Comments: A TEC statement about Bishop Mark Lawrence

"If any Bishop of The Episcopal Church shall express, in writing, to the Presiding Bishop, an intention to be released and removed from the ordained Ministry of this Church and from the obligations attendant thereto, including those promises made at Ordination in the Declaration required by Article VIII of the Constitution of the General Convention, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to record the matter. The Presiding Bishop, being satisfied that the person so declaring is acting voluntarily and for causes, which do not affect the person’s moral character, and is neither the subject of information concerning an Offense that has been referred to an Intake Officer nor a Respondent in a pending disciplinary matter as defined in Title IV of these Canons, shall lay the matter before the Advisory Council to the Presiding Bishop, and with the advice and consent of a majority of the members of the Advisory Council the Presiding Bishop may pronounce that person is released and removed from the ordained Ministry of this Church and from the obligations attendant thereto, and is deprived of the right to exercise in The Episcopal Church the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God’s Word and Sacraments conferred in Ordinations."

There is no longer a renunciation canon (the one used for CofE Bishop Scriven...) but that doesn't apparently stop the PB from accessing it anyway.

You can't make this stuff up.

And by the way, the Bishop of SC didn't do what the new canon above asks for anyway.

Posted by cseitz at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 12:16am GMT

"The public address on 17 November referred to above is this one."

talk about fine print lol. /me heads to the attic to hunt for a telescope to be able to read the font size on that page.

Posted by Randal Oulton at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 1:01am GMT

It's puzzling how the Presiding Bishop could accept something that has not been offered. +Lawrence has abandoned the Episcopal Church, but he clearly has not renounced his orders.

ECUSA's continued misuse of the canon dealing with renunciation is troubling, and is bound to cause us problems down the line. Why General Convention hasn't framed a canon to deal with attempted diocesan secession is a mystery.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 2:59am GMT

Well I suppose, if he promised - before his ordination as Bishop of South Carolina - not to take the Diocese out of TEC; then this subsequent action taken by the Presiding bishop and her Council can only be expected. Rebellion is a hateful word, but then, so is schism. And promises made as a bishop ought to be sacred. It would appear that justice has been done, and been seen to have been done.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 4:39am GMT

Dr Seitz makes an excellent point. Resolution A030 was supposed to change the canon's language from renunciation to removal and release.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 8:05am GMT

I don't suppose anyone can actually force former South Carolina TEC Bishop Lawrence to stay with TEC if he has already said he no longer wants to be a part of that Province. But, are his Orders not indelible? - Of course, he will readily find an African GAFCON Province to give him credibility - perhaps eve ACI could fix him up in their outfit.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 10:15am GMT

cseitz: neither can we presumably 'make up' the fact that the Bishop (ex Bishop we should now say) was absolutely clear on Nov 17th that he had 'moved on'. He was clear that his decision had been made. He was no longer a part of the Episcopal Church. He stated it very publicly in a deeply self righteous and unpleasant piece of polemic.
The Ex Bishop can assume whatever 'orders' he likes in his own church, and indeed ACNA or whoever may be prepared to recognise the orders he once had. And if he should ever decide that he wants to re-join The Episcopal Church I don't actually see anything in the statement from the Presiding Bishop that says he would have to be re-ordained. Or have I missed something?
What is clear - and important - is that he is not in good standing with any Church with which the C of E is 'in communion' and so can't come and pretend to be a bishop with those in the C of E who seem to have sympathy for him.

Posted by Andrew Godsall at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 11:46am GMT

Mr. Seitz, why not?

On his website he expressed his renunciation in writing to the entire world. That would include the Presiding Bishop.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 12:14pm GMT

I believe this was the most appropriate action and the PB does indeed have the power to do such an action when warranted. In this case it was more than warranted. This is not in the least inappropriate. In addition to the outright dishonesty of Bishop Lawrence before and then after his consecration as a bishop, he fully deserves the response from the PB has taken. Like other fundamentalist bishops who have homophobia as an issue within themselves his behavior as a bishop is unacceptable. There is also the issue of property theft. Bishop Lawrence is not entitled to Church assets. They do not belong to him. They belong to The Episcopal Church.

Posted by Chris Smith at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 1:27pm GMT

Don't see why Lawrence's apologists are carping about this, given that he claims to have severed his diocese from TEC.

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 1:56pm GMT

The validity of Lawrence's orders as a deacon/priest/bishop in the Episcopal Church is contingent on his commitment to adhere to the doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church.

He has publicly abandoned his commitment to adhere to the doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church.

Hence he no longer wishes to be recognized and to function as a deacon/priest/bishop in the Episcopal Church. The Presiding Bishop has graciously acknowledged his openly stated wishes and relieved him of that responsibility.

The authority to practice an ordained ministry is contingent on recognition of one's commitment to the source of that authority.

Just ask anyone (like me) who sought to function as a priest in the Church of England.

It took several months, the submission of several documents, communication from my bishop, etc, before I was recognized as an ordained person and licensed to function as a priest in England by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely.

