconries."

Phase Three never really got launched, because before it could, the Windsor Report was released, which included this recommendation:

We call upon those bishops who believe it is their conscientious duty to intervene in provinces, dioceses and parishes other than their own:
  • to express regret for the consequences of their actions

  • to affirm their desire to remain in the Communion, and

  • to effect a moratorium on any further interventions.

  • We also call upon these archbishops and bishops to seek an accommodation with the bishops of the dioceses whose parishes they have taken into their own care.

    We further call upon those diocesan bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA) who have refused to countenance the proposals set out by their House of Bishops to reconsider their own stance on this matter. If they refuse to do so, in our view, they will be making a profoundly dismissive statement about their adherence to the polity of their own church.
    So the plan was revised,although the goal was not, as seen in this 2006 quote from David Anderson on the Larry King Show:

    Well, many of us that are orthodox, conservative Episcopalians have experience a real sense of isolation within the Episcopal church, and we're hoping for a better day to come for our own situation. We anticipate that at some point, the global communion will remove the Anglican franchise from the Episcopal church and grant it to another entity. We don't see how the Episcopal church can really continue the way it is.
    David "I Like a Good Fight" Anderson was the President of the American Anglican Council, which morphed into the Network, which is now in the process of morphing into the Common Cause Partnership. He now claims to be a Bishop, having been consecrated by some foreign Province. As a matter of fact, all the priests listed as "consultants" in the previously noted AEO Proposal, Bill Atwood, John Guernsey and Martyn Minns, have been consecrated as Bishops by foreign Provinces.

    That is the new plan. Take priests who were raised up and educated by the Episcopal Church, have sworn to be loyal to the doctrine, discipline and worship of TEC, and consecrate them as Bishops of a foreign Province, and then send them back to the US to woo away more Episcopalians. This would change "the facts on the ground," it was assumed. Their ugly propaganda attack against TEC continued, almost all based on lies and half-truths, in the hopes that they could attract more members, and so that TEC would eventually be removed from the Anglican Communion. When that finally happened, they would be ready, with Bishops already in place, to take over.

    In 2006, a small group calling themselves the "Global South Anglicans" went public with their intention to "create a separate ecclestical the USA" in a document known as the Kigali Communique:

    We are convinced that the time has now come to take initial steps towards the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA. We have asked the Global South Steering Committee to develop such a proposal in consultation with the appropriate instruments of unity of the Communion. We understand the serious implications of this determination. We believe that we would be failing in our apostolic witness if we do not make this provision for those who hold firmly to a commitment to historic Anglican faith...
    To date,there has been little enthusiasm for this idea in other parts of the Communion. No doubt most Bishops and Primates are imagining such a ploy being launched in their own backyards, and are not too fond of that notion.

    But, that is still the goal, as can be seen by the language used by Bp. Duncan of Pittsburgh to announce a meeting of the Network in 2007: initiate discussion of the creation of an 'Anglican Union' among the partners, moving forward the vision of the Primates of the Global South for a new 'ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA...
    Foreign Bishops and Primates are conspiring with extreme conservatives in the US and Canada to "take the whole franchise." That is their end game. As we approach Lambeth, they want to claim as many congregations and Dioceses as possible, to show the leadership of the Anglican Communion that they are a viable option to replace what they would describe as "the apostate and heretical Episcopal Church."

    This is why Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori made the following recommendation in regards to negotiations with those abandoning TEC:

    ...The second category of cases involves diocesan leadership negotiating with congregants who wish to leave with Episcopal Church property. Agreements have been made with congregations in Dallas, Kansas, Olympia, Quincy, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

    Critical to these negotiations, in the Presiding Bishop's estimation, are the requirements that congregations not invite a primate or bishop from another province of the Anglican Communion to assume jurisdiction over the departing group and that the diocese be fairly compensated for the value of the real and personal property to be retained by the group of departing members...
    Even those groups which negotiate with the Diocese to leave who have not afiliated with some foreign Province sometimes conveniently "change their mind" after the fact, and declare that they are now part of Nigeria or the Southern Cone. They believe that they can remain as Anglicans if they have some small thread of a connection with Canterbury. I don't know of a single case in the last few years in which a break away congregation has not aligned themselves with a foreign Province.

    Until these foreign invasions cease, we cannot shift our stance. All 7,500 congregations in TEC belong to TEC, not the local congregation. A vote by the membership does not invalidate Canon I.7.4:

    All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission or Congregation is held in trust for this Church and the Diocese thereof in which such Parish, Mission or Congregation is located. The existence of this trust, however, shall in no way limit the power and authority of the Parish, Mission or Congregation otherwise existing over such property so long as the particular Parish, Mission or Congregation remains a part of, and subject to, this Church and its Constitution and Canons.
    The claims by foreign Provinces that they own congregations within the jurisdiction of TEC cannot be recognized.

    As has been said many times, the bottom line is that individuals may choose to leave TEC, but congregations and Dioceses cannot. By negotiating with the Southern Cone, Nigeria, Uganda or Kenya we validate their claims. As TEC and every one of those Provinces are still listed as members of the Anglican Communion, those foreign Primates have invaded another Anglican Province without permission. Since the congregations did not have the authority to accept an offer of joining another Province, these foreign Primates are also occupying properties that do not belong to them.

    I hope that Bishops and Standing Committees keep some of this in mind the next time they sit down to talk with a break away group. Regardless of the gentle rhetoric you may hear during such negotiations, their goal is nothing less than "the whole franchise." Every time we validate their existence, we help them move their goal forward.

    No negotiation. Foreign Provinces must leave the jurisdiction of TEC, or face the consequences.


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