Wednesday, 19 March 2014

South Carolina: Anglican developments

The Diocese of South Carolina led by Bishop Mark Lawrence has issued this press release: Diocese Formalizes Worldwide Anglican Ties

The Diocese of South Carolina has been formally recognized as a member in good standing of the Global Anglican Communion.

On Saturday, March 15, the Diocese’s 223rd Annual Convention unanimously accepted an invitation to join the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA) and temporarily enter into a formal ecclesiastical relationship known as provisional primatial oversight from bishops in the Global South.

The convention’s nearly 400 participants supported clergy and delegates as they voted to create a task force to explore more permanent affiliation options for the diocese. The task force will offer recommendations at the next Convention, which will be held next March.

Local critics of the Diocese’s 2012 separation from The Episcopal Church had said the disassociation would isolate the Diocese from the Global Anglican Communion. While the Diocese has maintained many informal relationships with organizations that are part of the communion, this formal primatial oversight arrangement makes clear that the Diocese is officially part of the greater Anglican Church.

“There’s an African proverb that wisely states ‘If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together,’ said the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, 14th Bishop of the Diocese, in his address to the Convention. “This will give us gracious oversight from one of the largest Ecclesial entities within in the Communion; one which includes Anglicans from a diverse body of believers from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, the Indian Ocean and many, many others.”…

The Charleston Post-Courier reported this: Diocese of South Carolina accepts provisional oversight from Global South primates.

Another press release says: SC Court of Appeals Denies TEC Appeal

SOUTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS DENIES TEC APPEAL, BLOCKS DENOMINATION’S STALLING TACTICS

Justices prevent TEC from using legal maneuver to delay court proceedings

CHARLESTON, SC, March 18, 2014 – The South Carolina Court of Appeals today rejected an appeal that would have delayed a trial in the Diocese of South Carolina lawsuit to protect diocesan and parish property from seizure by The Episcopal Church (TEC) and its local group, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC).

The Court decided that TEC and TECSC could not appeal a lower court ruling on the process to be used in discovery.

The Court of Appeals effectively said it will not tolerate legal shenanigans to delay a trial to decide whether the denomination may seize South Carolina property, including churches and the diocesan symbols. In asking the Court of Appeals to dismiss the action, the Diocese of South Carolina argued that TECSC is appealing a court order that is “unappealable”.

South Carolina’s Court of Appeals justices agreed…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 at 3:13pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | ECUSA
Comments

"...formally recognized as a member in good standing..." seems to be a bit smoke-and-mirrors to me. The phrasing seems chosen more to gloss over their position than to clarify it. There is more to being a "member in good standing" than accepting a controversial cross-province Primatial oversight.

South Carolina is certainly different from Virginia, but the press releases, etc. still sound remarkably like the early press reports from the CANA churches in their tone. We know, ultimately, how that ended.

There is no guarantee that this will end the same way, but I'd be very surprised if the state courts have the final word here--I expect it to be in federal court before it is over. For that reason, I find it hard to believe that TEC and TECSC are trying to stall the process at this level. Bishop Lawrence's group would seem to me to have more to gain from stalling tactics than TEC.

Posted by: Organ Builder on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 at 4:40pm GMT

Same pattern as Georgia, (Quincy) Illinois and Virginia, lower grade justices acting as opinionated mavericks..delaying the process, so Lawrence can perpetuate the image that they will win and the gulllible faithful fueling the legal bills.

How much fairer and swifter has the Canadian legal sytem been.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 at 4:54pm GMT

Don't think Quincy is in your category, and certainly TX isn't.

I agree with a (progressive) gentleman over at Preludium. This is a waste of money. Just leave them alone. The diocese is older than TEC and wants to exist in relationship to the wider Communion.

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 at 6:25pm GMT

What is the Global Anglican Communion? Is it a newly-formed organization of Anglican churches parallel to the existing Anglican Communion?

