Blogging bishops weigh in on the Duncan deposition

Bishop Stephen Lane of Maine discusses the deposition of Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh:

Opinions were divided on several issues. One was the matter of timing. Should the House wait until after the Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh? Another had to do with the offense. Was the threat to leave sufficient violation of the bishop’s duty to uphold the doctrine, discipline and worship of the church? A third was relations with the larger church. Would this action sour recently strengthened relationships with other Anglican churches.

On the other hand, there seemed to be no doubt that Bishop Duncan was clear in his intentions to pull the Diocese of Pittsburgh out of the Episcopal Church. There was no disagreement about that. And there was little disagreement that such an action would cause great harm to the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the faithful Episcopalians of the diocese.

In my opinion the majority of bishops decided to take Bishop Duncan at his word and determined that his actions and intentions were a clear violation of his duties as bishop.

Both the discussion and the vote made it clear that the decision of the House was not related to theological positions or faithful dissent. The perspectives of all speakers received a respectful hearing. Time was spent in prayer at several points and just before the final vote.

Bishop Alan Scarfe of Iowa:

Whatever one’s vote for or against deposition, nothing could hide the sadness or the effect of churned stomachs. There is no joy in discipline, and whether we agreed or disagreed about timing, or procedure, or even appropriateness, neither could there have been any doubt that this action was coming. I could not help contrasting however with the holy moment when the Bishop of Rio Grande in New Orleans took his life decision into his own hands and read his letter of resignation. He received a standing ovation for his courage and conviction, and once again there were few dry eyes in the House.

If people want to deal with the House of Bishops at a distance, we are easy targets. In some ways we stand large and can seem remote. Our decisions can readily be cast as following some kind of agenda. Often of course it is the unconscious agenda of the critic in a strange reversed way. If, however, we want to deal with bishops as sisters and brothers in Christ, who are as strangely in awe of their calling and responsibility as any human being would be, then it might be understood when I say that this is a group of people who genuinely have respect and love for one another, and an acute sense of bringing their people with them into Council. This is so especially as we handle difficult decisions about one another. We anger each other, but we have learned to let grace handle how long we hold onto it.

(emphasis added.)

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