Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An Open Retraction of My Open Offer

This grieves me greatly. It seems that I have made a serious error in judgement in offering an opportunity for fellow Episcopalians (St. Mark's, Port Royal, South Carolina) to break loose from the chains of tyranny.To the our fellow Episcopalians, Port Royal, I am so very sorry. I truly thought we could be of some significant service.

Here is the rationale as it comes from those in the know:

First, Bishops cannot intercede (even with DEPO) without the invitation of the bishop with jurisdiction. Even the appearance of the interceding raises complications for us and for the parish you wish to assist. However, it appears that St. Mark’s is not currently recognized as a congregation in the Episcopal Church, and no outside intervention can create a congregation in a diocese, only the diocesan bishop can. It also appears that they have made a direct appeal to the Presiding Bishop for pastoral support and guidance who subsequently responded with the direction that they contact the president of their Province. We do not want to prejudice any ongoing discussions with +Lawrence.

Canonically and ecclesiastically there is simply no formal role for EDSJ to play or any other diocese for that matter. Thus, your offer unintentionally holds out a false hope with respect to DEPO by +Jerry. By way of our experience in EDSJ, I am aware of the damage false hopes can cause, especially around attempts to escape from a bishop seeking on taking a diocese out of the Church. However, this does not rule out or prevent expressions of encouragement and support by individuals in your parish that feel so moved.

Second, we have learned a lot about these situations and many of us have traveled far and wide to lobby for changes in how the Church responds to these crises, including the predicament of the subject parish. As a result, they have changed their procedures and handle these situations very different than how EDSJ was handled. Certainly there is more work to do in this regard, but we have changed the system in a positive way.

Third, I would note that your suggestion that we ignore procedure in favor of substance is exactly the same argument that Schofield and most of the departing group used to justify their attempted removal of the assets of The Episcopal Church. These “procedures” are critical to the orderly conduct of our common life together as a Church and protect the “substance” of Church as well, albeit imperfectly.

(for the record: I suggested that we not let form rule out over substance, as opposed to ignoring anything as suggested above).

Fourth, the best thing we can do for other dioceses (Ft. Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, etc.) and groups like St. Mark’s is to be very successful in recovering and rebuilding our diocese. As you know, such an effort is rather daunting and complicated by our limited financial resources.

Given the above, it is my sincere hope that you could retract or modify your blog post so as to avoid disappointment and/or unnecessary confusion.

Please note I do not wish to call anyone out. I am incredibly depressed at this point. It seems that we cannot even help those most in need. The bishop of the diocese in question can and is one of the Communion Partner bishops that travelled to Canterbury and came back with the offer of alternative episcopal oversight for those parishes not in concert with the Presiding Bishop and without so much as a by your leave but woe unto us if we seek to help those on the other side of the issue.

I have wondered, often times out loud, whether we could triumph on these issues. I am still not sure but I am growing more convinced that we are not. When I raised this issue, thinking that we could at least look into the matter, hopeful that we might be able to provide more than prayerful moral support, so many folks distanced themselves from this it was not even funny.

As you can read, I am confused, confounded, disappointed with so many folks and I am ready to hang it up.

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