Does the lack of inhibition of Bishop Duncan matter?

There has been a lot of discussion about the meaning of the senior bishops’ lack of consent to inhibit The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The question has been “does this mean the process is stopped or not?” The letter to Bishop Duncan from the Presiding Bishop and Canon IV.9.2 state that the process continues not withstanding the senior bishops’ non-consent to inhibition.

Letter from the Presiding Bishop (ed. underline):

5 January, 2008

Dear Bob,

I am sorry to have to tell you that on 17 December 2007 the Title IV Review Committee certified to me that in its view, you have abandoned the Communion of this Church, within the meaning of Canon IV,9 of this Church. A copy of that certification, together with the submissions on which the commmittee based its decision, is included with this letter.

Pursuant to that Canon, I submitted the matter to the three senior bishops of this Church having jurisdiction – Bishops Frade of Southeast Florida, Lee of Virginia, and Wimberly of Texas – and asked that they consent to your inhibition, pending consideration of this matter by the House of Bishops. On 11 January, 2008, they informed me that such consents would not be given at this time by all three bishops.

In due course, I shall forward the Review Committee’s certification to the House of Bishops for its consideration. Pursuant to the time limits stated in Canon IV.9, the matter will not come before the House at its next scheduled meeting in March 2008, but will come before the House at the next meeting thereafter. I would, however, welcome a statement by you within the next two months providing evidence that you once more consider yourself fully subject to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this church.

You continue in my prayers. I remain

Your servant in Christ, Katharine Jefferts Schori

The relevant portion of Canon IV.9.2 reads

“Otherwise, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops at the next regular or special meeting of the House. If the House, by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote, shall give its consent, the Presiding Bishop shall depose the Bishop from the Ministry, and pronounce and record in the presence of two or more Bishops that the Bishop has been so deposed.”

It is clear from the Presiding Bishop’s letter and the Canon that the discussion and vote on deposition of Bishop Duncan will not occur at the bishops’ March meeting, but at the following meeting. Unless a special meeting is held it will occur at the Fall 2008 meeting of the House of Bishops. The Presiding Bishop is proceeding on this basis.

More on this story from Episcopal Cafe here and here and here.

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