ACI says Presiding Bishop Had to be Involved in the S.C. Actions if the Canons Were Followed

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The new title became effective on July 1, 2011, and already has been invoked in two proceedings against bishops of the Church. Given our past concerns, it is appropriate to take initial stock of the new canons as applied. Our succinct summary: it is even worse than we expected. We address three issues below: (1) what procedures are followed in initiating proceedings against bishops; (2) what standards are applied when restricting the ministry of bishops before trial; (3) what standards are applied in evaluating allegations before deciding to proceed with an investigation....

Without knowing the answers to... [all our] questions, two inferences seem reasonable at this point. First, the canonical authorities designated by the new canons do not understand the procedures they are canonically required to follow. And second, there is something approaching an official and conclusive determination that the matters under consideration by the Disciplinary Board are not matters that “may constitute an Offense.” Otherwise, we would have proof of a massive canonical failure by the entire church leadership, including the officers designated by Title IV, the House of Bishops and the Executive Council, at the very outset of the new title.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South CarolinaTEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan CouncilsTEC Polity & Canons* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

24 Comments
Posted October 7, 2011 at 3:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Kendall Harmon wrote:

The top three posts are given priority; they all relate to the same story which is considered of major importance to the blog readers, the diocese and indeed the Anglican Communion.

October 7, 6:57 am | [comment link]
2. Sarah wrote:

RE: “ACI says Presiding Bishop Had to be Involved in the S.C. Actions if the Canons Were Followed” . . .

I’ve been waiting for somebody to point this out.

I love the way Dorsey Henderson tried to spin this: “the information was not brought forward by the Presiding Bishop’s office, or by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. Therefore, the matter is not being handled by the Presiding Bishop’s office or anyone in the employ of the Episcopal Church Center.”

Right—but according to the new canons the “Intake Officer,” will have conferred with “the Presiding Bishop to decide whether to dismiss or proceed.”

And of course, they have decided to “proceed.”

October 7, 11:26 am | [comment link]
3. Peter O wrote:

There’s only one thing worse than spinning and that’s being found out spinning.

October 7, 11:32 am | [comment link]
4. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

“the information was not brought forward by the Presiding Bishop’s office, or by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. Therefore, the matter is not being handled by the Presiding Bishop’s office or anyone in the employ of the Episcopal Church Center.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah; protesteth too much.

October 7, 2:03 pm | [comment link]
5. Brian from T19 wrote:

I agree wi9th #3

Our succinct summary: it is even worse than we expected.

The article is filled with inferences and assumptions with no actual proof.  The better statement would be that it may be worse than we thought.  Surprising from the ACI.  Compare Ephraim Radner’s excellent writing with this.

October 7, 2:22 pm | [comment link]
6. Connecticutian wrote:

Brian, I disagree.  I didn’t read the article as making accusations, therefor “actual proof” is not the issue.  But by tracing the way the canons are supposed to work against what is known about how they are actually working, they raise a set of interesting questions and concerns.  And IMHO, it *is* actually “even worse” precisely because of the ambiguity that is coming to light.  If the people in charge of following the canons don’t know or understand them, or even worse are circumventing (again “if”), then that is a troubling situation.

October 7, 2:55 pm | [comment link]
7. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

Is the church hierarchy becoming the mob? 

John 15:18-27

Prayers as always for Bishop Lawrence and DioSC

October 7, 3:54 pm | [comment link]
8. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Bishop Henderson may have chosen his words very carefully when he used the present tense in saying that the matter “is not being handled” by the Presiding Bishop’s office. But if he also meant that the matter has never to date been considered by the Presiding Bishop’s office, we have a major breakdown in the application of the new Title IV in one of its first cases.

I don’t think there is any *maybe* that Bishop Henderson chose his words carefully. No doubt he chose his words very carefully. After all what would you expect from one trained in law. +Dorsey Henderson was an attorney in his former career. 

What bothers me is how there is so little transparency in these deliberations. To me, the standard seems to be you are guilty until proven innocent which is the antithesis of our ‘innocent until proven guilty’ standard.  The first standard works very well in dictatorships which is what I see TEc becoming under this presiding bishop. Also, the attitude being if I say you are guilty, you are guilty and I don’t need a trial to prove it. My word is enough!!

