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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Comin' Late To The Party -- Title IV


We just finished our deanery meetings in anticipation of the convention on October 15 and 16 of this year. Yes, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is alive and well and ready to take on the next big challenge -- Title IV and the related canons. I realize this is old news to most but I thought I would raise one issue just for the fun of it.

This revision, given our experience in our diocese is a great thing and we are welcoming it -- but it does not go far enough. Yes it takes on errant bishops and clergy but there is, as I understand it, little room made for the laity, specifically, the laity seated on the Standing Committee. If a "good" bishop, such as JDS does his homework he will stack the Standing Committee with both laity and clergy that are "bought and paid for by him". So, the canons come into play and there are presentment charges against the bishop and they stick. So, the ecclesiastical authority devolves to the Standing Committee. So presentment charges are brought against the clergy on the Standing Committee, and those charges stick. There are still the laity residing on the Standing Committee (as the ecclesiastical authority) and they can still take the diocese out of the Episcopal Church. Yes I know, then the presiding bishop can step in but that is not the point -- there is still no way to stop the process before it gets to the problem of the property has left the building. See, apparently the issue of the laity got derailed back in GC and boy is that too bad. The issue here is that the laity becomes THE ecclesiastical authority and as such should be subject to the same rules and regulations that all the other ecclesiastical authority is subject to. If I misunderstand then if someone would please set me straight I would appreciate it but this would have happened in this diocese, of this I have no doubt(the laity on the Standing Committee completingthe heinous crime of theft). The penalties must be swift and sure and severe so that the likes of what is happening in South Carolina can be stopped and should this start up in Springfield it can be shut down rapidly. As it stands, I see a major loophole that will continue to plague the Episcopal Church.

2 comments:

Paul (A.) said...

There is already a canon imposing fiduciary responsibilities on the laity. Canon I.17.8 provides that "Any person accepting any office in this Church shall well and faithfully perform the duties of that office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church and of the Diocese in which the office is being exercised."

The problem in looking to Title IV is that the kinds of sanctions up to now available to an ecclesiastical court are deposition from an ordained order.

What I'd like to see is a canon providing for intervening a diocese that attempts to qualify its unqualified accession to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church: All clergy would have their orders suspended pending individual review and all diocesan offices declared vacant pending reorganization of a new loyal diocesan structure.

Also useful would be strict oversight of bishops who attempt to give away the store piecemeal (Lawrence?).

Fred Schwartz said...

Paul A.
That is great -- how do we get that done quickly?