Current TEC Bishops in Fort Worth and Quincy write PB Jefferts Schori about recent Charges

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefforts Schori
The Episcopal Church
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY, 10017

Re: Request to set the record straight

Dear Bishop Jefforts Schori:

We, the bishops of the Dioceses of Quincy and Fort Worth, with the support of the Standing Committee and Council of each diocese, respectfully urge the Church’s House of Bishops, at its meeting at the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis, to set the record straight regarding recent statements by certain bishops in our Church. The subject bishops are:

1. The Rt. Rev. Maurice M. Benitez (resigned, Diocese of Texas);
2. The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe (resigned, Diocese of Central Florida);
3. The Rt. Rev. Paul E. Lambert (suffragan, Diocese of Dallas);
4. The Rt. Rev. William H. Love (diocesan, Diocese of Albany);
5. The Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson (diocesan, Diocese of W. Louisiana);
6. The Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins (diocesan, Diocese of Springfield);
7. The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton (diocesan, Diocese of Dallas);
8. The Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith (resigned, Diocese of Springfield); and
9. The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon (resigned, Diocese of South Carolina).

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The House of Bishops is well aware of the litigation across this Church resulting from breakaway factions who left The Episcopal Church but claim to have taken parishes and entire dioceses, and all the historic church property, names, records, and funds, with them, and claim to “be” the continuing parish or diocese. In the Dioceses of Quincy, Fort Worth, San Joaquin, and Pittsburgh, these breakaway efforts were led by former members of the House of Bishops.

Recent events illustrate that there are still bishops in our Church who harm the Church by officially misrepresenting the polity of the Church; invading the episcopal jurisdiction of other bishops; taking official, formal, affirmative actions directly against their own Church and sister dioceses; and even recognizing the continuing authority of breakaway former bishops over the bishops who are recognized by this Church. In doing so they give aid and comfort to breakaway factions who would take title and control of substantially all of the real and personal property of this Church and cripple its mission and ministry.

Specifically, on April 23, 2012 Bishops Benitez, Howe, Lambert, Love, MacPherson, Martins, and Stanton, purporting to act in their oficial capacities as bishops of The Episcopal Church and its House of Bishops, caused to be filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief n litigation in support of a breakaway faction led by former bishop Jack Iker and against this Church and its Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Similarly, on October 6, 2011, 2011, Bishops Salmon, MacPherson, and Beckwith, purporting to act in their official capacities as bishops of The Episcopal Church and its House of Bishops, caused to be filed affidavits in litigation in support of a breakaway faction led by Alberto Morales and against this Church and its Episcopal Diocese of Quincy. The details of their misrepresentations are reflected in the documents themselves. However, generally the bishops falsely claimed as follows:

1. They Represented that Dioceses Can Unilaterally Leave: These bishops give aid and comfort to breakaway factions trying to alienate this Church’s historic property and identity and urge a false view of polity that would purport to authorize each bishop across this Church to lead his or her diocese and church property in the diocese out of The Episcopal Church.

2. They Denied the Dennis Canon and Failed to Safeguard Church Property: These bishops advocate that the breakaway parties should prevail in the litigation against The Episcopal Church and the loyal Episcopalians in those dioceses and assert positions that would strip millions of dollars of historic property and funds, lovingly accumulated by generations of Episcopalians, from the mission and ministry of this Church, and instead urge that they be used by breakaway factions for the mission and ministry of a new church. They thus would nullify this Church’s trust interest in all the real and personal property of congregations in those dioceses and, indeed, across The Episcopal Church and fail to safeguard property of the Church and its dioceses.

3. They Recognized the Wrong Bishops: The amicus bishops in the Fort Worth case expressly claim that Iker, not Bishop Wallis Ohl, repeatedly recognized by the Church, is still the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth; in the Quincy filing the affidavit bishops imply that Morales, not Bishop John C. Buchanan, repeatedly recognized by the Church, is the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy. By this claim these bishops not only reject this Church’s authority to recognize its own bishops but they arrogate for themselves, in direct defiance of this Church, the authority to determine the episcopal authority of every other bishop in the Church, substituting at will their personal standards for those of this Church and trying to inject chaos into core ecclesiastical functions of The Episcopal Church itself.

4. They Violated Episcopal Jurisdiction: By their public filings in local litigation, without invitation or consent of the ecclesiastical authority in those sister dioceses, these bishops directly violated the ecclesiastical authority and episcopal jurisdiction of Bishop C. Wallis Oh1 and Bishop John C. Buchanan, respectively, who have been consistently recognized by The Episcopal Church as being the current bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy. By inserting themselves in local litigation against the ecclesiastical authority in those dioceses, the subject bishops have violated the longstanding prohibition against “acting in another diocese without the consent of the diocesan authority”’ and have engaged in boundary crossing to interfere profoundly in the mission and the very existence of a sister diocese and the jurisdiction of other bishops of this Church.

CONCLUSION

This is not a matter of a few unhappy bishops stating their personal views on church polity. They each affirmatively and officially acted by injecting themselves, intentionally and without invitation from the bishops exercising jurisdiction, into local litigation, opposing this Church and sister dioceses on core ecclesiastical issues regarding the very identity of other dioceses.

We respectfully urge that the House of Bishops set the record straight on the polity of this Church regarding its hierarchical character.

