February 20, 2007

A New Urgency

The question of consents for Mark Lawrence’s consecration pretty much dropped off The Episcopal Church radar screen for the past week or so. The primates’ meeting that concluded yesterday in Tanzania, however, has provided a new incentive to say “no” to the San Joaquin priest who would be Bishop of South Carolina. (See my last two posts, “The Consents Question, Again” and “Last Minute Thoughts on Consents.”)

According to “The Key Recommendations of the Primates,” released along with the final communiqué, the primates demand—the document uses the word “request,” but it is quite clear that a failure to accede to the “request” will lead to some sort of banishment from the Communion—that the bishops promise not to authorize rites for same-sex blessings in their dioceses or through the General Convention and that they assure the primates that resolution B033, passed at the 2006 General Convention, means that no partnered gay episcopal candidate will receive consents for consecration. This is perhaps not the worst insult to the polity of The Episcopal Church from the communiqué and from the proposed Anglican covenant, but it is particularly relevant to the consecration of Mark Lawrence.

The primates expect the House of Bishops to submit to their demands at the September 2007 meeting of the House of Bishops. Should Lawrence be consecrated in South Carolina, he will be a member of the House at that meeting and can influence what the bishops do. In his June 11, 2006, essay “A Prognosis for this Body Episcopal” in The Living Church, Lawrence blasted the democratic and autonomous polity of The Episcopal Church. His prescription was to turn over control of the church to the primates. “Surrender of the Episcopal Church’s autonomy is an admittedly radical suggestion,” he modestly observes, “but we are in need of lifesaving action.”

All standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction should know that granting consent for the consecration of Mark Lawrence is voting to implement his (and the primates) radical plan to emasculate The Episcopal Church.

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