Sunday, 28 October 2012
More about the Diocese of South Carolina
See our recent reports, here, here, and here.
In the past week, there have been these developments:
The diocese has published this FAQs About the Assault on the Diocese of South Carolina, also available as a PDF.
GlobalSouthAnglican published a Letter from the Global South Primates Steering Committeee to Bishop Mark Lawrence.
This is also reported by ENS as Two primates write letter in support of South Carolina bishop.
ACNA published An Open Word of Encouragement to the Bishops, Clergy and People of the Diocese of South Carolina.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Sunday, 28 October 2012 at 7:43am GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
One really needs to read the link offered by Randal Oulton, above, to understand the anomaly incurred by Bishop Mark Lawrence's defence of his actions in the Episcopal Church Diocese of South Carolina.
The rebuttal of his arguments - defending his actions which have distanced him from TEC - has to be read in order to reflect on the true situation of this bishop's bid to alienate properties of TEC, in the course of his active abandonment of the Church that bestowed his episcopal orders.
"The diocese has published this 'FAQs About the Assault on the Diocese of South Carolina'"
A follow-up to their classic, "War of Northern Aggression".
Oh, Lewis Carroll: your "words mean just what I want them to mean" proclamation never goes out of style. Sadly.
Ecclesiastical similarities to the South Carolina political mentalities that the sparked the 1861 War of Succession from the Federal Union (Civil War) have been noted.
Before that event there was the 1832 Nullification Ordinance passed by South Carolina, that declared that the federal Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and therefore null and void within the sovereign boundaries of South Carolina. Things got to such a bad pass that in late February, 1833 a bill was passed by congress that authorized the president to use military forces against South Carolina to enforce federal law. However the military force was never used as a result of a political compromise that was achieved.
I'm afraid there is a lot of thinking like that which remains in the Palmetto State. Hence, the ease with which the present controversy has developed between coastal South Carolina and national Episcopal Church.
I'm not saying that +Lawrence has behaved with impeccable Christian charity in all this, but actually the "rebuttal" is pretty weak.
The Diocese claim to have upheld what faithful generations before (i.e. in the Diocese)them did - and the rebuttal confirms this, in that this Diocese has a track record of disagreeing with new developments.
Incidentally, it is not the case that South Carolina is not in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Neither has made any statement to that effect. As it stands the Diocese is probably an independent Anglican entity - i.e. an extra-provincial Anglican church, of which six others exist.
The claim is that +Lawrence broke his consecration vows. But those were to uphold doctrine of "The Episcopal Church" - of which he knows no higher authority in South Carolina than his own diocese. If he has followed his diocesan rules (which he claims trump any central rules), he has broken no vow. The rest of TEC has no legal claim over South Carolina that South Carolina does not want it to have, and his vows respect this (he would say). It is at least a coherent argument, agree or not.
The rebuttal accuses the Diocese of confusing the constitutions of the USA and the Episcopal Church - and then do exactly that when discussing the possibility of withdrawing accession.
The point of contention is where the buck stops - Diocese or elsewhere.
Which does not say that there is not a duty of respect and honour to a wider organization. Maybe communion has been impaired (but not abandoned, I suggest). I hope and pray that this will be resolved without lawsuits. I fear it won't.
Comparing the Diocese to pro-slavery states leading up to the Civil War. Red herrings, indeed.
Bernard Randall raises the point, "The claim is that +Lawrence broke his consecration vows."
In my mind, and perhaps I'm being cynical here -- is that even though it's not emphasized or not really a vow I guess -- the key "unstated vow" that he might have broken was giving away the family silver. The property. In any organization small or great, it always comes down to funding and assets, and in any country practically, there's no greater crime that depriving that entity of revenue it considers due to itself. That's just a cynic's view, I know. But I'd suspect that mundane secular act was at least the straw that broke the camel's back, perhaps.
" If he has followed his diocesan rules (which he claims trump any central rules), he has broken no vow. The rest of TEC has no legal claim over South Carolina that South Carolina does not want it to have, and his vows respect this (he would say). It is at least a coherent argument, agree or not."
But it is not an argument that is consistent with the Constitution of TEC or that of the Diocese of South Carolina, before Lawrence et al changed it.
it seems +Lawrence would dispute any claim of the central Episcopal Church over South Carolina property. When did the centre ever provide or contribute to the resources which it lays claims to? And since the property remains with Anglicans, it has hardly left the family. And if the centre has triggered secession (as SC certainly sees it), whose fault is it if the family silver in SC does leave the wider family?
as far as I can make out, the argument of South Carolina (and other dioceses disassociating from TEC) is precisely that it is not against the Constitution of TEC, or the Diocese of South Carolina, which had a right to change its own constitution as it did. This also seems related to amicus curiae brief in the Fort Worth case in Texas.
+Lawrence can claim, with a straight face, that he did not break any vows.
As an outsider, it seems to me he is legally correct. It is morally more dubious to say the least, but the fact that the appears to have the backing of the vast majority of the flock over whom he has oversight seems to counts very much in his favour.
Of course, Lawrence argues that his actions did not violate the constitution of TEC, just as a defendant in a civil action will argue that his actions did not violate the contract in question. That he so argues does not mean that he didn't violate the documents in question in each case.
And, yes, SC clearly has a right to amend its own constitution...but if it does so in a way that violates the TEC constitution, it cannot simultaneously argue that it remains in good standing with TEC.
Analagously, the state of South Carolina could amend its constitution to forbid women from voting, but such an amendment would be in direct violation of the federal constitution and hence without force of law.
honest question - where in the TEC constitution does it say a Diocese cannot amend its own constitution in the way South Carolina did?
Since the TEC Constitution specifically says that parish property is held in trust for the diocese and the national church, to amend your diocesan constitution to say otherwise is clearly a violation of the TEC Constitution.
To return to my analogy above, just as state constitution amendment denying women the right to vote would be a clear violation of the US Constitution.
it's not clear to me that the amended constitution specifies anything about property.
But in any case, as I understand it, South Carolina law denies the validity of the Dennis Canon - so wouldn't that place an obligation on the Diocese to clarify how things stood and comply with local law?
I don't think it's at all relevant if SC secular law denies the validity of the Dennis canon. The SC diocese is still required to operate under the constitution and canons of the national church.
FTR, I don't think, under the First Amendment, that the state of South Carolina has any right to tell a church how it should handle its property.
"Since the TEC Constitution specifically says that parish property is held in trust for the diocese and the national church".
Where does the Constitution say this, Mr O'Neill?