Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Court maintains freeze on San Joaquin Diocesan accounts

From Episcopal Cafe comes this update in things in San Joaquin.

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has issued a press release (pdf) reproduced in full below:

August 26, 2008
Court maintains freeze on Episcopal Diocesan accounts pending litigation

In April the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin filed a lawsuit to recover the property and the assets of the Diocese from its former bishop, John-David Schofield. As a result of this lawsuit several of the disputed investment accounts and related funds belonging to the Diocese were frozen.

In a hearing yesterday, the Court adopted a stipulation and ordered that these accounts may only be accessed with the consent of the Episcopal Diocese and/or by further order of the Court. Several of the affected accounts included those critical to the operations of the Evergreen Conference Center in Oakhurst (ECCO).

Bishop Jerry Lamb called the continuation of ECCO’s ministry “critical.” At the direction of the Episcopal Diocesan Council, the Chancellor for the Diocese and attorneys for the Episcopal Church contacted Mr. Schofield’s attorneys to negotiate terms for interim access to funds to support camp operations, including staff salaries, daily operations and certain capital improvements. According to the order and stipulation, the ECCO management will provide operational and financial information to the Episcopal Diocese and report to Diocesan Council.
Copies of the Court’s Order and Stipulation are posted on the diocesan website (

The Court has set a tentative date of August 24, 2009 to hear the lawsuit.

Direct links to the Court's Order (4 page pdf image file) and Stipulation (14 page pdf image file).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Texas Faith debuts in Dallas News

Texas Faith: Religion's role at the Democratic National Convention
10:05 AM Tue, Aug 26, 2008
William McKenzie

Welcome to Texas Faith, our new discussion of religion, politics and culture. Texas Faith is a weekly online feature that will draw upon the expertise of clergy, laity and academics in Texas to debate, discuss and define the intersection of these volatile topics.

Our opening topic of the week revolves around the Democratic convention. We put this question to our panel:

From Faith Caucus meetings to panel discussions on morality to debates about an Obama administration and religion, the Democratic convention is spotlighting an enormous amount of explicit religious content. What does this mean? Is this appropriate?

Answers this week come from:

WILLIAM LAWRENCE, Dean and professor, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University; GEOFFREY DENNIS, Rabbi, Congregation Kol Ami, Flower Mound; KATIE SHERROD, independent writer and producer and progressive Episcopalian activist, Fort Worth; LYNN GODSEY, Pastor, Temple of Power Ministries, Ennis, and founder, Alliance of Hispanic Evangelical Ministers; DARRELL BOCK, Dallas Theological Seminary professor; JOE CLIFFORD, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Dallas; DEAL HUDSON, director, The Morley Publishing Group, Washington, D.C.; TREY GRAHAM, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Melissa, ; CYNTHIA RIGBY, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary professor; BRIAN SCHMISEK, University of Dallas professor; MATTHEW WILSON, Southern Methodist University professor; GERALD BRITT, vice president, Central Dallas Ministries; LILLIAN PINKUS, Community volunteer and executive committee member of the Dallas Anti-Defamation League; LARRY BETHUNE, Pastor, University Baptist Church, Austin, ; BOB DEAN, executive director, Dallas Baptist Association; ROBIN LOVIN, professor, Southern Methodist University and Perkins School of Theology; AMY MARTIN, executive director, Earth Rhythms, Dallas, ; MOHAMED ELIBIARY, President and CEO, The Freedom and Justice Foundation, Dallas; GEORGE MASON, Pastor, Wilshire Avenue Baptist Church, Dallas.

You can read their answers below. And, please, chime in and let us know your thoughts about this topic and what the panelists say about it!

WILLIAM LAWRENCE, Dean and professor, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

The question about whether it is appropriate for Mr. Obama's convention to include an enormous amount of explicit religious content is itself disingenuous. After all, this is a man who has been compelled, in the face of false accusations and deceptive assertions, to explain his personal faith.
He has had to clarify that he is a Christian, not a Muslim. He has had to defend the content of the sermons that were delivered by his former pastor. In the face of egregious attacks that affected his family and his local church, he has been forced to resign from membership in a congregation where he worshiped for decades.
Meanwhile, he is the candidate of a political party that, until very recently, has resisted any conversation about religion in the public sphere--ceding that topic to its opposition, and letting the other party define terms like "Christian" and "evangelical" and "religion" as they apply to great public issues. Mr. Obama is trying to broaden the conversation about religion, to signal that his party is no longer afraid to discuss it, and to help the electorate discuss religion from a perspective of tolerance rather than fear.

GEOFFREY DENNIS, Rabbi, Congregation Kol Ami, Flower Mound; University of North Texas professor

Frankly, I have been disillusioned by the divisive role religion has played in this election so far. I view the growing focus on the explicit beliefs of the candidates with great unease.
Whether Democrat or Republican, candidates feeling obligated to offer creedal statements about their Christian faith (or denials of Moslem faith) is driving us back to the pre-Kennedy era where a candidate's doctrinal confession is a greater political concern than his or her competence in statecraft.
I fear this trend means the political process is stacking the deck against capable people of minority faith, or no faith at all, successfully running for office. I regard this as a grave threat to the long-term health of our body politic.
So much for specificity. I also find applying religious generalizations to political problems equally troubling.
Pastor Warren asked each candidate, "Does evil exist, and if it does, do we ignore it, do we negotiate with it, do we contain it or do we defeat it?" The theologically thoughtful answer is, "Every sane person combats evil policies, but the president can't 'defeat' evil." No mortal can. This was a question better suited for someone who is running for super-hero rather than for president.

KATIE SHERROD, independent writer and producer; progressive Episcopalian activist, Fort Worth

It means the Democrats are trying to beat the Republicans at their holier-than-thou game.
Is it appropriate? It is always appropriate for individuals to talk about their faith and how that faith informs their lives, relationships, decisions. It is appropriate for Barack Obama and John McCain to talk about their faith and its impact on their lives and their decisions.
I do, though, have a a problem with having any minister, priest, pastor, imam, or rabbi conduct nationally--televised interviews with the candidates to "vet' their faith. I think that job still belongs to God.
It is not appropriate for a political organization to use faith/religion/God to "sell" their candidate and their policies. The implication is that God is on their side, and therefore, not on the "other" side. It is off-putting when the Republicans do it and it will be off-putting for the Democrats to do it.
It is as offensive as ads that use anichthys (the fish symbol for Christianity) or that declare something "a Christian business." One is using God as a shill to make money and the other is using God to shill for a candidate.

Read it all at here or go to each Tuesday.

The Girl Effect

Watch this. Think about it. Act on it. Please. For all of us.
Thanks to Elizabeth Kaeton for the tip.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Shield the Joyous!

I first met Lauren Stanley at a General Convention, in either Denver or Minneapolis. (After awhile, General Conventions can run together, because most convention centers essentially look alike. ) Lauren was helping Bishop Peter Lee put out a newspaper called The Center Aisle at convention. She and I became friends the way journalists do when they are covering the same event. I've read her stuff whenever I can ever since then.

This column is an especially good one. I found it at the Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation blog site here. It is also up at Episcopal Cafe.

Shield the joyous!

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Dean Martha heralds new day for women in Sudan" -- by the Rev. Lauren Stanley

RENK, Sudan – We made history in Sudan the other day, installing the Very Rev. Martha Deng Nhial as the first dean of the Cathedral of St. Matthew, Diocese of Renk, Episcopal Church of Sudan.

But being the first was not how the real history was made.

No, the real history was making a woman priest dean of a cathedral in Sudan. Dean Martha is the first to hold that office, just eight years after the Episcopal Church of Sudan decided to begin ordaining women as deacons and priest, just five years after Dean Martha was ordained a deacon, and only three years after she was ordained a priest.

Dean Martha is also one of the first African women to be dean of an African cathedral in the history of Christianity.

We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves right now. And not just about the history-making. We are looking around and seeing women being educated and starting businesses and taking leadership positions all over the country. In the Diocese of Renk, our schools are filled with girls, who make up close to 50 percent of the school population in some cases. Girls are taking and passing their Sudan Junior Certificates at the end of eighth grade, and taking and passing their Sudan Certificates at the end of senior secondary school. They are becoming teachers and in some cases, head teachers. They are learning to speak, read and write English and Arabic and their tribal languages, many of them from the Mothers’ Union, a powerful force in Sudan.

Women may not yet rule in Sudan, but some days, it sure seems that way.

A week after Dean Martha was installed, special prayers were offered at her home. Fifty women gathered to praise her, to praise the Church, and to thank God and the Church for lifting her up, and for her ability to lift all of us up in our lives. Even before she became dean, Martha was a force to be reckoned with in Renk. She was a nurse, as well as a member and then leader of the Mothers Union here. When she walked through town, with a purposeful stride, everyone could see that she was a woman of strength. (I once was compared to her because of the speed with which I walk, as well as my long stride. It was quite the compliment.) When Martha spoke, everyone listened, because they knew she was a woman of faith. When she became one of the first women priests ordained in Sudan, all applauded her for her courage.

