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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Jesus weeps!

This is a picture of the statue that now stands where the Rectory of St. Joseph's RC Church once stood, directly across from the Oklahoma City Federal Building Bombing Memorial.

I can't think of a more powerful, more fitting image to describe the second lob of the 'heat-seeking missile' which was just launched by the Diocese of Pittsburgh at 815 Second Avenue in NYC.

If you haven't heard, Pittsburgh has become the second diocese in The Episcopal Church to remove required language stating that the diocese agrees to accede to the Episcopal Church's Constitution and Canons as the constitution requires.

As ENS reports: "If that resolution passes a second reading, presumably at the 2008 diocesan convention, it effectively would violate the requirements of the Episcopal Church's Constitution and Canons. Article V, Section 1 says that a diocese's constitution must include "an unqualified accession" to the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church."

ENS story is below.

There is, of course
more to the story. Jeremy at "Catholic and Reformed" gives us an eye-witness account from "ground zero" at the Pittsburgh convention.

The convention actually needed to pass Resolution 1 by a 2/3 majority, not a simple majority. So, in fact, the whole process passed by only one (lay) vote!

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh have also posted their account

Not exactly the "decisive win" Moderator Bob was looking for, but enough ammunition to get him into the next round of the offensive in this Anglican Jihad. It appears that they will soon be joined by the Diocese of Ft. Worth.

The Diocese of San Joaquin has already voted to remove language requiring them to accede from the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.

They will have the opportunity to vote on that resolution a second time next fall, which would fulfill the requirement that all canonical changes must obtain the affirmative vote of two consecutive conventions before being permanently changed.

At that point, I would imagine, "the powers that be" on all sides would declare the schism "official". Okay. I've been saying since San Joaquin that the hour of schism has come and now is. Does anyone really see John-David Schofield, Bob Duncan or Jack Leo Iker turning back?

Does anyone NOT see Mark Lawrence, newly elected bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina not joining them? Or, Peter Beckwith of Springfield?

Does anyone see anyone at 815 saying, "Oops, we're sorry. We'll ask the Diocese of New Hampshire straightaway to rescind the election of Gene Robinson as their bishop? And then, we'll ask +Gene himself to 'stand down' before we ask all the consecrating bishops to rescind their sacramental act."

No, I don't think so.

Retired but still very active Bishop Walter Righter, and heretic extraordinaire, has made the difference between 'faith' and 'belief'. He writes: "Faith is a given almost from the time we are born. The faith development people have given us more than adequate information about that."

"What Duncan and others call faith," says Righter, "is really belief - the encoding of faith in such things creeds, and statements like Tertullian's "Trinity"."

That's a very helpful articulation of difference for me. I think he's absolutely right. It's the "choose ye this day," and all that other triumphalist rhetoric we've always gotten from Pittsburgh. It's about 'belief' not 'faith' - and certainly not the Faith-with-a-capitol-'F'' which was "first delivered to the Saints". That WAS faith and not 'belief'.

I suppose what is most striking for me about all of this is that it is unnecessary and, indeed, absolutely un-Anglican! That makes me both angry and sad.

The only thing that has been accomplished is that this will be dragged out for years in courts secular and ecclesiastical, running up hundreds of thousands of dollars which could be spent on mission and ministry in this church and around the Anglican Communion - especially in the Global South.

Which is why, I believe, the only accurate image for this time in our church is the one with which I began this post: Jesus weeps! And, not just only over "the sheep that elected" Duncan - but over the entire church.

Indeed, I think the very heart of God is broken whenever we break the tie that binds us to each other and God through the Body of Christ.

Pittsburgh bishop declines Presiding Bishop's offer of reconciliation
By Mary Frances Schjonberg
November 02, 2007

[Episcopal News Service] On the eve of the November 2-3 annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, Bishop Robert Duncan rejected Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's request that he lead the diocese away from efforts to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church.

The three-sentence letter, dated November 1, said in full: "Here I stand. I can do no other. I will neither compromise the Faith once delivered to the saints, nor will I abandon the sheep who elected me to protect them."

The first two sentences echo the conclusion of Martin Luther's speech to the Diet of Worms in 1521, during which Luther refused to recant the stance he took against the Roman Catholic Church. Duncan signed his letter, "Pax et bonum in Christ Jesus our Lord, +Bob Pittsburgh."