Posted by: June Butler on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 at 7:43pm GMT

South Carolina should probably just go ahead and have a special relationship with the Communion that does not implicate TEC. They feel very strongly about being Anglicans and the diocese does predate the church. There have been arguments and counter arguments and handwringing for years about it and other like situations. Let them be, if this is what they vote to be. Let them have the churches, and etc. Going to court is just a waste of money, time, energy, hope--wrapped in the idea that TEC must be of a certain scope to exist.

To the leaders of the Diocese I would say, the people of the continuing Episcopal diocese should not be shut out completely from the property and funds. There must be some sort of equitable separation of the material goods.

This is a messy divorce but I think it is high time that all sides consider ways to make for a win win situation.

Why can't the people of SC have different oversight if they really need it? Why can't the people of the continuing diocese have somewhere to go that is already Episcopal/Anglican? These seem to me rather straightforward issues that require only generosity and grace to be met.

Posted by: RMF on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 at 8:03pm GMT

Let's be clear: this "Global Anglican Communion" thing is not *the* Anglican Communion that's formally existed since the 19th century (w/ the "Instruments of Communion", inc. Lambeth Conference, Anglican Consultative Council, Primates meetings, and Primus Inter Pares Archbishop of Canterbury).

...though it's very likely the Anglican Communion, what's left of it, is formally breaking up. Considering how ineffectual---if not right sinfully collaborative w/ anti-LGBT oppression---it's been, it's really not that great a loss. [However, I predict that the Anglican Communion's single greatest document, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, will live on.]

xLawrence and his adherents are entitled to ally w/ whomever they want . . . as TEC is lawfully entitled, obligated and justified in recovering its property, and condemning homophobia EVERYWHERE, from Nigeria to South Carolina. May God's holy and loving will be done.

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 at 8:42pm GMT

"The Diocese of South Carolina has been formally recognized as a member in good standing of the Global Anglican Communion." - Diocese of S.C. -

This is not strictly true. The schismatic Diocese of South Carolina is not (yet) accepted as an integral part of the Anglican Communion.

Its status at this point in time is that it has been taken in tow by an unofficial entity that calls itself the 'Global South Primates', which is not a formal part of the world-wide Anglican Communion. G.S. is certainly not one of the formal 'Instruments of the Anglican Communion'.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 at 10:45pm GMT

SC joining with human rights abusers pretty much says it all.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 12:28am GMT

A couple of comments on the assertion that the "diocese" of South Carolina existed before the Episcopal Church. The use of that term in the history of the Church in the U.S. can be very anachronistically misleading.

There were colonial churches in South Carolina before and during the American Revolution, which were (as in the other American colonies) not organized into dioceses or really much of anything else. The Revolution resulted in the Anglican churches in all the colonies becoming a mess of disorganized disarray.

In South Carolina, the first state convention to try organize themselves out of this disarray occurred in May 1785. A second state convention occurred in July 1785, which elected delegates to the first General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which occurred in September-October 1785. Thus, we're talking about a few months at best between the first South Carolina state convention and the first General Convention.

In addition, the use of the word "diocese" to describe what was going on in South Carolina and elsewhere in the new American states can be very misleading. All that was occuring in South Carolina and elsewhere were occasional meetings of clergy and laity organized on a state-wide basis. No structure initially existed other than these meetings. South Carolina did not even have a bishop until 1795, 10 years after its first state convention.

The first General Convention looked at itself as being national church made up of "state conventions" and that term was used in the Constitution adopted at the third General Convention in 1789. The term diocese was not used in the TEC Consititution until the 1830s.

Posted by: dr.primrose on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 2:01am GMT

Well, if the Diocese of South Carolina is getting away with all of this, the Diocese of Central Florida won't be far behind. Alternative oversight coming right up.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I rarely go to church and have lost almost all interest in Anglican affairs. I really don't want to walk in all unawares some some Sunday morning only to be bombed all of a sudden by yet another ratcheting-up of this unending squirrely nastiness. I am sick to death of it. I don't need it in my life. Just my $0.02.