Culturally, Sudan is still a land where women are expected to do certain kinds of work, none of which involve leadership. In the countryside, it is still not unusual to see the boys being educated while the girls are kept at home. In Renk, boys can pretty much roam the streets at will; girls, on the other hand, are kept under tighter supervision. (All of my young playmates, who come to hang out with me, play games, teach me Arabic, learn English from me and just keep me company, are boys. The girls are not allowed by their families to come play with me.)

So to see Dean Martha being installed – to see her daughters weep at her service – to hear the women in town sing her praises and encourage her to greater heights for herself and beg her to lead them to greater heights – was awe-inspiring.

Forget the history.

This was about women being shown that they, too, can lead, they, too, have something great to offer, they, too, deserve to be honored.
The Rev. Lauren R. Stanley is an Appointed Missionary of the Episcopal Church serving in the Diocese of Renk, Sudan. She is a lecturer at the Renk Theological College, teaching Theology, Liturgy and English, and serves as chaplain for the students.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Texas Faith announced

William McKenzie of the Dallas Morning News announced Texas Faith, a new feature of the Religion Blog at, this week.

In the story below, Bill explains how it will work. I am one of the dozen or so people the Dallas News has invited to participate in this. I hope you will read it.
Texas Faith Starts Next Week
10 a.m. Monday August 18
William McKenzie

Normally, I don't jump in on the religion blog, but starting next week, this blog will be the site for a weekly online discussion about religion, politics and culture. The conversation will take place at, which will have a link on the Opinion blog and Trailblazers.

Jeff Weiss, Wayne Slater, Rod Dreher and yours truly will be the rotating moderators. Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.

We hope this new feature will help all of us think through the interesting and complicated intersection of religion, politics and culture. With the presidential race going into overdrive, we will have plenty of issues to discuss. But this conversation will last long beyond the fall election, so we plan on making this a debate that runs across many levels of interest.

Check us out on Tuesday, August 26, when the first postings go up.

Some thoughtful reading

Over at his wonderful blog Preludium, Mark Harris points us to Simon Surmises, a blog by Canon Simon Mein, a theologian and teacher from England, now living and working in Delaware -- which is where Mark lives.

Canon Mein has republished on his blog a paper he wrote ten years ago entitled The status of homosexual persons *Some Theological Perspectives. He has broken it into three parts because it is long -- but it is well worth your time if you have questions about the theological underpinnings of the move to include LGBT Christians into the full life and ministry of the Church. It also includes very useful historical information about the Anglican Communion.

I recommend it to you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Madpriest's thought for the day

The future of the Anglican Communion does not hang in the balance.The Anglican Communion was crucified dead and buried the first time a primate refused to take communion with another primate.What does hang in the balance is the future of the trading company.
If you are not faint hearted and enjoy the British sense of humor, visit his site. I promise you it will brighten you day -- and give you things to think about

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bob Duncan removes all doubt

This should be of interest to bishops as they go to their next House of Bishops meeting where one of the items will be the deposition of Bob Duncan for abandonment of the Communion. He pretty clearly implicates Jack Iker and Keith Ackerman as well.
Thanks to Elizabeth Kaeton for this.
From: Duncan, Bob
Sent: Monday, August 11, 2008 12:35 PM
Subject: Windsor Contiuation Group Concerns


It was very good to be with you at Lambeth. I especially appreciated the time we spent together looking at the relationship between the Common Cause Partners and the Communion Partners, as well as considering issues that are before the WCG.

I thought that you might appreciate hearing from me about concerns the approach of the WCG has caused for me and for all the Common Cause Partners.

The WCG proposes "cessation of all cross-border interventions and inter-provincial claims of jurisdiction." There are at least four serious problems with the thinking surrounding the work of the Windsor Continuation Group in this regard.

The first difficulty is the moral equivalence implied between the three moratoria, a notion specifically rejected in the original Windsor Report and at Dromantine.

The second is the notion that, even if the moratoria are held to be equally necessary, there would be some way to "freeze" the situation as it now stands for those of us in the process of separating from The Episcopal Church. The three dioceses of Pittsburgh, Quincy and Fort Worth have taken first constitutional votes on separation with second votes just weeks away. We all anticipate coming under Southern Cone this fall, thus to join San Joaquin. This process cannot be stopped -- constitutions require an automatic second vote, and to recommend against passage without guarantees from the other side would be suicidal.

The third reality is that those already separated parishes and missionary jurisdictions under Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Southern Cone (including Recife) will never consent to the "holding tank" whose stated purpose is eventual "reconciliation" with TEC or the Anglican Church of Canada. (It was obvious to all at Lambeth that the majorities in the US and Canada have no intention of reversing direction.)

The fourth matter is that the legal proceedings brought by TEC and ACC against many of us have been nowhere suspended by these aggressor provinces, with no willingness to mediate or negotiate though we have proposed it repeatedly, not least since Dar es Salaam.

For your information, I have written to John Chew and Donald Mtetemela in a similar way. I have also written to the Global South Primates who signed the open letter dated 3 August. I hope this finds you well. As I pledged when we saw each other, I will do what I can to keep you informed of thinking among the Common Cause Partners, and will do what I can to see that any solutions imagined include both the Communion Partners (on the inside) and the Common Cause Partners (most of whom are on the outside of TEC, or on their way out.)

Blessings to you and yours,


Sunday, August 17, 2008

What the Ad Clerum COULD have said

John S. Morgan of Fort Worth offers his response to the Ad Clerum in which four senior priests of the diocese apologized. It begins with a brief excerpt from the document the four sent to the Roman Catholic bishop.
Background: "Furthermore, in April, 2006 the four priests making this presentation, with our Bishop and two other priests of our Diocese, met with Bernard Cardinal Law at his residence in Rome. At that meeting we discussed our plight with him."

What the ad clerum said:

We wish to emphasize:
1. That the documents and our conversation with Bishop Vann solely ever
represented the four priests named.
2. In retrospect, we regret our choice of timing for starting these
3. We deeply regret the phraseology of the
document which has caused hurt and division.
4. We remain fully committed to the goal of this Diocese, as plainly
stated by Bishop Iker, to realign with an Orthodox Anglican Province.
Respectfully submitted, N,N, N, and N

What the ad clerum could have said:

We wish to emphasize:

1. That the documents and our conversation with Bishop Vann solely ever represented the four priests named. But our estimate still stands. "There are currently 60 active clergy We believe 9 will opt to stay in The Episcopal Church. 51 will remain in a temporarily realigned diocese with the Southern Cone. 5 are not interested at this time in working for full communion. 46 are truly interested. If we add our seminarians currently on the priesthood track and our retired clergy the number becomes 59." Badmouthing the Episcopal Church year in and year out helps get active recruits. "Our best guess is that approximately 59 clergy are willing to pursue an active plan to bring the Diocese of Fort Worth or a significant portion of it into full communion with the Holy See, if this be God's will." At least it is what we want to do. Will some be without a church building in this schism? Yes but that is not our concern.

2. In retrospect, we regret our choice of timing for starting these conversations. There is a timing problem here. First we go to the Southern Cone then, later, we become Roman Catholic. No sense rushing things. While we still "believe the Catholic Faith is true" we are not going there alone. "The Protestant/Low Church teachings, the Liberals experiential teachings are just not true." "The Catholic faith, the Catholic practice, the Catholic teaching - is true." Meanwhile we shall remain in the camp of the false for a season.

3. We deeply regret the phraseology of the document which has caused hurt and division. We don't regret the content of the document but that will have to wait for a while since premature disclosure of our clandestine work has created such an uproar that we feel pressured, not to recant or repent, but merely to apologize. We well understand that the "phraseology" of our attempt to move a whole Episcopal diocese to Rome might be unsettling to some. We would be grateful if you could propose better words or phrases for our endeavor.

4. We remain fully committed to the goal of this Diocese, as plainly stated by Bishop Iker, to realign with an Orthodox Anglican Province. We are fully aware that the constitution of the Southern Cone does not permit this. But, we shall remain as committed to Bishop Iker as we are to our oath to uphold the, doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church.
Like we indicated in 1 and 2 above, first we go to the Southern Cone then, later, we become Roman Catholic. By that time there will be few options left for a maverick Anglo-Catholic diocese residing, temporarily, deep in Evangelical territory. And, yes, we also recognize that it will take time to bring the laity on board with this proposal. Perhaps longer than we think.

Respectfully submitted, N,N, N, and N

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The backpedaling continues

Read on to see what happens even to longtime loyal priests in this diocese when they embarrass Bishop Jack Iker. These four senior priests of the diocese -- all of whom have been staunch supporters and defenders of Bishop Iker - obviously believed they had his support in making their proposal to the Roman Catholic bishop. They would never have done something that serious unless they believed that.

