Saturday, July 12, 2008

Projected deposition of bishop Lawrence

Back in March, this seemed likely, and I jokingly forecast it for the weeks following the diocese of SC's objection to +Cox' and +Schofield's deposition. Now, some months later, as I copy it over to this new blog, it seems less likely.

New York, April 3, 2008
AP wire

Recalcitrant Episcopal bishop of South Carolina Deposed

In an unexpected move today, Dr. K. J. Schori, leader of the Episcopal church, announced the deposition of bishop Mark Lawrence of the Episcopal diocese of South Carolina.

"We have had reservations about this bishop and diocese for some time" said Dr. Schori. "In fact, we were quietly working on a writ of deposition based on recently-discovered clerical irregularities in his selection and ordination. However, last week's statement by his diocese disagreeing with our actions and interpretations of the canons has forced us to make this decision several months ahead of our planned schedule."

Early this week, Dr. Schori called an emergency meeting of bishops for the express purpose of taking a vote on the inhibition and deposition of Bp. Lawrence. Surprisingly, quite a few bishops claim that they never received notification of the meetings, and several others reported not receiving the bulk-rate-posted notices until two days after the emergency meeting took place. "I'm sure all the letters went into the mail" avowed Dr. Schori, conducting reporters quickly through her office where a secretary was busy shredding letters returned for insufficient postage. "I can only suggest that you investigate the inefficiencies of those dioceses' secretarial staffs to track down the purported delays."

In fact, only seven bishops actually appeared for the votes: Dr. Shori herself, Charles of Utah, Ilhoff of MD, Robinson of NH, Spong of Newark, Swing of CA and Waynwick of Indianapolis. "It just so happened," said Waynwick, "that we were in town meeting with Dr. Schori on another matter and so extended our stay to attend this emergency session of the House of Bishops. So we learned about it from in-person conversations with her, but I can't imagine why the other bishops didn't show up."

Despite the small turnout, the Episcopal church's lawyer, David B. Beers, certified that the vote was valid. Looking up from his drink at a working lunch with Dr. Schori, he said to reporters "Quorum is from the Latin 'of whom'. At this emergency meeting we had individuals all 'of whom' -- quorum -- were members of the House of Bishops. So we had a quorum. And, as the majority of them voted for this deposition, it is canonically valid. Now go away... the Episcopal church is paying for this lunch and I want another martini."

Asked if she thought that some members of the diocese of South Carolina might leave over this potentially contraversial decision, Dr. Schori replied "Well, there are always some bad apples, sure. But we've seen that the vast majority of Episcopalians really don't care about theological or ecclesiastical matters. After all, we've been steadily abandoning the Christian faith for 30 years now, and people keep showing up on Sunday and putting money in the plates. As long as weekly coffee hours aren't affected too much, Episcopalians really don't care what their church is doing, teaching, funding, or promoting. So I don't expect this vote -- this completely legal and valid vote -- to cause too much disturbance in that diocese."

"Moreover," she added, "pleased with how successful our Dennis Canon has been, we will be introducing new legislation at General Convention next year which will require any Episcopalian who wants to leave the church to pay a $100,000 fine. After all, they voluntarily associated with a hierarchical institution and have thereby forfeited the right simply to leave, as that reflects badly on our organization and can be misunderstood by the public. These perfectly legal and canonical fines should reduce the number of people leaving -- which really is very small anyway!!! -- and, even if they do, help us continue to pay for these business lunches at Manhattan's finer restaurants."

Sources informed our reporters that the new bishop and standing committee for the diocese of South Carolina have already been selected by the organization's central office, and that instructions to its members on how they should vote and what they are permitted to say at their upcoming special convention will be distributed early next week.

First posted on the MCJ blog.