Howe blasts Louie Crew over "schismatic" charge
May 28, 2009
The following letter was sent to the Bishops' and Deputies' list in response to a post by Louie Crew regarding the purloined emails of the ACI:
I am saddened by this rant. It was clearly private correspondence between a number of bishops, the ACI lawyer, and the theologians who are part of the Anglican Communion Institute, and in some cases some of the clergy who are part of the Communion Partners Association.
We had been working for some time on the "Bishops' Statement on Church Polity." It had been written prior to the release of the third draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant.
We were attempting to determine whether it needed to be modified in any way - or even if we wanted to release it - in the light of the Ridley draft.
I am offended by your calling us schismatics. We have never sided with those who have chosen to leave The Episcopal Church. We have repeatedly stated our commitment to remain within and loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of TEC.
Our "plot" was to publish a paper, which we were nearly ready to publish, and which we did publish very promptly after all of this was made public.
The paper argues, we think with inarguable facts and numerous citations, that the polity and structure of TEC is hierarchical up to the level of the diocese, but that the sense in which the Presiding Bishop, the General Convention, or the Executive Council are "over" the bishops and dioceses of TEC is extremely limited.
You may disagree with this. Let's argue it out. The Presiding Bishop may inhibit me and issue a presentment to me if she determines that I have violated the constitution and/or canons of TEC (or for several other reasons), and that is a significant sense in which she has authority over me.
But in absolutely no other sense is she "over" the diocese of Central Florida. She may not even visit here in an official capacity, or do sacramental ministry here, without my invitation and permission.
The paper (have you read it?) argues that our constitution, canons, and history are very clearly those of a voluntary association of bishops and dioceses.
Our charge that the clergy involved in publishing what they knew to be private correspondence was not that the content of what they published harmed us; we were about to publish it ourselves. But it is that clergy publishing private correspondence between bishops and others was unethical, to an extent illegal, and a matter of conduct unbecoming to the clergy of this church.
We are not bringing formal legal charges, either ecclesiastically or in secular courts - at least not at this time - but we are registering complaints with the bishops of the clergy involved. They have not behaved in a gentlemanly/gentlewomanly or Christian manner.
It may well have been the careless mistake of one of us that this material was initially sent to an unintended third party. We do not know this, and only a very expensive diagnosis of all of our computers would give proof positive whether this was the case or whether the emails were apprehended in some more nefarious way. We are not prepared to take this additional step at this time.
To have some on this list accuse that we are attempting to "bring down" TEC is appalling. We are committed to precisely the opposite.
Warmest regards in our Lord,
The Right Rev. John W. Howe
Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida
1017 East Robinson Street
Orlando, Florida 32801
407-423-3567Comments at Stand Firm