The negative reaction from the people of the diocese must have been beyond enormous to cause the bishop to demand this public a retraction and have it issued at 9:42 p.m. on a Saturday night. But after all, what are four longtime friends when it comes to saving face?

Sent: Saturday, August 16, 2008 9:42 PM
Cc: Bishop Iker
Subject: Ad Clerum: Statement

To the clergy,

The following statement has been released jointly by Canon Charles Hough, Fr. William Crary, Fr. Christopher Stainbrook, and Fr. Louis Tobola in reference to the document released earlier this week concerning a June meeting between them and Bishop Kevin Vann.

Bishop Iker and the Standing Committee have asked that it be conveyed to you via Ad Clerum. It will be sent to all convention delegates and alternates as well.

Suzanne Gill


From: Fathers Crary, Hough, Stainbrook, and Tobola

Date: August 16, 2008

To: The Clergy and People of the Diocese

We wish to emphasize:
1. That the documents and our conversation with Bishop Vann solely ever
represented the four priests named.
2. In retrospect, we regret our choice of timing for starting these
3. We deeply regret the phraseology of the
document which has caused hurt and division.
4. We remain fully committed to the goal of this Diocese, as plainly
stated by Bishop Iker, to realign with an Orthodox Anglican Province.

Respectfully submitted,
The Very Rev. William A Crary, Jr.
The Rev. Canon Charles A. Hough, III
The Very Rev. Christopher C. Stainbrook
The Rev. Louis L. Tobola, Jr.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Renouncing the quest for the Holy Grail

From the the Daily Episcopalian on Episcopal Cafe. Reprinted with permission

By George Clifford

Now is the time to bury the ancient shibboleth of Anglican – Roman Catholic unity permanently.
Reunification with the Church of Rome offers much to the Anglican Communion that is admittedly very attractive:

• Anglicanism traces its historical roots back to Jesus through the Roman Church;

• Unmatched global reach and influence;

• Liturgical forms and ecclesiastical traditions similar to Anglicanism.

Most importantly, scripture and theology exhort us to unity within the body of Christ. The Anglican Communion could take no greater step towards achieving that unity than reunification with Rome, whether reunification took the form of reincorporating Anglican Churches into the Roman Catholic Church or a form similar to the Episcopal-Evangelical Lutheran concordat on intercommunion and sharing of ministries.

However, the Church of Rome, confident that its leader, the successor to Peter, holds the keys to the kingdom, steadfastly insists that unity is possible only on its terms. That insistence has stalled reunification with the Orthodox Churches for centuries. I find many of Rome’s terms unacceptable and strongly suspect that a majority of Anglicans do as well. Six of the most objectionable aspects of any possible reunification include:

• Acknowledging papal primacy and authority, sharply departing from the historic Anglican policy of collective authority, e.g., the Archbishop of Canterbury is first among equals in gatherings of Anglican bishops or primates;

• Honoring papal infallibility, extending even to doctrines not explicitly rooted in Scripture, e.g., the Immaculate Conception and bodily assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

• Excluding Christians not in communion with Rome from receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion, implicitly conferring upon those Christians a second-class status within the body of Christ;

• Complying with the extensive corpus of Roman canon law, often substituting law for grace, e.g., in requiring annulment of a marriage before remarriage instead of emphasizing concern for healing and readiness for remarriage;

• Insisting on doctrinal and theological conformity instead of Anglican ambiguity, e.g., solving what Anglicans have left as the sure but mysterious working of grace in the Eucharist by mandating belief in transubstantiation;

• Substituting definitive ethical positions on a wide variety of issues, ranging from abortion to suicide, for the Anglican practice of an individual to follow his or her own conscience.What would happen on other, important issues is unclear. For example, some rites within the Church of Rome, in contrast to the Roman rite, permit married priests (ecclesiastical discipline rather than theology gives the Roman Catholic Church its clerical celibacy). Would Anglicans have their own rite? Would a similar permission to marry extend to Anglican priests? Would Rome allow married Anglican bishops?

Recent, heavy-handed efforts by the Roman Catholic Church to influence the Church of England and the Anglican Communion emphasize the problems that reunification poses. In response to the Church of England’s 2008 General Synod voting to move forward with the ordination of women bishops, Rome communicated that this step would interpose an obstacle to reunification. Gender does not determine one’s identity as a child of God. Women deacons, priests, and bishops have given wonderful gifts and ministries to those Anglican provinces that ordain women.

Rome’s informal communiqué suggests that Rome envisions the possibility of reunification with Anglicans by excluding provinces that ordain women or insisting that those women renounce the practice.

I, and probably most in the Episcopal Church, cannot imagine renouncing women clergy.

Sentiment in the House of Bishops at the 2006 General Convention was that the Holy Spirit had clearly acted in the election of Bishop Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop. Have we in the Episcopal Church lived in apostasy since her installation? Do women bishops ordain inauthentic clergy? Do women priests administer invalid sacraments? We can only answer those questions with a resounding NO.

Before and during the 2008 Lambeth Conference, Roman Catholic leaders pointedly noted that any steps towards further acceptance of homosexual relationships or sex within the Anglican Communion would severely jeopardize ecumenical talks with Rome. That public message represents uninvited interference in the Anglican Communion’s internal affairs and an attempt to stifle healthy debate about the morality of human sexuality. The Episcopal Church required eighteen hundred years to affirm that slavery and Christianity are inherently incompatible.

Similarly, the Episcopal Church required almost two thousands years to recognize the incompatibility of misogyny with Christianity. Part of the difficulty in our reaching both conclusions is the Bible’s conflicted witness, e.g., a prima facie reading of Scripture grants parents permission to sell a daughter into slavery and instructs us that only men should speak in church. Sadly, correctly discerning the mind of Christ often entails much controversy, conflict, and time. Stifling that discernment process – regardless of one’s views about the morality of homosexual sex and relationships – does nothing to clarify the mind of Christ.

When convenient, the Church of Rome ignores the reality that the papacy has repeatedly asserted that Anglican holy orders are invalid. No greater obstacle to reunification can exist. The rest of us need to recognize that Roman talk of Anglican actions creating additional barriers to reunification means nothing as long as Rome denies the validity of Anglican orders. I, for one, am neither willing to deny my priesthood nor to exchange my freedom of thought, the ministry of ordained women, and Anglican distinctives in order to become a Roman Catholic. Carefully considered, the “holy grail” of reunification with Rome, something that will happen only on Rome’s terms, is a cup of hemlock. Any Anglican who wishes to become part of the Roman Catholic Church can do so today by averring belief in Roman Catholic doctrine and receiving the sacrament of confirmation from a Roman bishop. To those who feel God calling them to make their faith journey in the Church of Rome, I offer my heartfelt best wishes and blessing.

Anglicanism is not, and does not claim to be, the only or even the right Church for everyone; the Roman Catholic Church is a valued and historic member of the Church universal.

However, burying the shibboleth of reunification of Rome will give remaining Anglicans the unfettered freedom to live out our identity as Anglican Christians. The Anglican Communion has much to offer the Church of Rome, including our emphases on inclusivity, pastoral care, and praying together without having to believe together. Compromising our distinctive identity as part of the body of Christ to achieve reunification or recognition by the Church of Rome as an authentic branch of the Body of Christ is too high a price to pay.

The Rev. George Clifford, a retired priest in the Diocese of North Carolina, served as a Navy chaplain for twenty-four years.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jim Naughton in "The Guardian"

The archbishop's hands are tied, not ours . The politics of the church make Rowan Williams act against his beliefs on gay marriage. We don't have to do the same.

By Jim Naughton

Research has proven that I am not the Archbishop of Canterbury. Neither, in all likelihood, are you. These facts, in hand for some time now, acquired new significance yesterday with the revelation that Rowan Williams, who is the Archbishop of Canterbury, believes, what a great many Anglicans believe, namely: "that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might ... reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness."

This is Rowan Williams, who is the Archbishop of Canterbury

This is Jim Naughton, who is not the Archbishop of Canterbury

As archbishop, Williams might feel that the proper execution of his office requires that he puts aside his personal convictions. Juggling numerous concerns and multiple constituencies, he may have reason not to speak out boldly on behalf of one marginalised audience for fear of alienating another. Equipped with a variety of subtle ways to move the Anglican Communion toward a fuller understanding of human sexuality, he can initiate imperceptible advances on one front while publicly taking a hard line on the other. There are wheels within wheels, and he can make them all spin. He is the Archbishop of Canterbury.

But I am not. And neither are you. We can either speak our truth - which as it turns out is also his truth (and more important, we believe, His truth) and organize ourselves to reform the Churches we love, or we can sit back, beg our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to be patient, and hope that somehow the Communion will arrive at a new consensus on homosexuality without anyone seeming to have so much as nudged it in that direction.

