FORT WORTH: Wantland denies having renounced his orders

February 12, 2009

In a statement posted online, retired Diocese of Eau Claire Bishop William Wantland denies having told Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori that he wanted to renounce his orders.

On January 15, Jefferts Schori said that Wantland had written to her November 15 to say that he had "canonically affiliated" with the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. She said that Wantland declared in his letter that he was no longer a member of the Episcopal Church.

Jefferts Schori said that Wantland, who was serving as an assisting bishop in the Diocese of Fort Worth, sent his letter as a result of the Diocese of Fort Worth's attempt on November 15 to realign with the province of the Southern Cone. Wantland's statement, the Presiding Bishop said, made it clear that he has left the Episcopal Church "and no longer wishes to carry out the responsibilities of ordained ministry in this Church." Thus, she said, she accepted his voluntary renunciation with the consent of her Council of Advice on January 15 and released him from his orders.

Wantland said in his statement that his letter to the Presiding Bishop "specifically declared that 'I am not resigning my Orders'" and that he did not indicate a desire to renounce his orders. He wrote that his letter was not meant to fall under the provisions of Canon III. 12. 7.a which calls for a bishop to "declare, in writing, to the Presiding Bishop a renunciation of the ordained Ministry of this Church, and a desire to be removed therefrom."

Wantland accused Jefferts Schori of either not understanding the language of the canon and his letter or that she "deliberately violated the Canons for your own purposes and contrary to your obligation as a Christian not to bear false witness." He declared that his Southern Cone affiliation means he is not subject to Jefferts Schori's authority and thus claimed that her action January 15 is "simply null and void."