And I wasn't going around making public statements charging either of these folks with departing from the true faith.

In the current unpleasantness, I am astounded by the blatant disregard for basic principles of catholic order by people who try to wrap themselves in the purity of their commitment to the faith once delivered to the apostles.

Posted by jnwall at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 2:32pm GMT

We are "carping" about both the Orwellian way this was handled as well as the PB's misuse of canons - the one she used was superseded by one passed by the last General Convention. We had great fun trying to explain all of this at the ACC in New Zealand where many asked what was going on in TEC. It is in fact impossible to explain coherently according either to canon or Christian civility. The PB is and has been out of control for some time, BUT those who publicly dissent are cut down.

Posted by Ian Montgomery at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 2:45pm GMT

I would agree with Chris Seitz and Bill Dilworth, that this does not technically comply with the letter of the canon, in several ways (including that there is a disciplinary complaint pending against Bishop Lawrence filed by members of his diocese).

But, I do find it a pastoral response. Bishop Lawrence has quite publicly stated that he no longer wishes to be considered a bishop in the Episcopal Church, and the Presiding Bishop has recognized that graciously, and left him free to follow his heart to ACNA or wherever he finds himself. (it is a release, not a deposition)

Posted by Jim Pratt at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 3:00pm GMT

"Don't see why Lawrence's apologists are carping about this, given that he claims to have severed his diocese from TEC."

The problems are severalfold, even for those (like myself) who think that Bishop Lawrence is a scoundrel. At stake is the rule of canon law, and simple honesty.

1. He did not, in fact, renounce his orders, as is obvious from the fact that he has consistently said that he is still a bishop. The renunciation canon is (or was until the incumbency of ++KJS) used when an ordained person wished to give up the ordained ministry completely, not cease to function in the Episcopal Church. When a member of the clergy renounces their orders they are not saying, "I do not want to be an Episcopal deacon/priest/bishop," but "I do not want to function as a deacon/priest/bishop, period."

2. The canon that the PB says she is following stipulates that even if Bishop Lawrence were renouncing his orders, she can only act upon receipt of a written declaration to that effect. There was no such written declaration.

3. +Lawrence was charged with abandonment of the Episcopal Church under Canon IV.16. Accordingly, the matter should have been brought to the House of Bishops and, if the majority of bishops entitled to vote consented, he should have been deposed.

We have canons for a reason, and we are not free to disregard them for the sake of convenience, which it appears is what happened here. If the Presiding Bishop cannot be bothered to follow our canons, then we cannot complain when the schismatics refuse to follow them in matters of border crossings, etc.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 3:27pm GMT

Regarding the concerns expressed by Dr Seitz and myself about the changes in the renunciation canon made via Resolution A030 at this year's General Convention, posters on other sites have noted that the revised canon goes into effect at the beginning of next year.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 3:34pm GMT

Mr Godsall,

You state "What is clear - and important - is that [+Lawrence] is not in good standing with any Church with which the C of E is 'in communion' and so can't come and pretend to be a bishop with those in the C of E who seem to have sympathy for him." This assertion is patently false. The General Synod of the CofE clearly stated that they had not picked a side in this fight--and have no intention of doing so anytime soon. But they did refuse the Presiding Bishop's request to break communion with Mark Lawrence and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.
Link: http://anglicanink.com/article/church-england-will-not-break-south-carolina

Furthermore, the vast majority of provinces who are in communion with Canterbury have unabashedly confirmed that they consider +Lawrence a bishop in good standing in the Worldwide Anglican Communion and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina to be in communion with the Worldwide Anglican Communion (sadly, the same cannot be said of TEC, which, through the unabated mischief of the Presiding Bishop and her supporters, has managed to alienate TEC from the majority of Anglicans around the world).

I happen to be privy to the fact that +Lawrence has received an absolute outpouring of letters to that effect from bishops and archbishops from across the communion. You do realize, of course, that TEC and CofE are ever-diminishing minority drops-in-the bucket within the ocean of Anglicanism, right?

Posted by Bryan Hunter at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 3:36pm GMT

"The validity of Lawrence's orders as a deacon/priest/bishop in the Episcopal Church is contingent on his commitment to adhere to the doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church."

I don't think validity is the word you're looking for here. His orders would still be valid even if he had renounced them; once a deacon/priest/bishop, always a deacon/priest/bishop. The validity of Holy Orders don't come and go depending on - well, depending on anything. What can come and go is permission to function as an ordained person.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 3:47pm GMT

Mr. Smith, you write "There is also the issue of property theft. Bishop Lawrence is not entitled to Church assets. They do not belong to him. They belong to The Episcopal Church." Bishop Lawrence has made no claim on the parochial assets of the Diocese. Quite the contrary: he issued quit claim deeds (in accordance with South Carolina law) to each parish stating that the diocese has no claim on any parish's property. You claim that the assets of "the Church" (I presume you mean parish property within the diocese) "belong to the Episcopal Church." The Supreme Court of the State of South Carolina begs to differ. At least the justices here understand that the concept of an implied trust is a contradiction in terms. The Supreme Court of SC has ruled that the so-called Dennis Canon has no effect in the state.

