Retired Quincy Bishop Faces Church Trial

A canonical case against the Rt. Rev. Edward H. MacBurney, retired Bishop of Quincy, will be heard by Court for the Trial of a Bishop. It will be the first such case since the canons were amended by General Convention in 2006 to include members of the clergy and laity among the judges in a disciplinary case against a member of the episcopacy.

Bishop MacBurney has been served with a presentment, an ecclesiastical indictment. It charges him with violating Article II, Section 3 of The Episcopal Church Constitution and Title III, Canon 12, Section 3 which states: “No Bishop shall perform episcopal acts or officiate by preaching, ministering the sacraments, or holding any public service in a diocese other than that in which the Bishop is canonically resident, without permission or a license to perform occasional public services from the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese in which the bishop desires to officiate or perform episcopal acts.”

Bishop MacBurney, 80, was Bishop of Quincy from 1988-1994….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

32 comments on “Retired Quincy Bishop Faces Church Trial

  1. evan miller says:

    What a kangaroo court! +Smith as chief judge and the majority of judges women in this, the trial of an Anglo-Catholic bishop! What a sham.

  2. Philip Snyder says:

    The question will come down to this. Does TEC claim authority over any congregation that has the title “Anglican” in it? I seem to remember that Bishop MacBurney was asked to perform these confirmations by the bishop in charge of that parish. Of course, the parish (as I remember) is still in dispute with the diocese as to who actually owns the buildings.

    However, I doubt very much if any of the facts will matter. TEC smells blood in the water with another octogenarian and will convict and depose regardless of the laws or canons or rules of procedure.

    Phil Snyder

  3. Grandmother says:

    I wonder if they will identify this good Bishop correctly? Quick, someone tell them he was the bp of some other place, they might believe you (at least they’ll have to check). lol
    Praying for God’s hand on this good man.

    Gloria in SC

  4. New Reformation Advocate says:

    evan miller (#1),

    I had the same immediate gut reaction when I read the names of those appointed to this trial court. A kangaroo court indeed, when +Andrew Smith, the bully of CT, is made the presider. +Gordon Scruton of W. MASS. would at least have given some semblance of the appearance of wanting to be more fair.

    But another dead giveaway, as you suggest, is that ALL FOUR of the clergy and lay slots are filled by women. Now granted, most of the bishops on the court are inevitably men and so some readdressing of the gender imbalance might be expected, but this looks all too blatantly like a stacked deck.

    It reminds me of the mock trial of Alice in “Alice in Wonderland.” The Queen of Hearts bellows out, “No, Sentence first. Trial afterwards.”

    I trust the rest of the Anglican world is watching and taking note of this latest scandal within TEC.

    David Handy+

  5. seminarian says:

    You mean the [Presiding Bishop] and the Episcpal Church is not being represented by Goodwin Proctor and David Booth Beers? Now we have another legal firm involved that the PB is paying for – how much more will she spend on this type of harassment and intimidation.

    [i]comment edited[/i]

  6. Dan Crawford says:

    Since these activities are part of Mrs. Schori’s camapign of “reconciliation”, I’m eager to read her report on the success of “reconciliation”. Will there be one forthcoming?

  7. Dan Crawford says:

    My apologies – she may be waging a camapign but I meant to write “campaign”.

  8. Scott K says:

    Can someone explain to me the difference between this case and Bishop Cox’s? Why does +MacBurney get a trial while +Cox was (invalidly) deposed without one?

  9. Adam 12 says:

    In the light of further irony, I remember a slogan posted on the notice-board outside St. Mark’s Church in Philadelphia in the ’70s that said: “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” In this matter I believe MacBurney has already entered a ‘guilty’ plea with TEC in public statements.

  10. wvparson says:

    I wonder how many of the people who constitute the court are learned in Canon Law and its precedents, particularly as they seem to act as judge and jury with the power to “depose from the ministry”. There seems to be no concern about how the trial of an elderly bishop for performing a rite which many in TEC no longer regard as being particularly important will “play” to people looking in from outside TEC and perhaps outside the Christian community.

  11. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Bishop Smith – is that the one who was up on charges recently? Something about having his heart in the right place when he was breaking and entering?

  12. jefcoparson says:

    Your question are right on point – how fair indeed can this Trial Court be if they aren’t learned in Canon Law – given the fact there isn’t really any appeal process. Do you believe that NNECA to stand with +MacBurney through this ordeal?

  13. Connecticutian says:

    Yes, Pageantmaster, that’s the same +Smith who deposed a priest for an irregularly scheduled sabbatical, declared (without effect) 5 other priests to have abandoned communion, and whose staff (but not he personally!!!) usurped physical and financial control of a parish, unilaterally disbanded the vestry, and interfered with the bank accounts of three other parishes. The Title IV review committee took FAR longer than canonically required to come to the conclusion that some canons were violated, but with good intentions and not by the bishop personally. Now he’s the presiding judge. TEC, the Justice Churchâ„¢

  14. Connecticutian says:

    PS to my #13 – I’ve been called a cockeyed optimist, but perhaps his own Title IV experience will have softened +Smith’s outlook on the case before him, so that he will look for every opportunity to pass along the grace that he himself received.

  15. wildfire says:

    Pageantmaster always wins the prize for the most incisive comment in the fewest words. Once again he hits the nail on the head. What better symbol of TEC than +Smith as presiding judge.