READ IT ALL IN The Guardian.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Investigating Right-Wing Strategies

Press Release:
PRA Launches Research on Attacks on Mainline Denominations

Challenges to LGBT programs and policies a key focus

This month, Political Research Associates launched an investigation into right-wing efforts to destabilize mainline Protestant denominations and their LGBT rights programs and policies with the hiring of Project Director Kapya John Kaoma.

Over the past several decades, mainline Christian denominations in the U.S. have faced relentless pressure from conservatives both inside and outside their churches to abandon the tradition of social witness. In recent years, such campaigns have seized on the issues of marriage equality and ordination of gay and lesbian clergy, embroiling many local churches and even international church bodies in the controversies. Among other effects, such campaigns have weakened the socially progressive role of mainline denominations in public life. Political Research Associates' new program will investigate the leading strategies being employed by right-wing groups to destabilize the progressive LGBT programs of mainline denominations.

"PRA has tracked the efforts of such right-wing organizations as the IRD for years. Our quarterly The Public Eye has published key research on the subject," says PRA President Katherine Hancock Ragsdale. "So we are thrilled the Arcus Foundation has given us the resources to take our investigations even further, and further support those within the Episcopal, Methodist and other churches who are defending equity."

Project Director Kapya Kaoma is an ordained Anglican priest with a particular interest in social justice issues, ecological ethics and interfaith work. From 1998-2001 he served as the Dean of St. John's Cathedral and lecturer at the University of Africa in Zimbabwe, where is coauthored a class ethics text, "Unity in Diversity." From 2001- 2002 he was Academic Dean for St. John's Anglican Seminary in Zambia where he launched a Women Studies program, and the Church School training program.An active campaigner for women's reproductive rights, Kaoma theologically argues for the promotion of condoms in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He received the Boston Theological Institute "Costas" Ecumenical Student Consultation Award from 2003-2005. A doctoral candidate at the Boston University School of Theology, he received its African Studies Merit Fellowship Awards four years in a row from 2004-2008.

The Roman Option

Fort Worth Episcopalian David Leedy is working on a history of the diocese. In his research, he came across these interesting pieces and posted them on the Fort Worth Via Media listserve. The articles add some background information to the presentation four of our clergy made to the Roman Catholic bishop of Fort Worth. See blog below: So. How do you feel about being Roman Catholic? posted on Monday, August 11, 2008

Excerpt From:
September 17, 1991 – Episcopal News Service (ENS)

The 150-member Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Arlington, Texas, voted nearly unanimously on August 2 to sever ties with the Episcopal Church. "We were very disturbed by the outcome of the General Convention," said the Rev. Allan Hawkins, rector of the parish. "We were concerned about the church's inability to affirm traditional Christian morality."

Hawkins reported that the parish would seek affiliation with Rome under a provision approved by the Vatican in 1980 that permits individuals to move from Anglicanism to the Roman Catholic Church. The provision allows individuals to use a modified version of the Episcopal Church's 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

A handful of Episcopalians who have converted to Roman Catholicism have organized "Anglican Use" churches in San Antonio, Houston, and Austin. However, St. Mary's is the first Episcopal congregation in Texas to seek affiliation with Rome.

"There is no provision from a Roman Catholic point of view for a local congregation to negotiate its way into the Roman Catholic Church," said the Rev. William Norgren, ecumenical officer of the Episcopal Church. Norgren said that the "Anglican Use" provision was adopted to make individual converts from Anglicanism feel comfortable as Roman Catholics -- not as a tool to pave the way for entire parishes to leave the Episcopal Church and join the Roman Catholic Church.

Norgren suggested that there would "be no ecumenical problem" for incorporating the Episcopal parish into the Roman Catholic Church, if authorities in both churches agree. However, he said that the Roman Catholics would likely require a pastoral meeting with each parishioner to determine that he or she was prepared -- as well as willing -- to accept Roman Catholicism.

In a statement responding to the action of the parish, Bishop Clarence Pope of Fort Worth indicated that he would not stand in the way of the parish's decision to leave the Episcopal Church. Pope is president of the Episcopal Synod of America, an organization of traditionalist Episcopalians that opposes what it perceives as liberal trends in the church.

Although a decision on the parish's relationship to the Diocese of Fort Worth would not be determined until the diocesan convention in October, it appears that Pope will not fight St. Mary's over control of its church property. "My concern is for the care of the souls of the members of St. Mary's, and not for their property," Pope said.


[Undated] The Roman Option commentary and proposal by Mark Cameron

[You can read it here. From their website: The Una Voce International website provides information about officers and national associations:]

From Una Voce (from the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity (with one voice) is an international federation of associations, founded in 1966 in Rome, that now includes national associations in 17 nations on every continent. It is dedicated to ensuring that the Roman Mass codified by St. Pius V is maintained as one of the forms of eucharistic worship which are honored in universal liturgical life, and to restoring the use of Latin, Gregorian Chant, and sacred polyphony in Catholic liturgy.

I recently read (almost at a sitting actually as I found it quite gripping) William Oddie's The Roman Option (New York: Harper Collins, 1997), the story of the entry of Anglo-Catholic dissidents into the Catholic Church in the UK, and to a lesser extent the US, after the decision of the Church of England to "ordain" women. I think there are many lessons in this book which are relevant to traditionalist Catholics, especially when it comes to tactics on how to carve out our own distinct but integral place in the Church.

The Anglo-Catholics were by and large perfectly orthodox, willing to accept all Catholic doctrine and to submit themselves to reordination. But they also wished to preserve some of their liturgical and historical traditions. Quoting Pope Paul VI's statement to Anglican Archbishop Michael Ramsey, they wished to be "united but not absorbed." They also wished to maintain their group and parish identities, not simply be absorbed into the anonymity of large (and liberal) suburban Catholic parishes. While traditionalists may argue with some of their liturgical preferences, and certainly with married priests, I think most of us would sympathize with their general goals.

The path they faced in trying to find a way to join the Church as distinct groups and to preserve their liturgical heritage is both discouraging and highly familiar to traditionalists. At first, they received a warm welcome from Cardinal Hume, and an even warmer welcome in Rome (where their biggest ally was, surprise, surprise, Cardinal Ratzinger). Their ideal goal was an Anglican rite personal prelature. But they quickly realized that this was a non-starter, so they started negotiating for a lesser aim: a canonical structure that would allow them to be catechized and join the Church together, and to continue to worship together after they had joined. (I will come back to the details of this later) Rome was keen for this, and Hume was initially willing. But the English Catholic bishops, egged on by liberals and feminists in the Church who did not want to see 1,000 priests and 50,000 laity loyal to Rome and against women priests enter the Church, balked.

What the English Bishops eventually produced was a very watered down statement saying that parishes or groups could join together, but once received they would be absorbed into the mainstream church. The hope of staying together as parishes or keeping elements of Anglican liturgy was more or less crushed. It was join Father Flippant at St. Teilhard de Chardin's for the Novus Ordo, or nothing.

Some U.S. bishops, led by Cardinal Law, were more keen and were promoting a wider expansion of the "pastoral provision", by which a few Anglican parishes, mostly in Texas, had already been received into the Church. Rome tried to push for a more generous settlement in both the US and the UK, but it came to nothing.

Some of the individual stories are shocking. One key player in the negotiations was Episcopalian Bishop Clarence Pope of Fort Worth, Texas. He tried to negotiate for a personal prelature, or some form of nationwide, expanded pastoral provision, with the help of Cardinal Law. They had a meeting in Rome with key Cardinals, which concluded with a dramatic meeting where Pope John Paul II embraced Bishop Pope and gestured towards him saying, "in communion." But when they went back home, nothing happened.

Finally, the ailing Bishop Pope announced his retirement as Anglican bishop, and that he couldn't wait any longer and wished to come into the Church as an individual. On retirement, he moved to the diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The bishop of Baton Rouge had said that he would happily reordain Bishop Pope as a priest. But having said this, the bishop then said that he would first... (wait for this) put it to a vote of the diocesan priests council. Guess what? They voted against allowing an Anglican bishop, involved in direct negotiations with the Pope and Cardinals Law and Ratzinger, to become an ordinary priest. Pope was completely isolated from the Catholic community in Baton Rouge, and was left in the dark as to what was happening at the national and international level (after all, he was just a retired layman now). Old and sick, he started getting calls from the Episcopalian primate and the new Episcopal Bishop of Fort Worth to return to the Episcopal Church to the dignity of being a retired bishop. He did, thanks to the petty jealousies and heartlessness of a small bishop and his liberal priests.

In the end, thanks to a myriad of stumbling blocks on the Catholic side, and a more creative response on the Anglican side by giving the dissident parishes four bishops of their own and allowing them to opt out of the regular Church of England structure, the negotiations with Rome and Westminster came to nothing. Many individual priests and laity came over, but the prospect of a mass conversion of whole parishes flopped.

