Pittsburgh Update

Pittsburgh Update publishes weekly summaries of recent developments in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion that affect or could affect Pittsburgh Episcopalians. Emphasis is on reporting, not interpretation. This is a service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. This site is in no way affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh or the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

A Pittsburgh Episcopal Voice          

A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Monday, September 15, 2008

News for Week Ending 9/15/2008

Canadian primate asks for talks on boundary crossings

According to Anglican Journal, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to facilitate a meeting that includes the primates of the Canadian, U.S., and Brazilian provinces and the Southern Cone primate, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables. Venables has facilitated episcopal incursions into dioceses of each of the other churches. Archbishop Rowan Williams has said he will try to arrange the requested meeting. Episcopal News Services has provided more background on the request here. The Toronto Star quotes Venables as saying it would be “difficult for me to attend.”

The Anglican Journal story cited above also reports that Canadian bishops will be discussing the moratoria urged at the recent Lambeth Conference. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Hiltz indicated that the moratoria present serious difficulties for the Canadian church, and there is concern that graciousness respecting moratoria relating to homosexuals will not be matched by those who have engaged in boundary crossings.

Clergy and lay leaders who left Canadian Church sue Bishop of New Westminster

Anglican Journal reported September 15, 2008, that 17 clergy and lay leaders who left the Anglican Church of Canada for the Anglican province of the Southern Cone have sued Bishop Michael Ingham. In a suit filed September 9, plaintiffs seek to have the court declare that the Bishop of New Westminster acted improperly in attempting to regain diocesan control of two breakaway parishes, St. Matthew’s, Abbotsford, and St. Matthias and St. Luke, Vancouver. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Diocese of New Westminster posted a statement on its Web site concerning the suit September 11.

Bishop apologizes; PB removes inhibition

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori lifted the inhibition imposed on the Rt. Rev. Edward MacBurney, retired Bishop of Quincy. MacBurney was inhibited April 2, 2008, in response to a presentment issued by the Title IV Review Committee January 24, 2008. MacBurney was charged with conducting unauthorized confirmations in the Diocese of San Diego at the urging of Southern Cone Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables.

According to a September 10 story from Episcopal News Service, MacBurney “voluntarily submitted to discipline.” Bishop of San Diego Jim Mathes, who had filed a complaint against MacBurney, said, “Bishop MacBurney's decision is the result of my efforts and those of others to find a non-judicial outcome to an unfortunate event.”

Court approves special master

Lawyers both for Calvary Church and for diocesan leaders were in court again September 8 to argue Calvary’s request for a neutral party to inventory and oversee the use of diocesan assets. Calvary also wanted parishes to be allowed to escrow assessment payments in light of the upcoming realignment vote at the October 4 convention. The Post-Gazette reported on the brief hearing here. Attorneys agreed that Judge Joseph James could appoint a special master to inventory diocesan assets, and agreed to allow parishes to escrow assessment payments. As this is being written, Judge James has not yet issued a written order, so details of his decision are not yet clear. The diocese issued a statement September 9 on the hearing.

Across the Aisle event attracts more than 300

Episcopalians planning to maintain the Episcopal Church presence in Southwestern Pennsylvania should the diocese vote for “realignment” at the October 4 convention attracted more than 300 people to a two-hour program called “A Hopeful Future for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh: An Alternative Solution.” The gathering was sponsored by Across the Aisle, a theologically diverse coalition of clergy and laypeople in the diocese. (See Pittsburgh Update story here), The gathering was reported by both the Post-Gazette and the Tribune-Review (ignore the misleading headline, however). Presenters assured attendees that there will continue to be a Diocese of Pittsburgh in The Episcopal Church.

The program for the event can be viewed here.

House of Bishops to take up Duncan deposition

In a September 12 letter to Episcopal bishops, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori explained that, at the business meeting of the House of Bishops on September 17 in Salt Lake City, Utah, she “shall present to the House the matter of the certification to me by the Title IV Review Committee that Bishop Robert W. Duncan has abandoned the Communion of this Church within the meaning of Canon IV.9.” (Jefferts Schori’s letter can be read here.) The Presiding Bishop both explained the background of the charges against the Bishop Duncan and attempted to deflect criticism that might be leveled at the bishops for proceeding with a vote to depose. Although canons require that she present to the bishops the Title IV report, her letter noted that the bishops had the option of deferring the matter to a later meeting after the Pittsburgh convention votes on realignment or proceeding at the current meeting.

George Conger, Episcopal priest and frequent church critic, raised objections to the coming proceedings in a September 14 essay here. Bishop Duncan responded to the Presiding bishop's letter with a pastoral letter to the diocese that can be read here. That letter included as an enclosure, a letter written by the bishop to other bishops of the church on August 24. In that letter (available here), Duncan made it clear that he will not attend the Salt Lake City meeting. He urged bishops to take a roll call vote.

The Task Force on Property Disputes of the House of Bishops has also written to bishops about the Duncan matter. Its memorandum can be read here.

On September 15, Episcopal News Service issued a story on the deposition vote that can be read here.