Following my post of September 24, and still with all due respect for the work Bishop John Howe did in his days as national director of NOEL, I am posting yet another of the ECUSAn bishop of Central Florida's public statements. I am posting it because it demonstrates the problem facing any ECUSAn parish whose people want to leave that heretical sect. Since this blog is international, it may come as news to some readers that, for the last few decades, parish properties, as such, have not existed in the Episcopal Church. Except for California, where, long ago, now retired Archbishop Robert Morse won a lawsuit to keep church property for the local congregation in Berkeley where he had served as parish priest, the church properties are owned by each diocese, a rule protected by legal precedent. Furthermore, the Episcopal Church managed to have the Canon Law amended so that each diocese holds these properties in trust for the national "church" headquartered in New York. With the exception of California, and a few rare cases regarding very unusual land grants, the courts have always ruled in favor of the diocesan ownership. This may be good news for bishops such as Bps. Iker and Ackerman, and all "Common Cause" bishops, if they pull their dioceses from the denomination, since the courts may consider national ownership to be in conflict with the "local" or diocesan ownership that has been upheld by precedent. Whether or not to contest in court such a congregation's wishes to withdraw, however, is the call of each diocesan Ordinary. But, for ECUSAns, or may I say, for Episcopalians in Central Florida who wish to convert to real Anglicanism, or something a little closer to it than ECUSAn heresy, the Evangelical, Charismatic John Howe stands as much in the way as do the bishops who support Same Sex Blessing, or, for that matter, "a woman's right to choose" to murder her baby.
The religion business makes strange bed fellows.
Bp. Howe's dictatorial statement, to those whose money, time and energy have been keeping church properties in good repair:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
There has been a great deal of conversation over the past few years about whether or not those who wish to leave The Episcopal Church might "negotiate" with the Diocese of Central Florida to purchase church properties and affiliate with some other Province of the Anglican Communion. It is time to end these discussions. The simple answer is: No. The Windsor Report and the several Communiques from the Primates of the Communion have said that the incursions by foreign Bishops and Archbishops are illegitimate. The Presiding Bishop has said that The Episcopal Church will not allow the purchase of any property by any group that seeks to affiliate with an offshore Province. I will not permit the passage of any Resolution by the Diocesan Board, the Standing Committee or the Annual Convention of the Diocese of Central Florida that seeks to alter the accession clause in our Constitution to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, or that seeks to transfer any property held by parishes in trust for the Diocese of Central Florida and The Episcopal Church. If you must leave, for conscience sake, I will do all in my power to make your leaving amicable. But when you make the decision to leave you immediately cease being a member of The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Central Florida. You immediately cease having any say in decisions regarding any congregation of the Diocese or its property. Please be aware of this in any plans you might be making.
Warmest regards in our Lord,
The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe
Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida
Compare this to the very important line in our own document, The Affirmation of St. Louis: "The right of congregations to control of their temporalities should be firmly and constitutionally recognized and protected." Is it hard to see which is ethical, and which is tyranny?