October 7, 5:05 pm | [comment link]
9. tjmcmahon wrote:

Actually, I am going to disagree with those who see this as poorly written.  I think it may have been written quickly, in order to get some ideas into play, but I find its format rather clever.

The conclusion they present is based on their comparison of the current Title IV canons with those in force prior to July 1, the deficiencies of the current Title IV, and the apparent fact that the people who are charged with the enforcement of the new canons (Henderson and his star chamber committee) seem entirely unfamiliar with their duties under the canon (and/or the PB and her “intake officer” are unfamiliar with their duties- this seems unlikely, since the new canons are based on the way she did things when violating the old canons in the depositions of +Duncan, et al).  But I think they are leaving another, and perhaps more important, conclusion, for the reader to discover on their own - which is to say, they are, perhaps by accident, giving us an “aha” moment. Granted, any regular on T19 may have reached it just based on last week’s press releases about the 2 sets of charges (against Warner and +Lawrence).  But the average GS bishop probably doesn’t waste much of his time reading ENS or the Lead.  But quite a number will read what ACI writes (not unusual for ACI papers to appear on the GS own websites).  And they are followed by many in the CoE as well - and not just “conservatives” (whatever that means anymore).  And I think most, if they study what is laid out in the document, will see the same thing I see.

And what I see is this-
The case of Warner, regardless of what one thinks of his “inhibition,” (I put it in quotes because most references to it that I have seen have referred to it as a “restriction”- could it be that KJS invented her own form, that in some way “restricts” ministry but does not rise to the level of “inhibition”- or is it just ignorance on the part of the press release writers?) was one in which the canons appear to have been followed procedurally to the letter.  Bishop discovers previous bishop has done some things that are causing a scandal in the diocese, reports this along with credible evidence to the intake officer, who discusses it with the PB, they determine the evidence demonstrate that an offense has been committed, and proceed accordingly.

What the Warner case demonstrates is that the intake officer and the PB DO know what their duties are, and what process is to be followed, when a report of misconduct by a bishop is received.
Case 2 is the +Lawrence case.  Here, we have 65 pages of charges, the vast majority of which are hearsay. I mean, KJS really needs to hear what her SUPPORTERS say, which is often much worse than anything +Lawrence is charged with saying. I can tell you that even the uber-revisionist “priests” of diocese of N Michigan can come up with much worse things than “kudzu” when describing the bureaucracy at 815.  And had I taken notes at one meeting I was at in W Michigan, I suspect there would be ammo under that standard to depose 2/3 of the ordained of the diocese (and that is one very liberal diocese).  But then, it was a real nice Saturday afternoon, and I am sure they would rather have been playing golf instead of having to go to a meeting with mere laity.

Now, one of 2 things happened.
1) The information, upon receipt (presumably by Henderson), was turned over to the intake officer, who then proceeded in the same way as with Warner.
OR
2) Henderson took the information (that either came to him already compiled, or that he compiled into a 65 page document) and proceeded on his own- in OPEN VIOLATION of Title IV procedure.
Which leads to one of 3 possible conclusions:

1) The intake officer (Matthews) and KJS did not do their job (that is, Henderson gave them the documents per canon procedure, they reviewed the documents and passed them to the disciplinary committee as they are without editing to determining what was, and what was not, a credible charge of abandonment), which means they VIOLATED the canons and must be charged themselves.  They must be charged because, in the Warner case, they prove they know what the proper procedure is, and therefore in the +Lawrence case, willfully violated it.  OR-
2) Henderson is running the Title IV disciplinary board as a rogue operation.  Meaning he never showed the stuff to the intake officer, and just ran with it as it is.  Now, as chair of the board, he MUST know the proper procedure.  It seems almost impossible that he would proceed on his own, in open violation of canon, being an attorney himself, and likely consulted (along with all the other lawyer-bishops) on the construction of Title IV during its development.  But, if he did proceed on his own, in violation of canon, he must be charged.
OR-
3) There is a third, really ugly alternative- KJS and Henderson took the nonsense sent to them by the various disgruntled revisionists in SC, and thought by putting this together and sending it off to SC along with a letter from Henderson on the disciplinary board letterhead, that they could blackmail +Lawrence and the Standing Committee into silence or compliance with KJS’s violation of the Church.
If it was the third alternative, well, THAT didn’t go as planned, did it?

