THINKING ANGLICANS

More on the South Carolina disciplinary case

Updated Thursday evening

Last week’s report is here.

Since the last update, several more developments have occurred.

On 14 October, The Living Church reported Church Attorney Recuses Herself

On 17 October, The Living Church reported Attorney J.B. Burtch Returns to Lawrence Case.

And the ACI published South Carolina: Upholding The Church’s Discipline By Upholding The Constitution.

And Anglican Curmudgeon published The Kangaroo Court Should Resign in Toto.

The next day, Preludium asked Why is the old TItle IV better than the new?

And today, the Bishop of Upper South Carolina, Andrew Waldo wrote an opinion column for The State newspaper titled Unity, diversity both necessary and possible in Episcopal Church.

Episcopalians in the Columbia-based Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina are watching with heavy hearts as our brothers and sisters in the Charleston-based Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina contend with allegations that their bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, has “abandoned the communion” of the Episcopal Church.

We appreciate Bishop Dorsey Henderson’s clarification that the church’s disciplinary board, which he chairs, is merely looking to see if the charges have merit, not prosecuting Bishop Lawrence on the basis of them (“Calm urged over Lawrence inquiry,” Friday).

I consider Bishop Lawrence a friend and respected fellow-laborer in the vineyards of the Lord. I know him to be a loyal and faithful minister who seeks to raise valid and serious questions as to the theology, polity and structure of the Episcopal Church. Our church has a long history of theological diversity and respect for those with whom we disagree, and we can all benefit from the challenge of addressing these questions openly and in a spirit of mutual charity. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is too often hostile to disagreement and unwilling to engage in honest dialogue with those who have different views. Our churches are not immune from this, and all who follow a loving God have each to ask God to forgive us for any roles we may have played in that hostility over the years.

I do not intend to prejudge the matters being considered by the review board; however, it is hard for me to see how the actions complained of against Bishop Lawrence rise to the level of an intentional abandonment of the communion of this church, as is charged. I have difficulty understanding why matters that are arguably legislative and constitutional in nature should be dealt with in a disciplinary context. I await the report and yet hope the review board shares my difficulty…

Thursday evening update
ACI has published South Carolina: The Church Needs Transparency

We have considered carefully the available information related to the allegations against Bishop Mark Lawrence that are currently under review by the Disciplinary Board for Bishops. That information discloses an extended and troubling sequence of events that raises serious questions about transparency in the church…

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c.r.seitzcseitzMalcolm French+Tobias HallerPat O'Neill Recent comment authors
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John Donnelly
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John Donnelly

What to make of this? +Waldo, not in any way related to the diocese of South Carolina except by geographical proximity, presumes to uphold the virtue of “fellow laborer” +Lawrence against questions raised by the second bishop’s lay flock. Princes of the Church, unite!

JCF
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JCF

“I know him to be a loyal and faithful minister who seeks to raise valid and serious questions as to the theology, polity and structure of the Episcopal Church.”

Oh brother. OK, I’ll say it: where’s Waldo? O_o

*****

I’ll just repeat what I said two weeks ago: ***I trust the process***. This the same TEC which (rightly or wrongly) confirmed Lawrence in the first place. Not a kangaroo in sight! [You might try Sydney for those. ;-/]

badman
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badman

“I have difficulty understanding why matters that are arguably legislative and constitutional in nature should be dealt with in a disciplinary context.”

You flout the rules, you may be disciplined. Why is that difficult to understand?

MarkBrunson
Guest

“Princes of the Church, unite!”

Yes.

Unfortunately, even with women’s episcopacy, the miter-wearing crowd remains an Old Boy network.

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Keeping his diocese on an even keel, I suspect. By Southern standards Columbia is a very liberal city and Waldo was elected two years ago quickly and with a good majority, but there are strong, conservative congregations in the north of the diocese. If Sarah Hey, who is a congregant in the Upper SC diocese, runs a thread of this, it will be worth watching.

obadiahslope
Guest

All this talk of kangaroo courts is so unfair to a peaceful species.
And yes there are plenty of kangaroos in the diocese of Sydney, especially on the southern fringe.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“I have difficulty understanding why matters that are arguably legislative and constitutional in nature should be dealt with in a disciplinary context.”

