No Surprise - Presiding Bishop Ejects Bishop Lawrence from ECUSA
I am limited these days by my involvement with family matters following the sudden death of my sister (and thank you all for your generous prayers and sentiments), so I do not have time to put up a detailed post reacting to the news so carefully crafted by ECUSA’s Public Affairs Office, announcing that the Presiding Bishop has “accepted” the “voluntary renunciation” by Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina of his orders in the Episcopal Church (USA).
Note that on October 18, I wrote this paragraph in a post on the coming fiasco in South Carolina:
Indeed, any communication Mark Lawrence makes in public about the charges or his diocese now runs the risk that the Presiding Bishop will treat it as she did in the case of Bishop Iker, and declare that it constitutes a “voluntary renunciation of orders” so that she can shorten the process of his removal, and not have to bother with a meeting of the House of Bishops. And in fact, now that I think about it, mark my words—watch for that very thing to happen.
And Bishop Lawrence indeed did give a spoken address to his diocesan Special Convention held last November 17. The Presiding Bishop, exactly as predicted, took this address as satisfying the requirements of Canon III.12.7, which provides (with my emphasis added):
If any Bishop of this Church shall declare, in writing, to the Presiding Bishop a renunciation of the ordained Ministry of this Church, and a desire to be removed therefrom, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to record the declaration and request so made.
Bishop Lawrence (a) did not address any writing to the Presiding Bishop; (b) did not renounce his ordained Ministry; and (c) did not request to be removed from that Ministry. The elaborately crafted press release from the Public Affairs Office is simply a poor attempt to cover over a huge, public lie.
That huge, public lie has been told simply for the sake of the Presiding Bishop’s and ECUSA’s own convenience. It is convenient for them to be rid of Bishop Lawrence now, rather than wait until next March’s meeting of the House of Bishops—that way, they avoid the necessity of taking another illegal vote of “deposition” by less than the full majority of bishops that the Abandonment Canon requires; and they are now free to reorganize those in South Carolina wishing to remain with ECUSA into a pseudo-diocese with a puppet bishop whose immediate and most important mission will not be the welfare of his parishioners, but instead the filing of a lawsuit against Bishop Lawrence and the real Diocese’s corporate trustees, in an attempt to force them to turn over all of the Diocese’s property and assets.
But for reasons I have already discussed in this post (and on Anglican TV), I predict again that the effort in South Carolina will not meet with success. ECUSA is destined to lose this battle on the diocesan front, and lose big—with ramifications for the continued tenure of Bishop Jefferts Schori and her egregious wasting of corporate assets on a personal vendetta.
See also this earlier post for an account of how she proceeded in just the same way with Bishop Iker. In the end, her disregard of the Canon will of course make no difference, because everyone no doubt wants it this way. Still—if ECUSA wants to have a rapid and easy means of getting rid of its Bishops, why not just write a Canon giving the Presiding Bishop the power to remove any other bishop at her pleasure, and in her discretion? They might as well do so—because they are already there.
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