Admiral of Morality: In the Wake of the Chancellor's Letters

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In the Wake of the Chancellor's Letters

The Episcopal Chancellor's admonitory letters to the dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy have elicited various reactions. Some, breathless and seeing in every action of the Church, a new betrayal, read in them the echos of jackboots. Others see a lawyer doing his job well. Others wonder if maybe the Church can do a better job of handling its own PR. Here, what is seen is the legitimate leaders of the Church working to ensure its integrity and wholeness. Nothing less can be expected.

When he received his Chancellor's letter, Jack Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth, reacted swiftly: he immediately faxed a copy to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who at the time was meeting with Presiding Bishop-Elect Katharine Jefferts-Schori. Iker writes that he faxed the Archbishop so that the Archbishop might know that he had just gotten a letter from the Chancellor and that he immediately thought to fax the Archbishop. Very good.... And? It's the sort of thing a younger person might do when he is caught in the act of disturbing a nest holding a precious, delicate egg--go to the favorite (sometimes odd) uncle and tell him, "I didn't mean any harm, I've been doing this for years, oh it's been very fun."

Of course, the matter of the Episcopal Church and its relations and status with the dioceses who have signaled that they think the Episcopal Church is to some degree heretical and its new Presiding Bishop unacceptable, is not a question of fun or of business as usual. No doubt, this last inference is what so troubles many of the dissidents.

In this delicate environment, Bishop Iker has delighted in playing the ornery bully and in inciting and encouraging others to do the same. His favorite behaviors to this end include getting up and leaving when certain other bishops speak or enter a room; directing his clergy to not include (+)+Katharine in their prayers for the people; refusing to participate financially or otherwise, in the work and mission of The Episcopal Church. And of course, altering his constitution to make continued inclusion in The Episcopal Church, his decision. In the matter of the letters, he has again reacted in the worst way: with a shrillness and a sullenness that calls into question the authority and grace he is expected to possess, and display.

The general principle informing all of this is that he doesn't want anything to do with The Episcopal Church, all the while being, of course, an Episcopal Bishop. Make sense? No. Not much sense at all.

If Iker wishes to be an ass, that is his right, and his right to make a mockery of himself is hereby defended. But since he is a bishop, the Church who ordained him and which he swore to serve, has a right and obligation to make certain he is a good and faithful steward of her.

The chancellor's letter suggests something else, too. It suggests that neither Iker nor his friends in The American Anglican Council and their front group, The Network, will be permitted to alter the historical status and relation between the Church and a diocese it's created. This is all very common sensical and simple. Yet it seems to have been lost in the months and years of back and forth semantics. If you belong to an organization and you no longer like the organization, you leave it. You don't get to break up the organization. If you try, the organization probably won't let you. Any freshmen in logic understands this, or at least, anyone not interested in making as much trouble as possible.

For years, Iker and the other mutineers have been inching along trying to get away with as much as possible. Iker himself notes that it is absurd, when he has been undermining The Episcopal Church for so long, for the Church to send him a letter now. He is correct. It is absurd. It should have been done long ago. But of course, (+)+Katharine wasn't in charge before.

Bishop Iker and his friends in the Network, have gotten passes for playing alone up in their trees. At a minimum, the letters suggest they are going to have to explain themselves to the satisfaction of the new Presiding Bishop, if they want to start breaking things.

10 Comments:

Anonymous obadiahslope said...

"And of course, altering his constitution to make continued inclusion in The Episcopal Church, his decision. "
The changes in FW's diocesan constitution date back some ten years. Has Iker been Bishop that long?

10/31/2006 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger Christopher+ said...

And you continue to repeat the same tired rumor and innuendo.

It took two consecutive conventions to amend the diocesan constitution. "He" didn't do it, the diocese did - by solid majorities.

About Bishop Iker keeping the ABC in the loop - You wrote:
It’s the sort of thing a younger person might do when he is caught in the act of disturbing a nest holding a precious, delicate egg—go to the favorite (sometimes odd) uncle and tell him, “I didn’t mean any harm, I’ve been doing this for years, oh it's been very fun.”

How in the world does this analogy apply?

11/01/2006 12:18:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Ah, my Admiral. I see the harpies are beginning to descend upon you. Pay them no great attention. They love red meat.

Obadiah & Christopher: The fact that Bishop Griswold allowed these scofflaws to get away with their outrageous behavior does not mean that +Jefferts Schori must do so.

It's high time that a Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church remembered and enforced the Constitution and Canons of our Church. Thank God for her!

Christopher, just because I've cruised along the interstate for 100 miles exceeding the speed limit doesn't mean the next trooper with a radar gun must give me a pass. Does that work for you?

11/01/2006 12:47:00 AM  
Anonymous obadiah slope said...