The similarities to the position of Roman rite traditionalists to the Anglo-Catholics discussed in Oddie's book were striking. How many times have we had friendly words or documents from Rome, only to be shot down by bishops? How many times have we heard initially positive responses from bishops, only to be shot down by a vote of the priests council? How many times have we had to endure insults that we are not really loyal to the Church because we want our own distinct liturgy?

It also makes me think that if Rome is too powerless to bring over an Anglican bishop who the Pope has said he is "in communion" with because of the Baton Rouge priests council, or unwilling to help bring over 200+ whole Anglican parishes, how much power will they have or energy will they spend to help us? We may have to come to the same sad lesson that most of the Anglo-Catholic dissidents still in the Church of England came to: the bishops and priests don't want us, and Rome is unwilling or unable to help us. Therefore, we have to help ourselves. The dissident Anglicans, with their own four bishops, are united through the Forward in Faith movement in the U.K. (and now in the well) This will give them a powerful structure to negotiate with Rome as a bloc. Next time, it will take more than kind words from Cardinals: they will want it in writing.

Canon 372
Another very interesting point raised in the book was that after the initial pipe dream of a "personal prelature" like Opus Dei had been abandoned, was that the Anglo-Catholics started focusing on another provision in Canon Law, one which I have never heard of in traditionalist circles. This provision is known as Canon 372, which is part of the Canon Law governing the life of particular churches (usually meaning dioceses). Canon 372 states:

"Can. 372 §1 As a rule, that portion of the people of God which constitutes a diocese or other particular Church is to have a defined territory, so that it comprises all the faithful who live in that territory.

§2 If however, in the judgement of the supreme authority in the Church, after consultation with the Episcopal Conferences concerned, it is thought to be helpful, there may be established in a given territory particular Churches distinguished by the rite of the faithful or by some other similar quality."

This was the provision that the Anglo-Catholics were negotiating to have invoked, and the Vatican and Cardinal Hume were initially in favour of it. Such a particular church would have to be governed by a bishop, but we need not have our own bishop like a "personal prelature." An existing bishop could do the job, say the Cardinal responsible for the Ecclesia Dei Commission.
If and when the next conflict flares up in the Anglican Church (as is occurring right now over gay ordination, and will occur over women bishops in the UK) Anglo-Catholics seeking union with Rome, this time more powerfully organized, will lobby for Canon 372 to be put into effect.

I see no reason why this should not be our goal as traditional Catholics as well: a particular church "distinguished by the rite of the faithful" (i.e. the Tridentine rite) uniting all traditionalists world wide.

In the wake of Protocol 1411 and the divisions in the FSSP, the traditionalist movement needs to start moving forward with a positive agenda. I suggest that calling for a Tridentine particular church, under the terms of Canon 372, should be our goal. As much as possible we should work with like minded groups of Anglo-Catholics, either those groups already united with the Church who would like a stronger status to maintain their identity, or Forward-in-Faith or "continuing" Anglicans who would like to join the Catholic Church, but don't feel able to under the circumstances.

Monday, August 11, 2008

UPDATED! So. How do you feel about being Roman Catholic?


And see the bridge in this photo? If you buy Bp. Iker's statement, I'd like to sell it to you . . .

The Brooklyn Bridge


Sometime rumors are true. Remember the rumor about Bishop Iker trying to take the Diocese to Rome? Well, read on.

This document was put into the hands of the Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians by a source who came by it legitimately. I have reproduced it exactly as I received it.

It is authentic. See this story in the Dallas Morning News. And this story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.


1. We believe the See of Peter is essential not optional - Fr. Stainbrook
2. We believe a magisterium is needed desperately - Fr. Crary
3. We believe the Catholic Faith is true - Fr. Stainbrook
4. We believe the Anglican Communion shares the fatal flaws of TEC- Fr. Tobola
5. We believe our polity is in error-Fr. Crary
6. We believe we are not the only ones in our diocese - Canon Hough
7. We believe Pope Benedict XVI understands our plight - Fr. Tobola
8. We believe there is a charism which Anglican ethos has to offer to the Universal Church-Fr. Stainbrook

PREAMBLE - Fr. Crary

A. We appreciate your taking this time to meet with us.

B. Introduction of group by Fr. Crary. Fr. Crary introduces himself and then the group.

C. History: Our group met several times (with our Bishop's knowledge) for the past year and a half. Out meetings arose because of the on going crisis in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

D. We shared our conclusions with Bishop Iker on April 10th of this year. He gave us his "unequivocally support" to proceed further by having this conversation with you.

E. We would like to share briefly with you our journey and our conclusions which we shared with Bishop Iker.

F. However, before we share our thoughts we would like to present you with this icon which was commissioned expressly for you and for our meeting today.


We request that the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth provide the guidance necessary so that we might "make a proposal" that would lead our Diocese into full communion with the See of Peter.

We believe this guidance is necessary for the following reasons:

1. We cannot adequately prepare such a proposal without input from those to whom the proposal is to be made.

2. Such guidance would help us through the complicated aspects of this proposal.

3. With this guidance, the Holy Spirit could affect more quickly the healing of this portion of the broken Body of Christ.

Should you consent, we gladly offer ourselves for this important work and stand ready to work with those you might designate.

A Presentation to
The Most Reverend Keven W. Vann
Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth
Given by
Members of the Clergy of
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth


That they all may be one;
even as thou, Father, are in me
and I in thee
John 17:21


At 3:00 p.m. on Monday, June 16, 2008 in the Catholic Center of the Diocese of Fort Worth, four priests of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth made the following presentation to the Most Reverend Kevin Vann. We are grateful for the hospitality and charity which we received from the Bishop and his Chancellor, the Very Reverend James E. Hart.

The presentation was the result of two years of prayer and discernment regarding the future of our Diocese. At the conclusion of our discernment period, we shared our Findings with our Bishop, the Right Reverend Jack Leo Iker. Bishop Iker endorsed our report and gave us his "unequivocal support" to proceed with a presentation to Bishop Vann.

The clergy making this presentation are:

The Very Reverend William A. Crary, Jr., SSC, a founding priest of the Diocese with 32 years of experience in the Diocese, a member of the SSC (Society of the Holy Cross), Dean of the Eastern Deanery, and is the senior rector in the Diocese, serving St. Laurence for 22 years.

The Reverend Canon Charles A. Hough, III, SSC, a founding priest of the Diocese with 30 years experience in the Diocese, Canon to Bishop Iker for 15 years, a member of the SSC, Chair of our Diocesan Deputation to the General Convention of The Episcopal Church for 23 years, has served parishes in Granbury and Grand Prairie.

The Reverend Louis L. Tobola, Jr., SSC, a founding priest of the Diocese with 31 years experience in the Diocese, a member of the SSC, a founding priest for a new congregation in the Diocese, St. Barnabas the Apostle, has served as Dean of the Cathedral and Dean of the Eastern Deanery.

The Very Reverend Christopher C. Stainbrook, SSC, came to Fort Worth from New York in 1990 by invitation of Bp. Pope, has been Vicar of St. Timothy's since 1994, is Finance Committee Chair, Diocesan Historiographer, Dean of the Fort Worth East Deanery, and Special Liaison to the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth.

Before their presentation, a hand-written icon of Saint Gregory and Saint Augustine, commissioned expressly for Bishop Vann and this meeting, was given to him.

[Here a photo of the icon was reproduced.]



I. We believe the See of Peter is essential not optional

Unity with the Holy See is esse that is, essential for Catholic Christians (not bene esse, merely beneficial.) This is a concept which the Catholic Clergy in the Anglican Tradition have always believed (indeed it is one of the stated purposes of the SSC) but the rapid deterioration of the Anglican Communion makes it even more apparent now. The Prayer for Unity (John 17, that they all may be one) also compels us to pursue the possibility of reunion with Rome.

The very name of the first Pope, Peter, Petrus is the "rock" - and we have seen that it is the Petrine office which is important not the personality of an individual pontiff.

In April 2006 our Diocesan Bishop and several of the clergy made a pilgrimage to Rome. At that time we were blessed to have an informal visit with his Eminence, Bernard Cardinal Law. At that meeting, Cardinal Law indicated that the Catholic Church was aware of the current difficulties faced by Anglo Catholics (and particularly the Anglo Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth) at this time and said, in essence, for us to "make an offer" that is, make a Proposal on how we might respond to the crisis in our branch of Christendom. After this pilgrimage, we began meeting with the full knowledge and support of our Bishop. We came to realize that, like the Prodigal Son in the Gospel, it is up to us to make the initiative to return to the rock from whence we were hewn. In essence, that trip crystallized for us the need for perusing unity with the See of Peter now. Since that time we have studied, we have met, we have prayed, and now we come to the Church with our conclusions.

As Anglicans we realize that Henry VIII, the monarch who wrote "Defense of Seven Sacraments" and who was granted the title "Defender of the Faith", never intended to make any substantive or permanent changes in the Catholic faith. Indeed, the Reformation itself was intended to be for a limited time only, "a season", as the book of Ecclesiastes would say.

