The Title IV disciplinary proceedings initiated against the Fort Worth 7 has not been derailed by the intervention of the provisional bishops of Quincy and Fort Worth during the 77th General Convention, the accused have learned.
In an exchange of emails between seven bishops who endorsed an amicus brief in the Diocese of Fort Worth case pending before the Texas Supreme Court and the Rt. Rev. F. Clay Matthews, the Bishop for Pastoral Development in the Office of the Presiding Bishop, Bishop Matthews stated he would be “sending additional information to the Bishops involved after a period of reflection from the conversations at General Convention and some preliminary interviews. When a complaint has been received by the Intake Officer, the Disciplinary Canons are in effect.”
Bishop Matthews added “I trust this letter addresses the immediate concerns you raised, and you will hear more from me perhaps as late as September.”
On 28 June 2012, the Rt Rev Maurice M. Benitez, retired Bishop of Texas, the Rt Rev John W. Howe, retired Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt Rev Paul E. Lambert. Suffragan Bishop of Dallas, the Rt Rev William H. Love, Bishop of Albany, the Rt Rev D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana, the Rt Rev Daniel H. Martins, Bishop of Springfield, and the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas were informed they were being investigated for alleged misconduct.
Bishop Matthews wrote to them stating:“As the Intake Officer for the Church, I am obliged to inform you that a complaint has been received against you for your action in filing of Amicus Curiae Brief in the pending appeal in the Supreme Court of Texas in opposition to The Episcopal Diocese of Texas (sic. The case involved the Diocese of Fort Worth) and The Episcopal Church.”
“In the next few weeks, I will initiate a disciplinary process according to Title IV Canon 6 Sec. 3 & 4 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church,” Bishop F. Clayton Matthews wrote to the seven bishops.
In his 18 July letter to the Fort Worth 7, Bishop Matthews named the bishops’ accusers.
“In the case of those who signed an Amicus Brief in the Supreme Court of Texas concerning the case of Fort Worth and The Episcopal Church, two complaints were received - One by the Standing Committee and Executive Board of the Diocese of Fort Worth and another by a Deputy to General Convention from The Diocese of New Jersey. The Deputy also happens to be a lawyer,” Bishop Matthews wrote.
The Chancellor of the Diocese of Fort Worth did not respond to our request for clarification. The President of the Fort Worth Standing Committee, Fr. David Madison told Anglican Ink “The canons prohibit any discussion of Title IV actions. As a result, I am not able to make a comment on any Title IV action that may or may not be in progress.”
Paul Ambos, a lay deputy to the 77th General Convention from the Diocese of New Jersey and a practicing attorney denied filing the complaint. He noted that a resigned member of the deputation from New Jersey was an attorney, and added that he was not aware of the professions of the members of the Newark deputation.
Bishop Matthews did not respond to our request for comments on the correspondence, nor did he answer Anglican Ink’s question asking if he would recuse himself from the Title IV investigations.
Canon lawyer Allan Haley told Anglican Ink Bishop Matthews has “absolutely no business” remaining as Intake Officer in the case of the Fort Worth 7 as he was present at the House of Bishops private conversations on the complaint brought by Bishops C. Wallis Ohl, Jr., and John Buchanan on the Fort Worth 7’s endorsement of the amicus brief before the Texas court.
Mr. Haley noted Bishop Matthews could have remained as the Intake Officer, without conflict, if both he and the presiding bishop had reached the decision that the charges would have to be dropped after the 6-8 July private sessions of the House of Bishops at General Convention. “But if that were the case,” Mr. Haley added, Bishop Matthews “has no reason to tell the Bishops involved who were their accusers unless at the same time he tells them that charges will be dropped.”
One of the Fort Worth 7 told Anglican Ink he expects nothing will ultimately come from the Title IV investigations. “But, in today's Episcopal Church, who knows?” he observed.