A.S. Haley on Bishop Henderson’s Statement regarding procedure in the Bishop Mark Lawrence Matter

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The abandonment canon was originally enacted to cover the clear case where a bishop converts to another faith without bothering to resign his see first (an act which also requires consent from the House of Bishops). Its expedited procedures assumed that (a) there could be no argument over what acts constituted the "abandonment" -- hence the lack of provision for any hearing, or trial; and (b) the abandoning bishop would in all likelihood not contest the fact of his having left the Church. Neither of those circumstances applies in Bishop Lawrence's case.

But now Bishop Henderson has made it official: despite all the fanfare about the supposedly "more humane" character of the new disciplinary canons, when it comes to "abandonment", it is business as usual in the Episcopal Church (USA). If the Disciplinary Board certifies the flimsy acts spelled out in the document published on South Carolina's website as constituting "abandonment", it will have acted even worse (if that is possible) than did the old Title IV Review Committee in the case of Bishop Duncan. And for the second time in its history, the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops will have decided to remove one of its own members, a sitting and functioning bishop, from his diocese without any overt act on his part of renunciation or departure -- indeed, in spite of all his protestations to the contrary.

And so now, the question arises: why did it take so long for the Disciplinary Board to get involved? Why was not the September 2010 letter from the Episcopal Forum, with its nearly identical charges, not referred to the old Title IV Review Committee at the time?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South CarolinaTEC Polity & Canons* South Carolina

5 Comments
Posted October 12, 2011 at 5:42 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Katherine wrote:

If I correctly understand this, then if the Disciplinary Board votes that Bishop Lawrence has abandoned the communion, the Presiding Bishop would inhibit him, and then parishes and I suppose the Standing Committee would have the time, perhaps sixty days, until the next HOB meeting to withdraw from TEC in order to prevent a property grab by the national organization.

October 12, 9:56 am | [comment link]
2. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Wow, no matter how bad you think things are, they can always get worse. 

A couple of days ago, I noted that there is something very suspicious, nay wrong, about the Disciplinary Board hiring as their investigative “Church Attorney” someone with strong past links to the administration in Manhattan.  Obviously, that tends to remove even any plausible deniability concerning the lawyer’s bias in favor of 815.  At that time I simply observed the fact that Josephine Hicks was not only a prominent former member of Executive Council, but that she had chaired a major committee (Administration and Finance) that perforce had to approve the scandalous expenditure of multi-millions on lawsuits against departing churches.  So there seems to have been no real attempt by the powers that be at maintaining even the appearance of objectivity when they selected Hicks to dig up dirt on +Lawrence and the DSC standing committee.

But I must admit that I’m still flabbergasted by the new revelation that Ms. Hicks also serves on the Disciplinary Board itself.  What??  That’s in-credible (in the etymological sense).  What a farce this whole process is!  A kangaroo court indeed.

Brilliant work, as always, by the Curmudgeon.  Such lucid, incisive analysis is absolutely devastating.  It’s a pleasure to watch such a razor-sharp legal mind at work, even if the results are rather sickening for all who care about the Church and hate to see her destroyed by incompetent fools.

David Handy+

October 12, 11:08 am | [comment link]
3. c.r.seitz wrote:

I wonder if +Benhase will write a new letter to his Diocese explaining how his take on Title IV turned out to be incorrect? I wonder if +Mississippi also still has the same view as he had last week?

October 12, 11:11 am | [comment link]
4. moheb wrote:

The first section of Canon 16 defines the three acts that the Disciplinary Board may certify as abandenmment:
(i) by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline or Worship of the Church;or
(ii) by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with the same; or
(iii) by exercising Episcopal acts in and for a religious body other than the Church or another church in communion with the Church, ...

Clearly it will not be possible to certify either (ii) or (iii). To certify under (i) “open renounciation” depends on how the Board interprets “open” and “renounciation”, neither term is defined in the Terminology Canon of Title IV. I would assume that the plain meanings of the words apply.

I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that for the Board to certify that the bishop OPENLY RENOUNCED the Doctrine, Discipline (both defined in Canon 2 of Title IV) or Worship (not defined), given the list of allegations posted, will require that it purjures itself.  Is this correct?

October 12, 1:24 pm | [comment link]
5. Allen Lewis wrote:

Moheb-
If the depositions previously accomplished by the Presiding Bishop under the guise of the “Abandonment of Communion” section of Title IV in previous years is any indication, then the terms “open” and “renunciation” will be interpreted as broadly as necessary to convict, cashier, and condemn Bishop Lawrence.

There is no due process being considered here. That this travesty is being performed under the guise of the disciplinary duties of a Christian organization is despicable.

How any of them can associate themselves with such procedures is beyond me.

October 13, 12:28 am | [comment link]
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