Friday, October 19, 2012

Keep Trying Until You Fry Him

In the ongoing campaign to find a griddle for bishop Lawrence, the most conspicuous problem is the process. Here it would seem that Bishop Martins of Springfield and I are in agreement: the charge of abandonment is utterly preposterous, and I would go further and say that it should be disregarded as a fraud intended to avoid the unpleasant task of putting Lawrence through a trial in order to oust him.

But there's another element to the history of this which didn't occur to me until I saw this analysis by A. S. Haley. If one looks at what happened the last time, you will see that the accusations were put forth around the beginning of October last year, and that Lawrence was exonerated at the very end of November. OK, so we take a look at the certification this time around, and we can see that every act used as a basis for the charge happened before the last verdict was delivered. It would appear that this is nothing more than a repeat of the previous investigation.

So what gives? Well, as Haley spells out, we have a different set of people on the disciplinary board, with three of the eighteen members being replaced after General Convention. One pretty much has to assume that some members were persuaded to change their votes, or that members who voted against deposing Lawrence were replaced by new members who voted for it. This would tend to imply that it was a relatively close vote the first time around, unless there were a lot of changed votes. But it also shows, as Haley also points out, a big double jeopardy issue. Basically, at whomever's instigation, they got to keep rendering judgements against the bishop until they got the one they wanted. And it's obvious that the they includes the presiding bishop and a lot of other liberal clergy.

I do not feel moved to opine as to the merits of charging Lawrence with canonical violations. The current action, however, is such a gross violation of process that any Christina should condemn it. And of course, the likelihood of this backfiring is very high; given the previously expressed opinions of the SC supreme court, the departing diocese could very well leave with all but a couple of parishes, free and clear; the national church could end up with naught but a slightly better majority towards the revisionists, a pile of legal bills which we already cannot afford, and a mountain of ill-will.

UPDATE: Now that the identity of the accusers has been revealed, we can see the same old Episcopal Forum/St. Mark's Chapel gang at work. The latter group, in particular, have been trying to force a new parish on the diocese, for whatever reason; I'm given to understand that it's a group of dissidents from one of the major conservative parishes. So are they going to get to be the cathedral of the soon-to-be-formed rump diocese?


Jon in the Nati said...

Don't look now, C, but it appears that TEC will continue its march toward irrelevance sans South Carolina. The Diocese is reportedly announcing its secession from the Episcopal Church.

I don't know whether to rejoice or weep.

Jon in the Nati said...

Apologies, I meant to include a link.

C. Wingate said...

The Huff. Post is perhaps overinterpreting the automatic activation of the "auto-exit" resolutions. If the national church backs down, I don't think those resolutions will amount to anything (though I don't think they will back down). The real action will be in court and at the November 17th special diocesan convention.

Allen Lewis said...

Even if 815 were to back down (which they will not), were I voting on what to do, I would say a sad farewell to TEC and let them sail over the edge of the world (there be dragons out there!).

Bishop Lawrence (and the rest of the leadership of the diocese) has been the soul of patience. But after this, I would not expect him to try to reconcile with these vindictive scalawags and carpetbaggers! (I say this as a former member of the diocese. My wife and I had enough in 2004. We are now in a Continuing Church and are enjoying being free of the apostasy, heresy, and drama of TEC).

I expect TEC to try to do the same thing it has done in Dio. Pettsbug, Fr Worth, and San Joaquin: form a "rump" diocese and try to sue for the assets. I don' think that is going to do them much good, given the ruling of the State Supreme Court during the All Saints Waccamaw kerfuffle.

I expect TEC will lose and lose big!