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Breaking: Concerns Raised by San Joaquin Standing Committee about Consents for Bishop of Virginia

Sunday, July 22, 2007 • 6:13 pm

From Dan Martin’s Confessions of a Carioca blog:

“As you can see the Diocese of Virginia form for Standing Committee testimonial is defective on many counts. Since Canon III.11.4.b is crystal clear that the only evidence of consent is a testimonial in the canonical words, the Virginia documents do not constitute evidence of consent.

How did you “proceed to take order for the ordination” without evidence of consent from the Standing Committees? If you do something that is not canonically permissible, isn’t that a violation of the canons? Should you not have declared the election null & void as required in III.11.5? If you fail to do something that is canonically required, isn’t that a violation of the canons? I believe you are familiar with the requirements of both canons III.11.4.b and III.11.5 as you used both to declare null & void the recent election in South Carolina.

Without your confirmation of receipt of proper consents, we have a very uneasy situation. First we have what appears to be your unequal application of the same canon in two separate cases within months of each other. Second we potentially have the irregular consecration of Bishop Johnston [without consents from Standing Committees], calling into question his Episcopal acts. Third we may have before us a Canon IV.1.c liability on your part for violation of the Constitution and Canons of the General Convention. Since you are the person to inform the review committee if there is sufficient reason to believe that a Bishop has committed an Offense [IV.3.23.b], how do you suggest others can clarify the conflicted situation within the Church?

We began this inquiry within the 120 days from notification of election of Bishop Johnston. We ask again Presiding Bishop, David Booth Beers, & the Diocese of Virginia, for the third time, to confirm the canonically required consents, in the words as required by canon, were received prior to consecration of Bishop Johnston. Failing to make such confirmation, please advise as to what steps can be taken to have these matters forwarded to the Review Committee and resolved.”

Read the very interesting further details about this at the Father Martins’ blog.

Back when the consents for Mark Lawrence’s election as bishop were denied and the election was overturned by our Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori, I defended her overturn of the election based on a strict reading of the canons.  I certainly thought her spiteful attempt to blame the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina for not controlling the form in which the consents from other dioceses was received was a crude, defensive, and clumsy bit of rhetoric.  But her overturn of the election was by the book and I did not believe it to be wrong.

Here is what I said:

“For the record, unlike some commenters, I do not believe that it is the fault of the Presiding Bishop that the consents were not provided in the correct format. Any Standing Committee should be crystal aware of its duties under the canons.

And as I have stated on Kendall’s site and here at StandFirm, the main fault lies with some of the progressive leaders of our church who—in a breathtakingly petty, childish, and vengeful manner—denied consent to Mark Lawrence for two reasons and two reasons only. 1) He publicly and vigorously has disagreed with the direction of the national leadership of the Episcopal church and 2) he supported the diocese of South Carolina’s efforts in its successful attempts at offering a clear distinction between the diocese and the theology and agenda of the leaders of the national church, while yet remaining within the Episcopal church.

Those two things about Mark Lawrence infuriated some progressives on some Standing Committees [though certainly not all progressives on all Standing Committees], and so they came up with a transparently vacuous excuse for denying consent—that Mark Lawrence might possibly violate the canons someday.

Because of their immaturity, the usual bureaucratic snafus that inevitably occur in such a process achieved heightened impact and every vote assumed immense and epic importance.

Our Presiding Bishop is certainly not to blame for either the snafus in process that occurred for some Standing Committees, or the vengefulness of some progressive Standing Committees. Neither is the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina to blame for either problem.”

Now one must ask an important question.

Did Katherine Jefferts Schori treat the consents received for the election of a bishop for the Diocese of Virginia in the same way?  Did she base her actions on a likewise “strict reading of the canons” for the Diocese of Virginia’s bishop election?

It is surprising that the national church has not chosen to respond to the request for clarifying details from the Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin.  We all now await with interest the response to the questions the Standing Committee has raised.

Surely there will be some explanatory answers.

