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Model Presentment Against Bishop Andrew Smith of Connecticut
Drell's Descants ^ | 7/31/2005 | Brad Drell

Posted on 08/01/2005 12:48:25 PM PDT by sionnsar

While not in the form of a presentment (although if you need one, you can get a form here), here is my legal analysis of the various violations on the Canons by Bishop Smith in his recent actions as regards St. John’s, Bristol, Connecticut. None of these violations are doctrinal (due to Stanton v. Righter), and so this isn’t a very exciting document, to be sure. But, if you recall the movie, the Untouchables, while tax evasion isn’t sexy, it put Capone away. While these offenses aren’t as sexy as holding a doctrine contrary to the church, they might actually stick.

All Canonical cites are from Canon IV of the Canons of the Episcopal Church, unless otherwise stated.

Canon 1, Section 1, lists offenses.

Subsection (f) is the violation of the canons of a local Diocese. Canon I of the Diocese of Connecticut provides in part: “Section 9. The property and all business affairs of the Parish shall be subject to the direction, management, and control of the Vestry; except that the election of a Rector, the disposition of the real estate of the Parish and the borrowing or lending of money shall not he within the control of the Vestry, unless by special vote of the Parish: provided, that in accordance with Title III, Canon 14, Section 1(c.) of the “Canons of the General Convention, the Rector shall at all times, be entitled to the use and control of the Church and Parish buildings, with the appurtenances and furniture thereof, for the purposes of his office and for the full and free discharge of all functions and duties pertaining thereto.” Bishop Smith has unlawfully interfered with the vestry in the discharge of their duties as regards the buildings of the parish by taking possession of same, changing the locks, and interfering with access (the security guards).

Arguably, Smith has the right to dissolve the parish, or reduce it to mission status, so this shouldn’t be a big deal, right? However, he had to give six months notice, and he didn’t: “Where, in the judgment of the Bishop, any such Parish shall fail to fulfill the obligations set forth in Canon 1, Sections 12 and 13 (a) and shall fail to implement on its own initiative the provisions of Canon I, Section 14, the Bishop may, with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee and upon the recommendation of the Bishop and Diocesan Executive Council, terminate the existence of any such Parish after due notification of such intent at least six (6) months prior to such termination. Such notification shall also set forth the right of such parish to appear before the Bishop and Diocesan Executive Council prior to termination.” (Section 13 of Canon I of the Diocese of Connecticut.) Smith has reduced the parish to de facto mission status by placing a priest in charge, rather than allowing the vestry to call a rector, see Canon X of the Diocese of Connecticut, and taking control of the buildings, without following the due process provided in the Connecticut canons.

Clearly, Smith has violated his own Diocesan canons vis-a-vis St. John’s, and is therefore liable to presentment.

Canon I (back to the ECUSA Canons) also lists under subsection (j) the offense of conduct unbecoming a member of the Clergy. In my opinion, his misuse of Canon X, Abandonment of Communion, against Fr. Hansen, amounts to malicious prosecution under regular legal standards, due to the fact that the allegations that Fr. Hansen in fact abandoned the communion of the church have no evidence to support them, and were brought because of a different motive than removing a priest who has in fact abandoned the communion of the church, based on Bishop Smith’s own statements, according to Canon Brust who was present at the meeting:

“Nearly 75 minutes into the two-hour meeting, Bishop Smith finally admitted that the grounds for his actions against Fr. Mark Hansen and the parish were based on Mark’s being a co-signatory to a letter earlier in the year calling the bishop to recant his theology, understanding of Scripture, and certain votes at General Convention–a letter also signed by the five other Connecticut Six congregations. He stated that this letter, along with Mark’s taking a sabbatical which “falls outside of Diocesan policy”, provided grounds for abandonment of communion.”

Neither of these things amount to abandonment of communion. Further, the unauthorized sabbatical (if actually unauthorized) at worst amounts to abandoning the work of ministry, and that falls under a separate canon, Canon 11, or Canon 1, Section 1, (i). These would require a trial, unlike Canon 10. Coupled with his statements that he inhibited and charged Hansen because of Hansen’s call for him via letter to recant certain theological innovations and his votes at General Convention, the Bishop’s motive is revenge. Frankly, this is conduct unbecoming a Christian. He is liable for presentment for this offense, as malicious prosecution of a priest under the canons is clearly conduct unbecoming the clergy. However, I will say that if the Bishop lifts the inhibition due to Hansen’s good faith denial (which has been sent to the Bishop, as I understand it), that a presentment would not then lie.

So, who can file a presentment? Any three bishops, OR ten communicants, at least two of whom are priests, and at least six of whom must be from the charged bishop’s Diocese, including one priest from that Diocese. Canon 3(C.)

If there is anyone out there that wishes to file a presentment against Bishop Smith, you don’t need to quote me, thank me, or attribute anything to me. After much prayer, I’ve decided to simply put this out there, and let others do with it as they will. Based on my interpretation of the canons, this will require three bishops to run the ball, or the laity and clergy of Connecticut to take this on. This doesn’t seem like a job for Brad Drell, other than to give my opinions on my blog.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 08/01/2005 12:48:26 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; anselmcantuar; Agrarian; coffeecup; Paridel; keilimon; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-9 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans:

Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 08/01/2005 12:48:44 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† || Trad-Ang Ping: I read the dreck so you don't have to || Iran Azadi)
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To: sionnsar

Smith thinks he can make up the rules as he goes. Of course, he does the same with Scripture, so no great surprise form his actions.

3 posted on 08/02/2005 5:46:34 AM PDT by N. Theknow (If Social Security is so good - why aren't members of Congress in it?)
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