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CONNECTICUT SIX: Attorney writes open letter to Rowan Williams

CONNECTICUT SIX: Attorney writes open letter to Rowan Williams

April 4, 2005

My Dear Archbishop:

You so very well know and are intimately familiar with the sorted history of events which have torn the fabric of our Communion and perhaps strained beyond repair the cordiality of relations between the leadership of the ECUSA and the broader Anglican Communion that I will refrain from a rendition of those unhappy events in this writing except to the extent necessary to that which compels this urgent appeal. Stepping appropriately forward the, on February 24, 2005, the Primates of the Anglican Communion assembled at Newry, Ireland, issued a Communiqué in which, inter alia, they included the following specific "recommendation:"

15. In order to protect the integrity and legitimate needs of groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with their Provinces, we recommend that the Archbishop of Canterbury appoint, as a matter of urgency, a panel of reference to supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions made by any churches for such members in line with the recommendation in the Primates' Statement of October 2003 (xii). Equally, during this period we commit ourselves neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary interventions. (emphasis added).

On March 29, 2005, Andrew Smith, Bishop of the Diocese of Connecticut and a Bishop of the ECUSA who personally participated in the laying on of hands during the consecration of Vickie Gene Robinson issued a letter in which he relayed the following to the clergy of the Diocese of Connecticut:

I am writing to inform you of the status of requests by six of our parishes who asked in May 2004 for delegated Episcopal pastoral oversight.

As you know, delegated episcopal pastoral oversight is a conditional and temporary provision which may be entered into where there is dissension between a parish and its clergy and the bishop of a diocese on matters pertaining to homosexuality. It was developed by the House of Bishops within the parameters [of] the Constitution and Canons of the episcopal Church, with a goal of moving toward reconciliation.

. . .

On March 9, 2005, in accordance with the canons of the Church I submitted to the Standing Committee the documentation that led me to believe that the six parishes and their rectors have abandoned the communion of this Church.

I report to you today that the Standing Committee has met, ascertained the facts, and after due consideration has submitted to me its determination in accordance with its responsibilities under the canons. I have communicated this finding to each of the six rectors, and I have offered each of them a meeting with me prior to taking further steps under the canons.

What in-fact occurred, but is omitted from Bishop Smith's letter, is that he was then already in communication with or shortly thereafter contacted the Standing Committee of his Diocese, and invoking ECUSA Cannon IV.10, alleged as yet to be disclosed grounds accusing and charging the six priests who had requested alternative episcopal oversight of abandoning the Communion of the Church.

None of the six, mind you, were advised, given notice, or otherwise allowed to participate or defend themselves before the secret hearings convened at the behest of Smith, nor has the church at large been advised of the specifics of the allegations alleged and supposedly found to be true in support of these questionable and spurious charges.

In short, my dear Archbishop, it appears to this interested and very concerned member of the laity that the will of the assembled Primates of the Anglican Communion are being thwarted and make a complete mockery of by this Bishop of Connecticut who stood shoulder to shoulder with Presiding Bishop Griswold in confirming Vickie Gene Robinson to the Episcopate in defiance of the entire Anglican Communion.

Please, respect the integrity of these six fine priests and use the moral authority of your office to stand firmly and unequivocally against this unfolding travesty.

Thank You,

James H. Babb E-mail: JB@BabbLaw.com

Mr. Babb is a criminal defense attorney, an Episcopalian and a member of Holy Comforter, Sumter, SC. He has held various appointed positions in the Reagan and Bush (George H. W. Bush) Administrations.

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