This is akin to asking, “Because I broke the law, why should I be punished?”

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

I don’t think +Waldo’s point is being properly registered.

He is saying that the constitutionality of Title IV is contested, and so ought to be dealt with as such. I suspect his view is held by a good number of other Bishops. Even Mark Harris of Preludium has spoken of ‘serious questions’ and has suggested a review at General Convention 2012.

“Because I broke the law, why should I be punished?”

+Waldo is saying ‘the law’ is under a cloud in this particular case. A view not just his own.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“+Waldo is saying ‘the law’ is under a cloud in this particular case. A view not just his own.”

Then Bishop Lawrence’s actions should be viewed as “civil disobedience.” The key to civil disobedience is that the actor takes the punishment for his offense, in order to demonstrate the problem with the law in question.

Bill Moorhead
Guest
Bill Moorhead

I’m having a little trouble understanding why so many people seem to have such a twist in their knickers. Here’s the deal, as I understand it: Some members of the Diocese of South Carolina (who therefore have standing in such things) have formally filed a complaint against Bishop Lawrence alleging violations of the canons. Whether or not there is any merit to this complaint is yet to be determined, and in fact is not the point at this stage. Title IV requires that the complaint be investigated. That seems to be what is happening, and so far that is all… Read more »

cseitz
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cseitz

That makes no sense whatesoever.

Civil disobedience is ‘against the law,’ with the acceptance of punishment.

+Waldo is saying the ‘law’ in this case is itself not a law, is unconstitutional, is contested etc.

And that clearing that up ought to be the first business. That view is not one held only by a moderate/liberal Bishop. It is held more widely and in the light of the +ML case, will gain increasing traction in the HOB and public eye.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

The way one determines whether a law is constitutional is to challenge it, usually by breaking it, and then having your day in court. That is the essence of civil disobedience.

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

This is not some long-standing law or long-accepted more, like, ‘Blacks ride in the back of the bus.’ It is a new canonical regulation, now held to be problematical, only used twice (only once on a fast-track abandonment effort). A prominent Executive Council member says many have ‘serious questions’ about it. You don’t ‘test’ something like this by ‘civil disobedience.’ As +Waldo urges, you treat it on terms proper to a constitutional matter and review it, change it, alter it, get it right and get better consensus about its logic and fairness. (Leaving to the side that we are Christians… Read more »

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

Pat — just to clarify. If +ML is held to have broken this ‘law’ (via your ‘civil disobedience’ example) he will most assuredly not ‘have his day in court.’ He will be charged with having abandoned the communion of the church and inhibited and eventually excised from the ecclesial rolls. It is not even particularly clear that by the route chosen he even appears to defend himself. It certainly is not required by any canon or process. But the previous post is more relevant in matters of simple logic re: status of Title IV as contested. We are not as… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

So, to all who have responded, what should we do with Title IV in the meantime? Simply ignore it? Treat it as non-existent? It is, currently, a part of the canons of the church.

Priscilla Cardinale
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Priscilla Cardinale

I have to say that I am absolutely fascinated by the defenses being offered by Mark Lawrence’s supporters. He failed to gain the necessary consents to his first election as bishop because of many troubling statements he made to the effect that he would leave TEC over gay/lesbian ordination and marriage. Then he walked it back and received consents but many remained troubled and unsure of where he truly stood. Then, after being elected, he leads his diocese into passing diocesan canons and issues statements that clearly state that they are in disagreement with TEC, will not pay any monies… Read more »

Robert ian Williams
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Robert ian Williams

They are even describing Lawrence as an evangelical (Carey in the CEN).. but Lawrence was Anglo-Catholic from the Anglo Catholic ghetto of San Joaquin. In fact the presiding bishop bent over backwards for him, and even withdrew her right to consecrate him.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

1. You need to go to school a bit on the Diocese of San Joaquin and also +Mark Lawrence.
2. There is no ‘right’ of the PB to consecrate, hence, the presence of the Province Bishop in her place. You can rest assured that if there had been a ‘right’ she would have been there.

