On June 28, 2012, Bishop Clay Matthews gave notice to 9 bishops that complaints have been filed under the provisions of Title IV. Bishops Salmon, Beckwith and MacPherson were cited for having endorsed a legal pleading filed in the Quincy lawsuit. In addition, Bishops Benitez, Howe, Lambert, Love, MacPherson, Martins, and Stanton were charged with misconduct due to their submission of an amicus curiae brief in the Fort Worth case.
The Anglican Communion Institute’s announcement pertaining to the amicus curiae brief filed with the court in the Fort Worth lawsuit, included the following statement.
All of these bishops and all of the officers and directors of ACI remain in The Episcopal Church and have submitted this brief solely because they disagree with the characterization of the governance of The Episcopal Church as submitted in support of the motion for summary judgment that the trial court granted in this case. As is well known, these bishops and ACI oppose the decision by the Diocese of Fort Worth to leave The Episcopal Church. They have no intention of withdrawing from the Church, but it is precisely because they intend to remain in the Church that they are concerned that the trial court ruling has misunderstood, and thereby damaged, the constitutional structure of The Episcopal Church.
The idea that the submission of this brief, based on such reasoning, could be construed as “misconduct” is simply incredible.
Even under the ill-conceived disciplinary canon rammed through the General Convention in 2009, it is hard to understand how Bishop Matthews as “Intake Officer” could have considered these complaints credible enough to continue the process. The fact that the charges were communicated on the same day for both the Quincy and the Fort Worth cases suggests that the credibility of the charges was based on the position of power and influence held by the accuser rather than the facts.
Besides being conduct unbecoming of a church, this action is a violation of the guarantee of the right of free speech found in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The supposed “wall of separation” between church and state was never meant to provide a place to hide from being bound by the laws of the land. Indeed, this action at best has the smell of a witch-hunt. One can only hope that this travesty will cause Episcopalians to recognize that the disciplinary canon is ripe for abuse and demand it be abolished in its present form.
Meanwhile, please join me in supporting and praying for our bishops who have stood for what they believe is right and are now being attacked for their courage.
The Rev. Charles D. Alley, Ph.D.
Rector, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church