Many of us have know[n] that there were conversations going on with the Network folk as they began the move that became finally the Anglican Church in North America, but have had no proof of such meetings. Now, as it begins to be history and not current events, Anderson feels free to tell us that there were many meetings. He does so believing that he was betrayed by the Archbishop who exhibits "passive aggression in dealing with any dissent from the orthodox wing of the Anglican Communion."
Well, I care not that he was stung.
What I do care about is that at a time when we are being asked to trust a system of consultation between the "instruments of Communion" and member churches whose actions may or may not have been reasonable in the eyes of other member churches, we have here the example of the Archbishop of Canterbury deliberately engaging in matters internal to a member church of the Communion apparently without transparency or consultation with the Church itself. More, the people he was meeting with were set on the path to form a new Anglican body (see the Chapman Memo of December 2003). That memo was reported on widely and by Thinking Anglicans in January 2004. It is impossible to believe that the Archbishop of Canterbury and his staff did not know by January 2004 that the American Anglican Council and others were set to begin a process that would involve an attempted coup.
The whole history of the meeting, however many there were, the secrecy of them, and the role the Archbishop had in supporting or retarding the development of the Network and the Network into the Anglican Church in North America, is greatly disturbing to some of us in The Episcopal Church as we consider the matter of the Anglican Covenant.
If this is the kind of meddling statesmanship we can expect from the Archbishop as an instrument of communion and unity, we have every business being suspicious of the whole thing.
And the next quote comes from Bishop Mark Lawrence's address to the annual diocesan convention of the Diocese of South Carolina in March 2010, protesting the recent incursions into his diocese authorized by the Presiding Bishop and her Chancellor:
I come now to the reason why this Annual Diocesan Convention was postponed. . . . In December of 2009 our Chancellor, Mr. Wade Logan, was finally informed by a local attorney that he had been retained by the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor. In a subsequent series of letters he presented himself as “South Carolina counsel for The Episcopal Church” and requested numerous items of the Bishop and Standing Committee, as well as information regarding parishes in this diocese. This way of presenting himself fails to acknowledge that this diocese is the only recognized body of The Episcopal Church within the lower half of South Carolina. There is no other representative or ecclesiastical authority of The Episcopal Church here but our Bishop and Standing Committee. Furthermore, this was carried out without the Presiding Bishop even so much as calling me. . . . The retaining of counsel now has all the signs of an adversarial relationship—one of monitoring through a non-constitutional and non-canonical incursion how a Diocesan Bishop and Standing Committee may choose to deal with its priests and parishes.
What is astonishing is that this Diocese of South Carolina, while seeking to be faithful to the Holy Scriptures, historic Anglicanism and the received teaching of the Anglican Communion as expressed through its four Instruments of Unity, as well as to The Book of Common Prayer, and adhering to The Constitution and Canons of this Church, has experienced incursions not authorized by these very constitution and canons. . . .
All this is a profound overreach of the Presiding Bishop’s authority. . . . [T]he thing we are confronting now is . . . a challenge to how for over two hundred years The Episcopal Church has carried out its mission and ministry. . . . In standing up and protecting our autonomy or independence as a diocese in TEC, in protecting the diocesan bishop’s authority to shepherd the parishes and missions of his diocese, and in defending the bishop and, in his absence, the Standing Committee as the Ecclesiastical Authority, we are in fact defending how TEC has carried out its ministry and mission for these many years. Every Diocesan Bishop, every Standing Committee, indeed every Episcopalian ought to know that if this is allowed to stand, that if the Presiding Bishop and her chancellor are allowed to hire an attorney in a diocese of this Church, to look over the shoulder of any bishop or worse dictate to that Bishop or Standing Committee how they are to deal with the parishes and missions under their care, imposing upon them mandates or directives as to how they disburse or purchase property then we have entered into a new era of unprecedented hierarchy, and greater autocratic leadership from the Presiding Bishop’s office and his or her chancellor. It may then be the case that a chancellor who has heretofore been only a counsel of advice for the Presiding Bishop can now function, without election, confirmation or canonical authority, as the de facto chancellor of the Church, exercising power not authorized by this Church and therein dictating to the dioceses of this church how they shall deal with their parishes and property.
