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A LETTER TO A LIST ON CONSENTS TO CONSECRATION

(I wrote this to the Bishops/Deputies email list in response to people who urged that standing committees reject the election of the bishop-elect of South Carolina)

I find the arguments on whether to confirm or reject the bishop-elect of South Carolina quite astounding. On the one hand it is proposed that the confirmation process is, or was in 2003, an arcane ritual undertaken -at some considerable expense- to satisfy a mysterious canonical requirement demanding that bishops with jurisdiction/standing committees, the House of Deputies, in suitable combination discover that which the Presiding Bishop has already discovered – that the Canons have been observed by the electing diocese- when taking order for a consecration. It is therefore suggested that our diocesan bishops and their standing committees get on with the job. What was good for New Hampshire is good for South Carolina.

Others now suggest that the bishop-elect of South Carolina’s election be voided on the grounds, quoted from B033: that his “manner of life represents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion”. What does “manner of life” mean? It seems to mean to some that the bishop-elect can’t swear on a heap of books that he would never, ever leave TEC and would never ever suggest that his diocese so do. Is it proposed that those of us who do not acknowledge the canonical validity of actions taken in 2003 have either to change our minds and submit or not present ourselves to be considered for any office or administration in our church?

Is it suggested that while the ratification and consecration of the present Bishop of New Hampshire caused the greatest crisis in Anglicanism since Cromwell’s day, that the ratification of the election in SouthCarolina would cause scandal of the same intensity or with the same ramifications?

It is possible to facilitate and encourage schismatic behavior. Those who seem determined, with scant logic, to drive South Carolina and the whole traditionalist camp closer to schism, and whose actions in so doing would only deepen the divide between our church and the Anglican Communion had best examine themselves in this matter. I abhor schism, and I do so from bitter experience. We are not playing politics here. We are dealing with the Body of Christ and with the mystical and actual relationship which the font symbolizes, and in which we become, in a manner unbroken, organs within that same Body.That organic unity has nothing at all to do with where we stand on issues, other than the issue that Jesus is Lord and we are called to be the church for all people, and not merely for some enlightened elite.I am so sick and tired of elitism; of this idea that we are the better informed more enlightened ecclesial group called apart specially by God to tell the world what God has told us. Call the Squire.

5 Responses

  1. Father Clavier,

    Thank you for your frank words. I appreciate the passion with which you write and the clairity with which you reflect on the current crisis. Have a blessed Thanksgiving (be it Puritan or not).

  2. Fr. Tony: “The Living Church” carried an article on Nov. 20th by Steve Waring which seems very relevant to this discussion. Titled “Bishop Sauls: Not All APO Requests Violate Canons,” it stated the following:

    “Despite the fact that both Central Florida and South Carolina have appealed for alternative oversight, Bishop [Stacey] Sauls [of Lexington] said neither diocese is under scrutiny.

    “Appeals for alternative primatial oversight are not in and of themselves a problematic action,” Bishop Sauls said, “It doesn’t rise to the same level. We see no evidence that the leadership in either diocese is attempting to change its name or take property held in trust for the national church.”

    […]

    “Bishop Sauls said that the task force is concerned with more than just property disputes.

    “The name is a tad misleading,” he said. “We are also interested in polity.”

    ***

    I would make an argument, based on Bishop Sauls’ comments, that the bishop-elect of South Carolina has likewise done nothing — as of yet — that rises to a level justifying the refusal of consent to his election.

    Therefore standing committees, in my view, ought to give their consent to his election.

    However, Mark Lawrence+ did make a number of statements, in response to questions asked of the South Carolina candidates, that are cause for legitimate concern as to his future direction as bishop of South Carolina.

    Standing committees, in my view, would be remiss if they did not express their concern over his answers to these questions, even if –especially if — they consent to his election.

    The article may be viewed at:
    http://livingchurch.org/publishertlc/viewarticle.asp?ID=2770

  3. Hello, my dear.

    Good to see you up and about and taking fluids – if not engaging that marvelous intellect of yours on pertinent matters theolgoical and ecclesiastical.

    You ask, “What does ‘manner of life’ mean?”

    The definition is painfully clear to any LGBT person who is discerning a vocation to the episcopacy.

    I agree that it does not apply to the election in South Carolina.

    It’s a rather limp rhetorical argument designed to reveal the obvious:

    That B033 was a stupid, desperate attempt to calm the baptismal water across the Pond and in the Global South.

    However, there are other concerns which mitigate against confirming the election of a man who, while clearly called to and capable of the office of the episcopacy, does not want to be a bishop in TEC.

    Among other quotes, he has said that the ministry of a bishop is that of a pontiff, a bridge builder; that one can not build a bridge to nowhere and TEC is going nowhere.

    So the question remains – for all bishops with jurisdiction and all Standing Committees:

    Why confirm the election of a bishop to TEC who can not uphold the doctrine and discipline, much less the constitution and canons, of TEC?

    That was decidedly NOT the question in the confirmation of Robinson.

    Neither has it been a question with any of the other controversial elections such as that of Mr. Iker or Mr. Schofield, or even Bishop Barbara Harris – all of which could be concerned with ‘heresy’.

    Heresy can lead to schism, but it is not, in and of itself, schismatic.

    The Church has lived with all sort and manner of heresy for centuries, thank you very much.

    What the election of Mr. Lawrence represents is not heresy.

    It is schism, flat out.

    Indeed, why should we confirm the election of anyone to the episcopacy in TEC when to do that would be to ratify and endorse schism?

    Now, there’s the question we need to carefully consider.

    My very, very best to you and Pat.

  4. Elizabeth, I thought that when a diocese elected a bishop, it was electing one for the whole church, e.g. the “World Wide Anglican Communion”, not just TEC. That is one of the reasons the Global South is so upset with the election of VGR in 2003: He is not merely a bishop for TEC, but for the entire communion.

  5. What arrogance! This small segment of the 77 million member Anglican Communion and miniscule part of Christ’s Holy Church has decided everyone is out of step but TEC! Forget Scripture, Tradition and Reason. Sign on with those who “feel” things should be different. It is possible to be amused and saddened at the same time.

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