Skip to comments.Formal Charges Lodged Against Connecticut Bishop
Posted on 08/25/2005 12:08:20 PM PDT by sionnsar
Nineteen Episcopal lay leaders and priests from the Diocese of Connecticut have lodged an official complaint with the office of the Presiding Bishop against the Bishop of Connecticut, accusing the Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith of undermining the structure of the Episcopal Church and denying canonical due process for the so-called Connecticut Six clergy and their parishes.
The complaint states that Bishop Smith unlawfully threatened the six rectors with inhibition, arrogated to himself the management of various properties and assets held in trust by the diocese on behalf of St. John's, Bristol; Trinity, Bristol; St. Paul's, Darien; Christ and Epiphany Church, East Haven; Bishop Seabury Church, Groton; and Christ Church, Watertown. The threats against their clergy, his actions to freeze bank accounts, custodial funds and securities owned by the six parishes, as well as his more publicized actions during July at St. John's, Bristol, the complaint alleges, are violations of numerous Canons of the General Convention and the Diocese of Connecticut.
Under Title 4 of the disciplinary canons of the General Convention, the Presiding Bishop and his chancellor have 90 days in which to investigate and perhaps reach a pastoral resolution before the complaint must be forwarded to the Title IV Review Committee for bishops. The Canons of the General Convention also stipulate that all details of the process must be kept completely confidential prior to a determination by the review committee, except as may be determined to be pastorally appropriate by the Presiding Bishop.
It could be well into the next triennium before any final decision on this complaint is reached, said the Rt. Rev. Charles L. Keyser, an assisting Bishop in the Diocese of Georgia and chair of the Title IV Review Committee for bishops. If a complaint is forwarded to us, we will do a thorough, complete investigation, taking testimony from both sides. The review committee consists of five bishops appointed by the Presiding Bishop as well as two priests and two lay adult communicants appointed by the President of the House of Deputies.
Bishop Keyser said the review committee functions in a manner similar to a grand jury and as a general rule will investigate complaints forwarded to it by asking three questions:
1) Have the canons been violated or broken?
2) If there are violations are they provable?
3) Are the charges serious?
If the charges are provable and serious, the review committee issues a presentment for trial by ecclesiastical court, the church court equivalent of an indictment. If the review committee determines that the above conditions are not met, they must explain why, Bishop Keyser said.
The review committee processes complaints, Bishop Keyser said, as quickly as we can, but as slowly as we must, explaining that the committee is cognizant of the fact that it is funded with stewardship money through the office of General Convention. We dont want to spend money foolishly, but we also dont want to get into a mindset in which justice may not prevail out of economic considerations, he said.
When asked how much investigation of a formal complaint typically costs, Bishop Keyser said a lot, later explaining that precisely to avoid economically prejudicing justice, the Canon for the Primate and Presiding Bishop is responsible for keeping track of expenses, but Bishop Keyser estimated it would certainly run into the six figures.
What I find even more ironic is that Bishop Smith can speedily (and, in my opinion, illegally) inhibit priests for abandonment of communion in the space of six months. This whole thing just seems wrong.
Im definitely going to keep pushing this issue. So far it has been 1 day since the presentment has been filed, and nothing has been done (although we did end up with a Living Church article with an interview with the Bishop heading up the review committee). Ill keep counting and continue to bug everyone I can to get this case moving.
Justice delayed is justice denied.
Job 19:7 - Even when I cry out, Violence! I am not answered; I call aloud, but there is no justice.
Therein lies the problem, lodging a trad/conservative complaint with Griswold is about as effective as complaining about room service on the Titanic.
True, but what lies beyond? For all I know this might be a necessary first step for something else, maybe even civil action.
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
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