7/18/2011

The Curmudgeon confuses two sauces and spoils both goose and gander.

The Anglican Curmudgeon has commented on my last post, Just how often did Archbishop Williams consult with the boys from America? with the following: 

"Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, Fr. Harris. If you complain about the Archbishop of Canterbury "meddling" in ECUSA's internal affairs without any authority under the instruments of the Anglican Communion, then how do you justify the Presiding Bishop's meddling in the internal affairs of the Diocese of South Carolina, without any authority under the Constitution and Canons?"

Well, the "sauce" in each case is different. In the first, namely the Archbishop meeting secretly with people who were clearly unwilling to be in a church they deemed doomed, the problem with the sauce was that it involved someone not of this church entering into deep conversations about ways to either change this church or replace it. I don't suggest that the Archbishop was for the development of what became ACNA (The Anglican Church in North America), but I do believe he ought to have been both transparent (at least by notification) and clear about his role.  And yes, the ABC meets with many people and many conversations are private. But very few are secret, at least in the way that David Anderson described it.  In any case it was an intervention in the life of this church by a prelate of another church in secret from, one supposes, the church leadership of this church. And my question was, how often did they meet?

In the second, the engagement of legal council to advise the Presiding Bishop of matters in the Diocese of South Carolina, the "sauce" is quite different.  There seems to be no question that the Bishop of South Carolina knew that there was legal council from the PB's office. There was apparently a meeting between the Bishop and the Presiding Bishop in which they disagreed about the actions she took and the role she understood was hers.  There may be serious disagreements about the canonical propriety of her actions, just as there are serious questions about the nature of the canonical changes effected in the Diocese of South Carolina. Those are arguments to which the Curmudgeon has given considerable attention. But that "sauce" is one of possibly bitter disagreement, not subterfuge. 

The common element in the sauce is perhaps that of meddling. But all meddling is not of the same sort. 

Meeting with people set on either changing the decisions of the synod of this church (The Episcopal Church) or organizing a new Anglican body meant finally to be the "real" presence of Anglicanism in North America, and doing so secretly is a very different thing from two bishops of the same synod, one with particular oversight, however defined, of the whole Church, disagreeing about the understanding of diocesan autonomy, the canons, and the extent to which a diocese might or might not have changed the intent of the Church canons regarding property, ordination vows and other matters addressed in the canons.

My post concerned the Archbishop's meetings. I gather there were several, they were no only private but secret, they took place at his request. They concerned the life of The Episcopal Church. I believe that his having those meetings was inappropriate. 

About the matters of canon, the nature of actions by a Presiding Bishop in the life of a diocese, the issues of conformity to the Constitution and Canons (both), etc - those are a matter for another day. 

I do believe the effects of the struggle in The Episcopal Church is changing the role of the Presiding Bishop, as well as our common understanding of what it means to be in union with the General Convention, how that relates to notion that dioceses derive their authority from a wider synodical context, and so forth.  I disagree with almost everything the Anglican Curmudgeon writes, but I do agree with him that the changes matter.  Our disagreement is about what they mean and what they portend.

Of course, nothing of this answers my question. But then again, perhaps that was the point, to distract. Oh well.

6 comments:

  1. I appreciate the clarity of your assessment of the real differences between the two situations.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I also appreciate your candor:

    "I do believe the effects of the struggle in The Episcopal Church is changing the role of the Presiding Bishop,"

    Why should this happen without some clear theological discussion? Do liberals genuinely want a metropolitan? What abou accountability, and the new Title IV changes which allow the PB new powers, but appear to give her the sort of license we are witnessing re: Bede Parry?

    "as well as our common understanding of what it means to be in union with the General Convention,"

    I wish there was a "common understanding" but manifestly there isn't. When a convention passes resolutions, what does that mean constitutionally? Nothing in the first instance.

    "how that relates to notion that dioceses derive their authority from a wider synodical context, and so forth."

    Boy, unpacking this is worth a blog of its own. It is indeed a "notion" but a clouded and controversial one.

    But let me repeat, it is good to see that a firm liberal proponent who also sits on Exec Council acknowledges these are serious topics and bespeak serious disagreements over the character of our common life.

    Franklin

    ReplyDelete
  3. Two comments;

    Mr. Haley, in addition to being a curmudgeon, has been an attorney for some those who have left TEC and tried to assert rights to TEC property. His legal opinions are those that support his clients and, so far, they have not prevailed in most courts. He is a champion of the unlimited diocesan sovereignty position and all his comments seem to reflect that position.

    The Parry situation, which Franklin raised, is, at least in connection with disciplinary canons, a red herring. I have heard of no allegations that Parry abused anyone while serving in TEC. While there have been legitimate concerns about transparency raised, some of the comments about the situation reflect, IMV, animus towards the PB more than concern for the safety of people in TEC.

    Is

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is by no means a red herring. The new Title IV requires self-reporting. Is there some doubt that the canons were not followed properly in the reception of a RC priest, which required that said minister be in good standing and with a letter to that effect?

    And the larger question remains: is this a role that the church wants to give a PB, whoever they may be? Do you want a metropolitan and the constitution changed to allow for that?

    Churches that have this role of course also carefully circumscribe or otherwise delineate the rights and responsibilities. When will TEC get around to doing this, if this is indeed what it desires.

    This has nothing whatsoever to do with personal animus and that is just another instance of seeking by personalization what needs to be thought through carefully by argument and legal principle.

    Franklin

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you, Mr Haley, for responding to Fr Harris at your blog.

    I hope Fr Harris will reply.

    Franklin

    ReplyDelete
  6. Franklin,
    I am not sure what you meant by the requirement that "said minister be in good standing and with a letter to that effect." I have had experience with the reception of a few priests from the Roman Catholic Church and at least one or two had been excommunicated, far from being in good standing. I have seen no evidence that Parry was deposed or whatever the Romans call it and evidence that the canons - both TEC and Nevada - were followed in the process of his reception. I have said, more than once, that I think the decision to receive him was not wise, but I have yet to see proof that it was in violation of any canons, nor any allegations that he was guilty of abuse while serving as a lay person or a cleric in the Diocese of Nevada. You can continue to raise the issue, but unless and until there is some substance to your allegations, I will continue to see it as a red herring. As to the question of animus, I didn't accuse you, but if the shoe fits....

    ReplyDelete

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