Daily Archives: March 28, 2008

Diocese of South Carolina Protests Presiding Bishop's Failure to Follow the Canons

March 27, 2008

The Most Reverend Katherine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop
The Episcopal Church Center
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Dear Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori:

We, as the Standing Committee and Bishop of South Carolina, write this letter to strongly protest what we recognize as a failure to follow the Canons of our Episcopal Church in the recent depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox. We respectfully request that you and the House of Bishops revisit those decisions, refrain from the planned selection of a new bishop for the Diocese of San Joaquin, and make every effort to follow our Church Canons in all future House of Bishops decisions.

We believe that deposition is the most severe sanction that can be applied against a bishop.. Consequently, it is most important that both the letter and the spirit of the Canons be followed. In this instance, it is clear that the canonical safeguards in place were not followed.

Under Canon IV.9.2, the House of Bishops must give its consent to depose a bishop under the “abandonment of communion” canon. “. . . by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote.” The Constitution of the Episcopal Church, Article I.2, states in pertinent part that “Each Bishop of this Church having jurisdiction, every Bishop Coadjutor, every Suffragan Bishop, every Assistant Bishop, and every Bishop who by reason of advanced age or bodily infirmity . . . has resigned a jurisdiction, shall have a seat and vote in the House of Bishops.”

Due to amendment, Canon IV.9.2, at various times, required consent under these circumstances consisting of ” . . . a majority of the House of Bishops,” “. .. . a majority of the whole number of bishops entitled . . . to seats in the House of Bishops . . . ” and ” . . . by a majority of the whole number of bishops entitled to vote.” The language of the Canon has consistently required that a majority of all bishops entitled to vote, and not just a majority of those present at a meeting, must give their consent to the deposition of a bishop. Although the language itself is clear, the definition contained in Title IV is even more specific. Canon IV.15 specifically provides that “All the Members shall mean the total number of members of the Body provided for by Constitution or Canon without regard to absences, excused members, abstentions or vacancies.”

As we understand the decision by Chancellor Beers, he interprets the language ” ”¦ the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote” to mean the consent of a majority of those bishops who are present and voting. Yet if the drafters of Canon 9 had wanted to allow for the deposition of a bishop on a vote by a majority of the Bishops at a meeting, as distinguished from a vote by a majority of the whole, they clearly knew how to say that.

The Constitution, Canons and Rules of Order are replete with other instances in which the drafters knew how to articulate something other than ” ”¦ the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote.”. The Constitution Article I 3, dealing with the election of a Presiding Bishop, requires that such a vote be “by a vote . . . of a majority of all Bishops, excluding retired Bishops not present, except that whenever two-thirds of the House of Bishops are present, a majority vote shall suffice . . . ” Unlike Canon IV.9, other Canons refer to a vote ” . . . by a three-fourths of the members present” or some other “super-majority. In the Rules of Order of the House of Bishops, Rule V speaks of a vote “. . . by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting.” That same language appears in Rules XV, XVIII (a) and XXIX. In short, where the drafters meant “those present and voting,” they knew how to say so, and did so on a number of occasions.

It is only logical that a greater majority of Bishops should be required for involuntary separation by way of deposition than for voluntary separation by resignation. Canon III.12.8 (d), dealing with resignation by a Bishops, provides that the House of Bishops may accept or refuse a resignation of a Bishop ” ”¦ by a majority of those present.” Under Chancellor Beers’ interpretation, it is possible for a smaller number of Bishops to consent to the deposition of a Bishop than the number required to consent to resignation of a Bishop.

Not only is this distinction of critical importance under the present circumstances, but also the question may arise again. Accordingly, and with all due respect to you and Chancellor Beers, we must respectfully request that you and the House of Bishops re-visit your decision and allow for a canonically correct vote on the depositions of Bishops Cox and Schofield and on any future possible depositions. Additionally, for the good of our Church, we ask you not to proceed with the planned election of a replacement for Bishop Schofield until the matter of his deposition can be legally and canonically resolved.

