A.S. Haley—Rushing to Judgment: a Spurious Defense of Title IV (Part I)

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Before taking up their memorandum in detail, however, I want to put some of the matters involved into a proper perspective. Some of what I will now say may come as a surprise to those who are unacquainted with how ECUSA came into being....

First proposition:

General Convention is not the "supreme" (highest) authority in the Church -- it never has been, and (unless the current liberal takeover is perfected) never will be....

Second proposition:

As formed in 1789, and as continued in existence ever since, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America is a voluntary confederation, and not a forever indissoluble union, of dioceses....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC ConflictsTEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan CouncilsTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet

7 Comments
Posted February 24, 2011 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Dan Ennis wrote:

Haley writes…

“...to speak of the “constitutionality” or “unconstitutionality” of the changes as a whole distorts the real picture. The changes may indeed be “unconstitutional”, from any particular diocese’s standpoint—but it is up to each individual diocese to make that decision. And in doing so, that particular diocese is SOVEREIGN—there is no authority within ECUSA that can force it to accept the changes against its will, or override its decision not to accept them.”

So when the SOVEREIGN diocese of New Hampshire chose a gay bishop…where was Haley’s legalistic the defense of that move under this new reasserter theory of diocesan sovereignty?

February 24, 12:08 pm | [comment link]
2. Chancellor wrote:

Mr. Ennis, you have the question backwards. The Diocese of New Hampshire did not make Gene Robinson a bishop all on its own; it elected him, and General Convention itself affirmed him. Not all Dioceses regarded his confirmation as valid, and there are still Dioceses into which Bishop Robinson will not be invited to officiate today. In so doing, they are acting as sovereign judges of the constitutionality (actually, the non-conformity) of his election, as is their right.

February 24, 1:51 pm | [comment link]
3. Dan Ennis wrote:

So wait…all dioceses are SOVEREIGN (I really think we should use Haley’s capital letters, since that is often a sign that a writer is on shaky ground and feels the need to shout), but if one diocese exercises its sovereignty the others can exercise their sovereignty by not recognizing the validity of the sovereign actions of the first diocese?

If every dioceses is and always has been hermetically sealed, fully sovereign with its own borders but free to moot the sovereignty of the diocese next door, there’s a whole lot of actual Episcopal Church history that has to be explained away.  Better tape down the caps lock key.

February 24, 2:49 pm | [comment link]
4. Chancellor wrote:

There’s nothing to “explain away”—the history of the Episcopal Church is that of a confederation. The dioceses come into the confederation as sovereign entities, and they contract with the other members of the confederation via their Constitution. That Constitution (by express decision) contains no supremacy clause which would give the assembled group the power to take actions that were thereby binding on everyone else.

What’s the mystery in that? The dioceses try to get along with each other, because they are in a common confederation, but the group as a whole has decided that they do not have the power to bind the members without their consent.

February 24, 3:12 pm | [comment link]
5. Isaac wrote:

Dan,
I quite like much of the Title IV revisions, but it’s a significant step from having a list of things from DFMS that dioceses cannot do (which is what the consents process is all about) and what dioceses must do, which is what Title IV represents.  New contexts require new rule sets, though, and both the Covenant and Title IV represent a shift in the rule set.

February 24, 3:24 pm | [comment link]
6. cseitz wrote:

#3—you are not making sense. In the case of a Bishop, a diocese elects. It does not privately consecrate. The Bishops consecrate and the rite is one the dioceses have agreed to. This has nothing to do with independence and sovereignty.
In the case of Title IV, dioceses already have diocesan canons. So at issue is whether Title IV is judged to be a proper alteration given the only framework in which the common life, and diocesan canons, make any sense: the Constitution.
No one interfered in NH’s election of VGR. As Chancellor says, a diocese on the other hand needn’t allow him to act as a Bishop in its midst. VGR accepts that this is the system.
Title IV changes would introduce a new and unprecedented metropolitical authority. Dioceses are able to say that this change is not to be received, for the reasons Chancellor states.

February 24, 5:26 pm | [comment link]
7. MichaelA wrote:

Dan Ennis wrote:

“So wait…all dioceses are SOVEREIGN (I really think we should use Haley’s capital letters, since that is often a sign that a writer is on shaky ground and feels the need to shout), but if one diocese exercises its sovereignty the others can exercise their sovereignty by not recognizing the validity of the sovereign actions of the first diocese?”

Of course. But you are not dealing with the real issue. You know full well that the consecration of a practicing homosexual was a sinful act, and that any diocese which takes part in such an act is not entitled to communion with the rest of the church. That is why K J Schori and V G Robinson are not permitted to take Holy Communion with any of the Global South, whereas faithful bishops like ++Duncan, +Howe and +Lawrence are so permitted.

Why then bring up the consecration of V G Robinson in this context? The sinfulness (and indeed the pathetic foolishness) of his consecration doesn’t in any sense derogate from the point that A. S. Haley has made.

February 24, 6:54 pm | [comment link]
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