One thing I think I can say, and that is that David Booth Beers was out of the loop on this one.  That this kind of SNAFU happens so often at 815 must just drive him nuts.  He really earns that retainer.  Of course, the upshot for him is that his law firm will get a ton of business out of it in the long run, since after this, making a legal case against +Lawrence and SC will be much more difficult and time consuming.

October 8, 10:20 am | [comment link]
10. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Wow - eye opening.  Thanks to ACI, and for #9 Tj’s thoughtful comment.

I am not so sure that Beers/Goodwin Proctor are not involved and pretty sure that the Litigation Factory is.  One thing that stood out is that there is an almost identical request for documentation Beers tried to get out of South Carolina last year included along with the ragbag of strange junk including not putting links on a diocesan website to a TEC supported organisation which campaigns unbelievably for aborting more children.  Move over Moloch, TEC is here! 

The complaints are a ragbag, and no doubt include the local gripes of all sorts of people, but there is a hard core which represents the attack KJS and Beers have been making for a while, and +Henderson’s carefully parsed denial of their involvement just draws attention to what he has left out, which is a denial of their involvement with moving and preparing the complaint and fixing the way it is dealt with.

What however, as you point out TJ, ACI have done, is to show that 815 do know what the canons say from the way the Warner case has been handled, but either have been culpable in their treatment of their obligations or have disobeyed the canons in the Lawrence case.  That is very much the Goodwin Proctor/David Booth Beers and KJS approach we have seen in the past, although they are all ducking for cover this time.

It is remarkable that even having ‘fixed’ the canons to suit their own purposes, they or +Henderson won’t follow them.

October 8, 12:19 pm | [comment link]
11. SC blu cat lady wrote:

TJ,
If you read what the Curmudgeon has written these charges had to be sent to the “Intake Officer” Bishop Matthews FIRST. +Dorsey Henderson is the president of the disciplinary board and would have gotten these “charges” after +Matthews was supposed to send them on to the Presiding Bishop.  Read again what the curmudgeon has written.  Truthfully, since we don’t have all documents it is impossible to know what really happened.However, someone knows! Since +Henderson’s letter is carefully worded to say that these charges did not originate with the Presiding Bishop but from within the diocese, my guess is that someone at 815 knows exactly what is happening and is orchestrating the whole mess as discreetly as possible.

I do agree with the Curmudgeon in that while the official letter from 815 to the Forum said sorry, we can’t do anything about this - our hands are tied, some one made a phone call and asked them or some other communicants to send the charges again after July 1. That is quite likely. If the Forum wanted to claim no responsibility then they would have to find someone else to do the dirty work so to speak and may have found such persons in the St. Mark’s group. Who knows? Since no one wants to claim responsibility. However, not claiming responsibility shows how cowardly they truly are.

I do agree with you that both letters were meant to intimidate Bishop Lawrence and the standing committee.  If anyone has some understanding of what has actually happened, I would guess that Melinda Lucka, Barbara Mann, and perhaps someone at St. Mark’s may know exactly what happened. However, given what Barbara Mann told the Charleston Post and Courier, I don’t think she is wanting the actual facts to be known because it is likely the Forum will not end up looking good at all if they were known.  SO they had to be involved as indirectly and as discreetly as possible.

Your third possibility is really despicable. You may be correct that the whole thing from the beginning was a setup with the main players being the Presiding Bishop and Bishop Henderson. The letters were sent solely to intimidate in the hopes that it would force a convention and the diocese leaving sooner rather than later.  Was the thinking that if we just wave these charges at Bishop Lawrence and the standing committee, they will decide to go ahead and leave and THEN we depose him as has been done in the past.

The whole thing reeks of wrong doing and we may never know what really happened as such proceedings are supposed to be confidential.  The ugliness of the new Title IV canons are revealed for what they really are- a way for the Presiding Bishop to have witch hunts under the guise of the new Title IV canons.  For those who wanted the new Title IV canons, you reap what you sow. Hmmm looks pretty ugly at the moment. I think we need the modern equivalent of a Hercule Poirot to untangle this stinking mess!

October 8, 12:23 pm | [comment link]
12. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Still, it has to be admitted that from an outsider’s viewpoint the fact that +Henderson and the disciplinary board have appointed an independent and unconnected lawyer from an outside firm, Josephine Hicks of Parker Poe as their church attorney rather than some stooge of KJS or Beers to assist them is to their credit, so perhaps it won’t be just the KJS kangaroo court so many expect.  This suggests that at least Bishops Dorsey Henderson, Ian Douglas and the rest of the review board may have some integrity.