70 Comments • Print-friendlyPrint-friendly w/commentsShare on Facebook

That’s gonna leave a mark.
Matthew 7:2

[1] Posted by Cindy T. in TX on 07-22-2007 at 06:47 PM • top

Canons for the right!
Canons for the left!
Never the twain are one!
Ain’t canons fun?

[2] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 07-22-2007 at 07:16 PM • top

Can we say that KJS has caught her, um… rochet in a wringer on this one?

[3] Posted by West Coast Cleric on 07-22-2007 at 07:40 PM • top

I recall discussing what bishop was next in the consent process at the time when SC’s election was declared null & void.  And a number of us wondered aloud on the blogs about what kind of transparency and verification there would be re: Virginia’s consent process.  And then most of us promptly forgot about it and didn’t give it a second thought.  Good for San Joaquin’s Standing Committee for following through and demanding transparency and truth.

Just when it seemed things really couldn’t get any stranger… they always do.

[4] Posted by Karen B. on 07-22-2007 at 07:44 PM • top

Do click on the links and see the actual documents.  It is obvious to all that Shannon Johnston+ has not received the required consents.

It will be interesting to see how Virginia will accept an irregularly consecrated bishop.

[5] Posted by James Manley on 07-22-2007 at 07:51 PM • top

Trapped(and perhaps rolled over) by their own canon,it could just get interesting.
Sure is gonna make the South Carolina election and consent process fun and put a microscope on the way 815 handles it.

[6] Posted by paddy c on 07-22-2007 at 08:11 PM • top

Once again, with feeling:
When it serves their aims, the liberals are canonical fundamentalists and/or cry “polity.”
But when it serves their aims to ignore the canons and polity, then that’s exactly what they do.

[7] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 07-22-2007 at 08:18 PM • top

I wonder what will happen when the only canonically-elected Anglican bishops in Northern Virginia are +Minns (CANA) and +Riches (REC)?  Hmmm?

[8] Posted by James Manley on 07-22-2007 at 08:23 PM • top

I do not think there will be a microscope for 815.  It will still be focused on South Carolina and my fear is the Mark Lawrence will have a harder time in this round than in the first.  The pressure will be back door conversations as 815 tells Standing Committees to hold the line.

This little revolting development only demonstrates that this wasn’t an aberration in February.  We can expect more of the same, just new tactics, that fly a little below radar.

[9] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 07-22-2007 at 08:23 PM • top

I guess that this will make South Carolina’s electoral process even more fun. Mrs. Schori will almost have to accept his election, if he gets the required consents, if she doesn’t want the entire Anglican Communion to see her blatant hypocrisy. ANd form will not matter. ) what tangled webs we weave.

[10] Posted by FrRick on 07-22-2007 at 08:24 PM • top

Also does canonically elected have anything to do with an invite to Lambeth?  Besides +VGR, that is.  His situation is a little more unique.

[11] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 07-22-2007 at 08:25 PM • top

Does the PB know any lawyers who might have advised her on this situation?

[12] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 07-22-2007 at 08:39 PM • top

I see your point but perhaps I would pick up and expand on Fr Rick’s point regarding people(and I would include the prospective jury pools in Virginia as well as numerous other places) not only seeing her and TEC’s hypocrisy should Fr Lawrence be elected again by the South Carolinian diocese but recognising that the process has been corrupted by organizational malice and favoritism.

[13] Posted by paddy c on 07-22-2007 at 08:42 PM • top

Sorry,meant to say ‘should Fr Lawrence be elected again by the South Carolinian diocese and denied confirmation by TEC
Would also include bias with organizational malice and favoritism.

[14] Posted by paddy c on 07-22-2007 at 08:52 PM • top

I’m shocked, SHOCKED that KJS and DBB aren’t on this issue like a pit bull on a poodle.

[15] Posted by Jeffersonian on 07-22-2007 at 08:56 PM • top

Is this the tip of the Iceberg - how many more times might this have happened ?

[16] Posted by justme on 07-22-2007 at 09:01 PM • top

Given TEC’s selective reaction to Windsor, and of the ancient traditions of the Church, why are any of us surprised by a selective application of any canon?  And why would we be surprised at the silence?  If they ignore it, it will go away!

