Tuesday, November 27, 2012

ACI to Bishops: "Restore the Good Order of our Church!"

Close on the heels of my last post about dysfunction permeating the leadership of the Episcopal Church (USA) comes this devastating indictment of the Presiding Bishop and her cohorts from the three clergy members of the Anglican Communion Institute. The facts recited deal only with the Diocese of South Carolina, and as such represent but a tiny portion of the lawlessness which the Presiding Bishop allows to guide her actions in the whole Church, as you may read about in the links just on this page.

This call should move any Bishop who truly cares about the "good order" of the Church, and who takes seriously a bishop's responsibilities to shepherd and maintain that good order. Copies of it should be sent to every diocesan office in the Church, to the reporters who are covering the story in South Carolina, and to any other newspaper outlets which will print a story about it. These three brave clergy are putting their own careers in the Church on the line in order to call their own Presiding Bishop to account! When has that ever been done before, since the unhappy end of Pope Urban VI?
We disagree with those among you who think the Presiding Bishop and her agents have done no wrong. As our Appendix demonstrates, the evidence is overwhelming that they have violated canons and engaged in discussions deceitfully. We disagree with those who accept the evidence, but think the matter inconsequential. If our leaders will not follow the canons and formal procedures of the church, not only in letter but in spirit, they forfeit any trust they may hold and undermine the mutual trust of the church as a whole. We disagree with those who think that such disregard of letter and spirit is merited by the misbehavior of Bishop Lawrence. Canonical violation and deceit will never produce peace in the church or render a just outcome. Further, the diocese of South Carolina has, for a long time, struggled to maintain its unity as a conservative Christian body and to remain within The Episcopal Church. Bp. Lawrence was given a tightrope to walk from the moment of his election and did so successfully and honestly. He did not jump from this difficult position but was intentionally pushed by the Presiding Bishop and the Disciplinary Board in ways that were neither necessary nor responsible. We disagree with those who believe that, in any case, all this is of little importance for the future of The Episcopal Church. The departure from The Episcopal Church, under moral duress, by one of our strongest and few growing dioceses, taking with it a range of energies and vital witness, threatens to subvert the hopes and good will of thousands of faithful members of our church and discourage the willingness of younger leaders to come forward in our midst. Indeed, all this constitutes a crisis for The Episcopal Church of the gravest kind. 
For those among you who, by contrast, have taken stock of the actions of the Presiding Bishop and her agents, we believe that you are obligated by solemn vow to respond forthrightly that they have violated canons and engaged in discussions deceitfully. We believe that you are called upon to pursue all canonical and spiritual means to bring these matters into the light before your college and the church at large. Your vows require you to rectify misdeeds that have been committed. You are called upon to rein in the misuse of authority and canons by those, like the Presiding Bishop and her legal staff, who have supervised the squandering of our human and material resources. We urge you as agents of reconciliation to do all in your power to rebuild the bridges of genuine Christian understanding and communion with both those who have left The Episcopal Church and those drifting in that direction. We urge you, in short, to be faithful to your calling and to be true and not false pastors of the people and the Gospel God has entrusted to your stewardship. The Lord does not ask that you succeed in your efforts, only that you stand as a sentinel before the people themselves.
Yours in Christ, 
The Rev. Prof. Christopher Seitz
The Rev. Dr. Philip Turner
The Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner
The only thing missing from this indictment is an instruction manual on how to bring charges against the Presiding Bishop under the new Title IV. For a step-by-step guide to the new procedures (and charges may be filed by anyone, inside or outside the Church, clergy or lay), see this earlier post.


  1. For those of us who don't have a whole lot of time today, is there an online form we fill out, or do we just send an email to Bishop Matthews listing the violations? If Katherine Jefferts Schori were the living Antichrist, I'm not sure she could do more damage to the Episcopal Church than she already has (indeed, she might have united it!), and so I want all of us to flood Matthews' office with complaints.

  2. Complaints may be filed with the Intake Officer in any fashion, TRR -- there is no official or online form. You may certainly send him an email. If he does not think it is clear enough, he will contact you for more particulars.

  3. Mr. Haley, I would not count on Bishop Matthews asking anyone for clarification. Call me a skeptic but I doubt any information (no matter how well documented) that even hints at the wrong doing by the PB would be investigated.

  4. I wrote my complaint to Bishop Matthews under my Norman-Scottish name (my mother's side is German). Not that I'm expecting much. Who wants to wager (hypothetically since we'll never know) that the person who has the most 'complaints' against them on Matthews' desk is the Presiding Bishop? Between Lawrence and Schori, you think it is 5-to-1? 10-to-1?

  5. Not me. TRR. Complants against the PB? Surely you jest? ;-)

  6. The Old Gringo has been under the weather for a bit, but this is the first response being made since my brief passage throught the Valley of the Shadow (intestinal flu). It has taken Central Texas over like a plague.
    We were stunned to see such straightforward language coming out of any willing commentators. When this long demise first started, we were certain that it was a fight without rules. The "reformers" reject rules almost of any kind, even their own.
    We spoke with no fewer than four priests back in the 1980s who readily admitted that they had had to side with homosexual initiatives, with "up-dating" the Book, with "social justice" ministries, and the entire secular humanisation of the Episcopal (and English) Church, who said essentially, "I don't feel that strongly about the issue, but the common priests have our retirement funds to think about". Or, "The path to Bishop does not pass through joining some Inquisition against Englightenment".

    If Katherine Jefferts Schori is not the living Antichrist, (I do not think she is, she is too stupid), then she must be his sister.

    We shall always remain at the ready to hear the admission, if not confession, of those who said things like, "Putting things into modern language will open us up to the young people and bring more people into the Church. It will be more welcoming." But we shall listen only if that admission comes with a frank recognition that the "reformers" were and are misguided, wrong, and bad for the correct funtion of an traditional, orthodox Christian denomination.

    Thanks as always for your time. I shall be down in Mexico at our little bed and breakfast place for an extended time. We will not have instant access to read and/or comment. But we shall be reading a bit of King James and the Collects from the 1928 Book and thinking about Our Leader A.S. Haley and the flock that he has gathered, and all their good works.
    El Gringo Viejo

  7. Most honorable El Gringo Viejo, I am most grateful that you have chosen to associate with this site and its commenters. We are all indeed allies in the fight for the faith of our fathers, and we shall (in Churchill's memorable phrasing) "never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never -- in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense."

    My wife and I would enjoy nothing more some time -- when I am free from the burdens of defending the Diocese of San Joaquin from the attacks of the Presiding Bishop and her minions -- than to join you and your spouse at your most hospitable hacienda in Mexico. From all that I have read at your blog, it sounds most accommodating and (as the Austrians say) gemütlich.

    Que Dios bendiga a usted y su familia.