Seven more TEC bishops charged with misconduct

 

Seven more TEC bishops charged with misconduct

Author: 

George Conger

Seven bishops have been charged with misconduct for having endorsed a friend of the court brief prepared by the Anglican Communion Institute in the Diocese of Fort Worth case.
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.
The bishops have not been notified with violation of the canons they have committed, but Bishop Matthews’ notice refers to the pleading they endorsed in the Diocese of Fort Worth case presently before the Texas Supreme Court.
In an amicus brief filed on 23 April 2012 the seven bishops and three scholars from the ACI – the Rev. Christopher R. Seitz, the Very Rev. Philip W. Turner, and the Very Rev. Ephraim Radner -- argued a Tarrant County, Texas trial court misconstrued the church’s constitutions and canons by holding that the Episcopal Church was a hierarchical body with ultimate power vested in the General Convention.
The 29-page brief stated that attorneys for that national Episcopal Church sought “to establish an alternative authority to that of the diocesan bishop” in their pleadings, which they said was contrary to the church’s Constitution and Canons.  Attorneys for the national church have argued the Episcopal Church possesses a unitary polity, where dioceses are creatures of the General Convention.
The ACI disagreed, citing the church’s history and constitution and canons.  Its friend of the court pleading follows upon their 22 April 2009 paper endorsed by 15 Bishops entitled Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church that stated the “fundamental structure of the Episcopal Church from the outset has been that of a voluntary association of dioceses meeting together in a General Convention as equals.”
In its pleadings the national Episcopal Church asked the court to follow the "deference-to-hierarchy" standard, set in the 1872 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Watson v. Jones. Bishop Jack Iker and the Diocese of Fort Worth argued that the legal theory put forward by the national church was misguided as its deeds, its charter from the State, and its governing documents are unambiguous that it owns its property and not the national church.   
In March the final briefs were filed with the Texas Supreme Court in the Fort Worth case and the litigants are presently waiting upon a date for oral argument.