[17] Posted by murbles on 07-22-2007 at 09:12 PM • top

This complaint seems to have merit, but what purpose does it serve?

[18] Posted by Going Home on 07-22-2007 at 09:35 PM • top

What purpose it might have?
1. Exposing potential hypocrisy. 
2. Demanding truth and transparency.
3. Holding 815 accountable to enforce canons consistently.

Three purposes that come immediately to mind.

[19] Posted by Karen B. on 07-22-2007 at 09:40 PM • top

Timothy, Given the goals that our worthy opponents see as their end game, any time or effort that we can force them to expend is less time they can spend doing damage…just a thought.

[20] Posted by johnp on 07-22-2007 at 10:06 PM • top

815 will do what it wants, when it wants, and how it wants using whatever canon they can find or make up to validate it. If 815 doesn’t want something it will dismiss it, call it invalid, out of order, and any other verbiage they can muster using any canon they can find to back them up or they will take one and twist it to mean what they want it to mean. This is the heirarchy of TEC! It feels and looks like tyranny to me.

[21] Posted by TLDillon on 07-22-2007 at 10:12 PM • top

Those two things about Mark Lawrence infuriated some progressives on some Standing Committees [though certainly not all progressives on all Standing Committees], and so they came up with a transparently vacuous excuse for denying consent—that Mark Lawrence might possibly violate the canons someday.

Case in point to my above post!

[22] Posted by TLDillon on 07-22-2007 at 10:15 PM • top

This is interesting.  It would take a canon lawyer, like the late Bill Swinford, to figure it out, but is there a way to prove that if they don’t abide by their own canons, that they themselves are null and void?  And how many bishops may have been consecrated without proper consents to begin with?

[23] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 07-22-2007 at 10:18 PM • top

Remember, they finally had to get Al Capone on tax evasion.

[24] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 07-22-2007 at 10:19 PM • top

All reasserters who are not at all surprised, please raise your hand.  And please keep your hand raised if you thought this happened earlier during bishop-elect Mark Lawrence’s consent process.  And please keep your hand raised if you think such behavior will continue to occur at 815.

My hand is still raised.  And I bet One Day Closer’s hand is still raised too.  It’s not just distrust, suspicion, paranoia, etc….  It’s just that it’s such a long-term repetitive pattern of sinful behavior by revisionists, that it really doesn’t take much of a gift of discernment. 

Would dearly love to give the benefit of the doubt, but….

[25] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-22-2007 at 10:21 PM • top

Let me know when I can put my hand down! blank stare

[26] Posted by TLDillon on 07-22-2007 at 10:26 PM • top

Exposing potential hypocrisy. 
2. Demanding truth and transparency.
3. Holding 815 accountable to enforce canons consistently.

Three purposes that come immediately to mind.

JohnP, your point is well taken!

Karen P., all that you say is certainly correct; based on this information, TECs treatment of South Carolina consent process was hypocritical and untruthful when viewed in light of the Virginia consent.  But I view this in the same fashion as the Righter presentment—no chance of success.  Purely for public consumption.

[27] Posted by Going Home on 07-22-2007 at 10:27 PM • top

ODC, put your hand down now, finish packing, enjoy the security precautions, and have a nice flight to Houston!

Traveling Mercies, sister.

[28] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-22-2007 at 10:32 PM • top

Ah! TU&D…..Thank you very much and my arm thanks you too! Talk to you all in a week!

[29] Posted by TLDillon on 07-22-2007 at 10:36 PM • top

Someone in this process is definitely going to be canonized .....


[30] Posted by Anglican Observer on 07-22-2007 at 10:41 PM • top


I agree that exposing more of the 815 malice and corruption is good, but I’m beginning to wonder if anyone in the pews is paying attention anymore.  Comfortably numb is how one of my friends would put it.

But it does serve to help us keep on our toes and pay attention to what is going on.  As I recall, there are some other dioceses who have recently elected a new bishop.  It might be helpful if more information about those dioceses’ progress towards consents were out in the open.

[31] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 07-22-2007 at 10:55 PM • top

KJS will respond when she has completed the Listening process…please bear in mind that the answer must come from General Convention….2030.

