Monday, November 14, 2011

"A Call to the Light": The Case for Inhibiting the Presiding Bishop

With the extremely disturbing news about the long-standing cover-up that went on over sexual abuse of young men by an assistant coach at Penn State University, it is very instructive to compare the reaction of the University after the story came out to that of the House of Bishops concerning the revelations, on numerous blogs (Catholic and Episcopalian), concerning the Presiding Bishop's own cover-up of her actions while serving as the Bishop of Nevada.

Let me be perfectly clear: the two situations are not precisely parallel, because the sexual abuse of young men went on under the noses of the responsible officials at Penn State University, who studiously ignored bringing the abuser to account, or reporting him to the police. In contrast, and at least as far as we now know, Father Bede Parry did not commit any sexual abuse of minors under the nose of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

But there -- with one big exception, which is the point of this post -- the dissimilarities between the two cases end. For it is now undisputed that Bishop Jefferts Schori learned early on, from Bede Parry's own former Abbot, that he was a multiple-count abuser who could not continue to function as a Catholic priest (or monk) because he had "a proclivity to reoffend with minors." And she learned of this fact before she decided to receive him into her Diocese as an Episcopal priest.

[UPDATE 11/18/2008: At long last, and far too late to stem the damage, the Presiding Bishop has decided to favor us with a statement explaining her version of the facts. As others have already observed, the statement appears to have been carefully vetted by the Presiding Bishop's personal attorneys (both in-house and outside counsel -- but the latter her personal Chancellor) to avoid any inadvertent admissions of those matters which no one yet can prove, and of which she herself would be the most knowledgeable. She also indicates that this will be her one and only statement on the matter, since she refers all further inquiries to the current diocesan of Nevada, the Rt. Rev. Dan Edwards.

From this Curmudgeon's point of view, her statement just adds more fuel to the fire, because it conceals more than it answers -- as I shall demonstrate in detail in a future post. For now, the main thing to note is that it puts her against the current accounts of both former Father Parry, who admittedly is a confirmed liar (now trying his best, one assumes, to repent of his past and make amends for his sins), and his former abbot. The latter -- who had no reason whatsoever in 2002-2003 to hide or to distort the truth, and who has even less of a reason to do so now -- has strongly affirmed that he informed Bishop Jefferts Schori of the fact that Bede Parry had been found to have "a proclivity to reoffend."

That particular phrase redounds, because it echoes the wording of the specific conclusion of the Roman Catholic Church's psychological evaluation in 2000 of Fr. Bede Parry -- a conclusion which sealed his fate, as concerns his being allowed to remain a priest (or even a monk) in the RCC. For Abbot Polan to say (as he did just last May, in the presence of three witnesses) that he told Bishop Jefferts Schori in those very words of that conclusion, is to put his testimony squarely at odds with the Presiding Bishop's latest (and only) statement on the matter, linked above.

For the present, therefore, we have two directly contrary reports of what actually happened when Bishop Jefferts Schori made background inquiries into Fr. Bede Parry's trajectory as a Roman Catholic priest. What that contradiction necessarily entails, however, is that one of the two of them (Bishop Jefferts Schori, or Abbot Polan) is now lying. I leave it to the intelligent reader to conclude who has at this point the greater motivation to prevaricate under these circumstances. The only significant question remaining, in my view, is whether or not this incident will finally provide the impetus for a full and thorough investigation into the reception of Father Parry by Bishop Jefferts Schori.]

Therein lies the chief similarity between the two cases: Both the officials at Penn State University and at the Diocese of Nevada (including its Standing Committee at the time, and its Commission on Ministry, as well as its Bishop) made an apparent decision to ignore the offender's history, and to place (or leave) him in a position where he would be free to continue his abuses, if he was so inclined (notwithstanding supposed "restrictions" on his ministry, which were soon forgotten altogether).

