As has been amply reported, Bishop Iker of Fort Worth has been inhibited by the Presiding Bishop (following the due canonical process on the recommendation of the review committee and with the consent of the three senior bishops) for having abandoned "the communion of this Church" — "this Church" of course referring, as it always does in our Canons, to The Episcopal Church.
Surely there can be no doubt that Iker is out of communion with TEC — I mean, isn't that the point of removing all references to TEC from the diocesan constitution, and joining the Southern Cone? That the Church of the SC is a member of the Anglican Communion (for now) is irrelevant to the abandonment canon, since it refers not to the Anglican Communion, but to communion with TEC. (There can be churches in Communion with TEC, or the C of E for that matter, that are not part of the Anglican Communion, such as the ELCA in our case. Communion is not transitive, as anyone who has been involved in ecumenical discussion well knows.)
The Bishop and Standing Committee of what still calls itself "The Episcopal Diocese of Forth Worth" has issued a response to the PB's action. They make a good deal of fuss about the inhibition, which, as they rightly note, is of no actual effect to the extent that Jack has already hit the road (virtually, not in actuality, as he is still geographically in Fort Worth, not the Southern Cone.) All the inhibition actually states is that Iker is not to execute any episcopal functions in The Episcopal Church. Iker makes much of his indignation, but one wonders why, if he has no intention of trying to pretend to be still the bishop of a diocese of The Episcopal Church.
The strangest part of the FW response, to my mind, is the closing word of the Standing Committee. They accuse the Presiding Bishop of "border crossing." Clearly the "borders" involved here are the mental borders of allegiance, not the geographical borders of this earth, or the canonical borders of the provinces of the Churches of the Anglican Communion. It has already been noted that the Church of the Southern Cone is in express violation of its own Canons in attempting to take extraterritorial dioceses under its wings. And as is well established, there is no provision in the Constitution and Canons of TEC to allow a domestic diocese to become independent of this Church once it has entered into union with it. Even missionary and overseas dioceses of TEC can only become independent with the consent of the General Convention. And bishops cannot "resign" from the House of Bishops without the consent of that House. To think that a domestic diocese can simply, motu proprio secede from The Episcopal Church is an exercise in cowboy fantasy.
But then again, the whole thing is rather fantastic, isn't it?
Tobias Haller BSG