Communion Partners: Title IV Exposed

Posted by The_Elves

On June 28, 2012, Bishop Clay Matthews gave notice to 9 bishops that complaints have been filed under the provisions of Title IV. Bishops Salmon, Beckwith and MacPherson were cited for having endorsed a legal pleading filed in the Quincy lawsuit. In addition, Bishops Benitez, Howe, Lambert, Love, MacPherson, Martins, and Stanton were charged with misconduct due to their submission of an amicus curiae brief in the Fort Worth case.

The Anglican Communion Institute’s announcement pertaining to the amicus curiae brief filed with the court in the Fort Worth lawsuit, included the following statement.

All of these bishops and all of the officers and directors of ACI remain in The Episcopal Church and have submitted this brief solely because they disagree with the characterization of the governance of The Episcopal Church as submitted in support of the motion for summary judgment that the trial court granted in this case. As is well known, these bishops and ACI oppose the decision by the Diocese of Fort Worth to leave The Episcopal Church. They have no intention of withdrawing from the Church, but it is precisely because they intend to remain in the Church that they are concerned that the trial court ruling has misunderstood, and thereby damaged, the constitutional structure of The Episcopal Church.

The idea that the submission of this brief, based on such reasoning, could be construed as “misconduct” is simply incredible.

Even under the ill-conceived disciplinary canon rammed through the General Convention in 2009, it is hard to understand how Bishop Matthews as “Intake Officer” could have considered these complaints credible enough to continue the process. The fact that the charges were communicated on the same day for both the Quincy and the Fort Worth cases suggests that the credibility of the charges was based on the position of power and influence held by the accuser rather than the facts.

Besides being conduct unbecoming of a church, this action is a violation of the guarantee of the right of free speech found in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The supposed “wall of separation” between church and state was never meant to provide a place to hide from being bound by the laws of the land. Indeed, this action at best has the smell of a witch-hunt. One can only hope that this travesty will cause Episcopalians to recognize that the disciplinary canon is ripe for abuse and demand it be abolished in its present form.

Meanwhile, please join me in supporting and praying for our bishops who have stood for what they believe is right and are now being attacked for their courage.

The Rev. Charles D. Alley, Ph.D.

Rector, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church

Richmond, Virginia

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Posted July 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm

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1. Todd Granger wrote:

For all that I agree with Dr Alley that this action is “simply incredible”, his critique on the basis of the First Amendment is simply wrong.  There is no ecclesiastical standing for the First Amendment’s provisions for freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, save that we are free to dissent from, and to withdraw from, any church or ecclesial body.  But dissent within an ecclesial body has consequences.  Were we to apply the standard of the First Amendment, there would be no disciplining of those in the Church who teach heterodoxy and heresy.

What is at issue is the incoherence and tyranny of this act.

But then, as I’ve become accustomed to saying of late, there beats within the breast of every (theological or political) “progressive” the heart of a Jacobin.

July 1, 5:52 pm | [comment link]
2. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

Wow…Communion Partners. Are they still in business? Another country heard from!

July 1, 8:01 pm | [comment link]
3. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Still waiting for the Camp Allen (Blowin’ in the) Wind-sor crowd to comment, but it may be too early to tell which way the wind is blowing for ‘em, yet.

July 1, 10:16 pm | [comment link]
4. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

#1 Todd, a lawyer would have to comment here, as I am not a lawyer—BUT, I believe “free speech” comes into play because, albeit they are bishops of the Church, they basically submitted opinion/testimony in a civil litigation proceeding.

July 1, 10:44 pm | [comment link]
5. Todd Granger wrote:

Bookworm, on the narrow issue of submitting an opinion (and amicus brief) in a civil lawsuit, you may well be right.

July 2, 12:16 am | [comment link]
6. MichaelA wrote:

#2, when +Howe and +Lawrence went to the Global South Singapore Encounter in April 2010, they went as Communion Partner bishops within TEC.  The Global South posted an official communique welcoming them on that basis, and speaking of the faithful ministry in North America of both ACNA and Communion Partners in TEC.

July 2, 12:30 am | [comment link]
7. MichaelA wrote:

Re my #6, clearly some within TEC would like to eradicate the Communion Partners witness entirely from TEC.  So far they haven’t succeeded, but who knows what tomorrow may bring? Watch and pray.

July 2, 12:31 am | [comment link]
8. Already left wrote:

#1 “Were we to apply the standard of the First Amendment, there would be no disciplining of those in the Church who teach heterodoxy and heresy.”
Well, then, where is the discipling of Spong, et al?

July 2, 6:04 pm | [comment link]
9. A Senior Priest wrote:

As far as I’m concerned, churches who do not respect the constitutional rights of their members need to have the barrier between Church and state breached. As a matter of fact, reflecting on the way “religion” in America is lived out I find I have come to support the full subjection of religion to the guarantees given to Americans in the Constitution.

July 3, 5:12 pm | [comment link]

© 2014 Kendall S. Harmon. All rights reserved.

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