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Duncan's Attorney Says Presiding Bishop Violates Canons to "Remove" Duncan

Duncan's Attorney Says Presiding Bishop Violates Canons to "Remove" Duncan

By John H. Lewis, Jr.
Special to VirtueOnline
www.virtueonline.org
9/13/2006

"In these circumstances, I concur with my Chancellor and the Parliamentarian that any ambiguity in the canon should be resolved in favor of making this important provision (deposing Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan) work effectively and that the discipline of the Church should not be stymied because a majority or nearly a majority of voting bishops are no longer in active episcopal positions in the Church and their attendance at meetings is hampered by age, health, economics, or interest in other legitimate pursuits." Katharine Jefferts Schori. Read her full statement here: http://tinyurl.com/55bk3l

This letter shows that the presiding bishop and her chancellor have decided to violate the canons of The Episcopal Church in order to "remove" Bishop Duncan prior to the diocesan convention in October.

The course of action outlined by the Presiding Bishop is improper for at least the following reasons:

1) As was shown by the first decision of the review committee with respect to Bishop John- David Schofield, "abandonment" cannot refer to Bishop Duncan's intentions. Nothing is final until the vote of the diocese.

2) both The Episcopal Church and the Province of the Southern Cone are members of the same "communion"- the Anglican Communion

3) The Canons require that any acts relied upon be certified to be "abandonment" by the Title IV Review Committee. Here, the Presiding Bishop relies upon matters that come from the Task Force on Property disputes - not the Review Committee (this shows the real purpose, namely the seizure of property)

4) The Canons state that the case of an "inhibited" bishop may be referred to the HOB for action. Bishop Duncan has not been inhibited.

5) The canons clearly distinguish between a majority of those present (the requirement when acting on a bishop's request to resign) and a majority of bishops entitled to vote (the standard for deposition) it also is reasonable that there would be a higher standard for involuntary separation. The presiding bishop concedes an "ambiguity" but says that the Canon has to mean what she says it means in order for it to "work effectively". In other words, she doesn't have the votes to depose Bishop Duncan so the canon has to be twisted in order to achieve her goal of removing Bishop Duncan before the diocesan convention.

6) If the presiding bishop really believes that Bishop Duncan's statements and "intentions" violate the canons, then she should follow the honorable course prescribed by the canons- presentment and trial.

---Mr. John H. Lewis, Jr. is an attorney with the law firm of Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, in Philadelphia, PA. He is the, attorney for Bishop Robert Duncan.

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