Philip Ashey (AAC)–Rebutting Simon Sarmiento and TEC’s Factual Inaccuracies

(The paper to which this responds is here–KSH).

On February 2, 2010, the American Anglican Council (AAC) released an accounting of how The Episcopal Church (TEC) has spent millions of dollars in over 50 lawsuits, deposed or inhibited 12 bishops and more than 400 other clergy, and violated its own canons numerous times. The Rev. Phil Ashey, AAC Chief Operating Officer and practicing attorney, authored the paper at the request of several members of the Church of England’s General Synod in preparation for their vote regarding the nature of their relationship with the Anglican Church in North America. On February 4, Mr. Simon Sarmiento, member of the Church of England and founder of the blog Thinking Anglicans, published a rebuttal of what he called “factual inaccuracies” in the AAC’s paper. Mr. Sarmiento is not an attorney and admitted to having the help of, among others, The Episcopal Church’s lead lawyer, David Booth Beers, and the Presiding Bishop’s Special Council for property litigation, Mary E. Kostel.

Read it carefully and follow the links.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, ACNA Inaugural Assembly June 2009, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

9 comments on “Philip Ashey (AAC)–Rebutting Simon Sarmiento and TEC’s Factual Inaccuracies

  1. MarkP says:

    I thought the original paper made a fair point about the Dennis Canon being a clarification of an existing understanding (affirmed often in various courts, one of which actually suggested that it would be helpful to make the existing understanding explicit) rather than a novel land grab, as ACNA spin has it.

  2. NoVA Scout says:

    Much has been made of the weaknesses of the Dennis Canon if it is viewed as a unilaterally imposed trust by an entity that lacks grantor status. Those points have some validity if certain premises of the mechanics of the Canon are accepted. However, I have always viewed it not as a controlling local property document, but as an internal canonical statement of how Episcopalian parishes are organized and hold their property. There may be situations around the country that establish that parishes rejected the canon at its inception (although one would have expected them to have effected their escape from the national church in 1979, as opposed to 2006 in that case). However, my understanding is that the controversy over it has arisen recently and primarily in the context of departing parishioners who claim title to properties previously attached to the Episcopal Church.

  3. mannainthewilderness says:

    #2, Didn’t VA’s bishop testify before the judge in the case now being appealed that the Dennis Canon was not acknowledged/promoted/announced/whatever we want to call it when it was passed because it was feared that such a backlash and departure might well have occurred in 1979?

  4. Cennydd says:

    As I recall, parishes weren’t exactly given a choice when the Dennis Canon was imposed on them. It was “Tough…’re stuck with it!”; even though that didn’t become apparent until recent years.

  5. NoVA Scout says:

    I imagine it wasn’t hugely controversial at the time, because it did, as the point paper and MarkP note, more or less restate a pre-existing understanding. It takes on a new look now when folks want to assert property rights outside the Episcopal Church.

  6. Cennydd says:

    That may have been the case when the Dennis Canon was imposed on parishes, but I don’t recall my last parish (which is incorporated) ever being asked for their opinion about the legitimacy of it, or for our permission to have it imposed on us or any other parish, and whether it was OK to surrender our property, which incidentally, we paid for and for which we held the deed…..which was registered in our name, and for which we never agreed to give the Church any trust interest.

  7. Sarah says:

    RE: “I imagine it wasn’t hugely controversial at the time . . .”

    We didn’t have the Internet at the time.

    Thankfully we do now.

  8. MichaelA says:

    Excellent paper, Rev. Ashey. The liberals do best when they explain nothing and just work quietly behind the scenes. Now, because of Lorna Ashworth’s motion they have been forced to go into print. That in turn allows Ashey+ to refute their arguments in detail.

    Despite the focus in preceding comments on the property situation, I note that the TEC response and the AAC rebuttal concentrate mainly on the issue of depositions. This is as it should be – the manner in which TEC has purported to inhibit or depose faithful clergy is the primary scandals.

    The fact is, departing congregations (most of whom are ACNA, but not all) will survive, even if they lose every single property lawsuit. Orthodox Anglicans prefer to worship in beautiful and traditional buildings, but they can worship in a school gym if they have to – what makes them orthodox is that the fundamentals of the faith matter more than any building.

    Anyway, good to see that the ACC is responding with vigour. No doubt many in England are reading carefully.

  9. MichaelA says:

    Oops, AAC not ACC!