The subtle handiwork of Dan Martins

Michael Fitzgerald, a columnist for The Stockton Record has written about the controversial aspects of the Rev. Dan Martins’ election as Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Springfield.

Perhaps the most interesting passage involves Martins’ response to a recent letter that the bishop and standing committee of his former diocese sent to every other bishop and standing committee in the church expressing “grave concerns” about his election. “The standing committee and I believe he was a significant participant in the effort to take the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin out of the Episcopal Church,” wrote the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb.

Fitzgerald writes:

“I was engaged in subtle ways to try to subvert and retard what (breakaway Bishop John) Schofield was doing, because I realized that with the prevailing attitude in the diocese it was simply ineffective to just directly oppose it.”

In other words, a majority in the diocese … favored succession. Martins felt he had to play along or be marginalized.

He played along convincingly.

On his blog in June of 2008 he called the diocese “a bogus diocese with a bogus bishop, though they have some impressive-looking stationery.”

April 2008: “I hope the Episcopal Church – my church – loses in every venue of litigation in which it is currently engaged. We need a dose of humility.” ….

Martins explained the American church’s acceptance of gays betrays aloofness by leaders to their followers’ conservative convictions. Hence the needed “dose of humility.”

The interview raises at least three questions:

1) Martins says he was working subtly behind the scenes to keep the diocese in the Episcopal Church. Can anyone still in the Church verify Martins’ claim?

2) Given his wish that the Church lose all of the litigation in which it is currently involved, what is Martins’s view of the polity of the Episcopal Church? Does he believe that congregations and/or dioceses have a right to withdraw and take their property with them?

3) Give his assertion that the Diocese of San Joaquin is a “bogus diocese with a bogus bishop” does he recognize the authority of the bishops and standing committees of the reconstituted dioceses of San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Quincy and Fort Worth?

In discussing these questions, it is worth keeping in mind that the issue is not whether the Rev. Martins is a gentleman or a good Christian. The question is whether he should be a bishop in the Episcopal Church.

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