…the findings in respect of Bishop Lawrence are even broader. As we have noted before, under the new Title IV all clergy are required to report to the Intake Officer “all matters which may constitute an Offense.” The failure by the Board to refer these matters to the Intake Officer thus necessarily constitutes a finding by them, the body responsible for the trial of bishops under Title IV, that not only has there been no abandonment, neither has there been a violation of any of the other disciplinary canons. In other words, Bishop Lawrence has been given the broadest possible clearance.
Fourth, turning to the final sentence in Bishop Henderson’s statement in which he emphasizes that he is speaking only for himself, we note that the express reservation here underscores the fact that the rest of his statement is made on behalf of the entire Board. As to the substance of this sentence, we are unsure what Bishop Henderson means when he expresses his hope that the minority in South Carolina will be given a “safe place.” We are unaware of any allegations that dissident clergy have been disciplined or otherwise treated unfairly by Bishop Lawrence or the Diocese. There was a single allegation concerning a chapel comprised of dissenters from the diocesan majority, but this related not to any alleged discipline or persecution but only to whether this chapel would be organized as a diocesan parish or mission. Bishop Lawrence has in the past vigorously refuted this allegation, pointing out that he has worked closely with this chapel to provide them with priests, including the licensing of priests from other dioceses. In any event, this allegation was dismissed along with the others.
Perhaps Bishop Henderson was using the term “safe place” to suggest that Bishop Lawrence permit the dissenters to perform same sex blessings, call priests who are in same sex relationships or practice communion of the unbaptized, practices that are widespread elsewhere in TEC but prohibited in the Diocese of South Carolina. There is much esteem and affection for Bishop Henderson in the Church, but his hopes on this point are simply those of one bishop expressed openly to another. For our part, we have little doubt that Bishop Lawrence will continue to require that all under his episcopal authority adhere to traditional standards of sexual ethics, standards required by diocesan canons, regardless of any decision made to approve blessings at next year’s General Convention.
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