The chief dissimilarity between the two cases, however, lies in seeing how the two institutions reacted to the news of this decision to hire (or to retain) a self-convicted pederast, once the news of that decision became public. The University fired not only the offender, but also his supervising head coach, an 84-year-old figure otherwise beloved in college football for his record number of winning seasons. And the University's President, to whom the charges had also been reported, but who had chosen not to take them to the police, was fired as well.

But as for the Episcopal Church (USA)? The former Bishop of Nevada, who now serves as the Church's Presiding Bishop, has had not one public word to say about her decision to receive Bede Parry as an Episcopal priest. The Diocese of Nevada, in its turn, has published a statement assuring everyone that the canons were "meticulously followed", but which ended up raising more questions than it actually answered.

In short, it is the University which has acted in a more open and Christian manner than one of the chief Christian churches in the United States. The University chose to "walk in the light", as St. John put it in his first-century letter to other early Christians (highlighted so appropriately by the Rev. Canon Philip Ashey in the introductory video), and to let the chips fall where they might -- even if it meant the dismissal of one of its very best football coaches ever. The Episcopal Church (USA), in contrast, continues to stonewall further investigation or questioning, and decidedly has not chosen to "walk in the light."

In this post, I want to call out my own Church, so that it may choose to walk in the light on this topic rather than opt for continued darkness, and so that it, likewise, will let the chips fall where they may.

The Church, acting through its own disciplinary bodies, should inhibit its Presiding Bishop from further exercise of her office and functions until she has made a clean breast of all the factors surrounding her decision to receive Bede Parry, a confessed sexual offender and demonstrable liar to her face, as a priest in her Diocese. Although the Diocese's Commission on Ministry, and Standing Committee, each had specific roles to play at specific times in the reception process, it remains a fact that in the final analysis, the decision to receive him as a priest was hers, and her decision alone.

Those of us looking at that decision in light of what has since been uncovered, however, have to ask: What evidence possibly could have amounted, in the view of Bishop Jefferts Schori, to a convincing documentation of his "godly and moral character", or have shown that "[his] departure . . . from the Communion to which [he previously] belonged has not arisen from any circumstance unfavorable to moral or religious character"? (I am quoting from the 2003 version of Canon III.11, which ostensibly applied to Bishop Jefferts Schori's decision at the time.)

And if those obvious discrepancies between canon and deed in 2004 were not enough, we have now learned from Bede Parry himself that he had voluntarily cooperated in his dismissal from the Catholic priesthood before he was received as a priest by Bishop Jefferts Schori! Don't even try to think how a former Catholic priest, defrocked for sexually abusing young men, could begin to qualify for reception as a functioning priest in the Episcopal Church. Instead, take a look at the constitutional and canonical provisions to which both he and Bishop Jefferts Schori were subject at the time. Canon III.11.1 (a)(2) required that Fr. Parry supply "[e]vidence of previous Ministry and that all other credentials are valid and authentic" (emphasis added). Yet he confesses that in 2002 he was being dismissed from his orders, and would not have been allowed to remain as a priest in the Roman Catholic Church -- he was not even a suitable candidate to be a monk in a monastery.

"Evidence of previous Ministry" would have been no problem -- Fr. Parry would have to produce only his ordination papers in the Roman Catholic Church, which would have shown that he had been validly ordained as a priest in 1982.

The "other credentials" of which the Canon speaks are not defined. Taking the words in a canonical sense, however, they would be something akin to "letters dimissory" --- credentials from a bishop given to a priest when he leaves that bishop's jurisdiction, and certifying that he served in good standing, and is not departing for any reasons having to do with his moral character. If one thing is certain in this mess, it is that no Catholic bishop or abbot would have given Bede Parry such credentials on his departure from the Catholic Church. Given that fact, what could he have used to prove his prior "good standing" in the Catholic Church when he applied to Bishop Jefferts Schori for reception into the Episcopal Church? She and her Standing Committee must have seen some sort of evidence on that point; otherwise, they could not properly have given him the preliminary certificates of acceptance required by Canon III.11.3, since he went on and was finally received in 2004. How, then, could he have even qualified for such acceptance under Canon III.11.3 in the first place?