Respectfully submitted,

(signed)

(The Rt. Rev.) C. Wallis Ohl (TEC) Bishop of Fort Worth

(The Rt. Rev.) John C. Buchanan (TEC) Bishop of Quincy

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: QuincyTEC Polity & Canons

19 Comments
Posted July 6, 2012 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Henry wrote:

That sure sounds like angry “lawyer-speak”...the angriness of the rump Dioc. of F.W. and the legal wording of well paid lawyers.

July 6, 11:36 am | [comment link]
2. Ian+ wrote:

They’re attempting to reduce it to a turf issue, ignoring the wider implications the whole business will have for the whole of TEC, when in reality all bishops of the church have a vested interest in monitoring the cases and giving input, just as the Apostles did in supporting one another’s ministries and in their common authority over the whole Church.

July 6, 11:59 am | [comment link]
3. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Interesting. Hmm. Wonder when they will have the time with schedule of General Convention to address this?  No doubt, she would be only to happy to give her remarks.  Just don’t expect to hear anything that has any factual basis to it just the same old ‘this church is hierarchical because we had bamboozled enough courts to agree with us and thus we say it is so.’ Will they then have the bishop-elects come up and have to sign an agreement indicating that they agree with her statement?  I am so tired their nastiness. Just get over it, will ya?

July 6, 11:59 am | [comment link]
4. c.r.seitz wrote:

Actually quite a few of these characterizations are factually in error. They did not say that dioceses could unilaterally leave; it wasn’t discussed. Nothing in the amicus spoke to Dennis. They didn’t recognize or derecognize any bishops. The jurisdiction thing is nonsense. This is a lot of grasping at straws. It is emotional and incoherent. The Bishops who filed the amicus were not unhappy and they were not stating personal views. They were professionals speaking professionally. That may now be a crime of its own.

July 6, 12:03 pm | [comment link]
5. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Dr. Seitz,  I agree. These “facts” are in error. Since when have these people let facts govern what they want out of the courts?  Enough people will believe it. I suspect this will be praised by the Episcopal Forum of SC as being absolutely correct description of TEC. I can’t wait to see how Steve Skardon of SC Episcopalians spins this latest effort at nonsense. I am ashamed that these two bishops allowed their names to be used by this obviously disgruntled bunch of laity.

July 6, 12:16 pm | [comment link]
6. Brien wrote:

Dr Seitz, you beat me to it.  I went back to read the amicus brief because the “factual” assertions in the Ohl/Buchanan epistle just didn’t ring true with my memory of the first reading months ago.  If any wish to read the facts as written and signed by the bishops, here is a link:

http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/ebriefs/11/11026514.pdf

July 6, 1:05 pm | [comment link]
7. c.r.seitz wrote:

I would doubt that “...these two bishops allowed their names to be used by this obviously disgruntled bunch of laity.” We know the provisional Bishop of FW believes every word written, and the lack of care in what is alleged is characteristic. The provisional Bishop of Quincy is the hand-picked person in charge of litigation adminstration.

July 6, 1:06 pm | [comment link]
8. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Dr. Seitz. Even more shameful then that these two bishops believe it. Truly all the more disappointing.

July 6, 1:26 pm | [comment link]
9. c.r.seitz wrote:

Dear #8. I think when you agree to be a ‘provisional bishop’ (+Buchanon has done it more than once) you must be the first-string of pro TEC-PB hierarchy advocates. The whole notion is questionable on its face, demanded by the circumstances of litigation (the PB has no standing in Illinois, e.g.).

July 6, 1:33 pm | [comment link]
10. Michael+ wrote:

“Anger” would be the most charitable description I could make of my response to this garbage.

July 6, 1:40 pm | [comment link]
11. A Senior Priest wrote:

This is repulsive and unattractive. I guess in TEC we will all have to watch what we say in the future, since freedom of thought and the expression thereof is no longer a virtue.

July 6, 2:21 pm | [comment link]
12. BlueOntario wrote:

Interesting to call retired bishops “resigned.”

July 6, 2:27 pm | [comment link]
13. Brien wrote:

These two bishops have published a letter alleging as “factual” things that can be easily shown to be untrue.  Is this bearing false witness?  Is this damaging to the collegiality of the House of Bishops (such as it is)? Is this conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy?  Is there a Title 4 complaint here against Ohl and Buchanan?  Anyone?

July 6, 2:57 pm | [comment link]
14. Milton Finch wrote:

Brien,
If we were dealing with an honest situation, one could see charges coming against the two TEC plants, but this hasn’t been an honest situation for a while.

July 6, 3:27 pm | [comment link]
15. Milton Finch wrote:

We’re dealing with robed and ordinated thuggery.

July 6, 3:29 pm | [comment link]
16. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Worthy of the “diocesans” who wrote it.  Faux diocese with faux standing committees and faux “bishops”.  At least they made it clear why they are faux.

July 6, 3:42 pm | [comment link]
17. Paula Loughlin wrote:

What a pair of despicable poltroons.  God rot them.

July 6, 6:21 pm | [comment link]
18. Ian+ wrote:

Actually, #16, they’re not faux bishops—they’re genuine. But the fact that they list some of the bishops they accuse as “resigned” rather than retired, in addition to being overtly in bad taste, is the sort of language KJS used a few years back when she spoke of bishops who had left TEC as having “resigned their orders” (which she also said of Bp MacDonald when he accepted the job of national indigenous bishop in Canada). At any rate, the accusers are resorting to sophistry and venom, which makes themselves look very bad indeed.

July 6, 7:28 pm | [comment link]
19. c.r.seitz wrote:

http://www.livingchurch.org/matter-polity

July 7, 7:20 am | [comment link]
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