Friday, September 19, 2008


Mr. Robert Duncan is now the former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. But, is the job finished in Pittsburgh? I think not, there is at least one more to do. Let me say upfront, I do not understand for certain that a diocese without a bishop falls under the presiding bishop but I certainly hope so and here is why.

Here is a portion of one of two statements on the Pittsburgh diocesan website:

“This is of course a very painful moment for Pittsburgh Episcopalians. The leadership of The Episcopal Church has inserted itself in a most violent manner into the affairs and governance of our diocese. While we await the decision of the diocesan convention on realignment to a different province of the Anglican Communion, we will stand firm against any further attempts by those outside our boundaries intimidate us,” said the Rev. David Wilson, president of the Standing Committee.

Ya'll want painful, come visit St. Francis in Turlock, California. You want painful, come visit with a life-long Episcopalian that had her church sold out from underneath her so that Mr. Schofield can fund his move to the Southern Cone. Presumably this was written by and for the Standing Committee of the diocese of Pittsburgh. And, guess who is on the Standing Committee? Yes none other than The Reverend Geoffery Chapman, St. Stephen's Church, Sewickley, PA. This is one of my "favorite" people -- he wrote the Chapman Memo that the entire orthodox world is force feeding the rest of the Anglican Communion one word at a time.

"The Chapman Memo"

Tell you Pittsburgh folks what. How does the following sound? Since the Reverend Geoffery Chapman's has/advocates the abandonment of the doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church we ask for the following. Given the fact that the Presiding Bishop has ultimate control of the diocese at this time, Rev. Chapman could be inhibited and ultimately deposed as well. He can then sit on the sidelines just like is beloved boss. Perhaps then the Archduke of the Southern Cone could welcome the Rev. Chapman into the fold as well.

All those in favor signify by saying "Aye".


Anonymous said...

Aye! re Chapman. Shoulda been done a long time ago, but Duncan obviously wouldn't have wanted to do it.

The Standing Committee is now the ecclesiastical authority in Pittsburgh. They/he won't want to defrock himself either.

The difference in Pittsburgh is that the Standing Committee hasn't yet voted to leave TEC like the one in DiocSJ did.

Next interesting step is whether Duncan will try to chair the convention.

James said...

You saw, of course, that Chapman signed the diocesan statement.

Regarding "pain," well remember these fundamentalists enjoy causing pain.

Fred, I could be wrong, but I don't think that he PB has control of the diocese. The standing committee does according to the canons of the church.

It's clear, whatever the case, that the other fundamentalist prince bishops learned a lot of lessons from Schofield's defection. Duncan put in place a good SC who will continue his bidding and there is nothing that can be done about it because it follows the canons to a "t."

Fred Schwartz said...

yes, but the Standing Committee cannot remove/inhibit a priest though they could bring charges. It seems to me that when San Joaquin was without a bishop (oh, did I say that?) there was some authority that the PB had - I am hopeful this is one of those duties that she might be able to exercise while there is no bishop. (Far as I can tell there hasn't been a REAL bishop there in quite some time but that has been dealt with). The time is now to get rid of Chapman -- if for no other reason than to show that one cannot act irresponsibly and with malice and get away with that crap.

From a legal standpoint it might be just as well to do that and then let the neo-cons work on whewhter it can be done or not. It certianly would put a whole new spin on Pittsburgh.

James said...

You could be correct, Fred. I'm not an expert in canon law. In times such as these, we need our Fr. Jake to explain it all to us.

Anonymous said...


The see is empty. The PB is free to appoint a temp. bishop, just like DiocSJ. That's as far as we can go at the moment. After the convention, the new bishop could inhibit the clerical members of the Standing Committee.

(Work fast, +KJS!!)

Fred Schwartz said...

So, it could be done. Well, let's get on with it! Say bye bye Reverend Chapman.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

What about the priest with the "filthy mouth" that used "inappropriate" language AT CHURCH... Duncan had put in the penalty box for a few he back on the Standing Committee? If so, I think the place is heavily laced with heavily emotionally/spiritually "challenged" folks...what's wrong with this scenario? Filthy speaking, harmful plotting against others and all the while preaching purity...I think they've had the same soul sickness in Pittsburgh that contaminated San Joaquin for all those Schofield years of despotic/loaded leadership.

Grandmère Mimi said...

The "violence" metaphors are getting old. I'm sick of them. In the meantime, GLTB folks are suffering real violence around the world.

The HOB did the right thing. There's no avoiding turmoil in the diocese, but the intention by the vote is to minimize it as much as possible.

Paul (A.) said...

By the book, if the office of bishop becomes vacant TEC Const. Art. IV provides that the Standing Committee of the Diocese becomes the Ecclesiastical Authority for all purposes under the canons. Not the Presiding Bishop.

Title IV, which governs clergy discipline, provides for a discretionary temporary inhibition of a priest by a diocesan bishop once charges are filed against the priest (Canon IV.1.2). Title IV also provides (IV.14.21) that Bishops Coadjutors can if specified carry out tasks assigned to a Bishop, but the Diocese of Pittsburgh has only an Assistant Bishop (not a Coadjutor), whose term of office ends upon that of the diocesan (III.13.5(e)). A Standing Committee can request another bishop to ask in Title IV matters (IV.14.25), but this applies only in case of the diocesan bishop being "subject to a Sentence of Suspension", which is not quite the case here. More generally, a diocese without a bishop can "by an act of its Convention, and in consultation with the Presiding Bishop" put itself under authority of an interim bishop pending election of a new bishop (III.13.1). Not bloody likely in Pittsburgh in the near future, I'm thinking.

So if the diocese stays in The Episcopal Church, it will be the Standing Committee, including Fr. Chapman, who will direct its immediate future. It may or may not bring in an interim, but their choice would have to be approved by the diocesan convention.

If the diocesan convention purports to leave TEC, however, the situation is different. Any action the Standing Committee takes (collectively or individually) to support or implement such a vote will likely lead to nonrecognition by the Presiding Bishop followed by the calling of a convention of the Episcopal remnant of the diocese to elect a new Standing Committee. This is the procedure and rationale followed at San Joaquin, and I don't doubt it would be followed in Pittsburgh in the wake of a purported deaccession vote.

By the way, the Pittsburgh diocesan constitution (Art. IV) provides that if the office of bishop is vacant, the convention is chaired by a priest of its choosing. I wonder if they would choose Fr. Chapman?

Fred Schwartz said...

paul (a.) Thank you. I was hoping that there was some sort of a loophole that would allow for the immediate inhibition of Fr. Chapman. Does the standing committee have the authority/power to inhibit a priest? If not who does? And why would something like this not revert back to the Presiding Bishop during the time of a vacancy?

Paul (A.) said...

Inhibition is in the hands of the bishop rather than the Ecclesiastical Authority. Absent a bishop being appointed as inteim, there is no provision for inhibiting priests or deacons.

Moreover, since Pittsburgh has not provided by canon for a diocesan review committee under TEC Canon IV.3.1, the Standing Committee serves as the Diocesan Review Committee. It would hardly vote a presentment against one of its own members.

If the diocesan convention votes down or tables the deaccession proposal, I don't think there is any reason for the PB to intervene in the normal process.

Fred Schwartz said...

Paul 9a) gives us all something to think about.