04 September 2007

Rule of law, but only when it's convenient?

The pace of dissent has quickened lately in the Anglican Communion. It seems that each week brings news of another Episcopal priest who is becoming a bishop in this or that province. Every days brings another dire pronouncement about the imminent threat of schism, and somehow this schism must be averted by...schism.

Over at The Episcopal Majority, Robert J. Brooks+, from the Diocese of Connecticut has done a good job of crystallizing the situation from a legal/canonical standpoint. He makes it clear that the conservative wing is operating in utter disregard of the proper mechanisms for dealing with these issues.
If these ideas for new structures are so compelling, they should be brought by their advocates to the next meeting of the ACC in 2009 as proposed amendments to the ACC Constitution. The proponents can then take their chances on others agreeing with them in a free and open debate in the ACC, and should they be passed, in the General Synods of all the Provinces, with 2/3 required for ratification. It is past time to return to the rule of law, not "men" (which I am using explicitly since that is who the proponents are), and stop acquiescing to bullies who loudly assert new structures without submitting to the written constitutional framework unanimously put in place for this purpose by all the Provinces. It is past time to stop giving these asserted new structures credence by acting as if they really existed and had standing in constitutional law.

The Tanzania meeting of the Primates defined a deadline of September 30, 2007, for the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church to violate the Constitution of its own Church to accede to the two actions demanded in the ultimatum. As noted previously, this ultimatum from the Primates has no constitutional legality in the Communion itself because the ACC Constitution would have to be amended by October 1 to remove The Episcopal Church from the constitutional schedule of Provinces in order to deliver on their threat. Also, the Anglican Consultative Council, of which we and the Canadians are still members by that membership schedule, would have to be convened to pass the amendment, with 2/3 of the General Synods ratifying it, or "alter the status" of this Church with the assent of 2/3 of the Primates at a convened meeting.
The secessionists like to quote the Dar es Salaam Communique (selectively, I might add), but they don't much like it when someone points out that the primates had no right to make their demands in the first place. Why don't the secessionists play by the book? Because the book doesn't work well with bullies.

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