Nine Episcopal Bishops Faces Disciplinary Charges: Four active and five retired accused of Ecclesiastical Misconduct


By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
June 30, 2012

Nine bishops, four of them sitting diocesan bishops, have been charged with misconduct. They now must face disciplinary proceedings that could lead to their being dismissed from the Episcopal Church.

One bishop, outgoing Bishop of Western Louisiana, D. Bruce MacPherson has been charged twice.

The Rt. Rev. Dan Martins of Springfield told VOL that he has heard nothing from 815 and only learned about the charges second hand.

California-based canon lawyer Allan S. Haley broke the story. Three bishops, Ed Salmon, former Bishop of South Carolina, and Dean of Nashotah House seminary, Peter Beckwith former Bishop of Springfield and D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana (he retires in July) have all been charged under provisions of Title IV for having endorsed a legal pleading filed in the Quincy lawsuit.

Each bishop received an email from the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews, in his capacity as the Episcopal Church’s intake officer for allegations regarding bishops of the church, stating that charges had been leveled against them.

He wrote, “I am obliged to inform you that a complaint has been received against you for your action in signing affidavits in opposition to a motion for Summary Judgment made by representatives of The Episcopal Diocese of Quincy and The Episcopal Church in the Fall of 2011 to secure the Diocesan financial assets from a breakaway group. In the next few weeks, I will initiate a disciplinary process according to Title IV Canon 6 Sec. 3 & 4 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.”

Canon Lawyer Allan S. Haley described the actions as “Stalinist tactics deployed to silence ECUSA Bishops in Court.”

Hours later, seven other bishops received notification from Matthews with similar “charges”. In a letter to them he wrote, “I am obliged to inform you that a complaint has been received against you for your action in filing of Amicus Curiae Brief in the pending appeal in the Supreme Court of Texas in opposition to The Episcopal Diocese of Texas and The Episcopal Church. In the next few weeks, I will initiate a disciplinary process according to Title IV Canon 6 Sec. 3 & 4 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.”

For daring to sign an amicus brief addressed to the Texas Supreme Court in the Fort Worth litigation: The Rt. Rev. Maurice M. Benitez, former Bishop of Texas, The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, former Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. Paul E. Lambert Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Dallas, The Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany, The Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson Bishop of Western Louisiana (he retires in July – this is his second “misconduct charge), The Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins, Bishop of Springfield and The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas face charges.

“[This is] one more instance of Johnson’s First Law of Episcopal Thermodynamics: ‘Every joke you make about the Episcopal Organization eventually comes true,'” writes Haley.

“We know, from postings on the HoB/D list serve, that one of ECUSA’s attorneys in the Fort Worth litigation, Kathleen Wells, Esq., who is the chancellor for the faux diocese of Fort Worth has been agitating for a ‘litmus test’ for all new bishops to determine whether or not they agree with 815’s view of ECUSA as a total hierarchy, as it has been proclaiming in all its litigation.

“Needless to say, these ‘charges’ should never have made it past the Intake Officer, and would not have done so without the implicit approval of the Presiding Bishop herself,” noted Haley.

There is apparently no intent in Bishop Matthew’s email notifying the bishops that he is dismissing the charges. To the contrary, he states that he will “initiate a disciplinary process according to Title IV Canon 6 Sec. 3 & 4 …”.

“Those Canons spell out the offenses for which clergy may be charged, and would be irrelevant if the charges were being dismissed. Consequently, either Bishop Matthews wanted to dismiss the charges, and the Presiding Bishop objected; or else Bishop Matthews truly believes the charges may constitute an offense under the Church canons, and so he is proceeding with his investigation,” added Haley.

“If the Presiding Bishop did approve the bringing of these charges, then she herself should be charged under the provisions of Canon IV.3.1 (c): Sec. 1. A Member of the Clergy shall be subject to proceedings under this Title for: (c) intentionally and maliciously bringing a false accusation . . . in any investigation or proceeding under this Title.”

Those who know the history of the Presiding Bishop’s disregard for the canons will have no hesitation in answering that question, he concluded.

FOOTNOTE: As VOL hears back from these bishops we will post more.

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