Lisa,
I guess it boils down to whether your new presiding bishop wants to kick the dissidents out actively, or stand back and watch them leave gradually as they appear to be doing anyway.
She may well have the legal instruments to act against these dioceses - I don't even live in your country so how would i know? - but whether or not this is the best path for the church ovearll might be a different question.
BTW First time I have been called a harpy. What's that? I assume it is not nice.

11/01/2006 02:42:00 AM  
Blogger The AoM said...

Obadiah,

The diocese's accession clause was amended in 1997. Iker was the bishop.

11/01/2006 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger The AoM said...

Christopher,

It can't very well be tired rumor and innuendo if it is true.

Iker has delighted in undermining the Church and in broadcasting his sullenness.

Why is this behavior not aaccetable in children, acceptable in a bishop of the church?

Why did Iker allow the Diocese to amend the accession clause to the Fort Worth constitution?

He is the head of the dicoese. Is he responsible for anything or not?

Is there someone else the chancellor should have sent letters to?

Why did Iker immediaely fax Rowan Williams? Obviously he had access to a phone line. Perhaps he could have called someone of more immediate relevance.

Iker is a trustee of the American Anglican Council, which is devoted to "replacing" the Episcopal Church. His actions are entirely consistent with this group's mission.

11/01/2006 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher+ said...

Lisa,

I am commenting here only because I was invited by the Admiral. Thanks for the warm welcome.

The Admiral has not answered my question about his egg story.

If she is going to get busy enforcing the canons, then let her take care of this "open communion" thing. Let's make sure the rubrics are being "enforced." Do you really want to go there?

11/01/2006 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger The AoM said...

As to the analogy, I will leave it to other fine minds to discern. The analogy is not finally the point. The point Christopher, is why does +Iker believe the Church, which created Fort Worth diocese, cannot question him about his activities designed to separate it from the Church?

Why does he believe, or does he, that it is illegitimate to question him on these matters? Is it his position that The Episcopal Church is out of bounds for expecting that a diocese it created, should remain under its umbrella?

You have been his staunch defender, so perhaps you know. (I suppose I should pose him the question.)

11/01/2006 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher+ said...

Admiral,

You should ask Bishop Iker your questions directly.

I'm happy to chat with you about these things. I don't think there is any surprise around here about our being questioned concerning the constitutional changes we made almost a decade ago. To be challenged now, on the eve of her investiture, is a bit surprising given the timing. It is the timing that is surprising, not the questioning. David Beers was well aware of our actions when we took them - Is the difference simply that of the hand on the reins of the PB's office? If it is, then we now have a good idea of what to expect down the road - so be it.

There does seem to be a huge disconnect over ecclesiology going on here. It is no secret, Fort Worth is, generally speaking, a High Church diocese. The Church means quite a bit more to us than simply TEC. The fact that we are in the state of disagreement with TEC that we are has a lot to do with our different views of the Church. We do not believe she is simply an organization to be tossed to and fro by whoever is in power, but a part of the Church Catholic. We disagree with the direction TEC is heading in - And, it appears, internationally, we are not alone in our disagreement. We do not desire to walk apart from the fellowship of the Anglican Communion or even the Church Catholic. TEC already has - hence the current situation. So you accuse us of "undermining the Episcopal Church" because we are not willing to go along with you and we have the audacity to say so?

As for the rumor - it simply is not true that the clergy of Fort Worth were "instructed" not to pray for Katharine Jefferts-Schori by Bisho Iker. I'm not carefully parsing this - it just did not happen. Your repetition of it does not make it any more true.

Bishop Iker faxed the ABC the letter from Beers because we have appealed to him (and the rest of the Primates) for APO and he needs to be kept in the loop - especially as he was eyeball to eyeball with +KJS when he got the letter. So what is your issue? There is ongoing communication happening between Fort Worth and Canterbury.

11/01/2006 09:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Eileen said...

To me, it looks like he's running off to the principal's office to say..."See! See! I told you she was naughty!" How does Iker know she is doing it without the Archbishop's approval - that they weren't already discussing it?

You do realize that TCOE recognizes ordination of women and GLBT? How will +++Cantaur provide any better "oversight" then TEC, if there is already going to be continued division on things orthodox Episcopalians object to?

How, in the name of the heavens, can any one Primate serve the widely diverse needs of those who consider themselves "orthodox" or "conservative" within TEC? At this point, the only thing I see AAC having in common with each other is wanting to usurp the authority of TEC in the AC! Which conservative agenda will be the most important - high church? evangelical mission? 1928 BCP? ordination of women? GLBT? Where is the next schism among you to occur?

Just things I keep wondering.

11/02/2006 12:11:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Links to this post:

Create a Link