[32] Posted by Intercessor on 07-22-2007 at 10:57 PM • top

Also isn’t the Standing Committee of the Diocese requesting consents the responsible party for making certain that consents/testimonials are in the canonically proper order?

Wasn’t that the charge made against South Carolina after Mark Lawrence was denied consents?

I understand why San Joaquin is now addressing the bureaucracy at 815; the bishop-coadjutor is in place.  I don’t understand why Virginia’s Standing Committee isn’t out front with what happened and why some consent forms were of the improper order.  You would think they would want their new bishop out from under the cloud this is creating.

[33] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 07-22-2007 at 11:08 PM • top

Romans 1:16
Since Johnston is now in place, 815 and the VA diocese could careless of the diocese of SJ thinks, or any other orthodox believer who has the intelligence to understand the scandal that is coming to a boil on the surface of the skin of the Presiding Bishop.  It is time for a conservative journalist team to go after this situation so that this boil can be lanced to the public and watch the putrid puss shoot forth.  [It can be done if Woodward and Bernstein were conservative] If it is ever exposed I think that the house of cards will start to fall for TECWW when it is found out that most of the bishops have been illegally elected.

[34] Posted by TheMonsignour on 07-22-2007 at 11:51 PM • top

Am I missing something? The consent form was clearly not what the canons called for, and the fact that it doesn’t attest to what it’s supposed to (no impediments, etc) would appear to make this more than simply a technicality. So why didn’t SJ or some other diocesean standing committee raise holy hell as soon as they received it? Why wait until after the consecration?

[35] Posted by BillyD on 07-23-2007 at 12:43 AM • top


While I consider myself a fairly strict constructionist in these matters of protocol (I like my i’s dotted and t’s crossed), I think that the issue here is quite a bit different from that which was at hand in South Carolina.  If I remember correctly, the real problem with the documents in SC was that, in several cases, an original document signed by all the members of the various Standing Committees was not presented.  In this case, it would not be possible to establish that the members of the Standing Committee had rightly and duly given their consent.  Therefore, it would not be possible to establish that consent had indeed been given.  That is quite a different thing from the Virginia document, which omits some wording.  The important thing is that the DOCUMENT is produced, bearing the appropriate signatures, thereby testifying that all the members of the various Standing Committees did indeed give their consent to the consecration.

Let’s not forget, shall we, that canon law WAS bent in order to give SC a few extra days to get in all of the consents that were lacking (and they still weren’t able to get it together). So, if canon law dictating deadlines can be bent in that case (for the “conservatives”), then I think it can be bent in regard to wording (for the “liberals”). 

Nevertheless, I think the issue should be addressed, if only to satisfy those who simply want to cause trouble and divert attention to themselves.

Interesting, isn’t it, that San Joaquin is asking for the letter of the law to be enforced while they have already committed a brazen canonical crime that is not at all based upon small technicalities.  Two-faced, eh?

[36] Posted by berggasse19 on 07-23-2007 at 01:04 AM • top

Bergasse was quite correct that canon law was “bent” to give the weekend for mail to come in. Interesting that it wasn’t “bent” regarding the few non-canonical consents and KJS didn’t simply just pick up the phone and ask them to fax the correct forms with their yeas or nays. As I said then, this was not a presidential election in Florida.

[37] Posted by rob-roy on 07-23-2007 at 01:12 AM • top

And I also agree with rob-roy, in principle.  HOWEVER, neither of us is charged with upholding canon law, and neither of us is legally liable if we fail in that duty.