Posted by: Charlotte on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 4:20am GMT

Dioceses surrender their autonomy when they join a province, as individual states surrender their sovereignty when they join the union. No organization can exist under threat of unilateral secession from its constituent parts.

If individuals and congregations in South Carolina want to leave, that's of course their right. What they can't do is take Episcopal real estate and property with them. TEC is well within its rights to sue anyone who tries.

Posted by: James Byron on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 6:24am GMT

There are no "formal 'Instruments of the Anglican Communion'". The Anglican Communion is an informal fellowship under the informal leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury. There is no reference to it, for example, in the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia although our Church is stated to be in communion with "the Church of England" unless the latter departs from the faith - something hardly likely ! Our Church like other Churches of the Communion is autonomous.

Its largest Diocese, Sydney, at present pays little attention to Canterbury at all, our last Archbishop (secretary of GAFCON), for example,(I regret) not attending the most recent Lambeth Conference. But despite great differences, and aggressive tactics on the part of powerful, extremely conservative evangelicals, the Church of Australia has not been afflicted by the formal divisions that seem to plague US Episcopalians. Having said all that, though a liberal Anglican (culturally conservative), I see no reason why the Episcopal Church AND the developing Anglican Church of North America, and so too, the two Episcopalian dioceses in South Carolina, cannot all belong to the world-wide Communion even though some parts of the Communion only recognise one of the dioceses, and other parts recognise only the other. I'd recognise both and hope that those who belong to them, as fellow Episcopalians, indeed as fellow Christians, despite all the differences, would seek, as we all should, the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, "that the world might believe".

Posted by: John Bunyan on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 6:44am GMT

"The diocese is older than TEC and wants to exist in relationship to the wider Communion." - cseitz

That. at least, is partly true. However, 'the wider Communion' is not that to which the schismatic 'diocese of S.C. actually wants to affiliate, but the 'narrower Communion' (GAFCON/G.S.) which though numerically larger than the official A.C., happens to be that part of the original Anglican Communion that sees homophobia and perhaps misogyny, as O.K.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 7:30am GMT

Punitive sanctions against Russia for invading a sovereign nation. Not a blip from Lambeth Palace... just wait until Reform start using the alternative primates council.

Posted by: robert Ian williams on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 8:52am GMT

When we saw the outcomes from a steering committee of some Global South Primates back in February bishop Michael Doe noted it was yet another attempt by this and similar groups to give the impression that they had a legitimate claim to this authority when they do not.
Not even the full Primates group has the authority to offer this oversight, yet alone a subset of a subset of archbishops. This action itself further undermines the communion. One did wonder at the time which American breakaway group had been engineering this bolthole for themselves and now we see the authors of this further wound are the Mark Lawrence cabal and their friends. It is a useful technique to call for unity and a new meeting of minds while your sticking the knife in!

While the last Lambeth Conference agreed the attempt to "rule by Primates" was not such a good idea, there are those who remain wedded to it and who would have it back. Of course, they would have to be in control of the agenda and its possible outcomes as all others are unfit for purpose! Not surprisingly we find Fulcrum and their American chums the ACI willing to be amongst those to guide the future of the Primates of the Anglican Communion!
On a post last Saturday we can read an essay from George Day that confirms what we long suspected, that Fulcrum is now hardly more than a self-selecting leadership team and a website, little more than the three (or four?) guys and website the ACI were once forced to admit was their makeup. Still small and unrepresentative does not mean insignificant and it is a fair guess that these guys have been amongst those stirring the pot to stimulate this innovation.