Here is a list (in italics) of all the things which that Canon required in 2003 that Bede Parry submit to Bishop Jefferts Schori, as a prerequisite for his even being considered for Episcopal priesthood (my comments and observations are in square brackets):
(1) Evidence that the person is a confirmed adult communicant in good standing in a Congregation of this Church [he would have supplied evidence from his employers at All Saints in Las Vegas];
(2) Evidence of previous Ministry and that all other credentials are valid and authentic [as noted, he easily could have produced proof that he was validly ordained by the Catholic Church in 1982, but that is all; as argued above, he certainly would not have had any kind of certificate or credentials attesting that his departure from the Church had not been for any reasons touching upon his moral character];
(3) Evidence of moral and godly character; and that the person is free from any vows or other engagements inconsistent with the exercise of Holy Orders in this Church [after his dismissal from the Roman Catholic Church, he certainly would have been "free from any (such) vows or engagements," but evidence of the reasons for his dismissal would at the same time have negated any previous submissions of his "moral and godly character" making him fit to be a priest];
(4) Transcripts of all relevant academic and theological studies [this would have required him to submit a transcript from St. John's College of Theology in Minnesota, where he had been briefly suspended for sexual misconduct, and required, as a condition of graduation, to take sexual abuse counseling];
(5) A certificate from at least two Presbyters of this Church stating that, from personal examination or from satisfactory evidence presented to them, they believe that the departure of the person from the Communion to which the person has belonged has not arisen from any circumstance unfavorable to moral or religious character, or on account of which it may not be expedient to admit the person to Holy Orders in this Church [again, such a certificate must have come from his employers at All Saints in Las Vegas -- but if it had been submitted, it would serve only as evidence that he had lied to them about his background in order to be hired, because it was contradicted by Abbot Polan when he talked to Bishop Jefferts Schori];
(6) Certificates in the forms provided in Canon III.8.6 and III.8.7 from the Rector or Member of the Clergy in charge and Vestry of a Parish of this Church [these would again have come from All Saints in Las Vegas, showing their support for his application]; and
(7) A statement of the reasons for seeking to enter Holy Orders in this Church [such a statement would have focused on the need for additional clergy at All Saints, but probably said nothing about the reasons Bede Parry had been ousted from priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church].
And those requirements assume, as we have seen, that Bede Parry had been serving for at least five years as a Minister "in good repute" in the Roman Catholic Church, and so would have no trouble in supplying all the evidences required of his "godly and moral character." Canon III.11, however, is for receiving, as its title states, "Priests and Deacons Ordained in Churches in the Historic Succession but Not in Communion with This Church." It emphatically cannot apply to priests or deacons who have been defrocked by that other church on grounds of immorality, and who hence could not ever establish their "godly and moral character."

Yet all the evidence is that Bishop Jefferts Schori proceeded to issue to him a certificate of his acceptability, and then, after more than a year, to receive him formally under Canon III.11 as a priest in good standing in her Diocese. How could this possibly amount to what the current Bishop of Nevada (the Rt. Rev. Dan Edwards) has described as "meticulously follow[ing] the applicable canons"? Bishop Edwards expressly references Canon III.11 as the one which Bishop Jefferts Schori "meticulously followed" -- but as we just saw, that Canon applies only to persons who, at the time of their application to be admitted to Episcopal orders, had "with success" practiced their previous Ministry "for at least five years with good repute", and thus had good credentials to present at the time of their application.

If Bishop Jefferts Schori received Bede Parry under the provisions of Canon III.11, as Bishop Edwards says she did, then she was either grossly negligent, or mightily deceived -- but she could have continued in that state only until she talked with Fr. Parry's former Abbot. That conversation alone, confirmed by Abbot Polan himself, should have raised enough red flags to require a complete reappraisal of Bede Parry's application -- with a resulting determination that he could not be received under Canon III.11, since he could not, with his background, satisfy its requirements. (Being caught lying about one's background in an application, and on such a material matter, should have negated any prior submitted proofs of "godly and moral character" on the spot.)

