The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Friday, December 28, 2007

On Christmas day in the Morning

Further developments at St. Nicholas's Mission in Atwater. As reported by Father Jake, on Christmas Morning, the following was received at St. Nicholas's:
Dear Jo and Deacon Buck,

The attached document is the letter notifying Fr. Risard that his deployment at St. Nicholas is now over. We wish you to know that the Bishop and the Diocese are fully behind the continuation of your church in Atwater and will do all that we are able to support you during this transition.

There are many details to take care of, and many questions which you probably have for the Bishop or me.

The most important Directions from the Bishop to accomplish immediately include:

Change the exterior locks immediately, including the interior lock to the priest's offices and any file cabinets.

Retrieve the bank statements of any accounts that Fr. Risard had signature authority to: the discretionary account, and any other accounts.

Notify me of any minutes from past Bishop's Committee meetings for the past three months and forward them to me. This is especially important if there are commitments made to Mr. Michael Glass, an attorney referenced in the letter of Fr. Risard to the Bishop.

We will assume that the Deacon will be able to lead worship for a short period of time, especially this next Sunday. Reserved sacrament will be provided by the Rural Dean, Fr. Ron Parry, or by me if necessary.

Our prayers are with you during this time of transition.

Yours faithfully,
The Rev. Canon Bill Gandenberger
Now that's the Christmas spirit! Not enough to announce the termination of the priest, the reduction of services and the essential elimination of the mission two days before Christmas, let's cast an even greater pall over the Christmas Day services themselves, eh, John-David?

What was it Tertullian identified as the distinguishing feature of Christians even in the eyes of disapproving Roman society? "See how they love one another." Hardly in evidence, here--I'm an experienced litigator, and have seen timing of letters and documents as a ploy, but this takes my breath away. To put it with more charity than is probably reasonable, Schofield's unrestricted warfare against the public dissenters whose conscience he claimed that he would respect--"no one is being asked to act against his conscience," after all--gravely undermines any claims that he has to act as a Christian leader.

His actions have further deepened the rancor between factions in the Church; to take but one example, The Anglican Scotist, who previously praised the "surprisingly irenic tone" of Schofield's response to the Presiding Bishop, now understandably laments that "Schofield ... made an utter fool of me." (He didn't, Scotist; you're still one of the best. Your take on this story manages to go beyond passion and to tease out the theological dangers revealed by Schofield's action).

Interestingly, the "reasserter" blogs have been silent about this; as chronicled by the tireless Father Jake, neither Kendall Harmon nor Stand Firm have addressed it--indeed, SF, as above linked, deleted a post on this story from what it called an "open thread" asking for "the most outrageous Episcopal stories of 2007," only to have a commenter declare it "[i]nteresting that not one of the revisionistas has posted on this particular thread." Similarly, on another thread, SF cut at least 8 comments on this matter, and subsequently banned the commenter.

At a minimum, the "reasserters" seem aware that this action casts them and their cause in a revealing, and unpleasing, light. And, I would argue, this profoundly unchristian course of conduct--even if you agree with Schofield that he is still entitled to exercise authority over what was, after all, founded as a mission of TEC, he's violating the standard he set for himself, and punishing the parishoners for the dissent of their vicar--and all this on Christmas Day!--is consistent with the authoritarianism and self-righteousness displayed by other prominent "reasserters." To take an example I've quoted before, it's of a piece with Archbishop Akinola's official support for legal persecution of gays, lesbians and those who support their civil rights, and his astonishment that a gay man would dare shake his holy hand, which I would call quite literally pharisaical, except it gives the pharisees a bad rap. And the "burying the lede" by our "Worthy Opponents" (as they like to style us)? Rather like Martyn Minns's bland denial that Akinola is "an advocate of jailing gays" which was neatly bracketed--both before and after--by official written statements by Akinola advocating passage of a law which would do just that.

The plating is wearing through, revealing the base metal beneath.

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