One more instance of how TEC is not a hierarchy, except at the level of the diocese itself.

Prior Aelred
Guest

I think the characterization of Lawrence as an “evangelical” is quite accurate (the first & I believe so far only graduate of Trinity School for Ministry to be made a bishop). Certainly the Diocese of South Carolina (which elected him — twice) can by no means be described as Anglo-Catholic. The fit in San Joaquin seems much more likely to be the dissident mindset that hates the established church rather than “churchmanship” (I apologize for the now apparently sexist word, but I don’t know of a better at the moment). And I agree completely with Priscilla Cardinale on Saturday, 22… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“One more instance of how TEC is not a hierarchy, except at the level of the diocese itself.”

– cseitz, on Sunday –

Then, Christopher, why the title ‘Presiding Bishop’? What does Bishop Katherine preside over, if not the TEC Constitution? Are you saying that TEC is only a collection of dis-afilliated dioceses? Then how does it manage to coordinate its significant mission at home and overseas?

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Dear Mr Smith In the history of PECUSA, the bishop who presided over the General Convention proceedings was the oldest or longest serving Bishop. The Bishop was a diocesan and remained a diocesan. The only ‘national church’ legal entity is the DFMS, which, because it receives funds, needs by NY Law a Council. In time, the Presiding Bishop was voted into this office by fellows. Still, this PB remained a Diocesan. Only 50-60 years ago did the PB relinguish a diocese and yet the Constitution made very clear that the PB had no metropolitical authority. Hence, no ‘right’ to enter… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

C Seitz is not completely accurate concerning the role of the PB in consecration of bishops. While not exactly a “right” it is a responsibility, and the canon (I.2.4.b) states that the PB “shall… take order for the consecration of bishops.” This does not mean the PB must personally serve as chief consecrator; but that the process is under the control of that office. Canon III.11.6 makes this even clearer: “the Presiding Bishop shall take order for the ordination of the Bishop-elect either by the Presiding Bishop or the President of the House of Bishops of the Province of which… Read more »

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

T Haller is not exactly right in what transpired. The PB did not have first right of refusal in SC. She was not invited. +Daniels was invited as Province rep. He attended, as did the PB’s chancellor. The PB’s office objected to the presence of +Winchester (C of E) but their objection was moot. I clearly indicated that the PB could visit a diocese with invitation. No one need invite more than once every ten years. Yes, Bishop Whalon was elected. He serves at the pleasure of the PB, whose diocese it is. These are minor points. Major points: The… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

A quick PS occurs to me in the light of T Haller’s comment. What Haller fails to grasp is the fundamental legal distinction between “duties” and “authority.” The legal definition of these concepts shows that they are almost opposite. According to the standard legal dictionary, a duty is “a legal obligation that is owed or due to another and that needs to be satisfied; an obligation for which somebody else has a corresponding right.” Authority is “the right or permission to act legally on another’s behalf.” Authority is a right; a duty is an obligation that arises from or creates… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

And while I’m referring to the BCP: note the rubric “Concerning the Ordination of a Bishop” which includes this:

“When a bishop is to be ordained, the Presiding Bishop of the Church, or a bishop appointed by the Presiding Bishop, presides and serves as chief consecrator.”

