Thursday, September 18, 2008
Updates on Duncan's Deposition
There are many updates coming in from the House of Bishop's action to depose Robert Duncan as Bishop Diocesan of Pittsburgh.
THE LEAD at Episcopal Cafe is reporting this statement from our Presiding Bishop
UPDATE: 9PM EDT
Statement of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on the actions of the House of Bishops, Thursday, September 18, 2008
The House of Bishops worked carefully and prayerfully to consider the weighty matter of Bishop Duncan. The conversation was holy, acknowledging the pain of our deliberations as well as the gratitude many have felt over the years for their relationships with, and the ministry of, Robert Duncan. The House concluded, however, that his actions over recent months and years constitute “abandonment of the communion of this church” and that he should be deposed. Concern was expressed for the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in the face of leadership which has sought to remove itself from The Episcopal Church. In the days and months ahead, this Church will work to ensure appropriate pastoral care and provision for the members of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, so that mission and ministry in that part of Pennsylvania may continue in the name of Jesus Christ and in the tradition of the Episcopal Church.
And this from Bishop Paul Marshall, Bethlehem
A statement from Paul Marshall, Bishop of Bethlehem, correcting some misinformation in the blogosphere:
There is already a huge amount of misinformation and, sadly, disinformation on the web, so I will make a few points about today and leave you in peace as I go to dinner with my colleagues at the new church center in SLC.
Bishop Duncan's deposition was not approved because of what he _might_ do in October, but on account of what he has done heretofore. That was the only basis on which the PB, the Review Committee, or the House had any business proceeding.
The House of Bishops did not have the choice to say, oh, well, he should have a full-blown trial (which is actually more damaging to the defendant). Priests and lay people in Pittsburgh filed the complaint that his actions came under the meaning of the canon by abandoning the discipline of the church. We could act only on what the complainants in Pittsburgh laid before us.
Bishop Duncan was invited to come, with any witnesses and other evidence he might wish to produce, to the hearing last night and the sessions today. He could have easily purged himself of his abandonment of communion, but chose not to. I believe this attests to his basic integrity, by the way.
The House upheld the rulings of the Chancellor, Parliamentarian, and the PB, that the canons were being appropriately applied. It was deeply uncomfortable for me to observe people who have over the last decade or so personally behaved with a somewhat remarkable flexibility about the rules of the church's life suddenly emerge as strict constructionists of certain canons. I wanted to rise to the mic and discuss the Commerce Clause with them, but did not feel it would add anything to an essentially ecclesial matter. That day may come, however.
As to the canon in question (IV-9), it describes several sets of ways one may be judged to have abandoned "the doctrine, discipline OR worship of this church." None of those ways require joining another church (which Robert Duncan claims to have done as of this morning). In a later section of the canon, we learn Abandonment can consist of as small an act as performing episcopal acts for churches not in communion with TEC. Had the complainants addressed that issue, of course, the case would have been even stronger.
The House, I think, has eight lawyer-bishops in it, and certainly contains many very sharp people in terms of our history and theology, so it would be very unfair to allege, as one colleague has publicly done this evening, that the proceedings of the last 24 hours were shallow or misinformed. While I heard things I disagreed with or thought ill-founded, I find that the bishops here are all people of considerable depth, and many of them have great breadth of learning as well.
The PB's leadership was, consistent with her entire public ministry since her election, flawless. She allowed no space for anything vindictive or self-pitying, and kept us focussed on our task. I was deeply impressed by how she handled herself at Lambeth, and am even more grateful for how she conducted herself during these days.
I really will stop now. I will see many of you next week and we can discuss things further in a more dialogical way.
All this and much more at The Lead
Pray for former Bishop Duncan and his family.
Pray for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Pray for the Church.