The Diocese of South Carolina demonstrated our commitment to the proper observance of The Episcopal Church Canons with two election conventions and eighteen months of Standing Committee and Bishop confirmations. Because we feel so strongly that the Canons were not followed in the depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox, we must respectfully refuse to recognize the depositions, and we will not recognize any new bishop who may be elected to replace Bishop Schofield, unless and until the canons are followed.

Yours in Christ,

The Very Reverend John B. Burwell
President, Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina

The Right Reverend Mark J. Lawrence
Bishop, Diocese of South Carolina

WHLIII/fnr

cc: David Booth Beers, Esquire

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

Edward C. Green and Allison Herling Ruark: AIDS and the Churches

Responses to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic are often driven not by evidence but by ideology, stereotypes, and false assumptions. Referring to the hyperepidemics of Africa, an article in The Lancet this fall named “ten myths” that impede prevention efforts””including “Poverty and discrimination are the problem,” “Condoms are the answer,” and “Sexual behavior will not change.” Yet such myths are held as self-evident truths by many in the AIDS establishment. And they result in efforts that are at best ineffective and at worst harmful, while the AIDS epidemic continues to spread and exact a devastating toll in human lives.

Consider this fact: In every African country in which HIV infections have declined, this decline has been associated with a decrease in the proportion of men and women reporting more than one sex partner over the course of a year””which is exactly what fidelity programs promote. The same association with HIV decline cannot be said for condom use, coverage of HIV testing, treatment for curable sexually transmitted infections, provision of antiretroviral drugs, or any other intervention or behavior. The other behavior that has often been associated with a decline in HIV prevalence is a decrease in premarital sex among young people.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry

Mollie Hemingway: Radio Silence

Broadcast from the nation’s oldest continuously run religious radio station, KFUO-AM in St. Louis, and syndicated throughout the country, “Issues, Etc.” had an even larger audience world-wide, thanks to its podcast’s devoted following. With 14 hours of fresh programming each week, the show was on the leading edge of what’s happening in culture, politics and broader church life. The Rev. Todd Wilken interviewed the brightest lights from across the theological spectrum on news of the day. Guests included Oxford University’s Dr. Alister McGrath, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Albert Mohler and more postmodern types, like Tony Jones, national coordinator for a church network called Emergent Village.

On its last show, on March 17, listeners learned about the life and faith of St. Patrick; scientific and philosophical arguments in defense of the human embryo; the excommunication of two Roman Catholic women who claimed ordination; and the controversy surrounding the sermons of Barack Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

Despite the show’s popularity, low cost and loyal donor base, Mr. Wilken and Jeff Schwarz, the producer of “Issues, Etc.,” were dismissed without explanation on Tuesday of Holy Week. Within hours, the program’s Web site — which provided access to past episodes and issues of its magazine — had disappeared. Indeed, all evidence that the show ever existed was removed.

So what happened? Initially, the bureaucrats in St. Louis kept a strict silence, claiming that the show had been canceled for “business and programmatic” reasons. Yesterday the synod cited low local ratings in the St. Louis area and the low number of listeners to the live audio stream on the Web site. But the last time the synod tracked the size of the audience was three years ago, and it did not take into account the show’s syndicated or podcast following. The synod also claimed that the show lost $250,000 a year, an assertion that is at odds with those of others familiar with the operating budget of the station.

The Rev. Michael Kumm, who served on three management committees for the station, said that the explanation doesn’t add up.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media, Religion & Culture

Alan Billings: The contemporary mind is not comfortable with the idea that Christ rose from the dead

Our contemporary mindset is not dissimilar. We are deeply and rightly impressed by the transience of all things. Even when, as at this time of year – and snow apart – we are suffused with joy and hope at the new buds and new birth – the daffodils in the wood, the lambs in the meadow – we know they are but part of the endless cycle of birth, growth, decay and death. The eternal note of sadness is never far way. So we are not very receptive to any aspect of our experience that might suggest otherwise. We are not comfortable with the idea that Christ rose from the dead. We are not comfortable with the idea of our own transformation beyond death. We dismiss intimations of immortality. None of this suits the contemporary mind.