Posted by Bryan Hunter at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 4:51pm GMT

Renunciation of Holy Orders is unrelated to what +ML has done and is in all events not something conforming to the letter of the canon if it had been sought. One writes a letter. One writes it to the PB and HOB. One asks to have their orders removed because they have left for Rome, etc.

The highlight of absurdity was using this with +Henry Scriven who of course remains a Bishop in the C of E. It almost suggests that TEC's orders are in the nature of the case unrelated to any other judicatories where Bishops exist. Nice 'catholic' teaching.

The thing that also needs remarking is the timing. A canon that GC found deficient and so altered for use in 2013 has been accessed here to as to 'get the job done' before the clock ran out. This is cynical or sloppy or both.

Posted by cseitz at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 5:14pm GMT

So, Bishop Lawrence has said he doesn't want any part of TEC. TEC has noted this, and told him he no longer has any role in TEC.
And his supporters are upset? His supporters are calling TEC and PB Jefferts Schori tyrannical?
The world is indeed turned upside down.
Perpetual self-martyrdom must be a wonderful thing.

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 5:56pm GMT

Lawrence: I am no longer in the Episcopal Church.

Jefferts-Schori: OK, you're not in the Episcopal Church anymore.

Lawrence: Bully!! Heretic!! Meanie!!!

Posted by JPM at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 6:29pm GMT

Bryan Hunter"
"The General Synod of the CofE clearly stated that... "
This is not correct. The GS has made no formal statement at all.

What has happened is that one of the bishops of the CofE, who has some responsibility in dealing with matters of this type has answered a Question during the recent synod Question Time. As he makes clear in his answer, absolutely no decisions have been made.

The exchange is fully transcribed on TA at this article:
http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/005755.html

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 8:38pm GMT

"The Supreme Court of SC has ruled that the so-called Dennis Canon has no effect in the state." How many times does one have to reiterate ("none so blind....") that it has done no such thing? The state supreme court has ruled that an early 20th century quitclaim from the diocese to a single parish (Pawleys Island) trumped other claims on the property of that parish - and only of that parish.

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 9:11pm GMT

Dr. Seitz: "It almost suggests that TEC's orders are in the nature of the case unrelated to any other judicatories where Bishops exist. Nice 'catholic' teaching."

It does seem that some of the defenders of the PB's action have the belief that the Episcopal Church has a priesthood of its own, apart from that of the Ordinal's "Church of God."

JPM: "Jefferts-Schori: OK, you're not in the Episcopal Church anymore."

No. The transcript should read: "OK, then, I infer from your leaving the Episcopal Church that you are voluntarily asking to renounce your priesthood and episcopacy, and I accept that request, and hereby 'defrock' you. You're welcome."

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 9:19pm GMT

When accusing the PB of tyranny and misusing the canons, please note "the renunciation was consented to by the members of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice, who are the presidents or vice presidents of the nine Provinces of the Episcopal Church."

The PB is not all powerful and dictating. If there is a misunderstanding of the canons, it is shared by at least 9 other bishops.

The Nov. 17 speech sounds like renunciation to me. Renunciation of his participation of TEC. Best to move on and help Episcopalians in SC reorganize. The sad fact is that Lawrence's actions are wrenching people apart, parish by parish. And that spreads the love of God?

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 9:33pm GMT

I think all the talk of renunciation of Holy Orders is spurious at best. The canon in question is quite specific and does not have to do with anything other than status IN THIS CHURCH (meaning TEC). He is removed from ordained ministry IN THIS CHURCH. To involve a discussion of the indelibility of his ordination as deacon/priest/bishop is not relevant. Clearly Bishop Lawrence did renounce the Episcopal Church in his public statement. The PB has exercised some latitude in interpreting this as a request, to be released from responsibility and privilege in TEC and, in apparently letter perfect compliance with the canon has granted that. Bishop Lawrence describes as superfluous, which I take to be a sign of agreement that he has indeed left TEC. To suggest that the canon, as revised at the most recent GC is miss-applied in this circumstance seems to ignore what the canon says. And to suggest that ordination is in the question seems to ignore what the PB actually did.

Posted by Scott at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 9:50pm GMT

"If there is a misunderstanding of the canons, it is shared by at least 9 other bishops."

Frankly, that doesn't stretch my power of belief at all.


Posted by Bill Dilworth at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 10:06pm GMT

Dr. Seitz writes: "There is no longer a renunciation canon (the one used for CofE Bishop Scriven...) but that doesn't apparently stop the PB from accessing it anyway. You can't make this stuff up."

However, I've read it asserted that the revised canon adopted this year does not actually enter into effect until Jan. 1, 2013 (i.e., the start of the new triennium). If this assertion is true, then the un-revised canon is still in effect and the revised canon is not yet in effect, and any blustering about the use of the unrevised canon instead of the revised canon is baseless.

If someone knows for certain when the revisions enter into effect and can chime in here, it may help generate more light than heat.

