Thursday, November 01, 2007

Twists and Turns of the Ordination Process

Last night, news came across the Episcopal News Service that my bishop, Rt. Rev. Charles Bennison, Jr., as a part of a presentment (or indictment) against him was inhibited by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori from all 'episcopal' duties. Read more about it HERE.

This means, in effect that he is "suspended" from his duties until the results of a trial take place. For me, this means that I am awaiting finding out who might ordain me to the priesthood. While the bishop is inhibited, the Standing Committee (a type of a board of governors) of the Diocese of Pennsylvania are the "ecclesiastical authority" in his place. So, I am awaiting might happen this weekend at our Diocesan (annual) Convention and praying for the good people of my diocese. It feels like a family in crisis and my heart really goes out to everyone there.

Please also pray for me as I "wait patiently on the Lord" and on the Standing Committee to see how they might move forward through these troubled waters!

I read on Mark Harris's Preludium blog a nice description and discussion of the issue with Bishop Bennison, as well as the bishop across the state of Pennsylvania, Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, who is also being warned that his actions might force an inhibition. I found Mark's comments to be helpful in understanding the moment in which we find ourselves...

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

There are times when following the story of the Episcopal Church in these difficult times of internal strife and ecclesial invasion from without gets a bit complex. Matters are made all the more difficult when these take place against the background of the slow and painful demise of the American Empire. So it takes a bit of doing to get a grip on what is happening in The Episcopal Church these days.

Reference to "Title IV" of the Canons of the Episcopal Church is not usually newsworthy. In the past week, however, Title IV has come up on several occasions:
(i) At Executive Council the issue of costs related to various legal matters growing out of Title IV concerns was raised.
(ii) Bishop Bennison of Pennsylvania has been inhibited pending the review by the Title IV review committee.
(iii) Bishop Robert Duncan has been warned that if he and the Diocese of Pittsburgh change their constitution so that unqualified accession to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church is assured, he might well be understood to have abandoned the communion of this church, under Title IV.

Title IV of the Canons of the Episocpal Church covers matters of ecclesiastical discipline. In Bishop Bennison's case, matters of conduct in relation to his pastoral responsibilities, in the matter of the clergy and bishops aligning with other provinces or denying their oaths of obedience, their ecclesial responsibilities.

The property issues arise from another canon, Title I 7 4.1. But those issues intersect with Title IV issues when it is by virtue of the abandonment of the communion of this Church that the claim is made by the leaving bishop or clergy that they continue to have the right of use of the facilities they held while part of The Episcopal Church.

The problem is that the keys continue to be in the hands of the now deposed or otherwise absent clergy. Getting the keys back takes place against the background of the rights of the clergy, which arose as a matter of right by their inclusion in the clergy of this church.

In Bishop Bennison's case he has had the keys taken away from him by inhibition. In Bishop Duncan's case it appears the Church is saying that if it is shown that he has abandoned the communion of this Church, the Church will demand the keys back.

Read the rest HERE.

PRELUDIUM: Bishops, accountability and Title IV



Eliz F said...

Peter, my heart is with you and Erika and all those awaiting ordination. Please keep me posted and I wish you all the best this weekend.

Peter Carey said...


Thanks so much; we'll get through this stretch - I am happy to be in the Diocese of VA but my thoughts and prayers are with the people who are weathering this tough time in DioPA!!