Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bishop Howe responds to "Presentment"

From Central Florida-

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

There has been much discussion on this list (and elsewhere) over the past few days regarding a complaint leveled against seven bishops (myself included) who filed an Amicus Curiae  ("Friend of the Court") Brief back in April in the Texas Supreme Court related to the dispute between Bishop Jack Iker, the departing "Diocese of Fort Worth," and The Episcopal Church.

(First, thanks to all who have expressed sympathy and concern both on the list and in posts to me personally.  Please allow me to respond to everyone in these general remarks.)

The seven bishops (Benitez, Howe, Lambert, Love, MacPherson, Martins, and Stanton) signed onto a brief that was written by three theologians of the Anglican Communion Institute (Professors Ephraim Radner, Chris Seitz, and Philip Turner) that objected to, and attempted to correct, the way in which the court in Texas interpreted the structure of The Episcopal Church.

The question is: is The Episcopal Church "hierarchical" beyond the level of the diocese?  Our brief largely followed the argument the Anglican Communion Institute spelled out in great detail back in 2009, which in turn stemmed from an understanding of the structure of the Anglican Communion expressed in a letter the Archbishop of Canterbury sent to me, personally; and the brief itself can be found on the ACI web site.

Innovative Media Hub brings General Convention to all people

From ENS-

The innovative Media Hub, developed and produced by the Episcopal Church Office of Communication, will bring the 77th General Convention 2012 to all people, wherever they may be, available here:

“Whether our viewers are attending General Convention in Indianapolis, or they are in their own dioceses and homes, they can follow all the action and excitement of General Convention on their laptops and other devices,” explained Anne Rudig, Episcopal Church Director of Communication.

The 77th Episcopal Church General Convention will be held July 5 through July 12 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis; IN. Held every three years, General Convention is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It is composed of the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay representatives elected from the 110 dioceses of the Church, at more than 800 members.

More here-

Physicists say they've found evidence of 'God particle'

From The LA Times-

The head of the world's biggest atom smasher says they have discovered a new particle that is consistent with the long-sought Higgs boson known popularly as the “God particle,” which is believed to give all matter in the universe size and shape.

To cheers and standing ovations from scientists, the world's biggest atom smasher claimed the discovery of a new subatomic particle Wednesday, calling it "consistent" with the long-sought Higgs boson -- popularly known as the "God particle" -- that helps explain what gives all matter in the universe size and shape.

"We have now found the missing cornerstone of particle physics," Rolf Heuer, director of the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), told scientists.

He said the newly discovered subatomic particle is a boson, but he stopped just shy of claiming outright that it is the Higgs boson itself -- an extremely fine distinction.

More here-,0,871581.story

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bishop faces church discipline

From Albany-

Episcopal Bishop William H. Love and six fellow conservative bishops filed a statement of support this spring in Texas appeals court for a breakaway church faction battling with the national church.
Now, the seven bishops are the target of a complaint lodged by a church member.

The court case arises from a 2008 split in the Fort Worth Diocese that has played out against the splintering in the church over the ordination of gay clergy and other issues related to sexuality.
Bishop Jack Iker and breakaway parishes in Fort Worth sought to retain title to church property as they broke with the Episcopal Church.

"To date, I have not seen a copy of the 'complaint,' nor do I know who issued it, or what it says," Love stated in a June 30 letter posted on the Diocese of Albany website.

The amicus curae, or friend of the court, brief filed by Love and Bishops Maurice M. Benitez, John W. Howe, Paul E. Lambert, D. Bruce MacPherson, Daniel H. Martins and James M. Stanton argues that the Episcopal Church's hierarchical structure does not go beyond the individual diocese. This opposes national church's stance and that of the Fort Worth Diocese.

"They're supporting a lost cause. Apparently, someone in the wider church feels they stepped over the line," Bob Dodd, president of Albany Via Media, a group of moderate to liberal Episcopalians, said Monday.

Read more:

Sudan: Episcopal Church in Sudan Makes New Appeal for People in Conflict-Torn Malakal Area

From Sudan-

Bishop John Gattek from the Diocese of Malakal, Church of Sudan is calling for humanitarian relief for communities in the Benitu area of Unity state in South Sudan.

Unity State area is on the border of South Sudan and Sudan where tension is permanent due to lack of agreement regarding boundary issues and the way in which valuable resources are shared. There is a humanitarian crisis due to the conditions in which people have to live. Among them are returnees from North Sudan and other nations, internally displaced people and the host community.

You can read more about this situation in the Humanitarian Bulletins (4 - 10 of June) - (11- 17 of June) issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

They are in desperate need of water and sanitation supplies, food, health care, shelter and educational facilities. Humanitarian operation has also been affected by the rainy season that limits road access to settlements and connection to the capital Juba. In addition, vital infrastructure was destroyed by the war as was the church building in the Bentiu area.

Bishop Gattek is asking for help to provide the following assistance to the communities in the areas of Rubkoana, Mayom, Abiemnom, and Panrieng:

Food items: cooking oil, lentils tints, salt, etc.

More here-

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bishop Love's Letter to the People of the Diocese of Albany

From Albany-

June 30, 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Earlier today, I received an email copy of a letter dated June 29, 2012, from the Rt. Rev’d Clayton Matthews. I was one of seven bishops addressed in the letter. The other bishops include: The Rt. Rev’d Maurice M. Benitez, The Rt. Rev’d John W. Howe, The Rt. Rev’d Paul E. Lambert, The Rt. Rev’d D. Bruce MacPherson, The Rt. Rev’d Daniel H. Martins, and the Rt. Rev’d James M. Stanton.

