Thursday, June 29, 2006

Being and Bishops in Central Florida

Events are moving apace; step out for a beer somewhere in the Diocese of Central Florida, come back and this happens:

We hereby appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the panel of reference, and the Primates of the Anglican Communion for immediate alternative primatial oversight. We understand that none of our actions violate the canons of the Episcopal Church.

Interesting. What indeed is alternative primatial oversight? It seems to mean that the Diocese wishes to be under another provincial leader, another leader different from Presiding Bishop Griswold; we are not to infer Central Florida would accept PB-elect Schori. Of course, Griswold is no Archbishop, but rather a Bishop who is first among equals. Just what, then, is Central Florida requesting? Another person to fill the role that Griswold fills, another provincial leader.

Why is that important? Note:

It is our firm intent to remain a diocese with constituent member status in the Anglican Communion.

Perhaps CF thinks being a normal member at the Anglican Communion, having a seat at the table, requires being part of a province. They would have had such membership now had they remained under the leadership of the current PB. Stepping out from under the authority of the PB without being under the authority of another provincial leader who has normal membership in the AC would mean existing for a time without membership in the Anglican Communion. That is, CF would lose the membership it had in the AC--something CF wishes to avoid, as such a loss for CF would mean no longer being Anglican, i.e. losing its very esse.

Thus, this move by CF is quite interesting--we are to see CF not as withdrawing now from the authority of ECUSA's PB, but rather soliciting another provincial leader via Williams while remaining under ECUSA's PB. The transition from provincial leader to provinical leader must be seamless.

Key question: is it a canonical violation for a Diocese or the Bishop of a Diocese to so solicit memebership in another province? This is, of course, to solicit membership in another church.

Here is a relevant article (III) from the Constitution of CF:

The Diocese of Central Florida acknowledges its allegiance to be due to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ; and recognizing the body known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America otherwise known as the Episcopal Church to be a true branch of said Church, having rightful jurisdiction in this country, hereby declares its adhesion to the same and accedes to its Constitution and Canons.

Note well, the 2003 Canons imply at Title IV, Canon 1, Sec. 1 (e) and (f) that a Bishops, Priests, and Deacons are obliged to obey the canons of their Dioceses and of ECUSA's GC, disobedience being a liable offense. But by CF's own constitution, the Diocese recognizes ECUSA as having rightful jurisdiction, and itself as adhering to ECUSA.

The key question: is the Bishop violating the constitution of CF by soliciting overisight from another provincial leader, i.e. asking Williams to become part of another Province? We are not talking about another province of ECUSA, e.g. Duncan's phantasy Province X, but another church altogether. He has, by signing on to this statement, declared an intent to lead the Diocese to renounce ECUSA's jurisdiction as well as its constitution and canons.


At 8:51 AM, Blogger The Country Parson said...

I feel pretty strongly that if you do not recognize the duly elected leader of the church, Jefferts-Schori, and request other oversight then you have placed yourself outside the Episcopal Church and its General Convnetion. If dioceses are like parishes, which I don't know if they are, but if they are, then Griswold and the Executive Council need to go after all church property. In the least the Church Pension Fund should require priests and bishops who articipate in the fund be part of the Episcopal Church. These diocese who are leaving are not in the church and so their clergy should not enjoy the benefits of the Church Pension Fund.

At 10:15 AM, Blogger Fr Andrew Petiprin said...

This is interesting analysis.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

Thanks country parson and first apostle for your comments.

I agree with the country parson that there is something wrong with formally defying our elected leadership and soliciting memebership in another church while claiming to remain in ECUSA. It's impossible, as Bishop Lee of Virginia recentlt told Minns, who tried to pull a similar stunt recently.

What really bugs me is the theology of the episcopate. I have nowhere contemporary to go for anything seriously worked out. Can anyone suggest something?

At 2:39 PM, Blogger Marshall Scott said...

It seems to me that institutionally, consitutionally, and legally (as opposed to ecclesiologically) a diocese is a creature of the General Convention. Central Florida, for example, was at some point recognized and received by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. This seems another instance of wrestling with how individuals can leave the Episcopal Church and take the institutional structures with them (separating those, for the moment, from the physical facilities and real estate). I do think that many who would be willing to leave the real property still want the supposed moral authority of holding onto the "institutional structures."

The bishops of the Episcopal Church agreed to work with each other under the terms of DEPO. But under those terms congregations could request delegated oversight, and not simply an opportunity to go "bishop shopping" (the ecclesiastical equivalent, perhaps, of legal "venue shopping"). Who would there be to delegate "primatial oversight?" Certainly not Canterbury; Rowan's recent reflection stated unambiguously that he doesn't have that authority.

At 9:36 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

Thank you for dropping by.

So you would say we are in uncharted waters here with regard to who would answer to "Alternative Primatial Oversight"?

Even so, it seems to me that their actions clearly imply intent to leave ECUSA.

At 4:37 PM, Blogger The Country Parson said...

In 2000 some sort of standing commission of the GC created a useful document entitled "Toward a Theology of Ministry" as a theological basis for revisions of the ministry canons. Here's the web address:
It's not a very long document but it does include a page or two about the ministry of bishops. ARCIC has also addressed the question of ministry and authority which include statements about bishops.

At 8:58 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

Thanks for the references, country parson.


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