Bishop Henderson explained in his update:

In situations as this, the “church attorney” is an attorney who is retained by the Disciplinary Board to investigate cases brought to the Disciplinary Board. The “church attorney” is not the chancellor to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Henderson appears to be doing his job properly, and some aspects of fair conduct and due process remain in TEC.

October 8, 1:11 pm | [comment link]
13. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Pageantmaster (#12),

I’m afraid that I can’t agree that the appointment of a supposedly neutral and objective attorney from an outside firm, i.e., outside of the Manhattan staff of TEC, is all that encouraging.  For in actuality, Josephine Hicks is a former member of the Executive Coluncil, and she has clear past links to 815.  Rather than suggesting that this might be a fair process after all, I’m afraid that the selection of Counselor Hicks is simply another sign that the proceedings against +Lawrence are very, very likely to be a kangaroo court.  But maybe those with a detailed knowledge of her record as a member of Executive Council (or other relevant, objective data that may display her bias or what we could reasonably expect from her) could speak up here.

For myself, I though the money quote actually came at the end.  In their conclusion, the noble ACI team sum up the matter very succinctly and aptly.  And while it’s not melodramatic (no overheated rhetoric such as I might be inclined to use), I think it’s all the more utterly devastating folowing the careful and astute analysis earlier in the essay.  Their entirely justified dual conclusion is that Title IV “is a bad canon” and that it is “being badly implemented.”

Yep.  Q. E. D. 

Game.  Set.  Match.

Brilliant work.  Thanks, guys.  You’ve done it again.  We’re all in your debt for this painstakingly lucid and convincing critique.

I’ll only add a typically barbed comment of my own.  One of my friends commented to me privately after a mutual friend of ours who was a (Baptist) pastor was forced to resign after an episode of sexual misconduct came to light, and worse yet, after he’d engaged in an accompanying attempt at cover-up.  Her astute and pungent comment was:

Sin makes you do stupid things.

So true.  Alas, the worthless and reprehensible regime now in control of TEC is utterly trapped in sin and totally self-deluded by their ideological commitments.  Consequently they do really stupid things.

David Handy+

October 8, 2:29 pm | [comment link]
14. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#13 NRA Rev Handy

I’m afraid that I can’t agree that the appointment of a supposedly neutral and objective attorney from an outside firm, i.e., outside of the Manhattan staff of TEC, is all that encouraging.  For in actuality, Josephine Hicks is a former member of the Executive Coluncil, and she has clear past links to 815.  Rather than suggesting that this might be a fair process after all, I’m afraid that the selection of Counselor Hicks is simply another sign that the proceedings against +Lawrence are very, very likely to be a kangaroo court.  But maybe those with a detailed knowledge of her record as a member of Executive Council (or other relevant, objective data that may display her bias or what we could reasonably expect from her) could speak up here

Surely you must be mistaken, that must surely be another Josephine Hicks?  This one is a lawyer in a firm in the Carolinas retained to assist an independent disciplinary panel - surely?

October 8, 2:47 pm | [comment link]
15. Ralph Webb wrote:

Pageantmaster (#14),

Rev. Handy is right, according to LinkedIn:

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/josephine-hicks/13/1a4/329

See also her ERD profile:

http://www.er-d.org/JosephineHHicks

October 8, 3:35 pm | [comment link]
16. tjmcmahon wrote:

SC Blu Cat Lady,
I most certainly DID read what Mr. Haley wrote, as well as what ACI wrote (and a few other things in my email).  Whoever at 815 (or in some diocesan office outside 815) initially received the documents was required to send them to the intake officer.  However, even the vast majority of revisionists have no idea that there is such a thing as an intake officer, so they may send their complaints to some bishop they know, to Dorsey Henderson because they read in ENS that he headed the committee and I am sure that KJS secretary opens several such letters every day addressed to the PB.  On the conservative side, people even send stuff to me, as though there was anything I could do about gay marriages in their diocese, or the fact that the bishop just appointed a rector who doesn’t believe in the Resurrection.  The point remains that the canonical procedure was followed in one instance, and clearly not in the other instance.  But in the +Lawrence case, while we know Henderson was supposed to give the information to the intake officer before acting on it, we have absolutely no evidence that he did.  His own words appear to say that the intake officer and the PB never saw the stuff, which would be a confession of malfeasance on Henderson’s part, since he obviously went ahead with the case without following procedure if what he said is true.  The only other option is that he is misleading us in an effort to exonerate the PB, in which case, the PB and her intake officer are guilty.

