Skip to comments.Rector of South Riding Church (Fairfax, Va.) Responds to Bishop Lee
Posted on 12/22/2005 6:13:47 PM PST by sionnsar
Fr. Ashey's Response to Canon III.13 Judgment
20 December 2005
The Right Reverend Peter James Lee
The Diocese of Virginia
110 W. Franklin Street
Richmond, VA 23320
Dear Bishop Lee,
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I am writing to you in response to the Diocesan Press Release that I received shortly after our phone conversation yesterday. Since the intent of your action and the Standing Committee contradicts the plain language of Canon III.13, let me restate and reiterate the facts:
1) On the first Saturday after the Epiphany 1989 the Right Reverend Frederick H. Borsch, Bishop of Los Angeles, conferred Holy Orders upon me and ordained me a Priest in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church (emphasis added)
2) By faxed letter November 13, 2005, my request for transfer of canonical residence (and hence, Holy Orders) was received and approved by the Right Reverend Benezeri Kisembo, Bishop of Ruwenzori, Anglican Church of Uganda.
3) On Monday November 14, 2005 I submitted my letter of resignation as missioner of South Riding Church and an employee of the Diocese of Virginia
4) On Monday November 28, 2005 I met with you (my wife Julie, also being present), and declined to sign the Canon III.13 Declaration you had prepared for me, renouncing ordained ministry.
5) On Tuesday November 28, 2005, I met with the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia as a courtesy to you and Bishop Jones for the years of ministry we have shared in Virginia. I reiterated to the Standing Committee my refusal to sign the Canon III.13 declaration of renunciation, the transfer of my canonical residence to Uganda, and my renewed sense of calling to ordained ministry. Written transcripts of my remarks, as well as an audio recording, are available.
Office: 13314 Pennypacker Ln., Fairfax VA 22033 ph: 703.961.1983 FAX 703.961.9181
These facts are a matter of recordand they do not support a judgment under Canon III.13
Canon III.13 requires a Priest to declare, in writing a renunciation of the ordained Ministry of this Church, and a desire to be removed there from.. Moreover, the effect of such a written declaration is to deprive said Priest of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a minister of Gods Word and Sacraments conferred in Ordination. (Canon III.13, Sec. 1, emphasis added) Clearly, the intent of canon III.13 is to provide clergy who, for reasons other than those affecting moral character, wish to voluntarily renounce the gifts and spiritual authority conferred in ordination in Christs One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
There is only one Holy Order to which a Priest is ordained, and it is neither American nor Ugandan. I have not renounced the Holy orders conferred upon me at ordination. I have not renounced the spiritual gifts and authority that were conferred upon me in ordination as a minister of Gods Word and Sacraments. I have not renounced the Ordained Ministryin fact, I have reaffirmed my Orders and calling to Ordained Ministry in all of my communications. I have not signed the written declaration mandated by Canon III.13
If your intent is to remove me as a Minister of the Episcopal Church, the use of Canon III.13 is overbroad. I have only changed my address from ECUSA to the Church of Uganda. As I mentioned to you and the Standing Committee, an appropriate exercise of Canon Law would be to refuse to license me to function in any ECUSA church, as you might refuse any priest from another province of the Communion.
On the other hand, if your intent under Canon III.13 is to render a judgment that I have renounced Holy Orders and the Priesthood in Christs One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, my answer is simple. A resignation is not a renunciation. And by no stretch of the imagination can it be made so without my voluntary renunciation of ordained ministry according to the language of Canon III.13.
I know that we are both interested in finding a gracious way through the heartbreaking divisions that have come upon us in the Anglican Communion as a result of the decisions of GC2003. But the wrongful exercise of Canon III.13, in my case, no more serves those interests than the wrongful exercise of Canon IV.10 in other Dioceses.
My fervent prayer is that, someday, we may again find common ground in Christ and the authority of his Word.
Rev. J. Philip Ashey, Vicar
South Riding Church (Anglican)
Diocese of Ruwenzori, Anglican Church of Uganda
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