Of course, whether the revised or unrevised canon is in effect at this moment is a wholly different question from that of whether the unrevised canon is appropriate to the circumstances, as well as from that of whether the timing of the Presiding Bishop's action (i.e., instead of waiting until January or later) was either necessary or desirable.

Posted by David da Silva Cornell at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 10:25pm GMT

"To suggest that the canon, as revised at the most recent GC is miss-applied in this circumstance seems to ignore what the canon says."

As noted above, the revised version does not go into effect until the beginning of the year. If this were the revised version, the word "renunciation" would not appear.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 10:26pm GMT

Bryan Hunter: as many bishops as possible can say they support Lawrence but it doesn't alter the fact that he is not actually a member of any Anglican Church at the moment apart from the one in his own head. Because of that lack of membership he can't actually qualify for all kinds of things. I think Scott is right - there is no question about ordination anywhere here. It is simply that Lawrence has no permission to do anything anywhere because he has given up being a member of any church. That doesn't mean he isn't a Christian, or even perhaps a bishop - although not one I recognise. It just means he has voluntarily left the Anglican Communion - for the time being.

Posted by Andrew Godsall at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 10:27pm GMT

If Lawrence thinks that his orders exist independently of the Episcopal Church, that they are not dependent on recognition by the church which ordained him, then Lawrence should go over to the office of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston and ask to be recognized as a bishop.

From their perspective, he is a layperson and his claim to Holy Orders is spurious.

As it now is to members of the Episcopal Church, whose authority over him he has so publicly renounced.

Posted by jnwall at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 10:38pm GMT

"If there is a misunderstanding of the canons, it is shared by at least 9 other bishops."

Yes indeed. That is the nature of the situation in TEC at present.

It is that bad. And it will only get worse.

Posted by cseitz at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 11:02pm GMT

I would also add for the sake of proportion.

+ML is and has been the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of SC. He remains in the diocesan center. He continues to do episcopal acts. His churches, standing committee, executive committee, etc all acknowledge he is the Bishop.

Those who disagree are just that: those who disagree. They may claim that he is not the Bishop of SC, but the point is that he continues to function as such, on the ground, in his place.

Those who disagree, in order to establish their point, will need to have him removed from exercising episcopal authority. Inventing a renunciation and stamping a seal on it in some ways is just deferring the reality question. For a de facto removal, a court will need to give the seal, title, property, all assets to someone else.

Will a court do that? Not likely. In any event, it will take a lot of time and a lot of money.

But let's not avoid the reality on the ground. There is no other Bishop of SC who retains everything the present incumbent possesses, and there will not be until he is legally removed and the assets, name, real property, seal and everything else is transferred to a different entity. Until then, at most we have a strategy to effect a new Bishop and give her/him the Episcopal Diocese of SC. This includes saying the Bishop of SC renounced his orders and is no more.

That changes nothing in the daily life of the Bishop of SC and his diocese.

People may wish otherwise, but many long hours and much money will have to go into that undertaking.

Posted by cseitz at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 11:16pm GMT

Lapin, re: Dennis.

September 18, 2009

The South Carolina Supreme Court handed down a decision in a lawsuit brought by the Diocese of South Carolina against a departing parish on Pawleys Island. In that case TEC and the Diocese were aligned on the same side against the departing parish. The Court ruled against both the Diocese and TEC, stating “we hold that neither the [diocesan assertion of a trust interest] nor the Dennis Canon has any legal effect.” Under the Court’s decision, the parish was permitted to withdraw from the Diocese and TEC and keep its property.

Posted by cseitz at Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 11:25pm GMT

"If Lawrence thinks that his orders exist independently of the Episcopal Church, that they are not dependent on recognition by the church which ordained him..."

It turns out that not only does Bishop Lawrence think so, but so does the Episcopal Church. Which is why when he was presented at his ordination, the form was "N., Bishop in the Church of God, the clergy and people of the Diocese of N., trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, have chosen N.N. to be a bishop and chief pastor. We therefore ask you to lay your hands upon him and in the power of the Holy Spirit to consecrate him a bishop in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church."

The Episcopal Church doesn't have a priesthood or episcopacy of our own: we share it with the Church Catholic.

"...then Lawrence should go over to the office of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston and ask to be recognized as a bishop."

Non sequitur. They may not recognize +Lawrence, but they would recognize the orders of a hypothetical Greek Orthodox bishop who wanted to convert. As we would recognize the orders of a RC bishop who wished to become Episcopalian - without trying to reordain him.

"From their perspective, he is a layperson and his claim to Holy Orders is spurious."

Actually, the question of RC recognition of Anglican Orders is not quite as cut and dried as that these days for various reasons. Be that as it may, it has nothing to do with the case in hand.

"As it now is to members of the Episcopal Church, whose authority over him he has so publicly renounced."