It is high time, therefore, for charges to be brought against Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for violating the Constitution and Canons of her Church in the matter of Bede Parry, while she was the Bishop of Nevada. (The current disciplinary canons cover offenses committed up to ten years ago, provided that they were offenses so punishable at the time they were committed. Article VIII of ECUSA's Constitution read the same in 2003-2004 as it does now, so the "same offense" requirement is easily satisfied. See the further note on the statute of limitations below.)

Under Article VIII of ECUSA's Constitution, as in effect both in 2003 and now, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, as the diocesan bishop and Ecclesiastical Authority in the Diocese of Nevada, was required to see that
No person shall be ordered Priest or Deacon to minister in this Church until the person shall have been examined by the Bishop and two Priests and shall have exhibited such testimonials and other requisites as the Canons in that case provided may direct.
As we now see from his public admissions on the record, there is simply no possible way that Bede Parry could ever have validly "exhibited the testimonials and other requisites as the Canons . . . may direct" -- including valid and authentic credentials of having been a Catholic priest in good standing, whose departure from that Church was not due to any "circumstance unfavorable to [his] moral or religious character . . .". Another part of the Canon (section 2) also required Parry to supply evidence that he had "exercised a ministry in his previous Church with good repute and success for at least five years . . .". Once again, it would be highly revealing to see what the evidence of "good repute" was which convinced Bishop Jefferts Schori -- especially after she had spoken with Bede Parry's former Abbot, and he had warned her of Fr. Parry's prior offenses and his "proclivity to reoffend with minors."

Just in case the Constitutional prohibition against receiving someone like Bede Parry as an Episcopal priest was not clear enough at the time, there was another paragraph (the fourth) in that same Article VIII which should be brought to bear here. It declares, in relevant part (with emphasis added):
If any Bishop . . . confers ordination as Priest or Deacon upon a Christian minister who has not received Episcopal ordination, the Bishop shall do so only in accordance with such provisions as shall be set forth in the Canons of this Church.
Bede Parry had not "received Episcopal ordination" when Bishop Jefferts Schori welcomed him as a priest into her Diocese at its annual convention in the fall of 2004. By doing so, however, she effectively allowed him to function as a priest canonically resident in her Diocese, just as though she had ordained him -- without requiring that he first satisfy all the canonical requirements to be ordained an Episcopal priest. In other words, even if Bede Parry had come to her initially as a candidate for the priesthood, she never could have begun his ordination process lawfully under the Canons, given his previous record of abusing young males. Her licensing of him, despite his disqualification to be ordained, and especially despite his having lied to her, was thus a second violation of Article VIII, as quoted above.

And we are not done yet. For Article VIII goes on to provide, in its next and fifth paragraph:
No person ordained by a foreign Bishop, or by a Bishop not in communion with this Church, shall be permitted to officiate as a Minister of this Church until the person shall have complied with the Canon or Canons in that case provided . . . .
Once again, this provision applied equally well to the case of Bede Parry, who had been previously ordained "by a Bishop not in communion with this Church." Despite his lying to her in his application, and despite all of his other disqualifying conduct, as cited above, she nevertheless "permitted [him] to officiate as a Minister of this Church" without first complying with all of the applicable canons, in direct violation of ECUSA's Constitution. This violation is the most blatant and direct of the three, because it focuses on just the licensing of Bede Parry in the Diocese of Nevada.

There are thus three Constitutional violations which can be laid at the feet of the Presiding Bishop over her conduct in the Bede Parry case:

1. In violation of the first sentence of Article VIII, Bishop Jefferts Schori gave Episcopal recognition to, and revived in the Episcopal Church, the priestly orders of Bede Parry when the evidence and testimonials he gave to her, and to the diocesan Standing Commission, must have been false. At best, he must have concealed from them the most important facts about his prior abuses -- about which Bishop Jefferts Schori had specifically been advised and warned -- and the consequent reasons for his having been forced out of the Roman Catholic Church in disgrace.