October 8, 4:03 pm | [comment link]
17. tjmcmahon wrote:

Pageantmaster, If you go over to Anglicans United, there is some background on this “church attorney.”  They had to hire someone local, as Beers and Goodwin Proctor are not licensed in South Carolina (not sure how it works in England, but here, licensing of attorneys is generally on a state by state basis).  Most of the attorneys working for TEC in orthodox dioceses are disgruntled revisionist parishioners.  DBB still runs the show from 815.  Do not infer independence based on law firm.  If this was not a hatchet job, the “kudzu” charges would never have seen the light of day.

October 8, 4:08 pm | [comment link]
18. tjmcmahon wrote:

14- PM,
I think I detect your wry sense of sarcastic humor here, but perhaps this is not a good time, since this situation is really very serious.  The fact is that there has been no fair play in TEC since 1960.

October 8, 4:15 pm | [comment link]
19. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#15 Ralph Webb and #17 TJ - Thanks - I don’t understand how that works, but it sounds like a can of worms.  Is there nothing straight about this thing?

October 8, 5:59 pm | [comment link]
20. Milton Finch wrote:

Nothing whatsoever.

October 8, 6:08 pm | [comment link]
21. Blue Cat Man wrote:

Ironically, one of the complaints against Lawrence is that he and the Diocesan Convention tried to distance themselves from the very disciplinary canon that may give him the fairest possible hearing because the new Title IV is designed to be a measured and careful process.

The above was written by Andrew Gems in the Episcopal Cafe.  Yeah, right.  Tell us more.  The Diocese of SC and others strongly believed the new Title IV canon took away some of the safeguards that were in the canon’s previous version.

October 8, 9:51 pm | [comment link]
22. tjmcmahon wrote:

21- +Lawrence also stands accused (tab 10 of the 63 page document) of being one of 7 TEC bishops meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury on September 1, 2009.  Meeting with the ABoC apparently now constitutes “abandonment of Communion” of TEC.  One assumes that we will shortly see the same charge leveled against the other 6 bishops.

October 9, 12:26 pm | [comment link]
23. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Thanks Ralph (#15) and TJ (#17),

I appreciate you backing me up.  Those who smell a rat in this whole business are quite right; this thing sinks to high heaven. 

FWIW, I note that Ms. Hicks was not only a member of the elite Executive Council of TEC, but she even chaired one of its major committees (Appropriations and Finance) that necessarily had to approve the idea of suing departing congregations, at great expense.  That clearly suggests a very cozy relationship with the current administration and implies support for its nefarious policy of taking departing parishes and dioceses to court.  I also note that she has also represented TEC on the worldwide ACC, another clear sign of her acceptability to the dominant “progressive” party in TEC.

Perhaps I should actually cite that line that I consider the money quote in this fine ACI analysis of how this fatally flawed disciplinarprocess is being abused.  The team hit the nail on the head when they ascerbically wrote:

Title IV is a bad canon being implemented badly.

That really says it all.  Only it smacks of being such an understatement that you’d think it was written by a bunch of Brits (like Pageantmaster’s sardonic reply to me above).

Kendall probably won’t like me putting it so bluntly and caustically, but this whole affair leads me to think of the current administration of TEC as being even worse than “worthless” and “reprehensible.”  That is actually understating my real feelings about those traitorous bozos.

It reminds me of what one Puritan cleric said in the heat of the battle with ++William Laud and his anti-Puritan party.  He wryly admitted that he’d come to amend his views about the notion of apostolic succession.  He confessed that he’d changed his mind and now was prepared to see all the English bishops as successors of—-

Judas Iscariot!

The none too charitable
David Handy+
(BTW, no lover of Puritanism)

October 10, 11:28 am | [comment link]
24. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Oops, that’s “disciplinary process” of course.

David Handy+
All American, and not in the least inclined toward understatement

October 10, 11:30 am | [comment link]
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