Members of the Episcopal Church are free to believe what they want - who could possibly stop them? On the other hand, the practice of the Episcopal Church regarding Holy Orders at least implies the indelible character of Orders, while those who hew to a Catholic understanding of the Sacraments explicitly affirm it.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 12:16am GMT

"Under the Court’s decision, the parish was permitted to withdraw from the Diocese and TEC and keep its property." And was permitted to do so on the basis of a 1745 deed of trust and on a 1903 quit-claim deed, by which the diocese specifically ceded possession of the property to the congregation, Christopher Seitz. The case is specific to All Saints, Pawleys Island and only to All Saints, Pawleys Island. Why, if the decision was a general rejection of the Denis canon, would Lawrence's lawyers have spent so much time ($500,000+ in attorneys' fees since L's consecration) doling out freshly-minted quit-claim deeds to the parishes of the diocese?

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 12:31am GMT

Dr Seitz, the reason that the SC Supreme Court found in favor of All Saints, Pawleys Island is precisely because in 1903 they received a quitclaim deed and therefor clearly held title to the property. The decision doesn't apply to SC Episcopal parishes as a whole - unless they all received quitclaims back in 1903.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 1:04am GMT

cseitz: indeed let's not avoid the reality on the ground. The reality is that ML has left the Episcopal Church. He is not a bishop in any other Anglican church. He is not in communion, therefore, with the Archbishop of Canterbury. He can't be. The reality is that no other bishop of the Episcopal Church has yet been appointed to replace the vacancy he has so publicly announced. The reality is that he is simply a cuckoo in the nest and has invented a diocese which he is calling the diocese of SC. Any of us could do that. His pretence of humility and martyrdom mask a rather scheming and dishonest reality.
If he really thinks he is an Anglican bishop let him apply for permission here in England under the overseas clergy measure. I don't think he would get very far.

Posted by Andrew Godsall at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 7:09am GMT

Dr. Seitz's misleading and selective quotation from All Saints v. Campbell is particularly disturbing as he and I discussed this case on this very blog a few weeks ago, and when I pointed out the case did not mean what he then said and now reiterates, he just moved on to other topics. Here is the holding of the South Carolina Supreme Court, after finding that the 1903 quitclaim deed clarified that the Diocese had stripped itself of any interest in the property:

"Furthermore, we hold that neither the 2000 Notice nor the Dennis Canon has any legal effect on title to the All Saints congregation’s property. A trust 'may be created by either declaration of trust or by transfer of property….' Dreher v. Dreher, 370 S.C. 75, 80, 634 S.E.2d 646, 648 (2006). It is an axiomatic principle of law that a person or entity must hold title to property in order to declare that it is held in trust for the benefit of another or transfer legal title to one person for the benefit of another. The Diocese did not, at the time it recorded the 2000 Notice, have any interest in the congregation’s property. Therefore, the recordation of the 2000 Notice could not have created a trust over the property."

Source: http://sccourts.org/opinions/displayOpinion.cfm?caseNo=26724

This is far from a blanket declaration that the Canon is invalid; it means only that if you execute a formal waiver of any claims to a parcel of property, you can't later create a trust over that property, which is in fact axiomatic. By contrast, Mark Lawrence became bishop well after the Dennis Canon was enacted, and after SC adopted it explicitly, as noted by the same decision.

Dr. Seitz's recasting of the decision is more ingenious than ingenuous.

Posted by John Wirenius at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 12:54pm GMT

Let me see if I understand your thinking. The Courts in SC are going to hand over the parish properties, seal, name, all assets to a Bishop appointed by 815 Second Avenue. 20,000+ parishioners are going to say goodbye to their church homes, graveyards of relatives, rectors, clergy and Bishop, and so forth. This is because the Dennis Canon is in effect in SC and the courts will so rule when a new Bishop is appointed. Is this roughly what you believe will unfold? St Michael’s, St Philip’s, the Cathedral, the Diocesan House, Camp St Christopher, and all the churches of the diocese transferred to the 815 appointed Bishop?

Do you any idea what the cost of this will be? Who is going to pay for it?

Posted by cseitz at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 1:16pm GMT

Act Three:

¨Quite simply I have not renounced my orders as a deacon, priest or bishop any more than I have abandoned the Church of Jesus Christ—But as I am sure you are aware, the Diocese of South Carolina has canonically and legally disassociated from The Episcopal Church. We took this action long before today’s attempt at renunciation of orders, therein making it superfluous…¨ +Lawerence

¨His pretence of humility and martyrdom mask a rather scheming and dishonest reality.¨ Andrew Godsall

Curtain (the audience filed out of the theatre quietly with their heads down)

Leonard Clark/Leonardo Ricardo

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 2:17pm GMT

What an interesting notion of episcopal orders!

"If he really thinks he is an Anglican bishop let him apply for permission here in England under the overseas clergy measure. I don't think he would get very far."

Posted by cseitz at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 2:42pm GMT

BTW, I see the Oregon Supremes have now seconded the decision of the SC Supremes in the Pawley's Island case.

Posted by cseitz at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 2:46pm GMT

"Do you any idea what the cost of this will be? Who is going to pay for it?" Who paid the $500,000 and counting that Lawrence has spent on attorneys since his consecration, none of which money was used either for his legal defense or to ward off TEC "property grabs"?