[38] Posted by berggasse19 on 07-23-2007 at 01:18 AM • top

Long comment ahead:
I don’t have the national canons with me here to show the form necessary for consent prior to the recent form change.
And the point for seeing that document would be that the diocese of Virginia Standing Committee is responsible for sending out the correct, canonical form.  VIRGINIA, people, using a non-canonical form and thus placing their own episcopal election into jeopardy—VIRGINIA!
And the point for that revelation would be that people on Standing Committees don’t always pay attention.  Sure, episcopal elections happen often.  But frequency of use of a form as a collective sum doesn’t necessarily translate into an individual diocese’s (which does NOT have episcopal elections “often”) awareness and practice.
But that, in the end, is no excuse.  San Joaquin hasn’t had an episcopal election for 19 years.  However, on THIS end of things, like every other Standing Committee, receiving multiple requests for consent every year, an alert Standing Committee president would see a form that was out of order.  Our Standing Committee presidents over many years have paid attention, they have been knowledgable, they have kept up.  Surely, ours is not the only one!
This is not about making some holy war between DSJ and Virginia, or anybody’s office.  This is more like getting the “little things” right, so that the big things can be also trustworthy. 
HOW MANY other Standing Committee presidents and/or committees sent in or called in some kind of request for clarity about the use of an uncanonical form as soon as they got it in the mail?  And if there were other requests for the proper form, were they also not acknowledged?  HOW MANY Standing Committees didn’t notice the incorrect form, or didn’t care?
San Joaquin’s letter is not about pulling people off thrones.  This is the evidence of righteous frustration in the desire to do the job right to which one has been elected.  If a response had been sent after the first letter to explain, or to make corrections, it would have ended there (except for a letter of thanks in return).  Just like within our own diocese - and that does ruffle feathers here like anywhere else - the Standing Committee’s decisions to “get things right” ultimately is intended to help the machine run smoother, and better, up front, and able to withstand any question of personal agenda.
The PB’s office was given an administrative gift with the South Carolina problem of “invalid” consents to help provide Church-wide consistency and a welcome transparency—1) just like balloting at diocesan episcopal elections is made public knowledge, provide immediate transparency of the END of the consent process by releasing the results of every episcopal consent process, telling us how many consents were received in both the “yes” and the “no” columns for both bishops and Standing Committees, and, further, for the “no” votes, how many of those are the result of bishops and Standing Committees that didn’t bother to send anything in (also a violation of the “spirit” of the consent canon), AND how many of those “no” votes are due to “invalid” consent forms, and why they were judged to be invalid; 2) at the BEGINNING of the consent process have a mutual recognition by the PB’s office and the responsible Standing Committee of the respective forms being sent out.  This would take 5 minutes by fax.  The PB’s office would see this as an unwanted repetitive task, anywhere from 5 to 10 times per year.  But, tough; an election has happened only 5 to 10 times in the entire history of any given diocese.
BUT, the PB’s office has not taken advantage of the situation.  TECusa morale across this Church is already low—go ahead, let it slip some more.  Just incredible.

[39] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 07-23-2007 at 02:49 AM • top

Thanks Rob+

I second your call for transparency in the consent results.  In the aftermath of the SC invalidated election, and in the context of VGR’s election and resolution B033 we need to know which bishops and dioceses consented to whom, and if/why any consents were ruled invalid.  It is just common sense at this point.  But that too often seems lacking in ECUSA.

[40] Posted by Karen B. on 07-23-2007 at 05:32 AM • top

In the interest of fairness - some of us still believe in it, there are a couple of differences I note here.

In the consent process for SC, I thought the issue of “form” was that consents were submitted without original - or any - signatures of members of standing committees.  IMHO, it is those signatures that indicate that the standing committees had indeed consented.  Without signatures - original or otherwise - it is possible that the consents were not authorized by the submitting standing committee.  Although, I thought the PB could have arranged a verification process for the canoncially incorrect ballots then, I still agreed that her decision was the correct one in that case. 
Every bishop and standing committee should have then and there, opened the canons and taken the opportunity to get it right from that moment on. 
Now in this case, we don’t seem to have an issue about numbers of signed consents, but whether the wording of those consents was valid.  Different issues, but I concur that consistent enforcement of canons is the principle at stake.

Some questions I have:

Did anyone raise this issue during the consent process; before the votes were counted?  If so, what was the response?

Did SJ submit a form?  If so, did they use the form Virginia sent out, or adjust it so that their form submitted, regardless of decision, was canonically correct?

How many current bishops were consented to on “incorrect” forms?  What do we do about those? 

What would be the proposed solution?


[41] Posted by OpenMindedAnglican on 07-23-2007 at 05:35 AM • top

Scott Gunn at Inclusive Church blog has an excellent blog entry on this.  How refreshing to read a progressive blogger who focuses on the issues and does not let partisanship color his analysis.

Highly recommended reading.  May he get a hearing among those who might unfortunately dismiss out of hand such concerns coming from San Joaquin or South Carolina or reasserters in general.

[42] Posted by Karen B. on 07-23-2007 at 05:45 AM • top

If the text of the consent forms was irregular, this does seem a very valid reason for concern.  It appears to me that all should be held to the same standard of conformity.  With regard to the “order” of bishop, can someone enlighten me as to what should happen if the consents were not validly obtained?  Is the consecration invalid?  By what means should the situation be clarified or rectified on the basis of the theology of the episcopacy and canon law?  As in the case of South Carolina, is a “do-over” election required?  Fr. Lawrence, however, was not already consecrated in an irregular manner.  The situation in SC seems much clearer and will be ultimately settled to everyone’s canonical satisfaction?

[43] Posted by EmilyH on 07-23-2007 at 07:29 AM • top

Someone in this process is definitely going to be canonized .....

Or cannonaded!

[44] Posted by NWOhio Anglican on 07-23-2007 at 08:53 AM • top

I have to agree with berggasse19.  The situation in SC is not comparable here at all.

Do you people realize what went on in SC?  My Lord, people used EMAIL.  Who in the world uses email as a method of communication for important subjects?  Just for the audacity of behaving as though this were the 21ST CENTURY, the people of SC deserved to not get the bishop they overwhelmingly and freely elected in ECUSA’s polity, which, may I remind you, is democratic .. err … anyway, I’ve also heard that some consents were received on the ‘Citrus Punch’ email stationery, and not the ‘Nature’ or ‘Ivy’ stationeries, which are very clearly specified by the ancient traditions of the church, if email were allowed, which it isn’t.  And you all should stop reading blogs, too, and get your news from the Episcopal Church website!

OK?  Not the same situation at all.

[45] Posted by Phil on 07-23-2007 at 09:10 AM • top

ODC and TU&D,
I agree completely and my hand is still raised. 

We need to continue to expose the hypocrisy of TEC, yet it should not surprise any of us any longer.

[46] Posted by Spencer on 07-23-2007 at 09:18 AM • top

How could anyone have expected the Diocese of Virginia’s Standing Committee to have the time to get all these little details right?  After all, they are immersed in dealing with far more important issues like lawsuits.  Same goes for the PB and David Beers.  Lawsuits take a lot of time and energy, conspiratorial plotting, etc.  Give ‘em some slack on this minor polity issue!

[47] Posted by hanks on 07-23-2007 at 09:28 AM • top

All other issues aside, it is inexcusable for the Presiding Bishop to ignore three letters from any Standing Committee on any topic.

[48] Posted by Miss Sippi on 07-23-2007 at 09:46 AM • top

“I am shocked, shocked, I say, to find that gambling is going on in here!”  Sorry, the quote is probably a little off.  Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Sarah, even if it comes as no surprise.  If Bishop Cox could be charged for presentment, but not Bennison or Smith, why would we think that the canons for election would be evenly enforced?  More to the point, how did this make it past 100+ diocesan chancellors and standing committees?  Could it be “business as usual?”  Maybe the time has come to “round up the usual suspects.”
  Of course, it appears evident that the Diocese of Virginia has violated the Constitution, Canons and (heaven help them) the polity of the Episcopal Church.  All the things that they have accused CANA churches in Virginia of doing.  Does this mean that 815 will now launch lawsuits against the DoV, inhibit their clergy, present the bishops, and seize all the property of the diocese? 
  Nah.  For the dioceses that 815 likes, the Constitution, Canons and polity of TEC are “more like guidelines than actual rules.”

[49] Posted by tjmcmahon on 07-23-2007 at 09:53 AM • top

Actually, this isse does pose a problem for the Diocese of Virginia.  It can become Exhibit A in the trial to show that:

1. The Canons can be interpreted any way you wish, including the Dennis Canon. 

2. The enforcement of the Canons are random and not consistently enforced.  In other words, they can mean whatever you want them to.

3.  The Episcopal Church is not a hierarchical church since the “higher” national office did not require the “lower” diocesan office to comply with the canons.

4. Discovery could include The Episcopal Church producing evidence that it has enforced all its canons for the past fifty years consistently and with force to the “lower” dioceses.

5. Doubt to the “validity” of the bishop coadjutor’s consecration since his election was irregular as defined by the canons of the church.

No wonder neither 815 or the Diocese of Virginia have responded to three letters requesting more information in this matter.  If they respond that letter will be included in the lawsuits.  They will either have to give evidence that the Dioceses are at least equal to the national office (which is the truth by the way, if not actually superior since the Dioceses can elect not to send their assessment without penalty at General Convention - dioceses that withheld their assessments still were seated in both houses at General Convention) and so the Episcopal Church is not hierarchical (which it is not) or that the enforcement of canons is random (and thus puts their case based on the Dennis Canon at risk).

Hmm ....

[50] Posted by BabyBlue on 07-23-2007 at 09:53 AM • top

BabyBlue, thanks for brightening my Monday morning!

[51] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-23-2007 at 10:03 AM • top

I do hate to criticize an intellectual giant, such as Sarah, but I simply must take exception to term “breaking,” 815 doing what they want, when they want, but insisting those they disagree play by the exact letter of the rules (even if made up ten minutes ago) is now standard operating procedure - hardly anything ‘breaking’ about that news.  rolleyes

Seriously, kudos San Joaquin for holding 815 to account!

[52] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 07-23-2007 at 10:05 AM • top

Timothy said:

Karen P., all that you say is certainly correct; based on this information, TECs treatment of South Carolina consent process was hypocritical and untruthful when viewed in light of the Virginia consent.  But I view this in the same fashion as the Righter presentment—no chance of success.  Purely for public consumption.

Just for the record, are you saying that just because something has no chance of success, it should not be laid out for all the world to see?  No matter how egregious a violation of Canon Law it is?  No matter how demonstrative it is of the unfair and uneven treatment of the Diocese of SC and Mark Lawrence. Do you think this is just something that should swept under the carpet and forgotten?  Good grief!!!

the snarkster

[53] Posted by the snarkster on 07-23-2007 at 11:37 AM • top

The saddest part of all this is that the sending of the form, the wrong form, was probably the act of a dedicated over-worked secretary who he/she thought was doing the right thing.  Nobody noticed and usually people don’t.  Kudos to San Joaquin for recognizing the problem.  Did they recocognize it before returning theirs or make the neded corrections?  Does anyone know whether Dan Martins+ will retain his position on the SJ delegation or, I think he was on their steering com.? now that he is moving to Northern Indiana?

[54] Posted by EmilyH on 07-23-2007 at 01:30 PM • top

Virginia may not be alone. A defective form can become a precedent. Let’s say a diocese needs to send out a consent form. Someone in the bishop’s office remembers receiving one a few years back and retreives it from the file. She makes the revisions to show it comes from her diocese and sends it out. The receipients presume the form is in proper shape, sign the same, return it and put a copy in the file to use as a precedent. I imagine there was alot of file searching this morning. What a hoot it would be if this form has been used over and over again.

[55] Posted by Bill McGovern on 07-23-2007 at 01:41 PM • top


I think that +KJS is dancing like a puppet whose controlling strings are manipulated by dozens of lawyers.

[56] Posted by Bill C on 07-23-2007 at 01:53 PM • top

The pity in this, as with Mark Lawrence, is that the person who will suffer most in this is someone who is not guilty of the error- in this case Bishop Johnson.  He will have an “asterisk next to his name” for the rest of his life denoting that his consecration may have violated canon law.
  Out of curiosity…..has anyone doublechecked the forms sent out for VGR and subsequent bishops?
  OK, forget I asked.
  What do you mean, there is someone here from TEC to pull my internet connec….

[57] Posted by tjmcmahon on 07-23-2007 at 01:53 PM • top

Ware the Integrity Albino cool mad

[58] Posted by paddy c on 07-23-2007 at 02:13 PM • top

Just reading BB’s post above, and requesting a ‘lawyer alert’: is not an unequal application of a law (canon) prima facie evidence that the law (canon) is invalid? Just curious. Should 815 ignore this, does it not provide excellent defenses against presentments, property claims etc?

[59] Posted by RichardP on 07-23-2007 at 02:21 PM • top

tjm, for the record, VGR’s election was consented to at General Convention 2003 (remember that?!)  No forms involved.

[60] Posted by Karen B. on 07-23-2007 at 02:27 PM • top

Bill C - I no longer know who is pulling whose strings anymore, just that some of them seem to have got pretty knotted up cool smile

[61] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 07-23-2007 at 02:51 PM • top

Ya know, if I was a member of vestry whose parish is being sued by the diocese or by 815, or if I was an attorney or paralegal hired by the vestry, I’d be all over this news in the Anglican blogosphere.  This has the serious potential to undermine plaintiff’s claims in a number of crucial ways in a litigation battle….

David Booth Beers, you may increase the number of your billable hours, but you’re in no way assured of winning the battle for your clients.

[62] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-23-2007 at 02:58 PM • top

Karen B- I remember all too well (about VGR’s election).  I was joking.  Although that was a rather irregular way to do things, wasn’t it?  I wasn’t there.  From what I have heard since, there was a lot of talk tossed around about what was and was not canonically correct in terms of consent in a bishop’s election, some of which was not applied in the case of Fr. Lawrence (certainly there were considerations beyond whether he was legally qualified and whether legally elected under the canons of S. Carolina).

[63] Posted by tjmcmahon on 07-23-2007 at 03:24 PM • top

That is indeed one of the implications and consequences.

And just in case it is needed, let us remember this is not Shannon Johnston’s fault.  And, really, sending out the wrong form is not the PB’s fault, although since all consents have to go through the PB’s office for review (which brings in the SC situation) they should have seen it and corrected it then.  Nope.  Virginia S.C. sent out the wrong form, a form not in compliance with the canons.  And there is the problem (with all it’s attending issues).

[64] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 07-23-2007 at 04:04 PM • top

I presume that the response will be that unfortunately the challange to the consent was not received in the proper form/in a timely manner. Errors may have been inadvertantly made but unfortunately the time to challange and review has passed

[65] Posted by Paul PA on 07-23-2007 at 04:25 PM • top

Snark, I didn’t say it should be swept under the rug.  I just said the challenge was “purely for public consumption.”

[66] Posted by Going Home on 07-23-2007 at 04:29 PM • top

Maybe what we need is a “conditional” consecration canon…you know, “if there is reasonable doubt that a person has been consecrated with the paperwork in correct form…then the following form is used: ‘If you are not already consecrated, I consecrate you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’”
(ref BCP page 313).

Let’s move on; the issue is not Virginia, and certainly not Johnston.

[67] Posted by RealityCheck on 07-23-2007 at 06:04 PM • top

Back-to-back posts:

Snark, I didn’t say it should be swept under the rug.

Let’s move on; the issue is not Virginia, and certainly not Johnston.

[68] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-23-2007 at 06:13 PM • top

Let’s move on; the issue is not Virginia, and certainly not Johnston.

Realitycheck, in your estimation, what then is the presenting issue?

[69] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-23-2007 at 06:39 PM • top

Truth Unites,
Good question. It sounds to me like the process of counting and verifying consents needs alot of clarification and someone to administer the process fairly (maybe a committee made up of folks from each province?).  It boggles my mind how this could happen in VA on the heels of the SC consent process….who is responsible for counting and verifying consents?  It seems a simple enough thing to me. 

If I missed this due to skimming the posts, please inform me, but did
the SJ SC raise the issue before the consecration?  If so, and it was not addressed, maybe someone should have gone to the service and objected at the appropriate time.  If the issue was raised after, then there’s not much to be done except try to improve the process for the next elections, ahem, including one readers really care about in SC….  in other words, let’s move on and get it right from this point forward.

[70] Posted by RealityCheck on 07-23-2007 at 06:52 PM • top

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