Tuesday, April 08, 2008

History of the "Abandonment of Communion" Canons


[Anglican Curmudgeon] 8 Apr 2008--This will be a long post. I am breaking it into two parts, the first of which deals with the history behind the adoption of the "abandonment of communion" canons, and the second of which will deal with the recent trend to use them in lieu of filing presentments---a practice which many Church chancellors agree is an abuse of their intended purpose. One has only to look at the original act which brought the canons into being---the departure of a Bishop to join the Roman Catholic Church---to see that they deal with completed actions that have resulted in a full departure of the person in question from this Church and from the Anglican Communion of which it is a constituent member. They are not meant to be applied to ongoing actions within the body of the Anglican Communion as a whole resulting from a disagreement over actions taken in General Convention, or to actions which can be dealt with in a presentment, or by other disciplinary means. Those actions call for a trial or other hearing, with confrontation of witnesses and the presentation of both sides of a case. Those procedural steps are unnecessary in cases of true abandonment, and so the canon does not use them. But it is just that feature of the abandonment canons that has made their abuse so tempting: the authority bringing the charges does not have to prove anything at a trial.

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