Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bishop Lawrence Reports on the House of Bishops' Meeting, September 17-19, 2008

The following is an excerpt from a report by Bp Mark Lawrence regarding the proceedings at the most recent H.O.B. meeting:

There are so many dubious dimensions to this current proceeding against Bishop Duncan that to continue on this path, trampling upon the plain reading and purpose of the Canon in the process, may well give pause to all and cause many of us to shudder.

• There is the torturous reading of the Canon in order to render moot the clear reference to the necessity of inhibition prior to deposition. The fact is that Bishop Duncan has not been inhibited. The fact is that the three Senior Bishops of this church have not consented.

• There is the disputed reading of that phrase in the Canon which reads “…a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote.” The Constitution and Canons interpret that phrase in Article I:3, and in Canon IV itself, under section 15, which defines the very terminology used in the title! Under the ruling by the Presiding Bishop and her Chancellor, it is possible for a smaller number of Bishops to consent to the deposition of a Bishop than the number required to consent to the resignation of a Bishop. It is respectfully submitted that such an interpretation makes no sense, and turns the Canon on its head.

• There are real questions regarding the adequacy of due process in this case—a sacred principle of judicial practice in our society.

• There are significant questions in this matter that may suggest to some minds a conflict of interest.

• Along with these above concerns, there are the pervasive moral and pastoral dimensions which cannot be so easily dismissed as some would like us to believe. The statement last evening regarding the case of All Saints’ Pawleys Island vs. Diocese of South Carolina may have been well intended, but the fact is that the lawsuit has brought financial cost (thereby diminishing the funds available for missions) and spiritual unrest within the Diocese of South Carolina. The suggestion that swift action averted discord and legal proceeding is just not accurate. The description last evening of the situation within the Diocese of San Joaquin, while it may be one person’s recent experience, bears little resemblance to what was my experience serving in that diocese for the last ten years and living there for the first 30 plus years of my life.

• Having served in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Diocese of San Joaquin for almost all of my ordained ministry, I can tell you that the pastoral and theological matters that have precipitated the actions of their conventions will not be resolved by depositions or litigation, especially when the principles of due process and rule of law seem to be high-handedly ignored.

- The Rt Rev Mark Lawrence, Bishop of South Carolina

The full report is posted at the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina's website, HERE.

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