Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Quake toll rises to 147
RADIO NZ, THE PRESS, THE NZ HERALD AND TV3 | 27 FEB 2011
The confirmed death toll from the Christchurch earthquake has risen to 147, while the number of missing people ris over 200.
Superintendent Dave Cliff said six bodies had been released to families, while 30 family liaison teams were contacting families both in New Zealand and overseas.
Search and rescue staff completed their initial grid search of the city centre on Friday.
Removal of unstable masonry from ChristChurch Cathedral stopped on Friday evening due to the aftershocks but resumed on Saturday.
Paul Baxter from the New Zealand Fire Service said more than 600 urban search and rescue workers were on the ground, including teams from Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, the US, Britain and China.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said that of the 1000 buildings within the city's four avenues, just 600 were safe to enter.
Outside the central business district 4600 buildings have been checked, of which 341 are deemed unsafe.
Increasingly, the focus of the emergency operation is shifting to the city's hard-hit eastern suburbs.
A series of aftershocks overnight on Friday caused more damage to buildings in the central city. More than a dozen aftershocks have occurred since 5.40pm on Friday, ranging from 3.0 to 4.4 in magnitude.
Buildings that sustained further damage included the old Girls' High building on Park Terrace, St Elmo's Court in Hereford St, and Knox Church on Bealey Avenue.
Slow progress in cathedral
Recovery teams are making progress on painstaking work to remove bodies from the iconic cathedral labelled the "broken heart" of Christchurch.
Police believe up to 22 bodies remain inside ChristChurch Cathedral and its spire.
Fire Service spokesman Paul Baxter said the operation had been hampered by the continual aftershocks.
However, more heavy machinery has since been brought in.
Engineers have braced the west wall at the site and are removing loose and insecure masonry.
Two cranes are being used for the work, which engineers say is delicate and difficult.
Among the engineers was Ian Oliver from New Plymouth who was with a team on a raised platform assessing the damage.
"It's slow but it has to be, the whole thing could just go at any time."
He said the inside of the spire had a stack of rubble that was about 30 metres high.
The spire's bells, each weighing at least a tonne, would have been destroyed after the roof caved in.
He was not sure when the urban search and rescue teams would go in.
"It's just a mess, it's just all rubble inside ... you should see the inside of the cathedral though, it's like a bomb has gone off in there."
Dean Peter Beck has asked the teams to do all they can to ensure the "graceful removal" of the bodies.
"They are working in the broken heart of Christchurch. That's why we are concerned that such great care is taken with this bodies being recovered."
He believed they would begin their search for the dead "within days, not weeks".
Though he has no idea of how many people were in the spire or the cathedral at the time the quake struck, he believes that most of them were probably overseas tourists.
His staff are planning a prayer service once the bodies are found.
"The whole enormity of it all still hasn't hit me but I think I am due for a bloody good cry."
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said the cathedral would be rebuilt as it was "strong and symbolic".
"There is some discussion that that is a building we could rebuild brick by brick, stone by stone. We need to find some symbols like that."
Dean Beck said a preliminary report from the church's structural engineer showed that significant parts of the cathedral could be saved.
He said the job was necessary for Christchurch, as the cathedral was a symbol of city's resilience.
A memorial to those lost inside the cathedral would be erected when it is one day rebuilt, he added.
"Rebuilding the cathedral is symbolic of rebuilding the city - it's spirit. It is a symbolic representation of the whole city.
"Of course there will always be a sense of loss. We will always carry that with us. It will become part of us. But we will be strong and resilient again."
The assessment team includes the engineer who oversaw the cathedral's original earthquake strengthening.
Dean Beck told TV3 that talk of a special service was "a bit soon".
About 26 Anglican churches were in "a very bad way," he said.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Armstrong sentenced to probation, $99,247 restitution
A judge Friday sentenced the Rev. Donald Armstrong to four years probation for his no-contest plea to one count of misdemeanor theft of funds from the Colorado Springs church where he once served as rector.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Gregory R. Werner also ordered Armstrong to pay restitution in the amount of $99,247 that was diverted to pay for his son's and daughter’s college education. The money came from a trust fund originally set up to pay for the education of seminary students.
But Werner rejected a request by a special prosecutor to order Armstrong to repay Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church an additional $191,753 in church funds that also were spent on his children’s education.
Werner cited testimony by three former church officials who testified they knew of a deal where the church paid the tuition in lieu of giving Armstrong a raise for several years.
The judge also ordered Armstrong to perform 400 hours of community service not related to his current church and forbade him from managing the funds of any trust, business or legal entity.
Armstrong’s probation will run concurrent with a four-year deferred sentence he received in September when he also entered a no-contest plea to one count of felony theft. Unlike the misdemeanor, however, that will not become part of his permanent record if he does not break the law during that period.
