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The Episcopal Church's Tyranny and Thought Control over Filed Amicus Briefs

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org 
March 11, 2013

The Episcopal Church has embraced tyranny and thought control when it charges certain Episcopal bishops with filing amicus briefs supporting former Episcopal bishops who still defend the faith and who refuse to bow to TEC's pansexual agenda.

Recently, following a January conciliation meeting concerning complaints involving the Episcopal Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy, nine bishops were held in contempt and threatened according to Canon IV.10. This could have led to their being dismissed from the Episcopal Church.

This past week an Accord was struck wherein the nine bishops, four of whom are sitting bishops (five had resigned), agreed to a sound thrashing from Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori but fell short of being inhibited and deposed for their actions. They were not allowed to express an opinion on the polity of TEC and they were punished for signing a brief she did not like.

The nine are:

The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe (resigned, Diocese of Central Florida) 
The Rt. Rev. Paul E. Lambert (suffragan, Diocese of Dallas) 
The Rt. Rev. William H. Love (diocesan, Diocese of Albany) 
The Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson (resigned, Diocese of W. Louisiana) 
The Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins (diocesan, Diocese of Springfield) 
The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton (diocesan, Diocese of Dallas) 
The Rt. Rev. Maurice M. Benitez (resigned, Diocese of Texas)
The Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith (resigned, Diocese of Springfield)
The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon (resigned, Diocese of South Carolina)

The Presiding Bishop demanded and got (through conciliation) terms which "promoted healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation." 

The nine orthodox bishops committed the ecclesiastical "sin" of filing amicus briefs supporting continuing Episcopal Dioceses in Ft. Worth and Quincy in their struggle over property and funds lawsuits.

The nine bishops agreed to express regret for any harm to the bishops, clergy and laity of the Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy resulting from their acts; agreed not to file or endorse any further amicus brief or affidavit in litigation outside of their respective dioceses and against the legal position of The Episcopal Church until the General Convention formally addresses this conduct, either by amendment to the Constitution and/or canons or by formal resolution; and to act in accordance with the action of the General Convention.

They also agreed to acknowledge that the 2009 Bishops' Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church is a minority opinion.

VOL was told by one of the nine bishops that while the Accord looks like they caved in to TEC in the face of the "conciliation" process and repented of what they had done, it was done to avoid causing any more harm to the four sitting diocesan bishops who have to go on living with Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and risk their future and those to whom they must minister. Had all the bishops been out of office, resigned or retired, the outcome might have been different, VOL was told.

The Episcopal Church has a double standard on who is being charged with what and by whom. When Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan was summarily dismissed from the Episcopal Church for his stand against the church's increasing immoral positions, a ruckus was raised that he had been fired without due process of a trial. To maintain the appearance of complying with canon law, Jefferts Schori then held a trial and declared him guilty. It was something right out of Alice in Wonderland; guilty first, then have a trial.

But that is by no means the worst case.

In January of 2002, twenty-six ECUSA bishops filed an Amici Brief supporting then Washington Bishop Jane Dixon in a legal clash with the vestry and rector Fr. Sam Edwards of Christ Church in Accokeek, Md.

It was a line up ECUSA's most liberal and corporatist bishops that included The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of the Diocese of Nevada.

It was the beginning of open warfare amongst bishops in The Episcopal Church that continues to this day.

Two orthodox bishops, Jack Iker (Fort Worth) and Robert Duncan (Pittsburgh), signed an amicus brief in support of Fr. Samuel Edwards against Jane Dixon in her ongoing struggle to take back the parish and put one of her own postmodern priests in charge.

The 4th Circuit Court ordered the filing of the amicus brief by Bishops Iker and Duncan despite vigorous opposition by Jane Dixon, Suffragan Bishop of Washington.

The parish vigorously defended its right to call whom they wish, with Dixon vigorously fighting not to let them keep Fr. Edwards because of statements accusing the ECUSA of being the "unchurch" and "hell-bound." (Edwards later joined the Roman Catholic Church through the Ordinariate).

The bishops argued that The District Court determined that the Episcopal Church is a hierarchical polity and ordered that the Court accept and enforce Bishop Dixon's decision not to license Fr. Edwards as rector of St. John's Parish. They further said that the Court should not accept Amici's invitation to review Episcopal Church authorities' interpretation and application of Episcopal Church law. The bishops cited case law, scripture and canons of General Convention.

The 26 liberal bishops submitted their brief in response to arguments presented by the two orthodox bishops because they said their position would "undermine and drastically alter the authority and the role of bishops in the Episcopal Church." The bishops say that Dixon had acted within her authority in refusing to license Edwards as rector of the parish.

An Episcopal Church Review Committee concluded unanimously that Bishop Dixon had acted reasonably and did not commit an offense against the Canon law of the Church.

Bishops Iker and Duncan argued that Bishop Dixon violated the canons of the church, but a disciplinary Review Committee of the Episcopal Church cleared Bishop Dixon of all alleged wrongdoing.

Then Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold stated his support for Bishop Dixon's decision. Griswold publicly accused Edwards of being schismatic but without benefit of due process required by canon.

Bishops Iker and Duncan argued that the District Court erred in not adopting their interpretation of the "thirty day rule" of Canon III.17.2, claiming that the interpretation of Bishop Dixon and other Church authorities is "not rational."

Ironically, neither Iker nor Duncan was brought up on charges for filing an amicus brief in support of Edwards.

By filing charges against and by tightening the screws on the nine orthodox Episcopal bishops this year, the Episcopal Church demonstrated that they hope to cower any future opposition.

A new twist was using a new canon passed at the last General Convention that allows not just bishops but clergy and laity to go after a bishop(s) on any frivolous grounds. In this case, only one bishop, C. Wallis Ohl (rump bishop of Ft. Worth), was a complainant, six were priests and three were laity.

A number of bloggers described the behavior of these people as "totalitarian" and described Jefferts Schori's leadership as a "sociopathic reign of terror." One layman who knew Ohl well when he was the Bishop of Northwest Texas said, "Wallace Ohl has a history of self-service and self-aggrandizement at the expense of others. In his last parish he left the congregation deeply in debt after having propped up the place to make himself look successful so he could become a bishop. He totally betrayed his diocese theologically and was a total ass to people who disagreed with him. He lied to his fellow bishops about standing with them against their apostate leadership, and now he goes after these very bishops with a vengeance because they challenged his betrayal."

It is ironic that the Episcopal Church in June 2012 hammered bishops Bruce MacPherson, Ed Salmon and Peter Beckwith bringing disciplinary proceedings against the three bishops of the Episcopal Church under the provisions of Title IV for filing an affidavit in the Quincy lawsuit, yet the paperwork in the Bishop Charles vonRosenberg federal motion against Bishop Mark Lawrence, reveals that bishops John Buchanan and Dorsey Henderson filed a similar affidavit in support of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Will bishops Buchanan and Henderson now be brought to account? Don't count on it.

What we clearly have is two sets of rules running here. If a TEC bishop files in support of a realigned diocese, he gets hammered, but if a TEC bishop files in support of TEC he gets a pass.

The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven. But then many now believe that there is little hope the Episcopal Church can or has any desire to be turned around. One must look to a realigned North American Anglicanism to provide hope for those who wish to be authentically Anglican.

The Anglican Church in North America recently announced that it was well on the way to establishing 1,000 new churches in the US and Canada.

END

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