2. In violation of the fourth paragraph of Article VIII, Bishop Jefferts Schori recognized Bede Parry's priestly orders without having complied with the canons for ordaining someone who had not previously been ordained in the Episcopal Church.

3. In violation of the fifth paragraph of Article VIII, Bishop Jefferts Schori licensed Bede Parry to function as a minister in her Diocese without requiring him to comply honestly with all the provisions of Canon III.11 as then in effect.

The new Title IV imposes a two-year statute of limitations on any proceedings for "knowingly violating or attempting to violate" the Church's Constitution and Canons. However, we have it on Bishop Edwards' word that the above offenses were not willful offenses, because every attempt was made to "follow the canons meticulously." Instead, the violations described above -- consisting either of gross negligence or reckless disregard -- would come under the following language of new Canon IV.4.1:
1. (a) . . . [A] Member of the Clergy shall:
. . .
(g) exercise his or her ministry in accordance with applicable provisions of the Constitution and Canons of the Church and of the Diocese, ecclesiastical licensure or commission and Community rule or bylaws . . . .
For violations of this section, the statute of limitations under Canon IV.19.4 (a) is ten years, and so the period will not expire until October 2014. Under Canon IV.3.3, any such violation "must be material and substantial or of clear and weighty importance to the ministry of this Church." Given the substantial emphasis on screenings for sexual abusers in 2003, however, as I detailed in this earlier post -- and given the role which Bishop Jefferts Schori herself played in promulgating new standards for her Diocese in that same year -- she could hardly assert now that her handling of Bede Parry's application was not "material", or of "clear and weighty importance to the ministry of this Church." In effect, she was substantially involved in seeing comprehensive standards for such screening put into place, and then promptly turned around and ignored those standards in order to receive Bede Parry as a priest.

Another noteworthy addition to the catalog of offenses under the new disciplinary Canons is this section of Canon IV.1:
1. (a) . . . [A] Member of the Clergy shall:
. . .
(f) report to the Intake Officer all matters which may constitute an Offense as defined in Canon IV.2 meeting the standards of Canon IV.3.3, except for matters disclosed to the Member of Clergy as confessor within the Rite of Reconciliation of a Penitent;
Under this new provision, therefore, any bishop, priest or deacon in the Episcopal Church (USA) who becomes aware of these facts constituting a probable violation of Canon IV.4.1 (g) by another bishop must report them to the appropriate Intake Officer for disciplinary matters concerning bishops -- and if they do not, they will have committed a violation of the Canons of their own! In this case, the Intake Officer for bishops is the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews, of the Church's Office of Pastoral Development, in North Carolina. (His physical address and "800" telephone number are at the link just given.)

Under the new Title IV, Bishop Matthews must conduct an inquiry into the charges, and must make a report to the Reference Panel of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, which in the Presiding Bishop's case, consists of Bishop Matthews, Bishop Dorsey Henderson (the President of the Disciplinary Board), and Bishop Dean Elliott Wolfe, who, as Vice President of the House of Bishops, is designated by Canon to function in the place of the Presiding Bishop when she herself is the subject of disciplinary charges. The charges against her cannot be dismissed in the first instance, unless Bishop Wolfe agrees with Bishop Matthews to dismiss them, and the complainant is notified of that fact (so that he or she may appeal to Bishop Dorsey Henderson, the President of the Disciplinary Board).

If it appears to a majority of the Reference Panel that the charges need to be investigated further, they may refer the case to their appointed Investigator to look into the matter and deliver a full report. Based on that report, the Reference Panel then votes how to proceed further -- to dismiss the charges, to issue a "pastoral directive" to the Presiding Bishop, or to refer the charges to a Conference Panel, as I discussed in detail in this earlier post. But the main thing which Bishop Wolfe (and only Bishop Wolfe can make this call) can do is this, according to Canon IV.7.3:
If at any time the Bishop Diocesan [in this special instance, referring to Bishop Wolfe] determines that a Member of the Clergy may have committed any Offense, or that the good order, welfare or safety of the Church or any person or Community may be threatened by that member of the Clergy, the Bishop Diocesan may, without prior notice or hearing, (a) place restrictions upon the exercise of the ministry of such Member of the Clergy or (b) place such Member of the Clergy on Administrative Leave.
If Bishop Wolfe, therefore, cannot convince the Presiding Bishop privately that she should make a full and fair public statement accounting for her actions in the Bede Parry case, such that everyone could judge whether or not she followed the 2003 Constitution and Canons "meticulously", then he should proceed to inhibit her from acting as Presiding Bishop until she does so, and until the Conference or Hearing Panels of the Disciplinary Board reach a decision as to how to proceed in her case.

