JAMAICA: Delegates Argue over Dropped Moratoria Litigation in Windsor Continuation Report
By David W. Virtue in Jamaica
US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the two other TEC delegates gave a spirited defense to have a fourth moratoria regarding litigation removed from a draft of the Windsor Continuation Group report. Sudanese Bishop Ezekiel Kondo of Khartoum blasted her saying she got her facts wrong in a case of the cathedral pulling out of the Diocese.
"It never happened. It was not the cathedral, but the bishop's house that was sold. We did not go to court. I support the amendment to include the fourth Moratoria," he said.
Bishop Azad Marshall of Iran got up and objected to Jefferts Schori's characterization of litigation in Jerusalem saying the church was never taken to court over property issues. "It was of a personal nature in Jerusalem, not civil litigation."
The Moratoria have not in all cases been observed completely. There are degrees (of compliance) for different moratoria, it was noted.
President Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt said the fourth moratoria should be included because it was in the Dar es Salaam statement and because of all the litigation in The Episcopal Church between 2007 - 2009.
Bishop Bill Godfrey of Peru said he shared the concern about intervention in cross boundary situations, noting that good and godly men were being persecuted and asked to set aside the discipline of the church in their provinces. "We have to ask why the Archbishops of Uganda, Nigeria and the Southern Cone would only increase boundary crossings. I see a danger if we lose the discipline of the church. We cannot ignore litigation dealing with one of the (major) ills in the Anglican Communion."
"Litigation should be included in the Moratoria. Bishop Jon Bruno of the Diocese of Los Angeles took part in a marriage ceremony of two priests in his diocese. We need to put it all on the table and look at how best The Episcopal Church can be dealt. I support the proposed amendment of Bishop Mouneer that the question of litigation be included in this section."
Lay Southeast Asia delegate Stanley Isaacs commented that the ACC should not be afraid of moratoria. Any amount of restraint that advances the unity of the church and the truth of the gospel we should not be afraid fearful to accept. "Restraint should be good for the church. This is a plenary session and we should accept anything."
Katharine Jefferts Schori rose to say she opposed (adding this fourth moratoria) arguing that the consecration of an openly gay and partnered bishop in 2003 was not the beginning of incursions that began in 2000, three years before the consecration. They have continued unabated and unapologetically, even though TEC has complied with all the moratoria at significant cost.
"I have been persuaded that those who engage in cross boundary actions have no intention of stopping regardless of what the Primates say, what the Joint standing committee says, the Lambeth Conference says and regardless of what the ACC does today."
Lay delegate, Josephine Hicks, said it is time to move on beyond the moratoria and allow TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada and others to be true to themselves and not disallow anyone to participate in the fuller life of the communion. He urged rejection of the amendment.
Jefferts Schori said that those who have sought to remove property have done so without consultation. This is not a difficulty in just North America, but also in Harare, Sudan and Brazil where there have been efforts to recover property. "We have a moral and fiduciary to these dioceses and parishes. "I urge you to vote no to the amendment."
The Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas, TEC clerical delegate said, "My worry is about moratoria creep. Another moratoria gets added to the list and there is nothing to stop adding moratoria 5 and 6. It will increase the chaos in the communion."
Welsh Archbishop Barry Morgan said his church would have no choice but to litigate. "Properties are vested in the Church in Wales. I would insist we take legal action."
Lay delegate Suzanne Wasman, Canada, said she was worried about congregational creep. "The diocese owns the property. I urge you to vote against this resolution."
The 65 delegates voted, 32 voted for, 33 voted against. The amendment lost.
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