Bishop Edward MacBurney, bishop retired of the Diocese of Quincy, has been formally charged with canonical violations by the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. These charges stem from events occurring in June, 2007 when Bishop MacBurney wa s invited to make a pastoral visit to a non-Episcopal chu rch in San Diego, California. MacBurney, 80 years old, retired from his position as a diocesan bishop in 1994, but as a bishop in good standing still actively ministers to churches throughout the country and also in other parts of the Anglican Communion..
The basis of the charges against MacBurney relate to the allegation that he did not receive permission to perform liturgical rites from the sitting Episcopal diocesan bishop in San Diego. Even though the church MacBurney visited had severed ties with the Episcopal Church in the United States and had re-affiliated with the Anglican Bishop of Argentina, a primate of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the charges allege that MacBurney impermissibly crossed Diocesan boundaries.
Although MacBurney is retired, he remains a member of the Episcopal House of Bishops with seat and voice. The essence of the charge is the claim that MacBurney is prohibited from ministering within the geographical territory of another Episcopal diocese even if the church to which he ministers is no longer affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Attorneys for MacBurney state that the charges raise the theoretical question as to whether an Episcopal bishop exercises total control over a certain geographical territory or whether a Bishop merely exerc ises control over the Episcopal churches within that territory. The Episcopal Church has suffered internal turmoil for a number of years and it has been common practice for certain retired bishops to minister to parishes experiencing ideological differences from their bishops.