One suspects that Primates Meetings will not happen for some time, if ever again, and certainly there will be no communiques in the forms of declaratory judgments. The Communion lasted most of its life without this group and will bumble on without it.
In time this South Carolina assemblage will join one or another of the breakaways groupings, though how it will maintain its "sovereign status" under an Archbishop one does have to wonder ....... no accountability wanted there? The coming into being of its home has exposed more splits than it has been a source of Holy unity, but then that's par for this course. I don't think anybody particularly minds they exist, most even wish them well, they must however not steal the buildings and assets that were in their trust.
Perhaps their association with a group dedicated to the punishment, torture and imprisonment of gay people will actually win them some new friends in South Carolina and they will flourish.


Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 1:16pm GMT

There are many fine points of law and canon and theology that both sides in this matter can bring to bear. This is a well trod path that will leave one side bereft and the other hollow. We should create a different solution this time around centered in the hope we all hold in trust for future generations.

Posted by: RMF on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 2:34pm GMT

"...the 'narrower Communion' (GAFCON/G.S.) which though numerically larger than the official A.C., happens to be that part of the original Anglican Communion that sees homophobia and perhaps misogyny, as O.K."

This sentence is slightly incoherent.

At any event, I suspect what you will want to learn is what the significance of the ABC being present is. The GS Primates Steering Committee represents a vast swath of the AC. +Welby was present throughout the meeting that issued this Statement, with its component dealing with a Primatial Oversight Council.

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 2:58pm GMT

It should be noted in all this that claims about the relative size of GAFCON/Global South vis a vis the rest of the Anglican Communion need to be taken with the proverbial 'pinch of salt'.

In reality a handful of conservative primates have taken it upon themselves (without any credible synodical backing) to claim an allegiance to these confusingly named new bodies and a new authority. In other words their claims to speak on behalf of millions of Anglicans are no more than that...claims. Most of this is about egos even megalomania.

Indisputably, the vast majority of Anglicans even in conservative provinces see themselves as being in communion with Canterbury.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 4:42pm GMT

Dr. Seitz, I'm certain you know better than to read too much into the ABC's presence at the Primate's steering committee. When marriage equality begins in the UK and he is unable to stop it AND is unable to prevent C of E priests from wedding, they will throw him under the bus very quickly. That's not to say that Archbishop Welby is going to be thrilled with any other particular faction, but ultimately he will be judged on his performance in the job by those in the UK to whom he is accountable and to those who put him in his position.

I've commented rarely, but I've been reading these pages for years. I've seen the arguments you are using made for Christ Church, Savannah. I've seen you make the same arguments for Pittsburgh and the Virginia churches (some of whom are now finding that being labelled as the "anti-gay" churches isn't really where they want to be) that you are now making for South Carolina.

South Carolina is a different state, and you may --finally -- turn out to be correct as this plays its way through the courts. The credibility of those arguments, however, is not what it was when these cases first started being noted on TA.

Posted by: Organ Builder on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 4:54pm GMT

Are Gafcon and others of the same persuasion prepared to allow for flying bishops to minister to actual parishioners who wish to remain in communion with the rest of us? Perhaps flying female or LGBT bishops, just to be extra fair?

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 5:32pm GMT

Flying bishops or flying primates, why not? Let us be creative and generous with one another. There will be some of us on either side who cannot or won't. But we can't refuse to tend to each other and then expect others to draw near to us, now can we?

Posted by: RMF on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 6:16pm GMT

OB, I chose my words carefully. It is up to others like yourself to predict the ABC's demise in the CofE context. My narrower point is that for those who will look for formal distancing by him -or opposition- to the GSPM statement and actions, may be disappointed. It is ironic that those in TEC who want to claim the Primates actions have no communion authority are precisely the same ones who dont have any time for Canterbury anyway/either.

I dont think I have offered any comment on Savannah or Pittsburgh and neither has ACI. You are confused.

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 6:56pm GMT

"+Welby was present throughout the meeting that issued this Statement, with its component dealing with a Primatial Oversight Council."

Do not think that TEC will not have noticed. Why is Welby giving these people any legitimacy?

Why do Episcopalians give to the Compass Rose Society, which supports the work of an Archbishop who undermines TEC?

