The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Duncan Demarche

I've been thinking about the potential succession of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and the deposition of Robert Duncan, and, in particular, of the tone of even the most respectful criticism of the deposition, that of Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina. Bishop Lawrence raises three arguments against deposition. Two are process-oriented--that it has strengthened the role of the Presiding Bishop and that it was achieved by interpreting as ambiguous canons previously held to be clear. These process objections seem to me--not a canon lawyer, mind you!--to be held in good faith, but, in the last analysis unconvincing. (More positive reactions may ne seen here and here. More information still is here. My reasons for this need not detain the reader long; I have no special expertise here, but the precedents cited for deposition by a majority of those entitled to vote who are present at the meeting of the HOB have not, to my knowledge, been refuted, and the question of inhibition as a prerequisite would require an absurd result--that the three senior bishops could forestall a decision of the House by refusing to inhibit during the pre-trial (so to speak) period. If you view deposition as a penal, quasi-criminal process, such an interpretation is tenable; if you view it as analgous to a civil proceeding, such as that in labor law for atenured employee, it is not. The former seems too overwrought an analogy.

So on to the more substantive question: Bishop Lawrence refers to the deposition as rending the communnion further. I genuinely find this puzzling; is an institution whose fiduciary declares (for however high-principled a reason) that he intends to take a branch location out of the "brand" and assert a right to prevent the institution that hired, trained and elevated him from operating in the vicinage morally barred from announcing that their affiliation with him, and endorsement of him, is at an end?

It seems, frankly, an impausible position to take.

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