Allegations of disloyalty have been leveled against one of the leaders of the Anglican Communion Institute and may lead to his being charged with misconduct.
In an email published on the website Titusonenine, the Very Rev. Philip Turner, the former Dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale reports that he is being investigated for having executed an affidavit in the Diocese of Quincy lawsuit and had endorsed the Anglican Communion Institute’s amicus brief in the Diocese of Fort Worth case before the Texas Supreme Court. On 29 June 2012 nine bishops received emails from the Rt. Rev. Clayton Matthews informing them they were being investigated for their views on the issues under dispute in the two lawsuits.
Dean Turner wrote that “I enquired as to whether a complaint against me had been lodged with my diocese. I was told by an unimpeachable source that in fact a complaint against me had been received. I have not seen the complaint. I do not know what the complaints are or who the complainants are.”
He added that the “nature of the complaint and the identity of the complainants are withheld from the accused member of the clergy. Only the complainants and the diocesan office know the relevant information. It is my belief that this complaint will be judged to be both without substance and frivolous. Nevertheless, an anonymous complaint whose source and content are unknown to the accused is not a matter about which I feel it right to remain silent.”
A second ACI signatory of the amicus brief and Quincy affidavit, Dr. Ephraim Radner, professor of Historical Theology at Wycliffe College in Toronto told Anglican Ink he did not know if a complaint had been filed against with the Diocese of Colorado – his diocese of canonical residence. Hew wrote that he had “emailed the Canon to the Ordinary twice about this -- just wanting to know what's going on,” but had received no response to his query.
Liberal church leaders have so far been silent about the proceedings. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori declined to discuss the issue, saying only that it was “early in the proceedings”. A spokesman for the presiding bishop’s office told Anglican Ink that the canons did not permit the presiding bishop to discuss the matter as it was sub judice.
However, conservative dioceses have been quick to defend the accused.
The Rt. Rev. Gregory Brewer and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Central Florida said it was “disheartening and baffling” that just a “few days before the General Convention” the bishops were informed of the investigation.
“At issue is not a matter of doctrine but a disputed matter of law on which people in The Episcopal Church clearly disagree. Why does signing such a brief warrant a complaint that Bishop Matthews takes seriously enough to send such a letter? Is this an attack against free speech? Are we not free to state our opinions in a court of law without retaliation by our church? Is this an intentional act of intimidation? Or given how close this is to General Convention, is this a diversionary tactic to throw the spotlight away from weightier matters facing our Convention? Until the content of the complaint comes to light we do not know,” Bishop Brewer wrote.
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Dallas released a statement in support of their bishop, the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, and their suffragan bishop, the Rt. Rev. Paul Lambert.
“This type of complaint and the large number of spurious complaints against Bishops that have been received since the Title IV disciplinary canons were revised a year ago further demonstrate the urgent need to revisit the Title IV disciplinary Canons. Furthermore, as we approach the 236th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we find it stunning that Bishops are now facing discipline for expressing their opinion,” they wrote.