Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rowan Williams And The Possible Deposition Of Bishop Lawrence

Fr. Dale Matson

“However, without forestalling what the Primates might say, I would repeat what I've said several times before - that any Diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion, whatever may be the longer-term result for others in The Episcopal Church. The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such.” [Excerpted from a Letter to Bishop John Howe from Rowan Williams Archbishop of Canterbury Oct 21st 2007]

I believe Bishop Lawrence, the Communion Partner Bishops and the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) had their their hopes riding on the eventuality of the Anglican Covenant and on this chip provided by Rowan Williams. From this point on there was a belief on the part of the Communion Partner Bishops, that no matter what happened with TEC, they could hold on to the Canterbury Pedigree. They could remain islands of safety within TEC because they wrongly believed in the immutability of the power of a bishop and the autonomy of a diocese. While they were making plans to move on from TEC while still within TEC, they also correctly realized that the polity of TEC was changing.

Several bishops from TEC signed a statement on the ACI website. that described the limitations of the power of the presiding bishop, the historical autonomy of the dioceses and the voluntary relationship the dioceses had with TEC. [April 2009) I believe they were further encouraged by the following statement by Rowan Williams later that year.

“25. It is my strong hope that all the provinces will respond favourably to the invitation to Covenant. But in the current context, the question is becoming more sharply defined of whether, if a province declines such an invitation, any elements within it will be free (granted the explicit provision that the Covenant does not purport to alter the Constitution or internal polity of any province) to adopt the Covenant as a sign of their wish to act in a certain level of mutuality with other parts of the Communion. It is important that there should be a clear answer to this question.” [Post convention letter from Rowan Williams July 27th 2009]

They were making a mistake to hang their hope on the myth of an eventual viable Anglican Covenant and on the statements of Rowan Williams that they wanted to believe. It was just as easy to see that Rowan Williams only saw Anglican Communion membership at the provincial level.  Rowan Williams did make it clear in his Sept. 2009 letter that “as a matter of constitutional fact, the [Anglican Consultative Council] can only offer the covenant for ‘adoption’ to its own constituent bodies (the provinces).” Rowan Williams had changed his position and left the the bishops who had exposed themselves by visiting him to twist in the wind.
By wanting to sign on to the Anglican Covenant as dioceses, they also revealed themselves as a threat to TEC leadership who saw the Covenant as a threat to their own provincial autonomy. In the meantime TEC leadership made its case that they were in fact, a hierarchical church and always had been. This was important to establish in the ongoing and future lawsuits and in changing the Title IV disciplinary canons.

“In September 2010, we published an article demonstrating that the new Title IV disciplinary canons enacted at the last General Convention are unconstitutional and unwise: unconstitutional because they infringe on the exclusive rights of dioceses to institute courts for the discipline of clergy and give the Presiding Bishop metropolitical authority over other bishops; and unwise because they deny basic due process rights to diocesan clergy.”

By the time the ACI issued the above statement in February of 2011, the die was cast and the leadership of TEC were about to move forward against the islands of safety.


Georgia said...

You nailed it, Fr. Matson.

Hopefully, this will shake people and cause them to seek the Lord and His Word... wonderful things happened to Israel when they re-discovered the Book of the Law.

TJ McMahon said...

Fr. Dale,
Let us not forget that Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, Quincy and Fort Worth put faith in Rowan's words "that any Diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion." He then abandoned those bishops to deposition and denied communion with them in front of his own Synod, and put them in the position of jumping through a bunch of hoops to restore that communion. (the nature of the hoops he will, according to the schedule he set 2 years ago, reveal at the coming Synod, although last I knew, it was not on the agenda). From the sounds of things (ie:Rowan's remarks at the 2009 or 10 Synod), any diocese that leaves, or is thrown out of TEC, and any bishop deposed, will have to go through the entire process of ACC application in order to re-establish communion with Canterbury. And since the ACC process is under the control of the Standing Committee, which is a virtual subsidiary of 815, that will happen when hell freezes, or indaba ends, whichever comes first.
Rowan's actions of the last 4 years have demonstrated that he was not being truthful when he made those remarks in 2007.

Dale Matson said...

Thanks for the additional information. As usual, you use words as expertly as a good surgeon uses a scalpel, with the same end in mind.

TJ McMahon said...