So what are we to make of the Easter claim of the church that Christ is risen?

Recently on the Today programme a biblical scholar suggested that it might make better sense to speak about the resurrection not of Jesus but of the disciples. The hard historical evidence is that after Easter Day they become changed people – a radically different mindset, a psychological resurrection. That is true. And yet even a psychological resurrection needs something to trigger it. Given the deep scepticism of the disciples that all was lost, could that trigger have been anything less than an empty tomb and a mysterious presence?

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

Euro to Overtake the Dollar?

Two American academics have published a study suggesting that the euro may replace the dollar as the world’s largest reserve currency within ten to fifteen years.

Listen to it all from the BBC.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Christianity's new face emerges

“The new face of Christianity will be the black woman,” a renowned theologian told a Lexington audience Thursday.

Kwok Pui Lan, the William F. Cole Professor of Christian Theology and Spirituality at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., explained that in mid-2007, Europe laid claim to the greatest number of Christians in the world: 532 million, followed by Latin America at 525 million and Africa at 417 million. But by 2025, Africa will climb to the top spot with 634.6 million Christians, with Latin America a close second at 634.1 million and Europe dropping to third at 521 million.

“The challenge,” she said, “is to reimagine Christianity in the 21st century.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Episcopal Church (TEC), Globalization, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

A New Diplomatic Order in Pakistan

If it was not yet clear to Washington that a new political order prevailed here, the three-day visit this week by America’s chief diplomat dealing with Pakistan should put any doubt to rest.

The visit by Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte turned out to be series of indignities and chilly, almost hostile, receptions as he bore the brunt of the full range of complaints that Pakistanis now feel freer to air with the end of military rule by Washington’s favored ally, President Pervez Musharraf.

Faced with a new democratic lineup that is demanding talks, not force, in the fight against terrorism, Mr. Negroponte publicly swallowed a bitter pill at his final news conference on Thursday, acknowledging that there would now be some real differences in strategy between the United States and Pakistan.

He was upbraided at an American Embassy residence during a reception in his honor by lawyers furious that the Bush administration had refused to support the restoration of the dismissed judiciary by Mr. Musharraf last year.

Mr. Negroponte once told Congress that Mr. Musharraf was an “indispensable” ally, but the diplomat was finally forced to set some distance after months of standing stolidly by his friend. Mr. Musharraf’s future, he said, would be settled by Pakistan’s new democratic government.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, Pakistan

From NPR: Why Kids Curse

No one expects a 3-year-old who loves to dress like a princess to swear like a sailor.

But early exposure is not so uncommon. Who’s to blame? Well, there’s a pretty apt quote from a 1970 Pogo cartoon: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

The “us” are parents. A few weeks ago, I put a question out to hundreds of mothers on a local list-serv asking for anecdotes about the first time they heard their children use inappropriate words.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family

AT&T CEO says hard to find skilled U.S. workers

The head of the top U.S. phone company AT&T Inc (T.N) said on Wednesday it was having trouble finding enough skilled workers to fill all the 5,000 customer service jobs it promised to return to the United States from India.

“We’re having trouble finding the numbers that we need with the skills that are required to do these jobs,” AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson told a business group in San Antonio, where the company’s headquarters is located.

So far, only around 1,400 jobs have been returned to the United States of 5,000, a target it set in 2006, the company said, adding that it maintains the target.

Stephenson said he is especially distressed that in some U.S. communities and among certain groups, the high school dropout rate is as high as 50 percent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education

From $70K to food bank, one family's struggle

When she was laid off in February, Patricia Guerrero was making $70,000 a year. Weeks later, with bills piling up and in need of food for her family, this middle-class mother did something she never thought she would do: She went to a food bank.

It was Good Friday, and a woman helping her offered to pay her utility bill.

“It brought tears to my eyes, and I sat there and I cried. I was like, ‘This is really where I’m at?’ ” she told CNN. “I go ‘no way;’ [but] this is true. This is reality. This is the stuff you see on TV. It was hard. It was very hard.”

