The Anglican Curmudgeon didn't take long. Six hours after I posted Does acceding to the Constitution imply acceding to the Canons? A. S. Haley posted the following retort, " The Canon Should Lay Off the Canons.
In his usual curmudgeonly way Haley lays on the nice, followed by a slice and dice routine, ending with just a touch of snide. He closes out,
"People who are not trained in the Canons are often not aware of the significance of legislative history, or of the importance of delving into the work of prior Conventions before coming to any conclusions about what current language means. I do not hold Canon Harris to that standard, and so I do not fault him for his opinions. But his opinions in this instance have nothing to do with the actual "authority of General Convention" in the Episcopal Church (USA)."
How nice that he doesn't fault me for my opinions. He does tell me to lay off the Canons, suggests that I am not trained in them, etc. I think he indeed faults me and is just singing nice for the fun of it.
What to make of his quick response?
What to make of his quick response?
Well, for starters he doesn't think much of my scholarly abilities. "Being a Canon in the Church, however, does not give anyone particular insights into the Canons. (I believe a course in Church canon law is included in the curriculum at most, if not all, Episcopal seminaries. As professors of canon law would be the first to admit, however, passing one of their courses does not a canon lawyer make.)"
I have to admit that is true. And in my own way I acknowledge the possibilities of shortcoming. I write,
"My sense is that acceding to the Constitution of the Episcopal Church does indeed imply acceding to the Canons of TEC. Further, the application of the Diocese of San Joaquin does not imply, by its absence of mention of canons, a rejection of the need to conform to the canons of TEC.
But, what do I know? I am not a lawyer or the son of a lawyer. But I know when I'm being blind-sided.
What do you think?"
Now the point to my admission is both to say I am indeed not a canon lawyer, but do believe Haley's argument is inadequate to the task. Still, perhaps Haley is right. Perhaps I ought to lay off asking questions about what some specialist claims the Canons do or don't mean.
I was interested in the question, "does acceding to the Constitution imply acceding to the Canons?"
Haily doesn't answer that. He leads us down an interesting historical romp through the documents of various dioceses, puts together some interesting and amusing possible canons that we would not wish to have to obey, talks about the authority of General Convention and its limits, the matter of obedience to the canons, ordination vows, and finally swoops down on the matter of supreme authority, and finally drags in the Articles of Confederation, finally ending up with an argument against any sort of supremacy clause in The Episcopal Church's rules of governance. But in the end he did not answer the question I raised.
My understanding is that "acceding to the Constitution (or the Constitution and Canons)" primarily involves the pledge by dioceses not to issue a constitution or enact canons that are contrary to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. That says nothing about changing the Constitution or Canons of The Episcopal Church. It says nothing about the General Convention being the supreme authority of the Church.
I believe that acceding to the Constitution means that the constitution and canons of any diocese will not be contrary to the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church, not just to the constitution of TEC.
My question, which arose from a comment that Mr. Haily had made earlier on his blog, in which he opined that acceding to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church did not imply acceding to the Canons, remains.
I believe Mr. Haily to be incorrect on this. And I admit that I may be wrong. But the response he had provided in his latest attempt does nothing to temper my belief that he is incorrect. His essay takes us down many interesting paths, but not any closer to an argument that holds - one that shows clearly that acceding to the Constitution does not imply acceding to the Canons.
Just to set Mr. Haley's mind at rest, at least to some small extent, I am aware, having been trained in history, of the importance of delving into matters canonical and other wise with some historical depth. I find his depth of such information admirable, and his ability thereby to change the subject tempting.
But the question remains.