The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has lifted the suspension of a retired bishop for officiating at a service at a breakaway congregation in San Diego, after he agreed to submit to the church’s discipline.
On Sept 9, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori lifted the inhibition or suspension of Bishop Edward MacBurney and admonished him “not to repeat the actions which caused the presentment to be brought against him.”
She also directed him to apologize “in writing to the Bishop of San Diego for not respecting his authority as the bishop of that diocese.”
In June 2007 Bishop MacBurney held a confirmation service for a San Diego congregation that had quit the diocese and joined the province of the Southern Cone.
Bishop James Mathes of San Diego brought charges against Bishop MacBurney and in January the church’s Title IV Review Committee issued an indictment against the retired Bishop of Quincy.
Pending his November trial, Bishop MacBurney was prohibited from functioning as a priest.
The plea deal negotiated between the Presiding Bishop’s office and lawyers for Bishop MacBurney allows the retired bishop to remain unmolested within the Episcopal Church.
Bishop Mathes wrote to his diocese on Sept 10 that he was satisfied with the Presiding Bishop’s decision. The process “held a bishop of the church accountable to his colleagues and this was a good thing,” he told the Episcopal News Service.
At last month’s Lambeth Conference, Bishop Mathes sought out Bishop Gregory Venables, primate of the Southern Cone to discuss visitations in his diocese.
On July 31, Bishop Mathes wrote to his diocese that Bishop Venables “apologized for not contacting me before making incursions into the Diocese of San Diego. Over the past two years, Bishop Venables together with Bishop Frank Lyons of the same province, have made numerous episcopal visits to our diocese without my knowledge or consent. I was heartened by his apology.”
On Aug 1, Bishop Mathes clarified his remarks, telling a news conference: “I want to emphasize that this is a start,” Bishop Mathes said. “[Bishop Venables] did not say he would stop making visits, but he did agree to continue talking and to work with another person.”
When questioned about the encounter, Bishop Venables explained that he had had a “frank, tranquil and calm” conversation with Bishops Mathes and had explained his reasons for accepting the breakaway congregations into the Southern Cone. However, he was “not a stepping back” from his support for the breakaway groups, Bishop Venables said.
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