Bishop MacBurney Issues an Apology
Posted on: September 11, 2008
The Rt. Rev. Edward H. MacBurney, retired Bishop of Quincy, and Wicks Stephens, his lawyer, have reached an agreement under which Bishop MacBurney voluntarily submitted to discipline.
Last January, the Title IV [disciplinary] Review Committee issued a presentment against Bishop MacBurney for allegedly leading a service of confirmation at a congregation which had left the Diocese of San Diego in order to join the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone in South America. Bishop MacBurney was subsequently inhibited, or prohibited, from functioning in any way as a priest or bishop, pending an ecclesiastical trial which had been scheduled to be held in November.
In her “Sentence Upon Voluntary Submission to Discipline” dated Sept. 9, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori removed the inhibition against Bishop MacBurney and admonished him “not to repeat the actions which caused the presentment to be brought against him.” She also directed him to apologize “in writing to the Bishop of San Diego for not respecting his authority as the bishop of that diocese.”
Bishop James Mathes of San Diego, who originally had brought the complaint against Bishop MacBurney, said he was satisfied with the outcome. The process “held a bishop of the church accountable to his colleagues and this was a good thing,” Bishop Mathes told Episcopal News Service. He said Bishop MacBurney’s willingness to apologize for his actions “provided us a way to provide forgiveness.”
In an interview with a reporter for The Living Church, Mr. Stephens said that the sentence conformed to the terms which were agreed to before the voluntary submission was made adding that Bishop MacBurney is fully restored as a retired member of the House of Bishops, meaning he can again perform priestly and episcopal functions with the permission of the local diocesan bishop.
“I’m sure there are a number of diocesan bishops who would want to have an Anglo-Catholic bishop come and minister,” Mr. Stephens said. “This was a practical means of bringing him back.”
Bishop MacBurney is regarded fondly by many members of the Diocese of Quincy and elsewhere. Prior to his inhibition, he frequently conducted visitations and otherwise assisted Bishop Keith Ackerman of Quincy. The Diocese of Quincy is one of three where representatives to the diocesan convention this fall are scheduled to hold a final vote on whether to leave The Episcopal Church.
Mr. Stephens said Bishop MacBurney’s voluntary submission to discipline “does not foreclose the future in any way,” and that breakaway Anglican congregations will not be affected by his decision to remain with The Episcopal Church because there are now many more Anglican bishops in North America available to perform episcopal acts without first seeking permission from a diocesan bishop of The Episcopal Church.
“That was less true back in 2007,” Mr. Stephens said.
Reported by Steve Waring