Saturday, November 18, 2006

Regarding Alternative Primatial Oversight

The Episcopal Majority sent the following letter on November 9 via FedEx to the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, regarding the handful of bishops who have requested "alternative primatial oversight" (or a commissary). The Steering Committee determined that we would not simultaneously publish this as an "open letter," but would give the Archbishop a reasonable period of time in which to acknowledge receipt of our letter. Having received no acknowledgement from the Archbishop, we now publish the letter here as our position on the provision of "alternative primatial oversight."

November 9, 2006

The Most Rev. Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury

Dear Archbishop Williams,

You will soon receive - or may have already received - a request from a relatively small group of bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States that you appoint a commissary (or Alternative Primatial Oversight) for disaffected dioceses in this country. Apparently, they believe that such an action would in some manner remove these dioceses and bishops from the actions of General Convention and the leadership of the Presiding Bishop and, instead, give them a tie to your office or place themselves under your authority.

We believe the requests to be illegal. Our Constitution and Canons do not allow for overseas oversight or alternative jurisdictional authority over any diocese in this country. The question of whether the Church of England could assign commissaries to function in America was settled back in 1789.

In addition, many of these same bishops, now allied with a number of foreign bishops, will request that you affirm the existence of an alternative ecclesiastical jurisdiction in America. Such a jurisdiction, at least in outline, now exists. Clearly the bishops seek from you legitimation for these blatantly secessionist activities. To grant their request would constitute a reward for these actions and legitimate the break-up of the Church.

We, the Steering Committee of The Episcopal Majority, write to urge you to refuse these requests.

We believe these requests are motivated by the longstanding wish of a small number of American bishops to expel the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion. We find the actions of these bishops to be deceitful, disruptive and harmful and urge you to reject their requests.

Another course has always been open to these bishops and others of a like mind: they could simply leave the Episcopal Church. Such a departure falls fully within the American religious tradition. Ordinarily, conscience has dictated such separations in the past and these separations have been accomplished with integrity. We urge you to encourage this course of action upon them, as we have done. It is certainly a more honorable course than remaining in the Church and continuing to cause bitterness and rancor.

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. William R. Coats
Ms. Lisa Fox
The Rev. David Fly
Ms. Judy Matthews
The Rev. Richard Tombaugh
Ms. Adrienne Fly
The Rev. Mark Harris
Mr Robert Smith, Esq
The Rev. Tom Woodward



Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good letter. Well structured. No waffle.

It's about time the obvious was stated.

I sometimes think those in authority over us actually enjoy complication more than simplicity. Well, it gets them in the newspapers and on t.v. I can hardly see that happening if they came out of a meeting (any meeting) and announced, "We all had a good chat and we're all agreed." Not front page stuff, really.

11/19/2006 6:40 AM  

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