By Joe Thoma
On the second legislative day of General Convention the House of Bishops consented to the election of eight new bishops after struggling in private with complaints brought against nine of its own.
Meeting in “private conversation” before the start of the public part of the afternoon session, bishops discussed recent complaints against the Rt. Revs. Maurice M. Benitez, retired Bishop of Texas; John W. Howe, retired bishop of Central Florida; Paul E. Lambert, Bishop Suffragan of Dallas; Bishop William H. Love, Bishop of Albany; D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana; Daniel H. Martins, Bishop of Springfield; and James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas.
“It was a frank discussion,” Bishop Stanton said after the session.
Many Episcopal leaders and bloggers have questioned the timing and substance of charges that the bishops engaged in misconduct by endorsing a friend of the court brief prepared by the Anglican Communion Institute in a Texas Supreme Court case between the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Fort Worth concerning legal authority and ownership of church property.
The closed session focused on a July 5 letter by the Rt. Rev. John C. Buchanan, provisional Bishop of Quincy, and Wallis Ohl, provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, asking that the House of Bishops “set the record on the polity of this church regarding its hierarchical character.”
The house is scheduled to continue the discussion at its afternoon legislative session July 7, Buchanan and Ohl told Episcopal News Service in an interview after the house recessed.
Bishops consented to the election of Susan E. Goff as Bishop Suffragan of Virginia; Jacob Wayne Owensby, Bishop of Western Louisiana; Dorsey McConnell, Bishop of Pittsburgh; A. Robert Hirschfeld, Bishop of New Hampshire; W. Nicholas Knisely, Bishop of Rhode Island; Douglas John Fisher, Bishop of Western Massachusetts; Robert C. Wright, Bishop of Atlanta; and Jeff Wright Fisher, Bishop Suffragan of Texas.
In the week before General Convention the deputation from the Diocese of Fort Worth urged General Convention to ask stringent questions of bishops-elect about their understanding of the Episcopal Church’s Constitution and canons.