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 5:35pm GMT

Absolutely, cseitz, it is all property held in trust for TEC, and as the beneficiary of the trust, TEC is entitled to recover it.

It's a relatively simple case, and it can probably be brought as one litigation, because it arises from one person's pattern of unlawful acts.

As for the expense, I hope that TEC will bring a RICO claim and make the separatists pay treble damages.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 6:18pm GMT

If I were in his shoes, I'm not sure I'd be as wildly enthusiastic as Dr. Seitz about the Oregon Supreme Court decision in Hope Presbyterian Church of Rogue River v the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Presbytery of the Cascades, which you can read at http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/S059584.pdf .

The court noted that the trust issues must be determined under state law, which means that to the extent that trust law differs from state to state -- and it often does quite significantly -- the result will differ from state to state as well.

The court held that the Presbyterian constitution's trust clause was not "not dispostive" (p. 21). But the court held that it was not irrelevant, either. The court looked at essentially two controlling facts. First, the local church had signed documents recognizing the trust. Second, the church remained an active part of the national church for a long period of time, both before and after the trust clause was adopted. "By voluntarily associating with the denominational church when Hope Presbyterian first organized in 1901 -- and remaining associated with the denominational church for over 100 years until 2007 -- Hope Presbyterian demonstrated that it intended to be bound by the governing documents of the church, including the constitution containing the express trust provision." (p. 28) "Hope Presbyterian's affiliation with PCUSA both before and after the adoption of the express trust provision demonstrates that it intended to hold its property in trust for PCUSA." (p. 29)

The court concluded, "under the neutral principles approach to resolving church property disputes, Hope Presbyterian held its property in trust for the benefit of [the national church]" and order judgment in the national church's favor. (p. 33)

Posted by dr.primrose at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 6:29pm GMT

Mr Wirenius, sorry to be slow to respond.

Your attempt to distinguish the PI ruling fails on your own chronology. The PI QCD was issued early in the 20th century, 1903 I believe. Under the theory espoused in your comment, the diocese would have regained a trust interest in 1979 when the Dennis canon was passed or when the local canon was passed. And on this theory the 2000 Notice would have been effective since the diocese would have had an interest at that time to record. The court ruled otherwise. And because they ruled this way about the PI case not being subject to Dennis in 1979, the same holds true for all properties (unless they have introduced specific language in certain specific cases not known at present). That is the logic.

It is silly to say that when you once disclaim an interest in a piece of property you cannot ever again claim an interest. You might repurchase an interest to take a simple example or you might receive a new trust interest after the QCD. The PI ruling is the common sense position that you have to have an interest in the property AT THE TIME to declare a trust. And this has to mean that the diocese had no interest in the property in 2000 because a) it released any historical interest it had in 1905 (or whenever it was exactly); and b) the Dennis canon in 1979 did not operate to give the diocese or TEC any interest in the property that they could record. As for PI, so for all parish property.

Mr Lapin -- $500K -- you are kidding, right? This is chump change compared to amounts needed to put 20,000 parishioners out of their parishes.

But you haven't answered the question. Is this what you think SC Courts will actually do? Give St Philip's et al to an 815 appointed Bishop?

Primrose -- wildly enthusiastic? Not at all. In Oregon one cannot after 2006 revoke a trust interest. But that is not relevant in SC because of the above. The basic neutral principles approach -- whereby the trust must be acceded to and not implied -- holds in SC and in Oregon now. So too Texas (where one can revoke a trust, just as did Diocese of FW).

I apologise for not following every comment closely ansd promptly. I never said anything about the PB being chief presider in the 1928 BCP. Of course, in 1928, the PB was a diocesan bishop!

Posted by cseitz at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 6:53pm GMT

From the Hope Presbyterian v. PCUSA case:
"Based on Hope Presbyterian's conduct, PCUSA's constitution cannot be irrelevant, as Hope Presbyterian contends—even though it is not dispositive, as PCUSA contends. By voluntarily associating with the denominational church when Hope Presbyterian first organized in 1901—and remaining associated with the denominational church for over 100 years until 2007—Hope Presbyterian demonstrated that it intended to be bound by the governing documents of the church, including the constitution containing the express trust provision. In applying the neutral principles approach, we do not treat as dispositive the “orders and judgments” of the denominational church in resolving church property disputes, as the Supreme Court did in Watson, 13 Wall. 679, 80 U.S. 679, 20 L.Ed. 666, but we cannot ignore Hope Presbyterian's long history of voluntary association with PCUSA (and its predecessors) and its express assent to the Book of Order in 1983. See In re Episcopal Church Cases, 45 Cal.4th at 493, 87 Cal.Rptr.3d 275, 198 P.3d at 84 (adopting neutral principles approach, but finding for the denominational church in part because the documents at issue “show[ed] that the local church agreed and intended to be part of a larger entity and to be bound by the rules and governing documents of that greater entity”). Hope Presbyterian's affiliation with PCUSA both before and after the adoption of the express trust provision demonstrates that it intended to hold its property in trust for PCUSA."