Guerrero is estranged from her husband and raising her two young children. She’s already burned through her savings to help make ends meet, and is drawing unemployment checks. She has had to take extreme measures to pay for her interest-only mortgage of $2,500 a month. In fact, her mother moved in with her to help pay the bills.

Guerrero even applied for food stamps, but was denied.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Church of England Newspaper: Call for review after trial ”˜flouted Church rules’

The procedures laid out in Title IV, Canon 9, sections 1 and 2 (the abandonment canon) to depose a bishop state that after the Title IV review committee issues a certificate of abandonment the Presiding Bishop “shall” “forthwith” notify the accused. The Presiding Bishop then “shall” seek the consent of the three senior bishops with jurisdiction to inhibit the accused bishop, and trial “shall” take place at the “next” meeting of the House of Bishops.

At a March 12 press conference Bishop Schori outlined the procedural history surrounding the Cox case. She said the Title IV review committee had “certified [Bishop Cox] several years ago. … before her time.” She added, however, that “it was never brought to the House of Bishops for action.”

She then said she “did not send it to the three senior bishops” and the House of Bishops “did not consider it in September” at their meeting in New Orleans with the Archbishop of Canterbury due to the “the press of other business.” Several minutes later, Bishop Schori said she wanted to “clarify” her earlier statements. She said she had been “unable to get the consent of the three senior bishops last spring. That’s why we didn’t bring it to the September meeting” of the House of Bishops.

Contacted after the press conference, one of the three senior bishops, who declined to be named, stated he had never been asked by Bishop Schori to consent to Bishop Cox’s suspension. The Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor, Mr David Booth Beers, declined to address the issues surrounding Bishop Cox’s case in a March 15 statement released through the Episcopal Church’s press office. However, he stated that his “position” was that there had been a legal quorum to depose the two bishops on March 12.

Canon lawyer, retired Bishop William Wantland of Eau Claire told CEN the deposition of Bishop Cox was “void” for failing to achieve the required “majority vote of all bishops entitled to vote” and because the “canonical procedure was simply not followed.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

The Bishops of Southern Ohio on the recent House of Bishops Meeting

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Poll: Pope Unknown to Most Americans

Most Americans hold a favorable opinion of Pope Benedict XVI, but the vast majority confess they don’t know much about the pontiff, according to a new poll.

Just weeks before Benedict’s first trip to the U.S. as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, 58 percent of Americans say they have a favorable or “very favorable” opinion of him.

But when asked how much they know about the 80-year-old German, 52 percent said “not very much,” and nearly 30 percent said “nothing at all.”

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Online sermons luring people away from computer, into church

Old wood benches quaked under the thunder of the pipe organ at Calvary Episcopal Church, fully awakening the overflowing Easter morning crowd.

As light filtered into the sanctuary through an elaborate stained glass window portraying Jesus on the cross, a traditional service, unyielding to time, unfolded.

But for those who couldn’t make it to Easter services, even some of the most traditional churches offered other options.

As more churches are creating an online presence with podcasts, Web streaming and cyber-giving, worshipers don’t have to leave the comfort of their homes to get religion.

Nevertheless, local clergy say virtual worship did not reduce Easter turnouts this year, but may have helped bolster numbers on one of the largest church attendance days of the year.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

Areas of Baghdad fall to militias as Iraqi Army falters in Basra

Iraq’s Prime Minister was staring into the abyss today after his operation to crush militia strongholds in Basra stalled, members of his own security forces defected and district after district of his own capital fell to Shia militia gunmen.

With the threat of a civil war looming in the south, Nouri al-Maliki’s police chief in Basra narrowly escaped assassination in the crucial port city, while in Baghdad, the spokesman for the Iraqi side of the US military surge was kidnapped by gunmen and his house burnt to the ground.

Saboteurs also blew up one of Iraq’s two main oil pipelines from Basra, cutting at least a third of the exports from the city which provides 80 per cent of government revenue, a clear sign that the militias ”” who siphon significant sums off the oil smuggling trade ”” would not stop at mere insurrection.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq War