Monday, August 18, 2008

FAQ #1 the Authority (or lack of) of the PB

FAQ #1 - Why would we want to be under the authority of the current Presiding Bishop?

A. We are not under the authority of the Presiding Bishop. The American Church does not have an Archbishop like much of the rest of the communion. Archbishops tend to have an enormous amount of authority in their Provinces. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has three main duties: 1. To preside at the House of Bishops as first among equals 2. To preside at the consecration of new bishops (and in the case of the current Presiding Bishop when invited) and 3. To visit every diocese during her nine year term. Even with this last point the Presiding Bishop may not exercise Episcopal office in a diocese without the permission of the ecclesiastical authority. Indeed, in Pittsburgh a parish has requested permission to have her come to preach and celebrate. Permission was denied and she has respected that decision.

Note: Stay tuned for more Frequently asked Questions in the days to come.


Paul (A.) said...

The primate of the Province of the Southern Cone is in its Constitution and Canons referred to as a "Presiding Bishop", not as an Archbishop. People who refer to P.B. Venables as "Archbishop" are either mistaken or may be following an agenda.

Jim Simons said...

Thanks Paul(a). I actually had known that at one time and forgot. The correction has been made.

Anonymous said...

Conclusion: we in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, indeed all Episcopalians, can safely ignore the PB as she is little more than a figurehead.

While her canonical authority may be confined to the three functions cited, in reality she appears to be wielding far more power. She has effectively put a stop to all property negotiations between bishops and their parishes wishing to leave, in at least one case seemingly overriding the wishes of the diocesan. She has taken the authority to remove a Standing Committee and gotten away with it. Evidence suggests use of extra-canonical authority that should be of concern to Episcopalians in Pittsburgh.

But far more than legal authority, we should be concerned about her moral authority- how do Pittsburgh Episcopalians escape that? She is the face of TEC and we are inextricably tied to her tireless advocacy for SSB's and normalization of homosexual behavior. Without leaving how do we escape the taint of her incoherent theology, her deficient Christology, her MDG Gospel, her repeated insistence that Jesus is merely a way to God? Does she have no moral authority as the leader of our church? In my parish, whose rector is one of the 12 signatories, I have heard not one but two sermons devoted to examining the PB's claim that there is salvation apart from Jesus Christ (politely not mentioning her by name of course). Why should it be necessary to preach sermons clarifying basic Christian doctrine to counter the perverse influence of the leader of one's church? Perhaps because one hears fellow parishoners saying things like, "I agree with her, we're all going to heaven in the end, it doesn't matter how we get there" (yes, I've heard that).

Legal authority? By the canons you may be right but there seems to be a lot of extra-canonical authority just lying around for her use. Moral authority? Unless you argue she has none leaving is a slam dunk.

BTW great blog, It’s nice having a Pittsburgh blogger