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Bishop Martins: We are “processing some degree of anger”

Bishop Martins: We are “processing some degree of anger”

Bishop Dan Martins says the conciliation process we reported on on Friday was deeply unsatisfactory to him and other bishops who signed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting breakaway dioceses that are trying to retain control of the property and assets of the Episcopal Church, despite having left the Episcopal Church.

He writes:

“Conciliation” is a bizarrely inappropriate word to describe what has happened. Going into the January meeting, we bore no ill will toward our accusers, and welcomed the opportunity to meet them face to face and talk things out. Today, I think it’s safe to say that all nine of us are processing some degree of anger and are feeling substantially alienated from those who brought the charges against us. We feel manipulated and victimized. We are nowhere near happy about this outcome, even though we stand by our decision to accept the Accord.

Some have accused us of cowardly capitulation. I can understand this reaction. If someone had shown me the agreement I signed at the time the charges were made known, I would have rejected it out of hand. So some explanation is in order.

The rhetorical tone of the Accord is certainly derisive and hostile toward the Respondents. We come off as downright obsequious. This abusive tone is something we made a considered decision to swallow for the sake of putting the matter behind us. But it is vitally important to make a careful distinction between the tone of the document and its substance. In particular, please note that …

We admitted to no misconduct or any form of wrongdoing. The Accord contains no “finding” of guilt on our part, and the Complainants signed it!

We reaffirmed our belief in the assertions of our amicus brief. We continue to believe that the polity of the Episcopal Church as characterized by the 2009 Bishops’ Statement on Polity is true and correct. We have not in any way backed away from this position. Yes, we acknowledged that it is “likely a minority view.” Indeed, it probably is at this time. But this does not make it any less true.

What do you think of Bishop Martins’ posting?


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Chris Arnold

I find it fascinating that here, and in other places where the discussion of these bishops has come up, people mention executives in a company. A manager at IBM would get fired if he spoke against the board’s policies, so these bishops should expect the same.

Except that this is the church of Christ, not a corporation. Bishops are not regional managers of TECinc. but are representatives of Christ and the unity of the church within their dioceses.

Still, what’s done is done, and as happens so often the comments on the cafe have made me quite grumpy about our ability to respect and love one another.


BillD and Bro Daveed summed this up nicely (and then the thread was taken of onto tangents).

JC Fisher

Harriet Baber

@Dave Paisley, this is baloney and you know it. In dioceses where break-aways were a small minority, where there was no danger that all churches would go that way or that “loyal Episcopalians” would be locked out Church sued. Now you worry that “loyal Episcopalians” could be locked out in S.C. if a majority of disloyalists takes over. I’m not impressed. Looking at it from the other side, if “loyalists” get their way then the disloyalists will be locked out–forced out of church buildings that they and their ancestors have financed. Yeah, I know they don’t have legal ownership, but consider the moral issue rather than the legal issue.

The remark about the RC church is well taken. I’m not RC. I don’t recognize any obligation to buy into the views that either TEC or my local parish promotes. I wouldn’t have any problem whatsoever going to a church that opposed gay rights or any of the other moral views to which I’m committed, because I couldn’t care less what moral views the church espouses. And, whole most people wouldn’t state this as baldly as I have, this is the way most of us lay people feel. So even if the SC breakaways took over the whole diocese, very few people would give a damn. They’d keep going to church, and take whatever was said about sexual ethics with a grain of salt as they always have.

Belonging to the church is not a matter of signing onto an ethical agenda; going to church isn’t a matter of affirming what clergy teach. We go to church to participate in the sacraments, and that goes regardless of how wrongheaded clergy are. So even if all Episcopal Churches were hijacked and went with Lawrence, which I think is unlikely: who the hell cares? People can still go to church, participate in the liturgy, sing the hymns, go for communion, go for baptism, confirmation, marriage and other rites of passage, and not give a damn about what the hierarchy thinks about sexuality.

Dave Paisley

First, bishops meddling uninvited in the affairs of other dioceses is frowned upon, correct?

We’re not talking just “an opinion” here, we’re talking about briefs filed in a court case, which ranks a bit higher than a blog post or a paragraph in a diocesan newsletter.

Either the Episcopal Church has a hierarchy or it doesn’t. I think the general consensus is that it does, just like IBM or Microsoft, and yes even Google.

As part of that hierarchy, bishops might have free rein of expression, but that doesn’t mean that exercising it in injudicious ways is without consequence. If they were Roman Catholic there would be significantly more serious consequences.

As for being nice and turning the other cheek, the approvals of mark Lawrence in the first place were exactly that. I’m guessing that at least half the dioceses who voted approval did so while hoping against hope that he wouldn’t do what he did.

But he did, at which point any good will was well and truly dead. if they were IBM execs they would be on the street right now.

The fact that this is playing out with a shiny coat of passive-aggressive church-pretend-nice is somewhat amusing.

C. Wingate

Dave, I see nothing in the Sermon on the Mount about “rewarding atrocious and illegal behavior,” well, except the command of Jesus to do so. And never mind that the atrocities involved are a matter of perspective, and that indeed differences of opinion over what is illegal are at the very heart of this particular little show of canonical force.

Personally, I must think less of the need to suppress what after all was simply an expression of opinion. Surely the hierarchicalist faction’s argument could not be very strong if the mere expression of a differing interpretation by a few clerics was in any danger of bringing about a different verdict from the court. How am I supposed to interpret this as anything but a demand for the kind of loyalty found in the Roman church, that we so long ago repudiated?

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