We believe that it is now time for a new Season. It is perhaps, time for a church of Reformation to die and a new unification among Christ's people be born: Unification possible only under the Holy Father.

II. We believe a magisterium is needed desperately

"In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 21:25) This describes the day to day 'on the ground" reality in the Anglican Communion. Anglican "comprehensiveness" has no boundaries and no real center. For example, during the Reformation period under Elizabeth I, 1533-1603, there was an attempt to synthesize the Catholic and Protestant factions in the Church of England, resulting in the so-called "Elizabethan Settlement". Concerning the Eucharist, it was held that belief in the Real Presence of Christ was acceptable as well as the belief that the Eucharist was only a memorial or "remembrance" of something long ago. In essence the Anglican faith is what the parish priest says it is, and this varies widely with many contradictions. The Pentecostal/Evangelical/Charismatic expressions are just as valid as the Anglo-Catholic teaching. In most parts of the country, the parish priest is completely on his own.

Formerly, a single prayer book (the 1662 Church of England Prayer Book was the pattern for all national prayer books) provided some glue, but with the proliferation of endless trial liturgies even that has disappeared.

The lack of a teaching office has resulted in communicating un-baptized persons, same-sex unions and liturgical chaos everywhere. There are no boundaries and it is all uncontrollable. This is not theory but day to day reality. Anglican "comprehensiveness" has no boundaries. Previously this absence of a center seemed to work when the various ecclesiastical parties (Low Church/Broad Church/High Church) largely worked within their own circles. Low Church people did not attend High Church parishes and vice versa.

In looking at the disarray in the larger communion it is apparent that the Archbishop of Canterbury is incapable of providing decisive leadership. If there is a future, particularly for Catholic minded Anglicans, it is clear that a magisterium is absolutely essential.

III. We believe the Catholic Faith is True

The Catholic Faith is given - it is true.

The Epistle to the Ephesians reminds us that as Christians we believe in "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism". At the celebration of every Mass and in the recitation of any Daily Office we profess in the Creed "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church". We have come to realize, to an extent even more fully than we had as Catholics in the Anglican Tradition, that our Blessed Lord has indeed founded only one true church: the Catholic Church.

Unlike so many forms of Protestantism, Catholic teaching does not change on a whim to suit the transient issues of the day. In addition, the Catholic Faith is not just one option among many. Anglican comprehensiveness with Catholics, Evangelicals and Liberals, all following their own paths, leads to the disintegration and disunion which we in the Diocese of Fort Worth find ourselves. The Protestant/Low Church teachings, the Liberals experiential teachings are just not true. The Catholic faith, the Catholic practice, the Catholic teaching - is true.

We know, and are living examples of the fact, that Catholic Witness has been present throughout the history of the Anglican Tradition. But it is now becoming weaker because of this idea, Catholic as one option among several. . . except here in Fort Worth, which is in so many ways unique (explored further in section VI).

IV. We believe the Anglican Communion shares the fatal flaws of The Episcopal Church

In our time of discernment, we have concluded that the difficulties we have faced in The Episcopal Church for the past thirty years will not be remedied by the Anglican Communion.

Those making this presentation have been members of The Episcopal Church since childhood. In this church we have been nourished by Catholic faith and practice. However, through the years we have witnessed the deterioration and marginalization of that Catholic faith. We believed that our call was to remain within our church as a remnant which could preserve the faith. Our expectation was that the Anglican Communion, in response to The Episcopal Church's continuing "innovations", would provide the stability and witness necessary for us to continue. However, it is apparent that the Communion is incapable of providing this stability.

It is our conclusion that the Anglican Communion has the same fatal flaws as The Episcopal Church. Without a magisterium the latest "religion" will continue to replace the historic teachings of our Communion. This erosion of Catholic faith and practice is heightened by the governing polity of the Anglican Communion. Bishops are elected by priests and laity of a Diocese. As the liberalizing culture enters another portion of the world, the Diocese there is deeply affected by it. Those who can be elected are only those who reflect the cultural shift that has occurred in that Diocese. We have seen this in The Episcopal Church and we see it now in the Anglican Communion.

We know what happens in a church which lacks a magisterium and whose polity makes the continuing of a Catholic witness impossible. We have concluded the Anglican Communion provides not safe future for us. Our witness, rather than being honored, has been persecuted.

V. We believe our polity is in error

In the New Testament no congregation votes on its pastor! St. Paul would have been unelectable in all, except maybe Philippi! Without exception pastors are sent by higher authority.

It was not a convention of delegates, but only the remaining apostles that established the criteria for Judas' replacement. St. John Chrysostom said that Peter had the authority to make the appointment but did not. Drawing lots put the choice in God's hands.

In the United States, the democratic style of polity in The Episcopal Church, strongly resembling the legislative branch of the U.S. government (House of Bishops and House of Deputies, lay and ordained) has created doctrinal chaos. Samuel Seabury (1729-1796) the first American Episcopal bishop was fearful of having clergy and lay people voting on doctrinal matters. His fears were realized when an early General Convention put the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds up for grabs. The Nicene Creed was voted out, then back in; and then the Athanasian Creed lost the vote.

In regard to the ordination of women, the 1976 General Convention changed the matter of a sacrament, established by Christ himself, simply by voting. Bishop Robert Terwilliger, formerly Suffragan of the Diocese of Dallas called it "voting our collective ignorance"!

Candidates for bishop in the American Episcopal Church shamelessly campaign like the politicians they are. When elected they are indebted to the electors.

We are in desperate need of a polity modeled on the New Testament and the early church.

VI. We believe we are not the only ones

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth came into existence in 1983 when it was decided that the Diocese of Dallas, of which it represents the western 1/3 of that diocese, would divide. We believe the hand of God was present in this decision and that it was the work of the Holy Spirit to bring into existence a diocese where the overwhelming majority of clergy living and working in that part of the old Diocese of Dallas were Catholic minded clergy. We now see as truly profound this action of creating the Diocese of Fort Worth. It set up what has now culminated in a Diocese of the Episcopal Church where its clergy are overwhelmingly Catholic minded.

The Diocese of Fort Worth has been a leader in standing against the apostasy that has been taking place in the Episcopal Church over the last three decades. We have witnessed Episcopal diocese after diocese fall away from a traditional Biblical and Catholic practice of the faith. It has now become impossible for the Catholic minded people to exist and survive in the Episcopal Church. As a result of this, the Diocese of Fort Worth is working toward a realignment of itself into another Province of the Anglican Communion. We have chosen to join the Province of the Southern Cone in South America. We believe this arrangement is temporary. As the Anglican Communion attempts to reform itself, it is becoming more and more evident that this problematic at best.

The overwhelming majority of clergy currently active in the Diocese of Fort Worth are willing to work earnestly for what we consider to be the only solution, and that is full communion with the Holy See. The breakdown of numbers is as follows:

There are currently 60 active clergy
We believe 9 will opt to stay in The Episcopal Church
51 will remain in a temporarily realigned diocese with the Southern Cone
5 are not interested at this time in working for full communion
46 are truly interested. If we add our seminarians currently on the priesthood track and our retired clergy the number becomes 59.

Our best guess is that approximately 59 clergy are willing to pursue an active plan to bring the Diocese of Fort Worth or a significant portion of it into full communion with the Holy See, if this be God's will.

We believe these numbers are the result of the Holy Spirit actively working among us since the formation of this diocese. We also recognize that it will take time to bring the laity on board with this proposal. While the clergy have come to recognize the truth which it held by the Holy See, we have much work to do with the laity.

This fact needs to be noted and is to be understood as a recognized part of our proposal.

We would also like to point out that of the 59 clergy, 20 are under the age of 40. These young clergy are committed to seeking the truth that the Holy See possesses. They have come to this realization independent of the four clergy who are represented in this presentation. We have noted over the last few years that God has been raising up phenomenal young men in our diocese for priesthood. We now realize and believe the purpose of this explosion of priestly vocations at this time is to further help us understand the direction we must take. They are committed to teaching the truth of the Catholic faith and they have many years of ministry to give to accomplish what God began with us in 1983. We have seen many pieces of a puzzle come together over the years. We believe all of this is truly the work of the Holy Spirit and we continue to pray for guidance, courage and faith.

Finally, the Diocese of Fort Worth is the only diocese in the Episcopal Church that is strong enough to pursue the Proposal outlined below. We have a critical mass of clergy who are willing to bring the laity to support this proposal. There are many Catholics in the Anglican Tradition outside of our Diocese that look to the Diocese of Fort Worth for leadership. We believe the time is ripe for significant history making action on the part of the Holy Spirit. We believe the time is right and this is why we have come forward with this presentation.

VII. We believe Pope Benedict XVI understands our plight

Through his writings and his actions we believe that Pope Benedict XVI is sympathetic to our plight.

It is our belief that Pope Benedict XVI desires to uphold the Catholic faith whenever and wherever he finds it; especially in a world dominated by the super-dogma of relativism. It is this new dogma, this new denomination which motivates those who seek to remove the Catholic witness from The Episcopal Church.

In October, 2003, members of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and other Episcopalians throughout the United States met in Plano, Texas for a conference titled, "A Place to Stand: A Call to Mission". That conference was called to unite further those who opposed the ordination of a partnered homosexual as a Bishop in The Episcopal Church.

The highpoint of that conference was a letter from then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. It reads as follows:

From Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The Vatican, on behalf of Pope John Paul II

I hasten to assure you of my heartfelt prayers for all those taking part in this convocation. The significance of your meeting is sensed far beyond Plano, and even in this City from which Saint Augustine of Canterbury was sent to confirm and strengthen the preaching of Christ's Gospel in England. Nor can I fail to recall that barely 120 years later, Saint Boniface brought that same Christian faith to my own forebears in Germany.

The lives of these saints show us how in the Church of Christ there is an unity in truth and a communion of grace which transcends the borders of any nation. With this is mind, I pray in particular that God's will may be done by all those who seek that unity in the truth, the gift of Christ himself.

With fraternal regards, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ
+Joseph Cardinal Ratszinger

Cardinal Ratzinger's letter was greeted with thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

Furthermore, in April, 2006 the four priests making this presentation, with our Bishop and two other priests of our Diocese, met with Bernard Cardinal Law at his residence in Rome. At that meeting we discussed our plight with him. Cardinal Law told us two important things. With regard to union with Rome he said, "What was not possible twenty years ago may be possible today." And, with regard to our moving forward he said, "Make us an offer". He told us that it was inappropriate for the Catholic Church to make an offer to another Christian body, such as ours, in distress. Rather, such an offer needed to come from us.

Pondering the words of then Cardinal Ratzinger and those of Cardinal Law, we entered our period of prayer and discernment.

Those making this presentation believe the Holy Spirit has brought us to this moment. It is a time when we who have believed ourselves to be priests of the Catholic faith, seek to become more clearly what we have always been.

VIII. We believe there is a charism which the Anglican ethos has to offer to the Universal Church

The Catholic Faith, as it has been lived in the Anglican Tradition, is a thing of great beauty. Why are we making a plea for it to continue? It is because the Catholic faith and practice, as lived out in the Anglican Tradition, is a unique charism well worth preserving.

Twentieth century Anglo Catholic authors like C.S. Lewis, T.S. Eliot and earlier Anglican theologians such as William Law ("Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life") and George Herbert ("The Country Parson") have enriched and enlightened countless souls. The religious life, the devotional societies, the guilds, the priestly fraternities (like the Catholic Clerical Union and the SSC) all speak to an expression of Catholic piety which continues to be attractive to people in the twenty-first century and are worthy of preserving for future generations. To take but one (local) example: the large number of young men offering themselves for ordination in this Diocese speaks to this expression's ability to nurture vocations. Also the Catholic Liturgy in the Anglican Tradition is a thing of great elegance, holiness, of long antiquity and solemn reverence.

The icon presented to his Excellency Bishop Vann, an icon of both St. Gregory and St. Augustine, represents our desire to return hom to Rome our first and true spiritual home.

What is it that we can offer to the greater Church? We believe we can offer a Catholic expression which for too long has been separated from the Universal Church. This is a tradition of inspiring liturgy, devout spirituality, loving pastoral care and a living spirituality. We believe it has a special and unique witness to the Faith, which we humbly offer as a beautiful jewel in the Catholic crown.

At the conclusion of our presentation, the following proposal was submitted to Bishop Vann.


We request that the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth provide guidance and assistance as we look for a new way that would lead our Diocese into full communion with the Holy See.

We believe this guidance is necessary for the following reasons:

1. We cannot adequately prepare such a proposal without input from those to whom the proposal is to be made.

2. Such guidance would help us work through the complicated aspects of this proposal.

3. With this guidance, the Holy Spirit could affect more quickly the healing of this portion of the broken Body of Christ.

Should you consent, we gladly offer ourselves for this important work and stand ready to work with those you might designate.

Having received words of encouragement from Bishop Vann, saying he saw in this presentation the hand of the Lord and the work of the Holy Spirit, the clergy retired to the Chapel of The Catholic Center for his blessing and a photograph.

[And here was reproduced a photograph of the four Episcopal priests and Bishop Vann, who is holding the icon.]



I am aware of a meeting that four priests of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth have had with Bishop Kevin Vann of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth on June 16, 2008. After a year of studying various agreed statements that have come out of ecumenical dialogues between Anglicans and Roman Catholics on the national and international level, these clergy expressed an interest in having a dialogue on the local level and asked my permission to make an appointment to talk with Bishop Vann. The stated goal of these official Anglican/Roman Catholic dialogues (which have been going on for over 40 years) has been full, visible unity between the two communions.

The priests who participated in this meeting with Bishop Vann have my trust and pastoral support. However, in their written and verbal reports, they have spoken only on their own behalf and out of their own concerns and perspective. They have not claimed to act or speak, nor have they been authorized to do so, either on behalf of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth or on my own behalf as their Bishop.

Their discussion with Bishop Vann has no bearing upon matters coming before our Diocesan Convention in November, where a second vote will be taken on constitutional changes concerning our relationship with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. There is no proposal under consideration, either publicly or privately, for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth to become part of the Roman Catholic Church. Our only plan of action remains as it has been for the past year, as affirmed by our Diocesan Convention in November 2007. The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth intends to realign with an orthodox Province as a constituent member of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

By God’s grace, we will continue to work and pray for the unity of the one holy catholic and apostolic church.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
August 12, 2008

You can read the statement here. All I can say is that Bp. Iker must not have read the statement -- which was partially written by his own canon to the ordinary -- very carefully. As in:

We request that the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth provide the guidance necessary so that we might "make a proposal" that would lead our Diocese into full communion with the See of Peter.

As in:
The presentation was the result of two years of prayer and discernment regarding the future of our Diocese. At the conclusion of our discernment period, we shared our Findings with our Bishop, the Right Reverend Jack Leo Iker. Bishop Iker endorsed our report and gave us his "unequivocal support" to proceed with a presentation to Bishop Vann.

As in:
After this pilgrimage, we began meeting with the full knowledge and support of our Bishop. We came to realize that, like the Prodigal Son in the Gospel, it is up to us to make the initiative to return to the rock from whence we were hewn. In essence, that trip crystallized for us the need for perusing unity with the See of Peter now. Since that time we have studied, we have met, we have prayed, and now we come to the Church with our conclusions.

As in:
Furthermore, in April, 2006 the four priests making this presentation, with our Bishop and two other priests of our Diocese, met with Bernard Cardinal Law at his residence in Rome. At that meeting we discussed our plight with him. Cardinal Law told us two important things. With regard to union with Rome he said, "What was not possible twenty years ago may be possible today." And, with regard to our moving forward he said, "Make us an offer". He told us that it was inappropriate for the Catholic Church to make an offer to another Christian body, such as ours, in distress. Rather, such an offer needed to come from us.

Does ANY doubt remain of the small regard our leaders have for us?

Friday, August 08, 2008

That Wild Uncontrollable Force

Watching Lambeth unfold was like watching one of those foreground/background optical illusions where, as you stare at the picture, either the profile of a beautiful young woman moves to the foreground or the image of an old woman moves forward while the young woman’s image disappears. It is almost impossible to see them both at the same time.

Lambeth was the same-there were two Lambeths occurring simultaneously, one out in front, the other in the background.

The Lambeth of the Indaba and Bible Study groups was the one in the foreground most of the time. But at key points, the Lambeth of the Windsor Continuation Group [WCG] and the group writing the Reflections documents moved out of the background into sight.

The disconnect between the two was complete. One Lambeth was focused on building relationships and reaching toward understanding across differences in language, culture, history, wealth, and theological approaches to scripture with the goal of reaching consensus on a number of issues facing the Communion, of which only one was human sexuality. And while everyone pretty much agreed there were too many issues to hope to reach consensus in three weeks, they also agreed that the Indaba discussions should continue post-Lambeth. In a very Anglican-like way, people were agreeing to continue in conversation -despite their differences.

The other Lambeth – rooted as it was in the deeply flawed and historically inaccurate Windsor Report – inevitably was focused on institutional preservation, on coming up with structural solutions to current problems. All of which, in the sight of these officials, are almost totally the fault of the Episcopal Church and, to a lesser degree, that of the Anglican Church of Canada, with the main issue being that of human sexuality, specifically homosexuality.

Both reports emphasized the importance of “every bishop being heard,” apparently quite willing to ignore entirely the fact that not every bishop could be heard, given that the bishop of New Hampshire had not been invited. Additionally, more than 200 bishops chose not to come -- or were intimidated into not coming.

No members of the Windsor Continuation Group favor the blessing of same sex unions. And while both the reports of the WCG and the drafts of the Reflections document supposedly reflected feedback from the bishops’ Indaba groups, many bishops across the spectrum complained that the documents were presented to them without an opportunity or way for them to react to perceived distortions or to agree on the final product.

Bp. Kirk Smith of Arizona blogged, “We had not been given a chance to review the last and most controversial section before it was printed up, and I felt that the process had not been done fairly. The trust that had built up over the past few weeks was rapidly evaporating for me,” although after a session with his Bible Study group he felt better.

Bp. Tim Stevens, Leicester, Church of England, wrote, “Today we shall see the final version of the document which reports the conference, but there has been no process by which the members of the conference can agree the text!”

In spite of that, the final draft of the Reflections was to be “dedicated in prayer” at the final worship service. One might assume this was a tacit acknowledgment that the document was not the product of consensus or the result of a vote.

And the Windsor Continuation Group will take what it reported as agreed-upon-proposals for moratoria on same-sex blessings, the consecration of any more [openly] gay bishops, and border incursions forward as it presses hard for the completion of an Anglican Covenant that will include an ecclesiastical SWAT team called a Pastoral Forum that will go into offending provinces – meaning the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada – and do something-as-yet-undetermined to make them “behave.”

(One wonders how it will deal with those Primates who clearly have no intention of stopping their border incursions.)

So. Which is the true picture? The beautiful young Lambeth of the Indaba process, or the old woman of the Windsor Continuation Group and the Reflections document?

Well, both are. The better question might be, which one will matter as we move forward?

The final press conference with the Archbishop of Canterbury made it clear that for him, the only one that matters is that of the dour, pessimistic, and threatening old woman – the institutional structural Lambeth of the WCG and the Reflections group. Rowan Williams skillfully drove the Conference to the conclusion he wanted, and he did it in a most British way – using soothing words and large courtesies to cover up the fact that long-targeted backs were being stabbed.

At the press conference, Williams made it clear on whose shoulders the fate of the Anglican Communion rests: “I think if the North American churches don’t accept the need for moratoria then at least we are no further forward. As a communion we would be in great peril.”

Williams also said he wanted “a clear and detailed specification for the task and composition of a Pastoral Forum” within the next two months from the Windsor Continuation Group. At the same time, the Covenant Design Group will be working out the details of “enforcing” a Covenant.

He said, “There was a sense that that sort of external support was something worth pursuing.” This is code for intervention by the Pastoral Forum – a misnamed entity if there ever was one.

Williams went into the Lambeth Conference with little knowledge or understanding of and no patience with either the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada. He emerged from it with both deficiencies intact.

He has long viewed both the Episcopal Church and the Canadian church through the lens of his decades-long socialist-veering-on-communist-distaste for these two capitalistic nations. Additionally, his extreme distaste for the USA’s foreign policy has colored his view of the Episcopal Church, as it has the views of many of the bishops from Africa and Asia. For Williams as for many others, the Episcopal Church is indistinguishable from the Bush Administration.

This view has remained untroubled and unchanged by personal contacts with bishops from those churches or visits to their countries. For example, Williams still clearly believes that almost half of the Episcopal Church is ready to bolt, despite being told many times that the dissenters represent a tiny part of our church.

Rowan Williams has been quite willing to sacrifice his personal views on homosexuality, which are quite liberal, for the sake of holding the Anglican Communion together. Of course, this sacrifice of his views, while it may say something about his lack of integrity, does nothing to impede his ministry or relationship with his wife.

He obviously assumes that the Episcopal Church’s reluctance to sacrifice the vocations and relationships of its LGBT members is simply American arrogance and unilateralism.

But when asked what theological and moral justification there is for requiring a small group to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the majority, he could only respond, “Sacrifice has to be accepted voluntarily that’s true. That’s why this means something about consent. There are those, I know, who won’t be willing to take on that kind of sacrifice. There is something about the preservation of the global fellowship that is bigger than any of us.”

So there you have it – if the Communion comes apart, it will be the fault of those selfish LGBT Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans who are not willing to put their relationships and vocations on the cross for the benefit of the majority of the Communion.

Perhaps the best description on the proposals of the WCG came from Bishop Michael Ingham, whose diocese of New Westminster voted to allow same-sex blessings in 2002. He called it, “an old-world institutional response to a new-world reality in which people are being set free from hatred and violence.”

The Anglican Journal, a publication of the Anglican Church of Canada, reported, “In a statement, Bishop Ingham called the WCG document – copies of which were distributed to bishops for discussion – ‘punitive in tone, setting out penalties and the like, instead of inviting us into deeper communion with one another through mutual understanding in the body of Christ.’ He added that the suggestion of a pastoral forum ‘institutionalizes external incursions into the life of our churches.’

"Bishop Ingham also questioned why the Windsor Report was being regarded ‘as an agreed benchmark from which it is assumed we can move forward. It is not so.’ (The Windsor Report, published in 2004 by an international commission, outlined ways of healing divisions within the nearly 80-million Anglican Communion over human sexuality. The WCG, which produced the preliminary observations at the conference here, was created last February by the Archbishop of Canterbury to ‘address outstanding questions arising from the Windsor Report and the various formal responses from provinces and instruments of the Anglican Communion.’

“In his statement,” the Journal report continued, “Bishop Ingham said that the WCG’s proposals ‘seeks to impose a singular uniformity upon the complex diversity of our Communion.’ He said that while in some parts of the Communion ‘homosexuality is subject to criminal law and cultural prohibition,’ in Canada, homosexual people ‘enjoy the same rights and responsibilities under the law as every other citizen.’

"If the proposals are accepted by the Communion, ‘it will put the Anglican Church of Canada in the position of having to support and defend irrational prejudice and bigotry in the eyes of our nation,’ he added.”

Integrity’s statement picked up on the hope that the Indaba spirit would become the dominant one, rather than the prescriptive one of the Windsor Process:

The 43-page “Lambeth Indaba: Capturing Conversations and Reflections ” provides a snapshot of the diversity of opinion and perspective held throughout the global communion and resists the temptation to offer – much less insist – on the means to reconcile the differences that challenge us. We call on our bishops to resist the temptation of those who will try to turn this descriptive document into a proscriptive edict.

This is particularly critical in the language around moratoria. The inclusion in this set of descriptions of the conversations in the bishops’ Indaba groups of the “desire to enforce a moratoria” on further consecrations of bishops who are gay or lesbian and on the blessing and celebration of same sex unions is an accurate reflection of how some in the communion would prefer we moved forward.

So is the reflection about “the positive effects in parts of [the Communion] when homosexual people are accepted as God’s children, are treated with dignity and choose to give their lives to Christ and to live in the community of faith as disciples of Jesus Christ with fidelity and commitment.”

And while the Archbishop of Canterbury in his concluding address expressed his own preference for moratoria as a way forward, we are reminded that we are, as Anglicans, bound together in bonds of affection rather than authority.

Williams clearly hopes he comes out of Lambeth with additional strength to get his way with the Covenant and the moratoria, as he acknowledges he has no authority over any part of the Communion except the Church of England. In an exquisite touch of irony, he is depending on the relationships he developed with bishops during the conference to enable him to impose his institutional “solution” on all of them.

He is moving ahead quickly with it. He said that the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council will meet in November to discuss the Pastoral Forum and the Covenant. He plans to call a Primates Meeting in early 2009. The Anglican Consultative Council meets in May 2009.

He clearly is pushing hard to have a concrete proposal ready in time for the General Convention to act on – or not -- in June 2009.

I think he is living in LaLa Land.

I believe that in the end it will be the Indaba Lambeth that will prevail.

What will hold the Communion together will not be the scapegoating some of the baptized, but rather the understanding that relationships – our relationship with God and with each other – are what matter.

I believe this because the bishops saw what a difference there was between the Indaba Lambeth of 2008 and the brutal Lambeth of 1998, when North American conservatives aligned themselves with some African and Asian bishops and with George Carey to push for legislative solutions to hot button issues. It was a process that left deep wounds that even a decade later were still painful for many.

In a way, both kinds of Lambeths were on display this year. The Indaba Lambeth, which sought to work toward relational solutions, and the 1998-style Lambeth of the WCG and the Reflections groups that demanded political, institutional solutions.

Again and again, bishops from around the Communion made it clear which they preferred, even as many politely acquiesced to the Archbishop’s insistence on continuing with the flawed Windsor Process.

It seems that the Lambeth Conference Design Team, in designing a conference that built on relationships and avoided up or down votes, has indeed pitched a wild card into the plans of Archbishop Williams.

Because the bishops of the Anglican Communion learned many things at Lambeth, and among them is the fact that when any group insists that their process must result in winners and losers, everyone loses. As one observer noted, “It is not a bad thing to live and work together without resolution - walking by faith and not by sight.”

The bishops have begun to understand that they don’t have to “fix” everything, that they can talk together about things that they disagree on, talk about difficult subjects, and still love one another.

It is this, that wild uncontrollable force called Christian love, that gives me hope for the Anglican Communion.