As can be read widely elsewhere, Bishop Duncan has been put on notice for alleged abandonment of the communion of this church (that is, The Episcopal Church) but has not been inhibited pending a decision by the House of Bishops on whether or not he should remain among their number. The inhibition requires the consent of the three senior acting bishops, and Bishop Wimberly has offered a rationale for his choice not to grant his consent. This appears to be based largely on the fact that the Diocese of Pittsburgh, unlike that of San Joaquin, has not yet taken a final untoward step towards disaffiliation from the Episcopal Church. As I observe at the Episcopal Café, however, I think this represents a confusion in Bishop Wimberly's mind concerning the nature of abandonment of communion by a bishop.
There is nothing about dioceses or their actions in the canon on abandonment of communion by a bishop. The canon is about the individual and his or her actions (or inactions) that might lead one to think that he or she has abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church by renunciation of its Doctrine, Discipline and Worship. This cause for action need not involve the vote of a diocesan convention; indeed, I would think a bishop who advised or fostered schism and accused the hierarchy of apostasy to have renounced the good order of the church even if the diocesan convention repudiated the advice and accusation. Abandonment does not require re-affiliation; although that is a second cause for action. In the first case, though, it is about the claim no longer to be accountable to the authorities which one had vowed to obey; not necessarily the alignment with a new authority. And the diocese has nothing to do with it.
I hope Bishop Wimberly might reconsider his decision and find for inhibition, because I remain concerned that the movement to depose Bishop Duncan without his being first inhibited is not entirely in keeping with the wording of the canon, which to my unexpert (though keen) eye appears to say that only an inhibited bishop may be subject to deposition by the House. As I noted in a comment on an earlier post:
The canon ... appears to me to require the inhibition period: "shall then inhibit the said bishop until such time as the House of Bishops shall investigate..." Section 2 speaks again of the distinct "certification and Inhibition" being delivered to "the inhibited Bishop" who then has two months to issue a response. [I emphasize here the canonical importance of the word "and."] So the two month period appears to require the inhibition, which can be terminated by the PB and a majority of the three senior bishops, and then "Otherwise" (that is, no satisfactory response being made and the Inhibition remaining in effect) the PB presents the matter to the House of Bishops. So it appears to me that the inhibition is a required step in the process.
Of course, I could be wrong. But I strongly urge Bishop Wimberly to reconsider his refusal to consent, so that this matter may proceed properly and with due consideration for the damage the uninhibited bishop of Pittsburgh might do in the next several months.
Tobias Haller BSG