In the letter, Bishop Matthews states, “As the Intake Officer for the Church, I am obliged to inform you that a complaint has been received against you for your action in filing of Amicus Curiae Brief in the pending appeal in the Supreme Court of Texas in opposition to The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and The Episcopal Church. In the next few weeks, I will initiate a disciplinary process according to Title IV Canon 6 Sec. 3 & 4 of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.”

More here-


From Shreds and Patches-

By now it’s generally known that complaints have been brought against nine bishops of the Episcopal Church and that these bishops, including three diocesans and one suffragan are being investigated. It is not clear whether these investigations are being conducted by a person or persons unknown, or by persons selected by the committee charged with reviewing such complaints and making the decision whether the complaints rise to a level where the bishops should be formally accused and brought to trial in an ecclesiastical court. Thus it is not only a matter of nine members of the House of Bishops being complained against. Two other aspects are of note. No one knows for sure who has brought their complaints to the “input officer”, Bishop Clay Matthews. Secondly this is the second time this new process has been invoked and it is obviously therefore a test of the efficacy of the system adopted in 2009 by General Convention in its sweeping reform of  the disciplinary Canons (laws). It is not unreasonable to suggest that in addition to the nine bishops, the very process itself is now brought to the fore and tested.

The level of discretion which may be exercised by the Intake Officer seems unclear. May this officer decide not to investigate complaints, or must he -in this case it is a “he” –  decide to ignore a complaint? The purpose of permitting any Episcopalian to bring a formal complaint against another while covering her or himself under a cloak of anonymity was to provide protection to people who complain that they have been abused in some sense. Obviously in cases of alleged abuse, some protection ought to be afforded. However the nine bishops are not accused of abusing a person or persons unknown. If indeed the Intake Officer has minimal discretion and the complainants protected as to their identity, obvious abuse of the system seems inevitable even in a Christian church! As there seem to be no sanctions available to be brought against malicious or frivolous complaints, nothing prevents the misuse of the system. The ‘accused’ face public exposure of themselves to suspicion while the accusers remain secure in their anonymity unless they go public.

More here-

Scandal adds to Episcopal woes as defections rise

From The Rio Grande-

Membership in the Episcopal Church continues to slide amidst wrangling over gay bishops, women bishops, and purse-string scandals, the most recent debacle erupting in the high desert sands of New Mexico.

In Albuquerque the Cathedral Church of St. John was seen headed toward eventual bankruptcy as its members deserted to other less-ornate, smaller Episcopal churches. Then the cathedral accountant sounded an alarm. In effect, he accused the church leadership of complacency in the sloppy way the cathedral was run. Immediately the area’s bishop rushed to quash the bad mouthing with an apparent cover-up.

Membership had spiraled down, a decline proportionately similar to the national loss in recent decades. A 2010 national headcount revealed 1,951,907 defectors from what had been 3.6 million members, church records show. Membership in 2011 held at 2,006,343, down 2.48 percent, according to the National Council of Churches.

According to disciplinary records of both faiths, bishops for both the Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches in the United States do have a record of covering up scandals, at least temporarily. Of reported cases, Catholic bishops tend to hide sexual abuse. Episcopal bishops tend to offer a mixed bag, according to published cases.

This most recent attempt to hide wrong doing has come with the muted ferocity of a mountain thunderstorm in the peaceful valley of the Rio Grande, where the largest wildfires in New Mexico history have roared practically unabated for months.

More here-

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Presbyterians likely to debate gay marriage issues at gathering in city

From Pittsburgh-

The Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop on Saturday told several hundred Presbyterians committed to advancing gay equality issues that their work soon could pay off.

“This is hard work, but we can do it because it is worthy work and it is Godly work,” Bishop Gene Robinson, 65, of New Hampshire told those attending a dinner hosted by More Light Presbyterians, a pro-gay rights group of the Presbyterian Church (USA), in the Westin Convention Center Hotel, Downtown. “We will live to see the day that the church of Jesus Christ, in whatever form it is, will repent from what it has done to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people the way it has repented for slavery.”

The Presbyterian Church (USA), the country’s largest Presbyterian group with 1.95 million members, is holding its 220th General Assembly in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, through Saturday.

Various proposals concerning gay marriage could lead to contentious debate within the Louisville-based Protestant denomination.

More here-

6 former Episcopal clergymen are ordained in Catholic Church

From Ft. Worth-

 Under a huge dome with images of winged angels, six former Fort Worth-area Episcopal clergymen -- including a father and son -- lay facedown at a marble altar Saturday and were ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church.

In what officials called a historic moment, Fort Worth Catholic Bishop Kevin Vann and other white-robed priests in the diocese laid hands on the priests at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Keller to welcome them.

It was the first ordination class under Pope Benedict XVI's new Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, created Jan. 1 to allow Episcopal priests to be ordained as Catholic clergy and for Episcopal congregations to join the Roman Catholic Church.

The priests' wives carried in vestments that the priests later donned, assisted by other clergy. Then, standing before Vann, the priests each said, "I will" in answer to his questions about whether they will faithfully carry out their responsibilities.

More than 1,000 in the church stood and applauded.

The ordinariate is headed by a former Fort Worth Episcopal priest, Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, who earlier converted to Catholicism.

Read more here: