Allan Haley comments on the aggressive action taken against 9 TEC Bishops on the Eve of GC 2012

Stalinist Tactics Deployed to Silence ECUSA Bishops in Court
Needless to say, these “charges” should never have made it past the Intake Officer, and would not have done so without the implicit approval of the Presiding Bishop herself.
For Canons IV.5.4 and IV.5.5 state in part as follows (note that in the case of charges against bishops, Canon IV.17.2 (c) provides that “Bishop Diocesan” shall mean the Presiding Bishop):
[blockquote]Sec. 4. Upon receipt of such information, the Intake Officer may make such preliminary investigation as he or she deems necessary, and shall incorporate the information into a written intake report, including as much specificity as possible. The Intake Officer shall provide copies of the intake report to the other members of the Reference Panel and to the Church Attorney.

Sec. 5. If the Intake Officer determines that the information, if true, would not constitute an Offense, the Intake Officer shall inform the Bishop Diocesan of an intention to dismiss the matter. If the Bishop Diocesan does not object, the Intake Officer shall dismiss the matter…[/blockquote]
Bishop Matthew’s email does not notify the bishops that he is dismissing the charges. To the contrary: he states that he will “initiate a disciplinary process according to Title IV Canon 6 Sec. 3 & 4 …”. Those Canons spell out the offenses for which clergy may be charged, and would be irrelevant if the charges were being dismissed. Consequently, either Bishop Matthews wanted to dismiss the charges, and the Presiding Bishop objected; or else Bishop Matthews truly believes the charges may constitute an offense under the Church canons, and so he is proceeding with his investigation.

But just what does it mean to say that ECUSA is or is not “hierarchical”? In legal proceedings, such a statement is called a “conclusion of law”, reached after an inquiry into all the relevant facts. Attorneys and judges differ all the time over conclusions of law, and so it is fair to say that what the law will conclude on a given set of facts is a matter of opinion. And that is why the bishops filed their various affidavits and brief: ECUSA had given its opinion to the judges in each case that it was “hierarchical,” and the bishops simply wanted to give the contrary version of that opinion.

After all, it is for the judges ultimately to decide which view is more correct (or to modify their holding to yet another version, if they are so inclined). That is what judges are paid to do. So how can the Episcopal Church (USA) possibly charge someone with discipline for expressing an opinion? Such a right is guaranteed to everyone in America by the First Amendment.

Well, if it is not opinion in the case of the Episcopal Church (USA), then is it a matter of Church doctrine? Is the polity of the Episcopal Church (USA) truly a “doctrinal” matter?

It does not matter if it were, because then the following provisions of Canon IV.17.7 would apply:
[blockquote]Notwithstanding any provision of this Title to the contrary, no proceeding shall be brought under this Title against a Bishop in which the Offense alleged is violation of Canon IV.4.1(h)(2) for holding and teaching, or having held and taught, publicly or privately, and advisedly, any Doctrine contrary to that held by the Church unless a statement of disassociation shall have first been issued by the House of Bishops as provided in Canon IV.17.7 (a) and thereafter the consent of one-third of the Bishops qualified to vote in the House of Bishops has been received to initiate proceedings under this Title as provided in Canon IV.17.7 (b).[/blockquote]
Needless to say, no such “statement of disassociation” has been issued by the House of Bishops. Thus Bishop Matthews cannot be treating the bishops’ alleged offense as a matter of advocating false doctrine.

That takes us back to expressing a matter of opinion. One searches in vain through the new Title IV for any offense that consists of expressing an opinion at variance with the leadership of the Church. The loosest of all the provisions is for engaging in “conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy”, and if it is “conduct unbecoming” to disagree with the position that ECUSA is hierarchical, then a considerable number of clergy in the Church would have to be charged.

The idea, of course, is ridiculous on its face. And that is why these “charges” against these bishops should never have made it past the Intake Officer. In fact, if the Presiding Bishop did approve the bringing of these charges, then she herself should be charged under the provisions of Canon IV.3.1 (c):
[blockquote]Sec. 1. A Member of the Clergy shall be subject to proceedings under this Title for: (c) intentionally and maliciously bringing a false accusation . . . in any investigation or proceeding under this Title.[/blockquote]
(Emphasis added.) These charges are certainly intentionally brought, because it takes, as noted above, the concurrence of the Presiding Bishop not to have dismissed them in the first instance. And are they “maliciously” brought as well?

Those who know the history of the Presiding Bishop’s disregard for the canons will have no hesitation in answering that question.

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17 comments on “Allan Haley comments on the aggressive action taken against 9 TEC Bishops on the Eve of GC 2012

  1. A Senior Priest says:

    This is shocking. One might observe that it is redolent of the tactics employed by fascist dictatorships. So now disagreeing with the prevailing opinions of some in high office is a thought crime? Santissima Madonna. What have we come to in TEC?

  2. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Now we know what that 19% is needed for.

    #1 I think TEC has come to what Colonel Kurtz described in the temple of the unholy cow as:
    the horror…the horror.
    It is the conduct of an organisation that has gone over the edge past the tipping point. Now in the descent into barbarism and chaos.

    It is chilling, ice-cold, unChristian and diabolical; but neither illogical
    nor irrational. It is the heart of darkness.

  3. Blue Cat Man says:

    All I can say is “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

  4. A Senior Priest says:

    Perfectly expressed, Pageantmaster!

  5. c.r.seitz says:

    General Convention will also become the place where the Bishops-elect will go through a consents process and will be required to call TEC a ‘hierarchical church’ in 815’s version of this, or not be approved.

  6. Nikolaus says:

    “Nobody expects the Episcopal Inquisition!”

    There, fixed it for you…except that by now, we do expect it.

  7. MichaelA says:

    Its hard to see what the originators of the complaint hope to achieve by this, but I guess that depends on who is behind it.

    For example, does this +Matthew follow KJS’ tune in such matters? Or, does his statement reflect the beliefs of a separate faction of bishops within TEC?

    I am not suggesting that there is much disagreement among the TEC bishops on doctrine, but there may well be a disagreement on methods. That seems to be what happened in the case of +Lawrence when charges were first preferred against him and then dropped.

    The picture becomes more complicated given the recent criticism among prominent TEC liberals over the budget shenanigans.

  8. MichaelA says:

    Does this action by 815 amount to an attempt to intimidate witnesses because of their giving evidence in the past? In Australia that could amount to a contempt of court. What would be the situation in the USA?

  9. Cennydd13 says:

    MichaelA, this is a Church matter, and civil courts in this country cannot interfere in religious business unless a tort is committed……or so I’ve been told. Now, if someone’s civil rights have been violated, and it could be proven, then it might be a different story.

  10. NoVA Scout says:

    Who filed the complaint and its content would seem important. I certainly might be inclined to complain if I were and Episcopal Bishop in one of the Dioceses in litigation over property recovery. I don’t think one can tell from what’s known whether this is originating at the national level.

  11. c.r.seitz says:

    #12 — yes the anonymity of those bringing charges is something needing attention. Also, the anonymity of the decision-making by PB and Intake Officer. Did the latter decline to pursue this and was vetoed by the former, or did the latter move ahead on his own? We cannot know. How would you like to be a Bishop and have Fellow Bishops proceed in this way? ESPECIALLY when it is being acknowledged by all that Title IV needs revision and is about to get it. I’d be inclined to say Title IV is at present a moving target and so ineffective, virtually in abeyance, given GC about to unroll and attend to it. Funny timing in all this…

  12. fishsticks says:

    I also find it distressing that the bishops haven’t been told which canon they are supposed to have violated. The form of the notice seems designed to create maximum uncertainty.

  13. Cennydd13 says:

    In a criminal trial in this country, the defendant is entitled to know who filed the complaint against him and to confront that person in a court of law. Episcopal bishops and other clergy deserve no less, and therefore, those now running TEC must be held accountable, because NOT holding them accountable for their actions or inactions would be a travesty of justice. Everyone deserves his or her day in court.

  14. Cennydd13 says:

    Otherwise, it is jackboot justice.

  15. MichaelA says:

    Note the new thread on T19: “Bishopsgate Plot Thickens: Complaint Timed to Intimidate Witness”.

    I agree that it is important to know who the complainant is and what is the substance of the complaint.

    But also its timing is important. Regardless of who made the complaint, it was +Mathews who made the decision to inform the bishops of this complaint just before each side were due to file their list of witnesses in the Quincy litigation. Why do it right at that time?