Much will depend on how the Presiding Bishop answers these charges against her. She has it in her power to give a full and public explanation, to make an appropriate apology, and to state just what went wrong and to accept responsibility. But unless and until she does so, she is not fit to be sitting in judgment of other bishops' alleged violations of the Constitution and Canons of ECUSA.


  1. "That conversation alone, confirmed by Abbot Polan himself, should have raised enough red flags to require a complete reappraisal of Bede Parry's application..."

    Trying to convince the revisionist wing of TEC (which at this point is 80% of the HoB and 100% of the leadership)- at least the ones locally, seems to hinge on the point above. Is there a link to the Abbott's statement on this? It is going to take a hue and cry from the revisionist side of things to actually bring about any discipline. If this were a public corporation, the CEO would have had a couple days after the story broke to offer an explanation or a resignation. Since Jefferts Schori has done neither, it will require the HoB to act. She will likely declare any motion or discussion of the matter out of order, and under the precedent she established earlier, it will take 2/3+1 of the diocesans present to override her decision. She only needs about 35-38 (depending on how many show up) votes to maintain her ruling. We can count the number of bishops willing to stand up to her on our fingers, so that leaves more than 60 who have to be convinced to take a stand before anything will happen. So the proofs presented have to leave the diocesans with absolutely no wiggle room.

  2. We may take the Abbot's confirmation of his conversation with Bishop Jefferts Schori about Bede Parry from these facts, tjmcmahon:

    1.On April 25, 2011, the Abbot and Patrick Marker spoke on the telephone about the Bede Parry matter. Mr. Marker took contemporary notes of that conversation. According to those notes, "You [Abbot Polan] told Katharine Jefferts Schori not only about the allegations [plural] against Bede, but also of Bede’s attempt to join another monastery, the psychological testing and his 'proclivity'," and "[t]hat Katharine Jefferts Schori, despite your revelations, 'allowed him to continue to work.'"

    2. On April 28, 2011, Mr. Marker and Abbot Polan spoke again. This time there were two other monks listening on the call, so that the Abbot's statements may be verified by two other witnesses besides Mr. Marker. Again, according to Mr. Marker's contemporaneous notes, "[Abbot Polan] agreed that Katharine Jefferts Schori had known about Bede’s 'propensity to reoffend' for nine years."

    3. On July 19, 2011, Mr. Marker wrote to Abbot Polan, enclosing his notes of their conversations. Abbot Polan has never publicly refuted or challenged their accuracy.

    4. Also in late April or early May 2011, Abbot Polan spoke with Bishop Dan Edwards of Nevada about Bede Parry. Bishop Edwards has never claimed that Polan denied ever talking to Bishop Jefferts Schori, but only that the 2000 report on him was never sent to the Diocese, because they do not have it in their files.

    At this point, one does not have to convince the HoB to do anything. That can wait until there has been a full and proper investigation of this matter under the auspices of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops. The new Title IV Canons require that any complaint about the matter be so investigated. Thus we can wait and see whether Bishop Henderson will be even-handed in this matter, since the charges against Bishop Jefferts Schori are no more flimsy than those against Bishop Lawrence.

  3. You don't really expect anything to come of this do you? First, for an inhibition to be ordered the "Diocesan" has to determine that the further actions of the clergy/bishop involved represent an immediate danger to the church. It would/will be very easy for the "diocesan" to determine that this happened in the past and represents no further chance of harm to the church.

