"I Voted No"-The Bishop of the Armed Forces on Bishop Duncan

I Voted "No"

It wasn't the House of Bishops' greatest moment. The vote on Thursday whether to depose Bishop Bob Duncan was determined by a hitch in procedure rather than substance and dominated by property prize anxiety at the end of the day.

Think about it: diocesan bishops charged with chattel and realty protection at home puzzling about what to do when one of their number wants to bankrupt the legacy to those left behind after a nasty court fight. Any empathy for the faith and nature of the departing former members? Not much. It's no mystery how they would conceive of a continuing church community, thereby choosing a course even if it means compromising canonical procedure.

A postponed vote would have been wise, prudent, and plainly the right thing to do. To quote senior Bishop Peter Lee advising the House on such matters which is his duty by canon (when he is allowed to do it), "Despite numerous statements by Bob Duncan we found nothing actionable." And there isn't. True, we were provided with canvas shopping bags to hold all the incriminating paperwork of reports, newspaper and magazine articles, assessments, and scary confidential memorandum about Bob's garrulous designs to pick up his diocese and leave but there was no fatal, last gasp. The dignity of church law would have allowed for that.

From the first it seemed that something was hastening the process which canon law intended to be sober and deliberate. And that something was Pennsylvania case law which--now bear with me on this--says that if a branch of a not for profit chooses removal from a national organization it may do so. From here it reads like a bad spy novel...by decapitating Bob as the head before Pittsburgh's big vote on October 4th our forces can deploy (are you with me?) the sole objector on the Standing Committee to rise before a hostile convention and cry, "foul!" The figure of that poor soul haunts me like a Frank Capra movie with no redemption. What's the big deal, you say? The late Diocese of Pittsburgh could toot off with 30 million dollars in property. It was said, "When we don't match the efforts of the opposition we imperil the future of remaining loyal Episcopalians."

But is all this about whose is the keener plan to outfox the other guy? Surely who has the rightful claim to property can be determined by some formula of distributive justice. We claim to be Christians after all. In the end who has the deed isn't the lasting legacy to a post modern generation of newly interested Christians about to inherit this mess.

That group advises the greater wisdom of the Gospel on whether property should have so much influence in our lives. We might likely hear them say, "Let'em go, your principles are pricier." +gep

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