THe presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church has asked a fellow bishop who last January consercated leaders of a break-away movement, to leave the Episcopal Church.
In a letter sent last week, Presiding Bishop John M. Allin wrote the Rt. Rev. Albert Chambers, retired bishop of Springfield, Ill., that "by your actions in Denver" - the site of Chambers' consercation of three men to be bishop of the Anglican Church of North America - "you have separated yourself from this church and departed from this church and departed from this communion."
Allin urged Bishop Chambers to take the further step of formally withdrawing as a member and a bishop of the Episcopal Church.
The presiding bishop told Chambers that it is "the consensus among a large majority or your brother bishops" of the Episcopal Church that he should resign.
Chambers, reached yesterday at his home on Cape Cod, said he was "not sure" what his response to the presiding bishop's highly unusual request would be.
Chambers was criticized by the Episcopal House of Bishops at its meeting last September for the leadership he gave to dissidents who were then in the process of leaving the Episcopal Church to form their own denomination. His fellow bishops at that time sought unsuccessfully to dissuade him from continuing such activity.
Shortly after Chambers consecrated the bishops for the breakaway church in January, Allin circulated to all bishops of the Episcopal Church the draft of a letter requesting Chambers' resignation and inviting the individual bishops to join him - Allin - in signing the letter.
Allin wrote Chambers that "a majority" of the Church's bishops had signed the letter, with "a large number" suggesting even stronger action.
If Chambers can be persuaded to leave the Episcopal CHurch, that would eliminate any need for disciplinary action against him - action that could be both costly and embarrassing to the church, which already has expended substantial resources in the controversy.
Meanwhile the breakaway church, ACNA, which its supporters contend must be formed to preserve Anglicanism from a host of the "errors" which they say have been embraced by the Episcopal Church over the years, faces continuing obstacles in its efforts to be recognized as a legitimate Anglican communion.
In London last week the secretary general of the worldwide Anglican COnsultative Council, Bishop John Howe, declared that the Denver consecrations, which may cost Chambers his standing in the Episcopal CHurch, were not valio.
The British church pointed out that neither Chambers nor his coconsecrator at Denver, Philippine Bishop Francisco Pagtakhan of the Philippine Independent Catholic Church, had the authority of their respective churches to perform the consercrations.
"You consecrate on the authority of the church as a whole," Howe explained, rather than as a bishop acting independently.
Shortly after the Denver rites, the supreme bishop of the Philippine church sent a cable to Allin notifying him that Pagtakhan had acted with neither the authority nor the knowledge of Philippine church authorities.
Despite the controversy over their legitimacy, the men consecrated bishops of the breakaway church have vowed that they will go to England this summer and seek to take their case to the Lambeth Conference, the decennial gathering of bishops of Anglican churches worldwide.
Howe called the efforts of the breakaway churchmen "a tragic sort of thing . . . They have expressed the very sincere wish to be in the mainstream of Anglican and Catholic religion, and they are doing just the opposite."