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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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My main quarrel with the Bishop’s Statement is not that it is defective in its assessment of what was envisioned when PECUSA was established but rather its silence about what has evolved subsequently. Like it or not, the powers of the diocese in the matter of church property and the election of rectors has evolved, most particularly in the past 35 years. In part it is framed in the Dennis Canon which seems to claim ownership of church property by the diocese rather than the parish and by the national church over the diocese. It is also suggested by the creation of local diocesan laws which have largely taken away the rights of parishes to call rectors. A miriad of diocesan regulations have emerged, ironically on the grounds that dioceses have the right to establish methods of rectorial election, unsupported by national Canons. In short both the National Church and the dioceses, and diocesan bishops now claim authority far from that claimed by the founders of PECUSA. In some areas this has established laws far beyond those our founders granted to the National Church, and dioceses have established regulations which have limited parochial rights as established by the Canons. In short both the National Church and the Diocese assume to theirselves authority far beyond the intentions of the founders or the text of the Constitution and Canons.
Our founders were persons who believed that rational people could compact a union which permitted each level of organization to function at that level with little coercion. People of good will might be trusted to act as rational human beings. It was perhaps a Utopian ideal but one which inspired the creators of the United States. Subsequently a more cynical/practical view emerged, reacting to what was perceived to be abuse of power at differing levels. Thus, at least to my mind, it is not sufficient to evaluate TEC solely in the light of “original intent.” Yet I would suggest that a contemporary evaluation cannot lose sight of original intent and in this context the statement of the Communion Partners Bishops is a valuable recall to that intent.
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