Complaint filed against seven bishops

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George Conger reports that someone has filed a complaint against seven Episcopal bishops who supported the breakaway Diocese of Fort Worth in an Amicus Curiae brief before the Texas Supreme Court.

We don’t know who brought the charges or what they are.


Bishop F. Clayton Matthews is investigating to see if there is sufficient basis to proceed with a disciplinary action.

Conger writes:

On 28 June 2012, the Rt Rev Maurice M. Benitez, retired Bishop of Texas, the Rt Rev John W. Howe, retired Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt Rev Paul E. Lambert. Suffragan Bishop of Dallas, the Rt Rev William H. Love, Bishop of Albany, the Rt Rev D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana, the Rt Rev Daniel H. Martins, Bishop of Springfield, and the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas were informed they had been charged with misconduct.

“As the Intake Officer for the Church, I am obliged to inform you that a complaint has been received against you for your action in filing of Amicus Curiae Brief in the pending appeal in the Supreme Court of Texas in opposition to The Episcopal Diocese of Texas and The Episcopal Church. In the next few weeks, I will initiate a disciplinary process according to Title IV Canon 6 Sec. 3 & 4 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church,” Bishop F. Clayton Matthews wrote to the seven bishops.

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E B
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E B

A couple other points of note apropos Bro. David's questions:

- Yes, we do know that TEC deems itself to be hierarchical. Such were the pleadings in the Virginia, Pittsburgh and other cases.

- All dioceses are required to have an accession clause in their constitutions. This requirement has existed since the regrouping of TEC after the revolution, and was, for example, part of what was agreed upon when DioVA and other historic dioceses, became part of TEC.

- Under Supreme Court precedent, one of the two permissable approachs to handling church property disputes is deference to a church's own decisions if the church deems itself to be hierarchical. Such an approach is well established; indeed, that was the approach the courts took some years ago when a former priest of the Falls Church Episcopal was sued for sexual misconduct because of an alleged relationship with a woman under his care. Startlingly enough, the court declined to rule, saying only that a relationship with a parishioner was a matter for the church to handle through its canons. (Thankfully, TEC did act against the alleged perpetrator.)

Eric Bonetti

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tgflux
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tgflux

Saying absolutely NOTHING about the merits/non-merits of this case---my judgment is completely reserved, and MY judgment has no effect anyway---I'd prefer a link to the document in question that doesn't have the address of "4 guys and a website" (ACI). "Consider the source" and all that.

JC Fisher

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E B
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E B

@David. Thank you for your comments and questions.

Note that I did not state that the bishops need permission. What I did state is that, having apparently failed to pursue a consensus-based approach, it is only fair to permit others within TEC to challenge that approach. If a bishop uses her or his role in the church to advocate a particular position and does it without consultation with the larger organization, then one cannot complain when the larger organization responds by calling into question those actions.

If, on the other hand, the amicus filing was done in collaboration with the larger church, then by definition there is nothing to fear.

In either case, those who feel aggrieved have appropriately followed our canons, processes and procedures in seeking redress of their grievances. As such, there is nothing wrong in so doing, and filing a complaint compares favorably with the ACNA folks, who essentially argue that the canons only apply when convenient for them.

Eric Bonetti

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David Allen
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David Allen

@ Eric B

So you believe that these men need the permission of GC or 815 to act as both citizens of your nation and members of your province to file their opinion in the matter with the TX high court?

Or that they need permission only because their opinion is in support of the opinion held by the schismatic Anglican Dio of Ft Worth and in opposition to the position of the Episcopal Dio of Ft Worth and TEC?

Would you feel different if they had sided with TEC and company?

BTW, I am not just playing Devil's Advocate, I think that these are important questions for you and others to consider. Regardless of whether their opinions support or differ with that of TEC, do they have a right to express it publicly? And to offer it as an intervention in a court proceeding involving TEC?

Personally, I agree with TEC's position. And I think that TEC needs to tie down what it means for a bishop of TEC to hold a position regarding the polity/hierarchy of TEC contrary to TEC's official position. And then to tie down whether a bishop who holds a position different to that of TEC is being disloyal.

But does TEC currently have an official position or do we all just assume that it does? Has GC ever officially stated the polity/hierarchical structure of TEC? Does it need to or is it a matter of interpreting the C&Cs? Can a bishop disagree with TEC's official interpretation of the C&Cs and not be disloyal?

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mscottsail
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I've spent my career in health care, and have in fact been part of the process of credentialing physicians at a previous hospital. That review included knowing about allegations, suits, etc, currently open and in the recent past. One of the things of that the experience brought home is that "anyone can sue anyone else over anything."

My point is that all we know at this point is that person or persons unhappy about the amicus brief have alleged that these bishops shouldn't have filed it, and that filing it crossed a line. Until there's been examination of that question - which is to say, until matters have been investigated - we don't have an answer. We have our opinions, too, and more power to us; but they're only opinions.

I'm conscious over a long career about how many times bishops have done things that brought allegations, and that resulted in decisions that the actions in question didn't rise to the level of violations. Until the process has been completed, we don't have an answer; and the process will take time, especially with the General Convention gearing up. So, as I said, I'm concerned about timing, but not inclined to jump to conspiracy theories. In the meantime, the thing to do is wait.

Marshall Scott

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