There’s plenty that Pittsburgh’s Bishop Robert Duncan and I disagree about. No need to retail all those differences; they’ll be obvious to anyone who knows of us both. I do not understand why, however, the leadership of the Episcopal Church found it necessary to construe the canons in so very unconvincing a way, so as to be able to depose Bishop Duncan before he had the opportunity to commit the sorts of act that might (arguably) have warranted deposing him. (I don’t think the canon that’s being used to depose bishops who can no longer cooperate with the U.S. instantiation of the Episcopal Church should be so used, either, but even if it were, this action seems to premature to me.)
When a sizable proportion of Episcopal congregations blatantly ignore the canons every Sunday (offering communion to unbaptized people, to take just one example), it seems a vicious case of selective enforcement: find a charge to level against “the bad guys,” then force it through willy-nilly. I would not want to be so treated by those who disagree with me, and I cannot in conscience support that treatment when it is applied to someone with whom I disagree.
This sort of politics does not commend the gospel, nor does it proceed from a sound theology of the church’s catholicity, nor can it even claim the shabby banner of “inclusiveness.” However much I dissent from Bishop Duncan’s teachings and tactics, the end does not justify the means. Instead, the unexplained heavy-handedness with which the institutional force of the canons have been brought to bear against Bishop Duncan amplifies my sympathy for him and alienates me from leaders with whom I might otherwise be aligned.