Recently, the Presiding Bishop and I have had a respectful conversation about this matter, during which she asserted once again what she has stated publicly on many occasions: That she has responsibility for the whole Church. That the property of The Episcopal Church must be protected and this is one of her duties. But if so, it is a duty that she has assumed, not one stated in the Constitution & Canons, nor assumed by any previous Presiding Bishop. . . . [S]hould a diocese decide to purchase property to plant a congregation, or alienate or sell the property it possess, it seeks no further authority than itself for such action. So too if a diocese chooses to close a congregation there is no higher authority than the bishop. The Presiding Bishop’s decision to hire counsel in South Carolina leads us all into such precarious waters that every diocese and bishop in this Church ought to be concerned, lest the polity and practice of TEC be changed by a precedent without constitutional or canonical authority. . . . Unfortunately, after lengthy and respectful conversation, the Presiding Bishop and I stand looking at one another across a wide, deep and seemingly unbridgeable theological and canonical chasm. . . .. . . This is not to imply that a Church, diocese or parish should never go to court or enter into litigation. It is merely to suggest that the imposing of a model of indiscriminate and unbridled litigation on the 110 dioceses of this Church, as if one model fits all, has brought bitter acrimony, a multiplication of law suits and what St. Paul feared so many years ago, public disgrace and scandal upon the Church. For [the Presiding Bishop] to demand in this diocese such a policy would be an egregiously inept exercise of non-canonical pastoral leadership. Furthermore, this is the wrong time in the life of The Episcopal Church for such a centralization of power, especially one so far removed from the ethos and issues of regions and dioceses. The irony is that such remote hierarchical authoritarianism without constitutional and canonical restrictions, and in the absence of theological unity, would only exacerbate the crisis of spiritual authority we are experiencing in The Episcopal Church and across the Anglican Communion.
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?
[UPDATE 07/18/2011: Father Harris has been accommodating enough to explain why he thinks I am off-base in my criticism. He writes (in part, with my italics added):
[UPDATE 07/18/2011: Father Harris has been accommodating enough to explain why he thinks I am off-base in my criticism. He writes (in part, with my italics added):
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?Let me here explain why I have added the various italics above:
In the second, the engagement of legal coun[sel] 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 coun[sel] 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.
. . . namely the Archbishop meeting secretly with people who were clearly unwilling to be in a church they deemed doomed . . .
Hindsight is a wonderful tool, is it not? I question very seriously whether those who met with the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2003-2004 were from the outset convinced that they were "in a church they deemed doomed" -- and by using those words, the Rev. Canon Harris admits that the people in question were still (at the time) in the Episcopal Church (USA). They were, entirely appropriately, looking for support and assistance in their travails brought about by the very people who have dominated ECUSA's leadership since 2003 -- and who better was in a position to advise them of the possibilities they faced than the Archbishop of Canterbury? After all, he had been unequivocal in warning ECUSA, with the full support of all the primates of the Communion behind him (including Frank Griswold!), what would be the irreversible consequences (i.e., would "tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level") of its proposed actions in consecrating V. Gene Robinson as a bishop of ECUSA. So, "clearly unwilling", Fr. Harris? In your hindsight, perhaps; but that is not a substitute for the travails and worries they faced at the time they sought help.
. . . it involved someone not of this church entering into deep conversations about ways to either change this church or replace it . . .
As much as I regret having (again) to take issue with a fellow Episcopalian, I think it is largely when we expend the time and the concern to bring our disagreements into sharp focus that we have a chance of preventing further disagreements from careless communication. The last I looked at its Constitution, the Episcopal Church (USA) professed to be in communion with the see of Canterbury. So to hang one's hat on the argument that the Archbishop of Canterbury is "not of this church" is to deny the full reality of the situation. Indeed, in the same technical sense one could argue that the ABC is not "of" the Episcopal Church (USA), one could equally well pretend that the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA is not "of" the Diocese of South Carolina -- except to the extent that the Bishop of that Diocese invites her to be. (She has no right, for instance, to force her way through the door, or to perform any episcopal act, at any location in that Diocese without the consent of its ecclesiastical authority: it says so right in Article II, Section 3 of ECUSA's Constitution -- which was not, I hasten to add, modified or changed in any way by the adoption of new canons [Title IV] at GC 2009. Canons are inferior to the Constitution, and have no ability to alter or amend Constitutional provisions.)