Fr. Dale,
I am fairly certain (based on strategy analysis, not personal knowledge gained staring into an 815 palantir) that the timing of the 815 charges against +Lawrence was to coincide with ++RW being out of the office for a week. This, ironically, may prove to be the undoing of KJS plans- because of WHERE ++Rowan is, and who he is talking to. One cannot imagine that a person of ++Rowan's intelligence would not be struck by the parallels between what KJS is doing in the USA and what Mugabe is doing to the Church in Zimbabwe. Imagine ++Rowan sitting in a meeting for an hour with that dictator who is tearing the churches away from the parishioners, only to have ++Albert Chama hand him a copy of the news releases on SC, and ask him if he intends to carry through his commitments made to the Communion Partner bishops and to the Primates.
We are at the place where ++Rowan must choose. He can side with KJS and effectively divide the CoE and the Communion into two parts, he can side with the GS, Communion Partners, and ACNA, which will also split the CoE in a somewhat different way, but maintain the Anglican Communion, or he can sit on the fence, and try to keep the CoE in one piece, but this will have the result of breaking off the Christian elements in the Communion anyway, and KJS will lead the uber-revisionists into their Nirvana, probably leaving Canterbury with the British Isles and maybe Australia as the only Provinces still paying him any attention whatsoever. And he has until the next Synod to make up his mind which of these alternatives he prefers.
Now, my prayer is that the time spent with the African bishops will inspire him to use the great intelligence the Lord has given him, and come back to begin the long and arduous task of rebuilding the Church in the west. I once wrote that we have to remember that it took 40 years to get into this mess, and it will take 40 or more to repair the damage. But it is time for the ABoC to decide if he wants to be part of the rebuilding, because if not, there are others who will shoulder the load, and move on without him.

Dale Matson said...

If only.

Ann said...

Bp Lawrence is not being deposed. Some members of his own diocese have made a complaint to the Disciplinary Board headed by Bp Henderson. The complaint did not come from the Presiding Bishop or the staff of The Episcopal Church. Read Bp Henderson's memo hereand more of the story here.

Dale Matson said...

Thanks for the clarification with your link. Bishop Henderson corrected his original communication. "Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina has been charged with 'abandonment of the Doctrine Discipline and Worship of The Episcopal Church.'"

Dale Matson said...

I will correct the title of my post to reflect Bishop Henderson's clarification.

TLF+ said...

Although the PB/inner circle of the club did not technically initiate the complaint (although there's no reason to doubt that the "Forum" in SC took orders from 815), the new Title IV is clear that the PB is part of the intake process and must consent to it going forward. So efforts to give the PB deniability are either lies or, tellingly, the club insiders have simply ignored the Canons - even their new version - and proceeded w/o her, in which case she should be the first to pull the plug on action against +Lawrence.

John said...

When asked a direct question about remaining in the Episcopal Church Bishop Lawrence gave a weasely politically correct answer. He has withdrawn from the Episcopal church. Nobody forced him to remove the word Episcopal from his affiliated churches.
The Episcopal authorities are merely confirming his voluntary departure.
Just leave the candles and pews when you leave.

Dale Matson said...

How about some clarification?
1. What answer did Bishop Lawrence give that was PC? offer the quote and cite the source.
2. What do you mean he removed the word "Episcopal" from his affiliated churches? What was the word removed from?
3. He said he would not leave and he has not left.

John said...

As requested.
1. Specifically his answers to Questions 1 and 3.
You know that Bishop has never stated unequivocally that he will remain an Episcopalian.

John said...

Clarification as requested.
1. "With that said, back to your question. I shall commit myself to work at least as hard at keeping the Diocese of South Carolina in The Episcopal Church, as my sister and brother bishops work at keeping The Episcopal Church in covenanted relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion."
2. Article 6
He has never said that he will not leave as a simple statement. There are always conditions for his staying.

Anonymous said...

Of course there have been conditions to Bp Lawrence's statements. He is currently being forced out - something that he clearly foresaw. He also foresaw measures to enforce conformity to the new gospel and centralization of TEC. SC took defensive measures that do not remove it from TEC.

TEC is not a welcoming place for those who hold to any faith more traditional than the new gospel - much less orthodoxy, and it will not brook theological disagreement. Mandatory acceptance of WO is one example; today it is difficult to find a diocese NOT 'discussing' or brokering in SSBs.

These charges were predicted. Now they have come to pass.

The Forum of SC was invited and supported by TEC leadership. The Forum drafted a list of complaints that is now replicated in the current charges, which the Pb allowed to proceed.

Dale Matson said...

In due time, I guess the title is wrong. He has been deposed. May God bless the Diocese of South Carolina and her bishop.