Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will seek to remove Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan during a House of Bishops meeting on Thursday. In an article posted at Religious Intelligence, journalist George Conger has questioned whether Duncan’s upcoming “trial” violates canon law, but it sounds like 1.) the presiding bishop will determine whether the meeting she has called violates canon law. and 2.) Her rulings will only be overruled if a majority of the bishops disagree with her. Duncan is the leader of the Episcopal Church’s conservative wing in the House of Bishops.
Below is a copy of Bishop Duncan’s letter to his diocese, from the Pittsburgh Diocese’s website.
Pastoral Letter from Bishop Robert Duncan
Document Actions Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has announced that she intends to seek Bishop Duncan’s deposition on Sept. 18.
13th September, A.D. 2008
St. Cyprian of Carthage
TO THE CLERGY AND PEOPLE OF THE DIOCESE OF PITTSBURGH:
Beloved in the Lord,
In a letter to the House of Bishops yesterday, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori made it clear that there will be a vote this coming Thursday on whether to depose me from the ministry of the Episcopal Church. The charge is abandonment of the Communion of the Church, a charge initiated by five priests and sixteen laypeople of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Much of the “evidence” in the case is put forward by the House of Bishops Property Task Force, drawn directly from the Calvary litigation. We have long suspected that a principal purpose in the Calvary litigation was to have me removed, by whatever means, before the realignment vote. Whatever the purported evidence, I continue to maintain that the House of Bishops “vote” will be a gross violation of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.
There are two things I would say, and one thing I would ask.
First, whatever happens on Thursday as to my status, the Diocese will carry forward under rules long-ago established. If I am “removed,” the Standing Committee will be the Ecclesiastical Authority. Together with all the leadership presently in place, both appointed and elected, the Standing Committee will carry us through to our October 4th Annual Convention and beyond. We as a Diocese will not be intimidated or turned from our over-riding commitment, which is faithfulness to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ within the mainstream of Anglicanism.
Second, I want to share with you the text of a letter I wrote to the entire House of Bishops on August 24th. It addresses my situation as yet one more manifestation of the moral collapse of the Episcopal Church in recent years. Whatever is decided on Thursday, this is a tragic moment for the Episcopal Church.
Third, I ask you to pray, to pray for me, for Nara, for all our leaders, for our Diocese and, above all, for whatever will best serve our Lord’s purposes. Today is the eleventh anniversary of my “seating” as diocesan bishop. No one could have imagined that we (or I) would be facing this unprecedented trial without a trial. But at the beginning I asked you all to pray. You said you would. As a result, God has done remarkable things with and through us all. So fear not. It is confidence in our faithful God that will carry us all through to a better day, to the other side of the vote on September 18th and the other side of votes on October 4th. I expect that God will still grant me many years of service to the people and the place I have come to love so much.
“[Because of the storm] they were frightened. But Jesus said to them: ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’” [John 6:19b-20]
Faithfully in Christ,
Enclosure: Bishop Robert Duncan’s August 24 letter to the House of Bishops (pdf).
To read the letter, click here.