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Friday, March 16, 2007

Go Away, You are Not Wanted



Yesterday the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA, Katharine Jefferts Schori, informed the Diocese of South Carolina she was declaring "null and void" its recent election of the Very Rev'd Mark Lawrence as its new bishop. The putative reason was irregularities in canonical procedure by the other dioceses when reporting their votes (as required by ECUSA), yea or nay approving Fr. Lawrence's election. It seems some of them reported via e-mail while canon law, in an apparently recent revision, specifically requires a written response with signatures. Of the actual votes received, however, Fr. Lawrence did win a majority (albeit barely) from both the bishops and the delegates but nevertheless he is out, on a technicality.

Fr. Lawrence is solidly orthodox and has had an extraordinary career. His curriculum vitæ is dazzling, vastly superior to the Presiding Bishop's, and in a happier time in our Church's history would have been a sure contender for Presiding Bishop himself. You can thus imagine the hue and cry emanating from the orthodox camp over the PB's nullification of his election. I am sympathetic but also of a mind KJS may have done us all a huge favor by this act. Canon law is not entirely clear to me (read Captain Yips, whose grasp of it is as strong as mine is weak) but it looks as if KJS, in her capacity as Presiding Bishop, could have declared for Fr. Lawrence and simply asked the errant dioceses to follow up with the proper documentation affirming their approval. She did not do this, maybe out of fear there would be hell to pay from the revisionists who were vehemently opposed to Fr. Lawrence, but also, perhaps, out of distaste for someone so "unprogressive" as he. Finding a pretext, she chose to play it safe and nixed the whole business. By this action KJS, speaking for the revisionists who control the Episcopal Church, has loudly sent a message to the orthodox: "Go away, you are not wanted."

I think it would be wise to follow that counsel. The other side doesn't like us and they really don't want us hanging around. It is silly to pretend otherwise and besides, it's their ball. The time has come for all of us who profess orthodoxy to consider our future in ECUSA. It doesn't look good: This weekend our bishops meet in Texas to consider the Primates' request, made in Dar es Salaam last month, that ECUSA mend its ways. Do not expect anything of substance to come out of that meeting, the revisionists are in control and they have no intention retreating even one inch. They will, however and in classical Anglican fashion, try to fudge their way around the issue but in the absence of former PB Frank Griswald, master of the mealy-mouth, they are not likely to pull it off. Instead we will get a blathering of obfuscation that will fool no one and come September 30th, at the instigation of the revisionist leadership, ECUSA will walk apart from the Anglican Communion.

In the event, the least we can expect the Primates to do is demote ECUSA to second-class membership in the Communion, like that of the Methodists (they could cut us off completely but that doesn't seem likely just yet). Even though they will have been responsible for it, this lower status will not please the revisionists one bit (progressives are so class conscious!). Guess who they will blame for the diminution in the church's status in the Communion and guess on whom they will visit their wrath? The non-inclusive, bigoted and reactionary orthodox, of course. Do we really need to be around to be their punching bag?

No, I think the best thing to do is wait until the primates act after ECUSA walks, then go our own way. How that will be done, of course, is not at all clear now but God loves his Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and in time He will reveal the way. The orthodox have some singular advantages over the new religionists: youth, enthusiasm, rising numbers and, let's face it, so helpful in the Church Militant, money; fresh money, not dwindling incomes from soon to exhausted trust funds. We should try to hang on to our properties, of course, but if ECUSA makes it too difficult, we should cheerfully hand over the keys and offer our blessings to ECUSA as it evolves into the Womyn's Auxiliary to the United Nations and Real Estate Holding Company. Writing as an Anglo-Catholic I surely appreciate the loss many of us may face should we lose our often beautiful buildings. We must be mindful, however, even absent a beautiful building, a frontal, linen cloth and fair linen can be placed on a folding table, six candles, a tabernacle and a crucifix on top of them and behold, we will have an altar, even if it's in a Holiday Inn conference room; Jesus will be with us and the fluorescent tubes.

And oh what sweet relief it will be as people like Gene Robinson fade from our collective memory and we can turn our attention, at last, to the far more important matter of repairing the damage of the last thirty years. There is a great deal to be done but when we are no longer preoccupied with the constant battling with the New Religionists, it shouldn't prove an impossible task. There will be quarrels and disagreements along the way, of course, but so long as we are united in fellowship in God's Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church the task should not prove impossible and something beautiful will arise out of the ashes of the late Episcopal Church.

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