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 8:31pm GMT

"At any event, I suspect what you will want to learn is what the significance of the ABC being present is. The GS Primates Steering Committee represents a vast swath of the AC. +Welby was present throughout the meeting that issued this Statement, with its component dealing with a Primatial Oversight Council". - cseitz -

- Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 20 March -

Now, are you quite sure, Mr. Seitz, that the ABC was actually present at the G.S. Primates Meeting when they issued their controversial Statement?
I understood that he had already left by that time. Statements like this are usually issued AFTER the meeting has taken place.

I agree with Organ Builder here, that the entities known as ACI (3 theologians and a web-site) and its English corollary, Fulcrum/FCA, have exercised influence far above their weight in these recent divisive attacks on the Unity in Diversity ethos of the Communion.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 8:38pm GMT

"Perhaps their association with a group dedicated to the punishment, torture and imprisonment of gay people will actually win them some new friends in South Carolina and they will flourish."

Thank you, Martin, for an excellent summary. As for your final statement, quoted above, yes, I'm sure they will find more horrifically homophobic friends in SC. SC would still have slavery and roll back every advance in human rights, voting rights, etc., if they had the chance. Apparently they have no problem with adultery, however. SC had the governor who is now famous for "hiking the Appalachian Trail" when he actually went to South America to visit a mistress - and he's been elected senator! They are really clear about their priorities…

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 9:19pm GMT

It is pure speculation to place the Archbishop of Canterbury in the room and at the table while the illicit proposals to create yet another fantastical safe haven for American dissidents was decided.
Nobody reliable, who was at the meeting, has made any statement claiming his presence, yet alone his connivance, consent or even agreement to say nothing. I find it sad, but again not surprising that there is an attempt to make him complicit in this conspiracy.
It was heartwarming to hear of the deep concern from within Lawrence's own constituency, there is a real unease at how this was suddenly foisted on the diocese without any warning.
One suspects, if Welby was in the room when this was discussed, it was as much a surprise to him as it was to the congregants of bishop Lawrence's faction.
It is ironic that in their communique from Cairo these primates called for a new openness, with prior discussion and agreement of Primates Meeting agendas having just concluded a meeting where no one knew what was planned, least of all the people of South Carolina.
Finally the hectoring language of the communique verging on an ultimatum aimed at Welby hardly left one thinking any of the meeting had been bathed in sweetness and light.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 21 March 2014 at 12:50am GMT

Cynthia, TEC has had (and may currently have) bishops who have affairs, gay and straight, and the church doesn't defrock all of them(very few actually). Not even Bennison, who protected his pedophile brother was defrocked (and he got his job back). Since TEC isn't very good at cleaning it's own house, why blame Falls Church etc. for the actions and election of the secular state leader? Even though the S.C. diocese was one of the largest numerically in TEC, I doubt it's big enough to control the state election. People in glass houses....

Posted by: Chris H on Friday, 21 March 2014 at 3:23am GMT

What is pure speculation is the idea that the ABC flew to Cairo to attend the GS Steering Committee meeting, without any fanfare or publication, but was conveniently absent for this particular discussion/proposal.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 21 March 2014 at 12:56pm GMT

"When marriage equality begins in the UK and he is unable to stop it AND is unable to prevent C of E priests from wedding, they will throw him under the bus very quickly."

This is an interesting statement. Who are "they"?
Can you amplify on your claim and substantiate it? I'd be curious to hear your take on this inside the CofE.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 21 March 2014 at 1:54pm GMT

"Since TEC isn't very good at cleaning it's own house, why blame Falls Church etc."

I was writing about SC, the reactionary state. I was agreeing with a statement that the homophobic new "diocese" will likely find more friends there and flourish. SC is beyond being merely a conservative state, it is reactionary. But for all it's Bible thumping and hateful stances on race, gays, and healthcare, they quickly forgave their governor his scandal…

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 21 March 2014 at 3:21pm GMT

"They" in this case, Dr. Seitz, refers to the GS Primates. Your interpretation of the events of that meeting seems to be very different from mine--I see it as having been politically useful at the time for both parties. Whether or not the Primates and ABC will remain useful to each other in the future, no one can really say but it always makes for interesting discussion. We shall see... At the moment, it seems a lot like a repeat of the early days of Rowan Williams' primacy to me. I wouldn't bet my shiniest nickel on which way this relationship will ultimately play out.