  16. Cennydd says:

    Pardon me, folks, if I make a mad dash to get a bucket…….my friends and are going to need it to catch all of the tears we’ll shed from laughing so hard! Oh, the ridiculousness of it all!

  17. William Witt says:

    Certainly one of the ironies here is that Bishop MacBurney is being put on trial for doing something Bishop Smith consistently refused to do–perform confirmations in a home parish.

    And, yes, Bishop Smith was excused for violating canon law, specifically, for imposing a priest-in-charge without the approval of the vestry–on the grounds that his intentions were good, and he supposedly was not aware that his actions were in violation. As Smith told the parishioners of St. John’s, Bristol, the Sunday after he changed our locks: “Some people interpret the canons one way, and some interpret them another.”

  18. William Witt says:

    There’s also one final irony. Smith invaded a church, changed the locks, removed the parish leadership, and imposed himself on a parish without being invited. MacBurney had the termerity to be a guest in a church where his visit was very much wanted and welcomed.

  19. Already left says:

    After they’ve “reviewed” all the evidence, are they going to take a voice vote?

  20. Islandbear says:

    #8 Scott: I think that you’ll find the difference is the use of the infamous “abandonment” canon — if one had left the Church, there would be no need for a trail. However, as David Virtue has pointed out Bishop Bennison (PA) was the first to misuse this Canon in his vendetta against (then) Fr. David Moyer. This was not intended to be used as a disciplinary canon.

    It sounds like they couldn’t make a case for abandonment so are trying him for crossing diocesan boundaries. He has to be given at least the appearance of due process. The panel described reminds me a bit like the jury empaneled in “the Devil and Daniel Webster”


  21. Now Orthodox says:

    Who would want to be a member of such a “church” as TEC has become?
    I feel for you all. I’ve surrendered unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and moved to where God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is worshiped and glorified as the Apostles, church Fathers, Martyrs and Saints did in the first century…that would be the Orthodox Church of America.
    God bless you all.

  22. Cennydd says:

    When such a good and Godly bishop is persecuted, then it should come as no surprise when so many thousands of faithful Anglicans leave TEC, should it?

  23. BillB says:

    #19 No, they are only going to read the sentence since the verdict has already been decided. This is so like the courts of the old Soviet Union. TEC has become a travesty and a bad joke. I guess they could change the name to the USSEDoA (Union of Soviet Socialist Episcopal Dioceses of America or Union of Soviet Socialist Episcopates Dead on Arrival); it would be befitting of Herself the Premier. I am anxiously awaiting the Diocese of Ft Worth, of which I am a member, to realign with another province so that I may be distanced from this charade.

  24. Chris Hathaway says:

    “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake”

    This is the only gift that TEC has left to give to God and to His people: it is to perfect His saints through persecution.

    It is long past time for all good bishops to remember, or learn for the fisrt time, the ancient duty of bishops: to call out the anathemas.

  25. Irenaeus says:

    Andrew Smith: from Burgling Bishop to Kangaroo Court.

  26. LTN says:

    Hopefully Wicks Stephens will make a motion to disqualify members of the “court” where their impartiality may reasonably be questioned under Canon IV.14.13. Unless most of the members are impartial, any defense is futile.

  27. Larry Morse says:

    There is something comic about this, something Gilbert and Sullivanish. They are attacking a man who cannot be touched in any significant way, whose history is apparently solid as stone, and who probably doens’t give a hoot what Schori does. He’s 80 and I gather retired. How can the church thugs look anything but foolish and mean spirited?
    What will they gain? And punish him how? Take away his walker? We need a patter song, “We voted and voted just after lunch to give and old bishop a rabbit punch…. Larry

  28. TomRightmyer says:

    I am waiting for action in the case of the abandonment of the communion of the Episcopal Church by Dr. Gayle Baldwin. She wrote the Bishop of North Dakota and others, among other things, “Thus, it occurred to me that to obey the bishop in this situation was not
    required of me, but to obey the desires of God’s people for pastoral
    care, for the sacraments and for hearing the Word was required of me. Consequently, I have decided to go ahead with the celebration of the Maundy Thursday service to be held at Christus Rex on the campus of UND form 5-6 p.m.. March 20th for the Potting Shed community, friends, faculty and students who desire to participate.”

  29. Br. Michael says:

    28, don’t hold your breath. We know they don’t discipline their own.

  30. Irenaeus says:

    “They are attacking a man who cannot be touched in any significant way, whose history is apparently solid as stone, and who probably doesn’t give a hoot what Schori does. He’s 80 and I gather retired. How can the church thugs look anything but foolish and mean spirited?” —Larry Morse [#27]

    Good points. We should be grateful to Bp. MacBurney for insisting on a trial (and to Wicks Stevens for serving as defense counsel). Let ECUSA’s ruling revisionists show the world more of who they really are.
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    Where will the trial be held?

  31. Chris Hathaway says:

    Where will the trial be held?

    Australia, of course. Perhaps in the diocese of Perth.

  32. Irenaeus says:

    Chris [#31]: What about all the aviation fuel needlessly consumed by flying the parties, judges, lawyers, and witnesses down there?

    Unless the judges go by themselves and conduct a new sort of “trial in absentia.” Perth’s Freemantle Prison does have a working gallows.