Enough said, I hope…

Priscilla Cardinale
Guest
Priscilla Cardinale

And thus we have cseitz presenting the “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” argument. The carefully worded legalese fails to hide the outright hatred felt toward Katharine Jefferts Schori. It slips through now and again in posts here and on other blogs. The shame and sinfulness of the diocese of South Carolina and its bishop in rhetoric about and treatment of the Presiding Bishop shows how epically they fail to rise above their prejudices in taking the higher ground. It seems invisible to cseitz, though it glares like the sun to outside observers. The claim… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“There was no ‘national church’ until middle of last century and there may be a greatly reduced one in future, given financial realities (see the scuffling over this at present)”. So, Mr Seitz, as you yourself here say: This IS a National Church now (from the middle of last century). What interest has ACI in pretending there is no such creature? More interesting is the fact that ACI, which has no mandate to call itself by such a patronising title, should even try to speak for the rest of loyal members of The Episcopal Church, which is after all, THE… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

The comment I presented previous to the one above disappeared into hyperspace… Here it is again. Dr Seitz, could you indicate where the language of “invitation” in which you indulge appears in the Constitution or Canons in reference to the PB? The only place I find such a reference at all is in relation to dioceses without a bishop. Here is what the Constitution actually says: “A Bishop shall confine the exercise of such office to the Diocese in which elected, unless requested to perform episcopal acts in another Diocese by the Ecclesiastical Authority thereof, or unless authorized by the… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Mr Smith

With the ‘national church’ that presently obtains, the PB is none of the things you assumed, not knowing what makes the polity of TEC distinctive. To repeat (none of this affected by Haller’s hopeful ruminations otherwise):

The PB is not a metropolitan.

The PB does not preside over a Constitution.

The PB does not preside over dioceses.

Dioceses are not ‘dis-affiliated.’ Dioceses are legal entities, with canon laws, Bishops, mission imperatives, etc.

Ms Cardinale:

There is a simple matter of not wanting power overrunning law. If the PB was Father Macho-man, the same points would be valid.

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

To his (inadvertent) credit, T Haller may (accidentally) have put his finger on a major challenge at present in TEC polity. The canons clearly indicate that the PB has a duty in respect of various responsibilities, but do not give her concomitantly the authority to do these. Hence a description in the BCP about an expected role the PB might exercise, which does not match the reality that the Diocese of SC did not need to invite her, but opted to let the Bishop of East Carolina fulfill the canonical duty. I suspect the word that best describes the polity… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

All inadvertency and accident (and snark) notwithstanding, Dr Seitz persists in proclaiming a reality based on the Bishop-elect of SC’s choice to act in ways not granted by law. I have documented the rules governing the duty and authority granted the PB (including the power of delegation) while C.S. has simply repeated his claims without any evidence from the law governing this church. I know what SC did — but it acted in contravention of the canons and had no right not to “invite” the PB. I will provide one further evidence of the PB’s *authority* (“empowerment”) to act in… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

And just what was the ‘national church’ of Wm White? Please do let us know. Was there an agreement of metropolitical authority? Was there an agreement to fund the PB’s office? Was there an agreement to designate a single Bishop the head of an american anglican body, with ‘supreme’ authority? Was there an agreement to pay for national church officers? Was there an agreement that Philadelphia would be the national church headquarters? What was this ‘national church’ and how is it like the insinuations of our modern TEC? It is beyond any doubt whatsoever that until the period of Henry… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Why am I skeptical that Mr. Seitz would take his current position re: the Presiding Bishop if the current holder of that title were a conservative male?

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Pat–to repeat. ACI does not want power over-riding law, or the character of TEC. Male or female abuse of this is incidental. Notice how explicitly the canon quoted leaves the authority in the hands of thr diocese. The PB ‘takes order for’ (a duty, not an authority). Three bishops maye also undertake this duty. The Ecclesiastical Authority (first time we’ve seen that word) is the Diocese. The Bishop Elect of said authority determines preacher and presenters. The PB if absent, etc. I was present at the consecration in SC. The PB was not present because not invited to preside. Properly,… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Dr. S. I have neither the time nor the interest in educating you on the history of the post-colonial church. As I said, one can read the early documents and see that far from being a mere “alliance of dioceses” the framers of the Constitution of the church saw themselves as a unitary body — a “union” — with central government through a General Convention (not a Primate, I acknowledge) whose actions were to be binding on all of the members, individually and severally. You seem to be pinning all of your arguments on the PB, as if Henry Knox… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

T Haller No, I would not want any education on colonial church from someone with your education/training. I am quite aware of the documents and have studied them more closely than I’d like to have to admit. I am a professionally trained historian. There was no national church as we now mean that until Henry Knox Sherill. All historians grant that. The DFMS was located in NYC. By NY law it required a Council. The PB was a diocesan until mid 20th century and did not leave his diocese for a ‘national church’ a la present day. The church was… Read more »

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

PS–I also suspect when people like Mr Smith start talking about the PB presiding over a constitution (!) in the same breath as defending a ‘national church’ I realise this would have made Wm White’s hair stand absolutely on end. It is important that people are slowly becoming aware of how diocesan TEC is and was from the very beginning. As many have pointed out, it resembled the colonial federalism in which it was birthed. No surprise there. Shelby Foote used to talk about how prior to the Civil War people routinely said, ‘The United States *are* doing X or… Read more »

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

BTW, Colin Podmore has recently written some good studies in comparative polity. You get a good sense of how very different a genuinely metropolitical system like the C of E (vows to Archbishops; language of ‘supremacy’; not to mention no diocesan canons, etc) works as compared to TEC. He puts this down to the historical reality of states and other colonial concerns to avoid centralization. The PB of course has ‘duties’. See note above. Title IV may seek to give the PB oversight of discipline of Bishops. But older Title IV left that up to Sr Bishops, and not to… Read more »

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

“I do in fact agree to some extent…that the Canon on abandonment has been misapplied.”

T Haller, thank you for this opinion. Can you elaborate?

Malcolm French+
Guest

It seems Dr. Seitz is a professionally trained pettifogger. He is absolutely correct that the structure of the American Church was (and really remains) federal. He is simply being silly when he tried to posit that as proof that there was no national Church. There was a national Church, structured federally. The structures have evolved over the past 220+ years. None of which changes the fact that the canons to provide a role to the Presiding Bishop in the ordination of bishops, and that the relevant standing order establishes the Presiding Bishop as the normative prime consecrator. Instead of dealing… Read more »

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

I suspect the response to Mr Smith about the PB and national church — which was the comment that raised the issue — got wrongly diverted into a topic about ‘national church’ as such. It sounds like for T Haller this means, a church in a nation (the USA). The way the term was being used in my response to Mr Smith had to do with the modern idea of a national church, e.g., 815 Second Avenue and its accoutrement — the assemblage of latterly devised national structures that now drain the budget down 50%. Hence Bonnie Anderson’s concern at… Read more »

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

Fact: The Chief Consecrator in the case of +SC was not the PB. If you are saying the PB could have ridden in with assault forces and demanded a role that was her’s by canon law, I believe you immediately see the difference between a duty and actual authority. As for chaff in the air, I have seen a good deal of that to be sure. This thread was begun by Mr Smith’s assertion that the PB presided over the Constitution (I believe the usual term for this is ‘dictatorship.’) I hope with all the chaff thrown up by a… Read more »

Malcolm French+
Guest

It is only by means most perverse that Dr. Seitz can so twist Fr. Haller’s comments. At no point does Fr. Haller suggest that the structure of the American Church in 1789 was the same as the structure of the American Church in 2011. I continue to expect that academics will conduct themselves with honesty and integrity. The deliberate twisting of another person’s comments (especially by deliberately confusing them with the less well-informed comments of another person) lacks both honesty and integrity. Now, perhaps your confusion was not deliberate. However, that doesn’t strike me as the most credible interpretation. Respond… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“At no point does Fr. Haller suggest that the structure of the American Church in 1789 was the same as the structure of the American Church in 2011.”

Glad that’s settled!

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

Speaking of PB responsibilities, one of the abuse victims from the Conception Abbey/Bede Parry affair has now published emails that put the former Bishop of Nevada in a position of obvious negligence.

It was helpful to some some serious concern and indignation surface from frequenters of liberal blogs. I hope this does not have a sell-by date. Abuse and cover up are very serious matters. While we are watching Title IV unfold, this is an important matter for Intake and review.