    Further, the potential outcomes - at the discretion of the "diocesan" - include admonition and counseling. "Katherine, you have misbehaved and I hereby admonish you not to do it again. Consider yourself counseled" Case closed.

  4. Mark, the actual requirements for a restriction (inhibition) on ministry are in the alternative. Canon IV.7.3 states in part:

    "If at any time the Bishop Diocesan determines that a Member of the Clergy may have committed any Offense, or that the good order, welfare or safety of the Church or any person or Community may be threatened by that member of the Clergy . . ." then a restriction may be imposed. The restriction I am suggesting is appropriate is one which would continue only until she made a full and clean explanation of just what she did, and why -- because her continued stonewalling of the matter is undeniably having an adverse effect on the "good order and welfare" of the Church.

    I do not quarrel with your description of how a "Pastoral Counseling" might take place in regard to the original offense, although I would be very concerned if a number of Bishops thought that Canon III.10 (as it now is) could be interpreted to allow a priest defrocked for sexual abuse of minors could still be considered for reception into the Church. There are some wider issues at stake here, and sweeping the whole affair under the rug is not the way to deal with them.

  5. Mr. Haley,

    I didn't do a very good job of making myself understood. I view the charges against the PB as quite grave indeed, while I see the charges against Bishop Lawrence as trumped up nonsense.
    I was seeking corroboration of Mr. Marker's notes, as the most common retort from my Episcopal friends is along the lines of "its only one guy with a website, the abbot has never confirmed any of what he says." I would agree that it strikes me as highly unlikely that the Abbot would have let things go this long without correcting any error of fact from Mr. Marker, and therefore we can take Mr. Marker's statements as correct. And Mr. Marker has been quite courageous in pursuing this.
    Thank you for your correction of my misunderstanding of the system. Would I be correct that if charges are actually forthcoming from +Henderson's committee, the next step would be a "court for the trial of a bishop", rather than trial before the HoB, as I had earlier speculated?

  6. tjmcmahon, the Court for the Trial of a Bishop has been replaced under the new Title IV by the "Hearing Panel" of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops. The Hearing Panel (whose five members -- three bishops, one priest or deacon, and one lay person -- are chosen by Bishop Henderson) would take up the matter on the recommendation of either the Reference Panel (consisting of Bishop Henderson, Wolfe and Matthews), or the Conference Panel, which first would try to resolve the matter informally, and by agreement. But again, the Reference Panel could decide to stop short of even referring the matter to the Conference Panel if, as Mark suggested above, Bishop Wolfe feels he can resolve the matter pastorally with Bishop Jefferts Schori without the necessity of further proceedings.

    The point of filing charges with Bishop Matthews now would be that (a) anyone may do so, not just Episcopalians in good standing; anyone who makes a filing has to receive a written response to it from Bishop Matthews, and if it is in favor of doing nothing, then the filer may take it to a further level, by appealing that decision. Once again, the filer will receive a written determination of how the Reference Panel voted to handle the matter. As a commenter over at T19 recently observed, "if enough individuals send in their complaints, the disciplinary authorities will have to make their reasons for acting or not acting, as the case may be, known to a whole lot of people—and the new Canons will thereby be put to a public test which will make a useful parallel to how the same authorities decide to proceed in the +Lawrence case."

  7. How should a person located within the Diocese of South Carolina proceed, seeing that this Dilcese is still under the old Title IV canon? Would it not take a Bishop, Priest, or Deacon? What about the laity and their abilities under the old Title IV? Thank you for your wisdom. You are wonderful!

  8. Milton A. Finch, the location of the person filing the complaint is not relevant to the charges, which are based on actions taken in the Diocese of Nevada when Jefferts Schori was its bishop. Nevada does recognize the new Title IV, and since she is still deemed canonically resident there, she is subject to the Canons as adopted and recognized by that Diocese.

  9. Going to stick my neck out on this and predict that the teflon PB Jefferts Schori won't even get a strongly worded letter much less face an inhibition.