In any case, the charge that the ABC talked with the dissenters "about ways to either change this church or replace it" is sheer speculation on Fr. Harris' part, since he did not partake of the reported conversations. As this chancellor recollects events at the time, the news of the meetings which came out shortly afterward was that the ABC endorsed (or at least did not actively oppose) the creation of a network of clergy and parishes which supported the resolutions of the Anglican Communion, including specifically Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, which ECUSA in 2003 deliberately chose to flout. Encouraging supporters of tradition to join forces is hardly a "change" in the church -- it was members such as Father Harris, who enthusiastically supported the ordination of Bishop Robinson, who were thereby changing, all of a sudden, the traditions which the Church had theretofore (for over two hundred and ten years!) observed. And as for replacing the Church -- in 2003-04? Please. That is just so much projection, bolstered by hindsight in light of what Fr. Harris fears is happening now -- after ECUSA has stubbornly persisted in its course, which continues to be at odds with the vast majority of the Communion. After eight years of its obstinacy, the regret is that the Communion has finally done nothing toward replacing ECUSA's "Anglican" franchise -- and that is the source of all of the current dissatisfaction which Fr. Harris discerns (including, frankly, my own).
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.
Only in your retrospective projections, Fr. Harris. As noted above, what was going on in 2003-2004 was the Archbishop agreeing to provide pastoral counseling and advice to those who felt most threatened by the course ECUSA was taking, before anyone knew what the Windsor Report would recommend -- let alone what the Communion (or its Primates, or the Lambeth Conference, or the Anglican Consultative Council) would decide to do with its recommendations.
In the second, the engagement of legal coun[sel] 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 coun[sel] from the PB's office.
Fr. Harris here conveniently glosses over entire parts of Bishop Lawrence's address to his convention -- in particular, this part (quoted in my original post, but now with italics added):
In December of 2009 our Chancellor, Mr. Wade Logan, was finally informed by a local attorney that he had been retained by the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor. In a subsequent series of letters he presented himself as “South Carolina counsel for The Episcopal Church” and requested numerous items of the Bishop and Standing Committee, as well as information regarding parishes in this diocese. This way of presenting himself fails to acknowledge that this diocese is the only recognized body of The Episcopal Church within the lower half of South Carolina. . . Furthermore, this was carried out without the Presiding Bishop even so much as calling me. . . .
Fr. Harris chooses to dwell upon the much later event, when Bishop Lawrence finally chose to confront Bishop Jefferts Schori directly with what he had belatedly found out, without her so much as informing him beforehand, about what she, in secret consultation with her Chancellor, had decided was necessary in his (Bishop Lawrence's) own Diocese: to hire a special investigative counsel to probe into diocesan affairs and the Bishop's own conduct vis-à-vis his clergy, with a view to gathering information that could be turned into charges against Bishop Lawrence -- eventually justifying a resolution of deposition (without a trial) on the ground that he had "abandoned the communion of this Church." This was the same strategy of an "advance purge" which the Presiding Bishop and her Chancellor had effected with Bishop Robert W. Duncan of Pittsburgh, and it had the same result: it caused an acceleration of the measures taken by the Diocese of South Carolina to protect itself against interference ("meddling") in its internal affairs by the Presiding Bishop, without any authority to do so.
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.
Once again, I regret to have to disagree with you, Fr. Harris. The engaging of local investigative counsel in a Diocese without the knowledge or permission of that Diocese's ecclesiastical authority, without the bringing first of any formal charges, and in secret consultation with one's personal chancellor, is of the essence of what this church attorney, for one, dubs a "subterfuge."
On a final note, I am happy to acknowledge that Father Harris and I on occasion perfectly understand each other -- as, for example, when he concludes (emphasis again added):
I do believe . . . 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 [the] 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.The changes currently going on in ECUSA most certainly do matter; thank you, Fr. Harris. Where we disagree most is in how those changes have been brought about -- not by any current "struggle" in the Episcopal Church, for instance, but rather by pretending that new canons can alter -- just like that, as long as no one objects -- what Article II, Section 3 of our Constitution has provided ever since 1789.
- END OF UPDATE 07/18/2011]