(I did not mean to imply you had commented on the Savannah case; merely that the arguments you were advancing for the age of the SC diocese had been made in their case as well-to no avail. If I have misremembered you commenting on the Pittsburgh case I am sorry).

Posted by: Organ Builder on Friday, 21 March 2014 at 3:30pm GMT

It seems that there is a grim determination to put Justin Welby in the frame for the appalling position the Lawrence faction now find themselves in.

Reading the communique from the Cairo meeting leaves us in no doubt that Welby was a "guest" at the meeting along with others. Just how much of the meeting we are not told, or if they were actually invited to the plenaries.

There is equally no doubt then Welby was there to try and kick start the Anglican Communion and it is significant that there was no publicity from his office.

As an invited guest it might be assumed that he and the others had a voice at the table, but as they are not members of this steering committee one must also assume they did not have a vote. If they did vote one would expect the ACI to thoroughly trash the Global South as they attempted to undermine the process and outcomes of the ACC and the decisions of the last ABC.

The point that need to be reinforced is that this steering committee lacks authority to establish this oversight council, if there is a discussion to be had within the Communion it would be along the lines of who, if anyone had such authority.

I repeat that in regard to the point in question:
" Nobody reliable, who was at the meeting, has made any statement claiming his presence, yet alone his connivance, consent or even agreement to say nothing."

It seems to me that Welby would set back any possible talks on the future of the Communion by being identified with this communique. I cannot believe that any who have a heart for our family of churches would want to see his name associated with it.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 21 March 2014 at 3:53pm GMT

Grim determination? That sounds dramatic. He was present. He was present via Skype with a similar grouping in Toronto. He and certain colleagues in the GS are close friends. Will he oppose this development? Doesn't look likely.

OB, the EDofSC is not a parish in GA. For the precise analogy and ACI's logic re TEC polity, see TX or Quincy. The materials are readily available. Which is why nothing was said re Savannah or Pittsburgh (Duncan had a sui generis argument there).

TX has rejected the last TEC overture as of this week.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 21 March 2014 at 7:16pm GMT

Re "a heart for our family of churches" -- exactly the sentiment of +Cairo who hosted this meeting.

No wonder TEC progressives and some in CofE prefer to call the Communion a fiction and the legacy of Empire instead.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 21 March 2014 at 7:30pm GMT

It might behoove the Archbishop of Canterbury to stay home for a while.

If some of his parishes are about to hold gay weddings, Cantuar may not be very welcome at future Global South gatherings.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 21 March 2014 at 7:47pm GMT

June Butler asks an excellent question: "what is the Global Anglican Communion"? Is this lazy capitalization or a new organization?

James Byron:"No organization can exist under threat of unilateral secession from its constituent parts."-- no organization other than all individual congregations/churches around the world you mean. (I would have loved to have been able to have made your claim to a tithing lawyer that just left my congregation.) BUT I get your point. How is a National Church to be a national Church, for example, if individual congregations or dioceses can simply "take their toys and go home" when they get upset about some change? I think we are finding that something more important than canons are required to keep us together. Beautiful assets acquired over generations are not enough either.

Posted by: rob on Friday, 21 March 2014 at 9:52pm GMT

" I think we are finding that something more important than canons are required to keep us together. Beautiful assets acquired over generations are not enough either." - Rob, Friday -

I think, Rob, that the lack of Christ-like Love - which is more than just tolerance and patience - is what is missing at present. I take this point from one of the Holy Week Antiphons:

"Where Charity and Love are : there is God"

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 at 7:15am GMT
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