CANA Clarifies Status of Suffragan Bishop

On February 12, it was announced that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church had accepted four bishop’s renunciation of ordained ministry and included in the list of bishops was the Rt. Rev’d David Bena, Suffragan Bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA).

CANA Bishop Martyn Minns responded by saying, “This announcement is misleading because Bishop Bena has most definitely not renounced his ordained ministry nor has he been ”˜deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God’s Word and Sacraments conferred on him in Ordinations’ as stated in the news release. Bishop Bena is a faithful bishop in good standing within the Anglican Communion and continues to fully exercise his ordained ministry.”

“The background to this action is that on February 1, 2007, Bishop Bena was transferred from the Diocese of Albany to the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) to serve in CANA. On March 6, he wrote to the Presiding Bishop to advise her of this action and to resign from the Episcopal Church House of Bishops. In his letter he stated that, ”˜In transferring from one Province of the Anglican Communion to another, I do declare that I am neither renouncing my Orders as a bishop, nor am I abandoning the Communion of the Church.’

“In a letter dated March 13, 2007, the Presiding Bishop wrote back thanking him for his letter ”˜informing me that you have been enrolled in the Anglican Province of Nigeria. I have informed the Secretary of the House of Bishops and the Recorder of Ordinations that by this action you are no longer a member of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church nor are you enrolled as person in any order of the Episcopal Church.’ She also wrote that it was her prayer, ”˜that God may bless us both in a ministry of reconciliation.’

“One year later to now describe his action as a ”˜renunciation of ordained ministry’ is confusing at best and at odds with the Presiding Bishop’s earlier response. Bishop Bena’s resignation from the Episcopal Church came after a season of discernment during which he came to the conclusion that the Episcopal Church no longer embraced the Gospel that he had been called to proclaim nor taught the ”˜faith once and for all delivered to the saints.’ His desire was to continue his ordained ministry but within another branch of the Anglican Communion and this he continues to do so with great effectiveness within CANA.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, CANA, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

14 comments on “CANA Clarifies Status of Suffragan Bishop

  1. wvparson says:

    Of course the bishop didn’t renounce his ordained ministry. While the TEC Canon is less draconian than once it still espouses an extraordinarily defective doctrine of the indelibility of Holy Orders and desperately needs further revision. TEC isn’t the One holy Catholic Church into which the ordained are ordained. It may prohibit a defecting cleric from exercising Orders in its jurisdiction but it cannot deprive a cleric of ministerial character. The present language is patently erroneous and strange and should cause TEC embarrassment.

  2. Br. Michael says:

    Maybe TEC should decide if it is in the Anglican Communion or not.

  3. JonReinert says:

    Ahh. but Br. Michael the TEC thinks it is the Anglican communion.

  4. DougB says:

    Well, the ENS site says that the PB accepted the four bishops’ “renunciation of ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.” Isn’t this the case? This doesn’t say anything about ministry elsewhere than in TEC. So it’s hard to see why CANA is so upset.

  5. wvparson says:

    #4 Do read the Canon under upon which the PB has acted.

  6. HowieG says:

    Spin, spin, spin. Add some more spin. DougB is very right: …“renunciation of ordained ministry in the [i]Episcopal Church.[/i]” No doubt, Schori and 815 are hoping that everyone misses this phrase, and thus believe that the four bishops are out of the clergy business. Nice pickup. Schori: you lose again.


  7. BabyBlue says:

    I wonder if Katharine Jefferts Schori knows who Delores Umbridge is?


  8. Paula Loughlin says:

    Does anyone know why Bishop Meeks had his orders renounced? He is the priest who baptized my daughter so I am curious.

  9. Doug Martin says:

    One wonders whether Martyn Minns can pronounce anyone a “faithful bishop in good standing in the Anglican Communion” given his own doubtful standing under the same terminology. He is no doubt a faithful cleric in the Province in Nigeria but I have seen no sign that CANA is recognized by Canterbury. He is spectacularly absent from the invitation to Lambeth along with his brother in robes Gene Robinson. Something to do with violating the Tanzanian resolutions regarding “incursions” I think.

  10. Phil says:

    Br. Michael, GCC needs to start at a more fundamental level and decide if it is in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church or not. Nearly everything GCC does indicates it wants nothing to do with it.

  11. seminarian says:

    # 9,

    Regardless of whether CANA is recognized by Canterbury in no way changes the fact that Bishop Minns is a Bishop in the House of Bishops in the Province of Nigeria. He still is a Bishop consecrated in the lines of Apostolic succession. As a member of the House of Bishops of the Province of Nigera, he is a Bishop in the Anglican Communion. Period.

  12. badman says:

    #11 Seminarian, what makes you think that Nigeria is in the Anglican Communion?

    It has deleted the reference in its constitution to being in the Anglican Communion. It has refused to take communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and all the other primates of the Anglican Communion. It has refused to go to the Lambeth Conference. It has said that it can and will not “share together our lives, our prayer, our bible study, our meals, our worship and the Lord’s Supper, to be a family together.” It has declared the Anglican Communion to be “broken”. It has said “there is no serious space for those of an orthodox persuasion in the councils of the Communion to be themselves or to be taken seriously”. And its primate has suggested to Christianity Today that the Church of England is not an Anglican church.

    On any objective view, I cannot see how the Church of Nigeria can be said to include itself in the Anglican Communion at the moment. I do understand that it thinks that it can be in the Anglican Communion even if no-one else is, e.g. (quoting the primate again) “Whether Canterbury is Anglican or not is immaterial. We are Anglicans. They are the Church of England.”

    However, as the many “continuing churches” show, it is quite possible to claim to be Anglican without participating in the Anglican Communion. That seems to be the present position of the Church of Nigeria.

  13. Sarah1 says:

    Simple. Nigerian bishops received an invitation to Lambeth and are recognized by Canterbury. Like it or not, those are the criteria for being in the Anglican Communion.

    I agree that the various bishops of the CCP entities are bishops of whatever provinces they are a part of. But without being a bishop of a recognized geographic Communion entity in the US, they aren’t — ironically — bishops of the Anglican Communion, and as such they are not recognized by Canterbury or invited to Lambeth. Were they to be so . . . then de facto a parallel Anglican Communion province within the US would be inaugurated, as both TEC and CANA/AMiA know. ; > )

  14. Adam 12 says:

    The great symptom of our divisions is that parts of the church are out of communion with other parts of the church. Some branches recognize ministries not recognized by other branches. Sarah is right that the ABC determines membership through Lambeth. But it is the introduction of “strange doctrines” and unBiblical rites that has caused our sad divisions. There would not be such polarization had the Primates resolution at Lambeth 1998 been respected.