It appears that since the Diocese of South Carolina adopted the Dennis Cannon, that action (among others) will be used to prove that the properties were held in trust for the national Church. At least by the logic of this ruling. The Dennis Cannon need only be used to prove that a trust existed.

Posted by Evets18 at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 7:23pm GMT

"Absolutely, cseitz, it is all property held in trust for TEC, and as the beneficiary of the trust, TEC is entitled to recover it."

And how do you imagine this is going to happen? When a new 815 appointed Bishop takes over, the SC Courts will hand him keys and titles to all property, the seal, and the name, and 20,000 parishioners will say, 'goodbye, it was nice worshipping here for 300 years.'

RICO charges?

You seem to be under the impression that SC Courts will hand properties over to an 815 appointed Bishop because the Dennis Canon will be held operative in a direct sense. No. 815 will have to go to court and fight these one after another. It would be hugely expensive, hugely protracted, and a drawn out public scandal. Clearly you have no idea how people in SC think about their churches.

I have received emails from 'loyalists' who themselves say it is pointless.

Posted by cseitz at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 8:33pm GMT

It's very odd, Dr Seitz, that you seem to think a diocese is mostly a collection of real estate. Or, for that matter, that questions of Church polity are actually decided by secular courts. Even if the State countenances it, the pretended secession of the Diocese of South Carolina is wrong.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 10:34pm GMT

"20,000+ parishioners are going to say goodbye to their church homes"

Nonsense. Most SC parishioners will choose to stay in their sanctuaries, and of those that storm out in a Lawrencian huff, more will trickle back in as time passes.

Posted by JCF at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 10:58pm GMT

Dr. Seitz, your response on the Oregon Supreme Court decision is inaccurate in at least two respects.

First, the Oregon court did not hold that trusts could not be implied under the neutral principles of law theory. The court recognized the argument about implied trusts but expressly did not rule on it (and it didn't need to since the court found an express trust) -- "Although PCUSA argues that it formerly had an interest in local church property under a theory of implied trust, it argues the present case under a theory of express trust pursuant to Jones. We do not address whether an implied trust arose in this case." (p. 22, n. 4)

Second, your understanding of the trust revocation issue is backwards. For an Oregon trust created before 2006, the trust could not be revoked unless there was an express power of revocation; for those created afterwards, it could be revoked unless there was an express bar on revocation. Since the trust in that case was created before 2006, there was no power of revocation. (pp. 30-31)

The trust revocation issue is purely a matter of state law and, because the state law often varies widely from state to state, the decisions of one state court do not easily apply in another state.

Posted by dr.primrose at Friday, 7 December 2012 at 11:19pm GMT

cseitz...What an interesting notion of episcopal orders!

If you bothered to read you would see that I said that orders don't come in to it.....it is about order..,and Mr Lawrence is clearly out of order. I watched his interview on Anglican Ink..what an awful self serving piece of propaganda that was too.

Posted by Andrew Godsall at Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 1:49am GMT

Non-lawyers who think that the SC situation will require many separate lawsuits should reconsider that view.

Although the conduct at issue involves many properties, it also involves a single center that in my opinion could be alleged to be masterminding, or conspiring at, the alienation of the individual properties from the national church.

This sort of concerted, hub-and-spokes situation is, in my opinion, very much what RICO--a federal statute, giving federal jurisdiction--was designed to prevent.

It is not exactly rare that someone tries to give property to lots of other people without authorization. It doesn't necessarily take lots of little litigations to undo the pattern; it can take just one.

There is only one federal judicial district in South Carolina. It covers the entire state.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 3:12am GMT

Dr. Seitz,

Thank you for your response; no worries about the delay.

That's an interesting argument that the All Saints decision should be read as finding the Dennis Canon invalid, on the theory that the DC would have reinstated the trust abolished by the quitclaim deed.
I have two comments on it. First, if you'll forgive me being technical, I'm not trying to distinguish the case; the portion I quoted above was the entire holding on the trust issue.

Since the Supreme Court didn't actually hold that, or address the issue, I think your interpretation is at best a claim that the court implicitly found the DC to be of no effect. The text of the decision just doesn't explicitly support your reading, although one can argue it as an implication.

Second, I don't think it's a correct implication. Since the Diocese renounced its claim to the PI property in 1903, the Diocese could not create a trust in the property through its ratification of the DC --it simply had no interest to convey to TEC. Under the more holistic analysis employed by the Oregon Supreme Court, (thanks for drawing that decision to my attention) where the DC is a factor but not the only factor looked to, PI's continued presence within TEC after 1979 might be a factor in favor of a re-creation of trust interest, but SC Supreme Court does not appear to have looked that holistically at the situation, possibly because the case wasn't briefed that way.