Jefferts Schori had written to Duncan on October 31 asking him "to recede from this direction and to lead your diocese on a new course that recognizes the interdependent and hierarchical relationship between the national Church and its dioceses and parishes."

The Presiding Bishop wrote that "it grieves me that any bishop of this Church would seek to lead any of its members out of it," reminding Duncan of her "open offer of an Episcopal Visitor if you wish to receive pastoral care from another bishop" and expressing hope of reconciliation.

The Pittsburgh convention began meeting November 2 and gave the first of two approvals needed to enact a series of constitutional amendments which would essentially eliminate all references to the diocese's connection with the Episcopal Church.

Most significantly, Resolution One -- which passed by 118 to 58 votes in the lay order, with one abstention, and 109 to 24 in the clergy order -- would remove required language stating that the diocese agrees to accede to the Episcopal Church's Constitution and Canons as the constitution requires. If that resolution passes a second reading, presumably at the 2008 diocesan convention, it effectively would violate the requirements of the Episcopal Church's Constitution and Canons. Article V, Section 1 says that a diocese's constitution must include "an unqualified accession" to the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church.

In his address to the convention November 2, Duncan said that the first reading of a constitutional change "announces an intention without actually making a change" and changes nothing.

"Of course, in another sense, adoption signifies an intention, gives warning, opens a possibility, introduces a period of preparation for anticipated consequences," he said.

If Resolution One passes, Duncan told the convention, "our work in the year ahead would likely include determination of the Province with which the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh might re-align, development of acceptable options available to minority congregations, and negotiation, both nationally and with plaintiffs locally, about a mediated alternative to continuing or escalating litigation."

Jefferts Schori had asked Duncan in her letter to change his position and "urge your diocese at its forthcoming convention not to adopt the resolutions that you have until now supported."

Jefferts Schori told Duncan that if his course did not change, "I shall regrettably be compelled to see that appropriate canonical steps are promptly taken to consider whether you have abandoned the Communion of this Church -- by actions and substantive statements, however they may be phrased -- and whether you have committed canonical offences that warrant disciplinary action."

In June, the Executive Council, the governing body of the Episcopal Church between meetings of General Convention, warned that actions by Episcopal Church dioceses that change their constitutions in an attempt to bypass the Church's Constitution and Canons are "null and void."

Via Resolution NAC023, the Council reminded dioceses that they are required to "accede" to the Constitution and Canons, and declaring that any diocesan action that removes that accession from its constitution is "null and void." That declaration, the resolution said, means that their constitutions "shall be as they were as if such amendments had not been passed."


Paul (A.) said...

You have picked up the statement that I've seen in a couple of places -- that a two-thirds vote was needed to amend the Constitution of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

According to Article XV of the 2004 Constitution (the most recent and only version that appears on the diocesan website) a majority vote in both orders at consecutive annual conventions is sufficient to amend the Constitution. If a simple majority was sufficient in 2004, I would hardly think that the powers that be in the diocese would have since made it harder to amend the Constitution. So I find it hard to credit the report that the amendment's first reading passed by only one vote.

the Reverend boy said...

What never ceases to amaze me is the rabid battle-language and rhetoric of fear that is used to continually stir the pot ... last time i checked, that isn't quite God's style.

At the risk of being snarky, the language they use is more akin to the Gospel of fascism used by the religious right than it is akin to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

NewAnglican said...

Dear Rev. Keaton,

I come to your blog from "the other side" of this particular schism. What I would like to respectfully ask you, why not let the two sides (so different in philosophies) go ahead and separate and settle back down to get back to work, each from their own perspective? I know that I personally have found a parish family that meets my personal needs better than my previous TEC parish. Perhaps this schism needed to happen and we need to each go where we feel the Lord is sending us? Do you think the Lord requires unity at all costs? Perhaps this is the sacrifice we need to make right now?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Dear NewAnglican,

I couldn't agree with you more. Except that it's very, very clear that the majority of TEC is decidedly progressive to moderate and can live together.

I, personally, have been saying for years that I can live with the orthodox in my midst.

They, for their part, have been saying for years that they can't live with progressives in general and LGBT people in particular in their midst.

I am sad that they are leaving, but I understand. I left Rome more than 35 years ago and I've never looked back - nor thought I should be able to take the furniture or the buildings.

I think that's the issue, NewAnglican. That's the reason for all the unhappiness and strife.