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.