While the sentence imposed Friday was less than what several members of the congregation had sought, several of them expressed relief they had reached the end of a series of legal battles that occurred when the allegations of misuse of funds first surfaced in 2006.
As a result of those allegations, the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado defrocked Armstrong. In March 2007 he started a new church. Many members of his old congregation now attend that church, St. George’s Anglican. A protracted legal battle over church property followed, with the courts ultimately ruling in favor of Grace Church.
“I’m very thankful for myself and the parish that it’s over,” said Elizabeth Lilly, a member of the Grace Church congregation. “It’s been a long four years.”
Prosecutors had asked the judge to consider jail time for Armstrong, without saying how much.
“I’m sure if church members had their way they would lock him up and send him to Elba,” said Pueblo County Deputy District Attorney Stephen Jones, alluding to the island near Italy where Napoleon was exiled.
Jones served as special prosecutor in the case because former El Paso County District Attorney John Newsome had been a member of the vestry, or governing body, at Grace Church.
Jones also asked the judge to order Armstrong to write a public apology to his former congregation, noting remarks Armstrong made after entering the no-contest plea in which he continued to maintain his innocence.
“It seems like there’s been no acceptance on the part of Mr. Armstrong to the reality of what he did,” Jones said.
But Armstrong’s lawyer, Dennis Hartley, told the judge that sending the priest to jail would only make him a hero in the eyes of his current parish.
“It will just deepen the hurt that’s the product of these lawsuits,” Hartley said, referring to the legal battles between the two churches.
Hartley also said he chose not to bring in a string of witnesses from St. George’s to testify at the sentencing because “we didn’t see anything to gain by getting into a game of who got hurt the most.”
Unlike Armstrong’s remarks after his plea, Hartley said this time his client had no comment.
Werner refused to order an apology, citing his practice of not wanting to get involved in how such a letter would be worded. He also agreed with Hartley that jail time would serve no purpose.
“There is a huge divide between these two churches,” he added.
Read more: http://www.gazette.com/articles/rev-113541-donald-sentenced.html#ixzz1F47XwXU8
Friday, February 25, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Critics and Framers Go Head to Head over Constitutionality of Disciplinary Canon Revisions
By David W. Virtue
February 24, 2011
A constitutional battle has broken out in The Episcopal Church between those who believe the revised Title IV canons are constitutional and those who believe they are not. Naysayers say they will give the Presiding Bishop unprecedented powers she has no right to have.
What it means is this: come July 1 and the newly revised Title IV canons are in place, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will be able to wield the stick of inhibition and deposition dangled with the carrot of conformity to a largely acquiescent and fawning House of Bishops. It will mean that she can interfere in the life of dioceses like South Carolina and Central Florida with impunity if she believes they are not in conformity to the church's national canons.
Conservative canon lawyer Allan S. Haley says that ECUSA is barely four months away from precipitating a wholly unnecessary constitutional crisis that can only weaken it further and drive its constituent pieces yet further apart. He says the changes to Title IV will transform the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA into a metropolitan.
An article written by C. Alan Runyan, a South Carolina lawyer, and Mark McCall, a member of the New York bar for the Anglican Communion Institute (a group of serious-minded Episcopalian theologians bent on staying in The Episcopal Church), entitled "Title IV Revisions Unmasked," blasted the changes arguing that the new Title IV disciplinary canons enacted at the last General Convention are unconstitutional and unwise. They are unconstitutional because they infringe on the exclusive rights of dioceses to institute courts for the discipline of clergy and give the Presiding Bishop metropolitical authority over other bishops. They are unwise because they deny basic due process rights to diocesan clergy.
Opponents to the Title IV revisions also object to provisions in the sections pertaining to discipline of bishops that give the presiding bishop the ability to give pastoral direction to other bishops and the ability to temporarily inhibit a bishop without the consent of the Standing Committee of the diocese in which he or she has jurisdiction. They argue that the presiding bishop's duties and authority are limited by the constitution.
Constitutional language prohibits a bishop from exercising their authority outside of the diocese that elected them. With the pending changes, that authority now applies to the presiding bishop, in their opinion.
Three supporters of the changes to the "Title IV Task Force II Framers" have defended the constitutionality of the disciplinary canon revisions. Duncan Bayne, Diocese of Olympia vice chancellor; Stephen Hutchinson, Diocese of Utah chancellor; and Joseph Delafield, Diocese of Maine chancellor say that all three were "active participants in the nine-year process of development and adoption of the amendments."
They have hit back at the ACI theologians who say the disciplinary canons set to go into effect July 1 are unconstitutional by asserting the constitutionality of the amendments.
Delafield said in his short statement that the three wrote the paper in response to questions that were raised by the leadership of the Diocese of South Carolina and others as to whether the revision conforms to the church's constitution.
Defenders of the Title IV revisions say that the church's constitution authorizes the canons to spell out the presiding bishop's duties while opponents say that the presiding bishop's duties and authority are limited by the constitution.
Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina does not believe that General Convention has that authority. His Diocesan Convention has backed him up by refusing to accede to the new Title IV revisions adopted at Anaheim in 2009.
During its Feb. 18 - 19 220th annual convention, the Diocese of South Carolina "passed again" two of the "protective resolutions" that a re-convened diocesan convention had approved in October.
The first resolution removed the accession clause to the Canons of the Episcopal Church. The second enabled the convention to meet more frequently than annually, if needed.
"These resolutions seek to protect the diocese from any attempt at un-constitutional intrusions in our corporate life in South Carolina and were in response to the revisions to the Title IV Canons of the Episcopal Church," the diocese argues.
In his convention address, Lawrence argued that the actions he has taken in recent months concerning his stand on the revisions include talking to his fellow provincial bishops and hearing their concerns, as well as speaking at the clergy conference in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania.
"Certainly there remain, however, significant differences for many of us with the direction of the Episcopal Church," Lawrence told the convention before the vote on the resolutions. "So I believe we need to finish what we set out to do at our convention in 2010, upholding the heritage and constitution of our church. I believe we have done a service to everyone in the Episcopal Church by pointing out the problems inherent in the Title IV revisions."
The diocese voted overwhelmingly by a two-thirds majority not to cede authority to the national church, but to retain their sovereign right. They will no longer recognize the Canons of the national Church as binding in the Diocese, to the extent that they are inconsistent with the diocesan Constitution and Canons. The Diocese of Central Florida recently said its canons would comply with those of the Episcopal Church as long as they did not violate the church's constitution in a vote related to the Title IV revisions. After tabling a vote on the revisions during their October convention, Dallas Episcopalians are due to consider the revisions during a special convention this year. The Diocese of Western Louisiana said during its last convention that the General Convention of the Episcopal Church ought to change the Title IV revisions to limit the authority given to the presiding bishop.
Haley argues that the changes to Title IV are voluntary -- that is, it is up to each diocese to decide whether to accept or reject them. A confederation is based on a contract among its members. The contract is renewed every time the members agree upon something in accordance with their governing rules. As is the case with every contract, changes to it need the consent of all parties. Since the governing agreements do not include a Supremacy Clause, the result is that a party who does not consent to a change cannot be bound by it.
"If a diocese elects not to adopt the Title IV revisions, there is nothing that General Convention, or the Presiding Bishop, or the staff at 815 Second Avenue, can do about it. The changes to Title IV will simply have no effect in that particular diocese. Again, this is a consequence of two factors: ECUSA's Constitution has no Supremacy Clause, and ECUSA has never established a constitutional court with final authority to interpret the Constitution."
Haley further argues that to speak of the "constitutionality" or "unconstitutionality" of the changes as a whole distorts the real picture. "The changes may indeed be 'unconstitutional', from any particular diocese's standpoint -- but it is up to each individual diocese to make that decision. And in doing so, that particular diocese is SOVEREIGN -- there is no authority within ECUSA that can force it to accept the changes against its will, or override its decision not to accept them.
"I regard the fact that the eight-page memorandum from the Title IV Task Force II nowhere acknowledges these basic principles as a fundamental, and fatal, flaw in its overall reasoning. The memorandum, indeed, proceeds from a point of view, which holds that whatever its authors and the staff at 815 decide that General Convention approved in 2009, is thereby ipso facto 'final' and 'binding' on the collective dioceses. (See the Fourth Proposition above for a refutation of this view.)
"Unless and until the truth of the foregoing four propositions is recognized, there can be no real common ground in discussing the propriety of the changes made to Title IV. Those on the left, like the Title IV Task Forces I and II, will think that they are justified in proceeding under the new canons to discipline and sanction those clergy who disagree with them. But those who disagree must take heart in the undeniable facts about how ECUSA came into being, and what exactly is the consequent authority of General Convention.
"The moment a diocesan bishop rejects the Directive as being unconstitutional, there will be a confrontation in which one party -- either the Presiding Bishop or the bishop of the diocese -- will have to back down. If the Presiding Bishop proceeds to exercise her new disciplinary powers, leading to her signing a certificate of inhibition, and then asking the House of Bishops to depose the recalcitrant bishop, civil war could erupt in the halls of the Church", writes Haley.
"We could end up with a further splintering of factions -- with two persons claiming authority to act as the bishop of a given diocese (one of them installed 'provisionally' by the Presiding Bishop and the other contending that s/he had not been legitimately deposed)."
Alternatively, a diocese could vote itself to pull out of The Episcopal Church with consequences similar to those of the four dioceses which have already withdrawn from TEC.
One wonders how long the HOB will tolerate seeing their numbers decrease while inhibitions and depositions increase and continuing litigation slowly empties the church's coffers as budgets are trimmed and the church's governance and structures prove inadequate in the 21st Century.
The die has been cast.