Episcopal Hypocrisy?

In the US, certain dioceses have broken with the Episcopal Church, including the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (now named the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh), the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin (now named the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin), the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy (now named the Diocese of Quincy) and the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

The Episcopal Church has taken legal action against these dioceses, both because some (most notably the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth) still use their name (including ‘Episcopal’), and because they want to keep their assets and their buildings. In all cases, we have a majority in the diocese who has voted to leave the Episcopal Church. The question now becomes: Why should these dioceses have to give up their names (some have) and their assets, when the Communion of which they used to be a part (the Anglican Communion, through the Episcopal Church) was started by two provinces, the Dioceses of Canterbury and York (with certain dioceses under them), together forming the Church of England, who broke off from the Communion of which they were a part (the Catholic Church), and kept not only their name but also all of their assets?

Some might claim that the break of the Church of England from the Catholic Church was predicated on the ‘national right’ of the English Church, and not on the right of any diocese to do what it wants, but I do not see that this holds. Why should we not allow such freedom to a diocese? What is it with a province, or an archdiocese,[1] that makes it so different from other dioceses that they can break from their commion, while a particular dioceses can’t? It cannot be because of ties with government, as these are non-existant in the US. In the US, where the Episcipal Church is, there is a separation of Church and State. And the Episcopal Church hardly counts as ‘the American Church.’

What should we say, for example, about churches such as the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) or its sister Church in Poland, the Polish Catholic Church? Their break was not ‘predicated on the rights of the american Polish Church’ or on ‘the national Polish Church,’ or anything to that effect. Yet I highly doubt that anyone would claim this to be illegal. So what, then, is the principled difference between this, and the break of a particular diocese from the Episcopal Church? As far as I know, PNCC they held on to property in Scranton and New York.

It seems to me that there is no principled difference between the Church of England and some Polish churches breaking from the Catholic Church, and certain dioceses in the US breaking from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. None whatsover. With this in mind it seems highly hypocritical when the Episcopal Church wants to claim the assets and buldings of the dioceses. The reason that Canterbury and York held on to their assets were simply because they just were the historic sees of these regions. And the same goes for the dioceses in the US. The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, for example, just is the historic Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.


[1] Neither Canterbury nor York are technically known as ‘archdioceses,’ even if their leaders are called ‘archbishops.’ I must admit that I find this weird. A district which is ‘run’ by a bishop is called a diocese. It makes sense, then, that a district which is ‘run’ by an archbishop is called an archdiocese.


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