I should add that I do not know how the cases will be decided by the SC Supreme Court. While many of those supporting the breakaway faction have seriously over-interpreted All Saints, that does not mean that the DC will simply be applied. While many courts have done that, some, like the Oregon SC and Judge Bellows in Virginia, have used it as one factor among others. However, the ultimate decision has been, as far as I'm aware, pretty unanimous in finding a trust--as Judge Bellows's and the oregon SC demonstrate. But this is high stakes litigation, which is part of why I support (as I did in the last thread) settlement.

Posted by John Wirenius at Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 12:50pm GMT

JCF--you clearly have no idea what the ED of SC is actually like. Over 90% of the income to the Diocese comes from parishes and others loyal to the historic Diocese. If St Michael's Charleston, e.g., were to be handed over to an appointed Bishop you'd find over 95% of its parishioners and all of their money gone in one fell swoop.

Mr Primrose, thank you for the revocation correction. You have stated it the way I intended to. I agree about revocation differing state to state. Texas allows revocation, e.g. I believe I stated that.

Mr Wirenius, I agree that settlement would have made better sense. I also indicated I have received emails from those loyal to the opposition/renunciation project that they would prefer to let the historic Diocese alone and instead join with U-SC. +Waldo had of course offered that.

Posted by cseitz at Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 2:36pm GMT

Really, though, whether +Lawrence is the rightful Episcopal Bishop of South Carolina, and whether the body he heads is the old diocese cut adrift on the seas of sovereignty, don't have much to do with the property dispute. Oh, the courts will decide as to ownership of the property, and it will give support to one side or another, but the secular courts do not set ecclesiastical polity or policy. +Lawrence can claim to be the Bishop of SC if he wishes. For that matter, he can claim to be the Bishop of Rome or the successor to Emperor Norton of California - it's a free country. A misguided secular court may support him in that claim. But the Episcopal Church recognizes him as merely an episcopus vagans with an unusually large following.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 5:16pm GMT

"But the Episcopal Church recognizes him as merely an episcopus vagans with an unusually large following."

Would that your logical and consistent mind could be conflated with "the Episcopal Church recognizes." I doubt those running things (legal cohort at 815?) even know what the term episcopus vagans means or remotely cares what it means. The term makes sense within a specific catholic ecclesiology that might arguably include the Anglican Communion. But 'TEC operatives' in this case don't care an iota for that context; you have as much noted the same. He is not 'vagans' according to the Title III recourse. You have said that because you, one individual Priest, believe it to be so. Equally, he might say TEC is ecclesia vagans. The point is that the issue awaits a wider Communion evaluation once you get outside the strategies that feel free to use a Title III you and other say is unsuited to purpose, and is; and which even GC noted needed remedy. To use a bad canon whose sell-by date approaches is simple avoidance of other options advisors don't judge safe. So now we have no HOB evaluation; we have a January instead of a March convention; and we will soon have a new 'provisional Bishop' (now there is a nice piece of canonical fudge).

You are otherwise right the secular courts will determine property matters. It will cost a lot. But neither they nor the theological thinkers at work in Title III recourse care a wit for things like 'episcopus vagans.' That you do is a piece of latterly considered hopefulness in terms of basic theological coherence. I wish shared it. We are in the land of ecclesial and secular hardball and one cannot extricate one from the other now.

Posted by cseitz at Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 6:27pm GMT

I should say that the renegade diocese's reference to approaches to biblical interpretation informing approaches to the canons is something I have thought, as well. Some modern Christians, both in the Episcopal Church and outside of it, simply regard any opinion or notion that enters their mind about religion as authoritatively on a par with the works of the Ecumenical Councils. They espouse all sorts of (IMNSHO) ridiculous ideas about Scripture and Church history (the centurion's boy toy; Christ having a physical relationship with Mary Magdalene - or, alternatively, St. John; the Feeding of the Five Thousand as a model food cooperative; Christ as a xenophobic racist shamed by the the Syro-Phoenician Woman's humility into embracing a more inclusive attitude; Ruth and Naomi as an early lesbian couple; the early Church as a gay affirming and feminist paradise). It's not that strange that renunciation of orders is now interpreted as having to do not with Holy Orders but rather with an administrative relationship between a cleric and a particular Province, or that a canon requiring a written statement from the cleric desiring to renounce orders be stretched to cover oral statements that give no hint of a desire to renounce one's orders at all.

Upon reflection, I don't think that the PB or her advisers are acting out of bad faith, or being deliberately devious, in misapplying the renunciation canon. Rather, their attitude towards external authority makes any given text as elastic as it needs to be. It's sort of a Reader's Response approach to religion.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 6:34pm GMT

"You have said that because you, one individual Priest, believe it to be so."

Thank you for the promotion, but I'm not a Priest. I'm waiting for Anglicanism to reintroduce Minor Orders so I can wear a maniple when Subdeacon-ing; that's the closest I come to ecclesiastical rank or title. I'm a secondary school Spanish/Portuguese teacher.

"To use a bad canon whose sell-by date approaches is simple avoidance of other options advisors don't judge safe."

That's what one might suspect, but it implies that the HOB would be inclined to see things +Lawrence's way, and I find that somewhat hard to believe. Although - when was the last time the HOB deposed one of its members?

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 11:33pm GMT
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