Saturday, April 19, 2008

Abuses of the abandonment canons (II)

From the Anglican Curmudgeon (A. S. Haley) [boldface mine]:

. . . Two major differences mark today's situation as apart from those in 1873 or 1976: first, the Episcopal Church's doctrinal position was not out of step with that of the larger Anglican Communion in either 1873 or in 1976 (the Anglican Consultative Council had allowed provinces to proceed with the ordination of women in 1971); and second, the ordination vows in 1873 and 1976 had not yet been changed as described in the previous post---where the vow "to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God's Word" was discarded in 1979 in favor of one to "conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church". What has happened is that today's clergy find themselves ensnared between the Scylla of swearing allegiance to "the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church" and the Charybdis of swearing to uphold the "doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them". No priest can be true to his ordination vows unless the "doctrine, discipline and worship" are the same in both cases, and the problem is that there are many today who hold sincerely that they are not the same.

It makes very poor sense, then, to exploit this gap by claiming a violation of "the doctrine, discipline or worship of this Church" when one is merely following one's conscience to try to make it possible to adhere to "the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them", if necessary under the authority of a different diocesan. There is only one remedy for cases of abandonment: deposition, and that is simply an inappropriate remedy when a member of the clergy wishes to remain within the churches of the Anglican Communion. Deposition revokes the authority of a priest, bishop or deacon to minister at services in The Episcopal Church. The Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, however, contemplate that any clergy ordained within the Anglican Communion may be licensed by suitable local authority to minister within the Episcopal Church, and such license is not possible when one has been deposed from that very church. Thus by deposing its clergy who wish to stay within the Anglican Communion, TEC is doing permanent harm to its polity by creating a different class of Anglican clergy: those who may minister within any church in the Communion with the exception of within TEC itself.

There is further the point that disagreement over doctrine does not necessarily imply "abandonment"---especially where, again, the disagreeing member of the clergy still is doing his or her conscientious best to remain within the Anglican Communion. A far wiser and more experienced canon lawyer than yours truly warned very presciently about the chilling consequences of equating disagreement with abandonment. . .

Read it all, and check out Abuses of the abandonment canons (I) here.
H/t to TitusOneNine.

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