9/18/2007

Bishop Henderson thinks good things about the Lawyer Bishop's paper.

A group of "lawyer bishops" wrote a paper titled, "The Constitutional Crisis, 2007: A Statement to the House of Bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Honored Visitors." One of those whose names appear as contributors to the paper, Bishop Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina, asked that his name be withdrawn from the list of contributors. The headline in The Living Church read, "Bishop Henderson Withdraws Report Endorsement."

It appears that the headline was too brash in its assessment. It now appears that Bishop Henderson did not withdraw his endorsement, but had for other reasons wished his name removed. His comments have been posted on Stand Firm and on the House of Bishops/ Deputies list. I assume Stand Firm received a seperate email regarding this, so it is now for general publication.

Here is what Bishop Henderson said,

"Apparently it has been reported that I have repudiated the document entitled "The Constitutional Crisis, 2007: A Statement to the House of Bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Honored Visitors." That is not accurate.


Bishop Doss, some time ago, requested that I participate with a group of lawyer-bishops in working on the document, and, honored to be invited, I agreed to do so. However, due to my own vocational demands -- and perhaps some procrastination -- I did not study the draft and offer suggestions until the very end of the process. Consequently, when I did respond, the work had been completed and sent to the printer.

I did ask -- too late -- that my name be dropped from the list of contributors because, in fact, I had contributed nothing to it. It would be inappropriate for me to take credit for the work of others-but this is not to be interpreted as a repudiation. This document, nothing less than a "magnum opus" is truly worthy to be considered by The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion -- indeed, as an appropriate part of the process commended to TEC and the Communion in the Windsor Report.

The other reason that I asked that my name not be published -- that is, in addition to the fact that I had not taken advantage of the opportunity to contribute to the document's content -- is, as I explained to Bishop Doss, that I would be "concurring in part and dissenting in part". The concept of an Anglican Constitution is a bold suggestion, and merits our serious study, dialogue and reflection. My contribution to that dialogue can be summarized with these general observations:

1. The specific inclusion of the provisions of The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, as well as the Creeds of the Church, would bring, in my opinion, greater clarity to the concept and content of such a constitution.

2. Because the catechism reflects the historic and traditional understanding of the ministry of the various orders, I am convinced that bishops, who specifically -- and unlike the other orders -- have the responsibility "to guard the faith, unity and discipline of the whole Church". Accordingly, it would seem that Bishops, in those limited areas, have a responsibility which does not require the concurrence of the General Convention (as much as concurrence is to be desired).

3. A good dose of Richard Hooker would -- again, in my humble opinion -- enrich the content of "The Constitutional Crisis" and the dialogue about it.

4. My other suggestions were limited to typographical corrections and possible "tone" of a section or two of the paper.

Frankly, I appreciate deeply the diligent and conscientious work that Bishop Doss and the other "lawyer bishops" have contributed to this project. I only regret that I did not get involved in its development much sooner. In any event, I look forward to participation in the next steps in our consideration of it.

Faithfully in our Lord,

+Dorsey Henderson, USC VII"

The headline from The Living Church makes it appear that Bishop Henderson was distancing hmself from the report. Bishop Henderson's own remarks remind us that he is a careful and often wise reader of the Anglican tea leaves and a person of generous spirit.

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