This points to the most troubling question of all concerning the disciplinary board’s decision. Among the new Title IV provisions is IV.4.1(f), which requires all clergy to “report to the Intake Officer all matters which may constitute an Offense.” This comes immediately after subparagraph IV.4.1(e) pertaining to property. It appears members of the disciplinary board scrutinized these matters for more than a year and concluded that Bishop Lawrence had violated certain canonical provisions, yet not one thought to comply with the canon requiring them to report this to the Intake Officer so that the normal canonical process could be used.
This is not a technical issue. Had they proceeded as required by canon ”” there is no exception for matters that might also constitute abandonment ”” they might have spared the church the havoc we are now witnessing. Title IV after all is said to be a more pastoral way of dealing with possible canonical violations. If Bishop Lawrence is alleged to have violated subparts (c), (e), and (g) of Canon IV.4.1, why did the disciplinary board not comply with subpart (f)? Why did it not comply with mandatory disciplinary procedures that might have permitted a pastoral response instead of pursuing a process designed solely to remove a bishop summarily from the rolls of the church? Having first concluded that the disputed actions were those of the diocese, not the bishop, the board must have known the consequences “abandonment” would entail.
How have Bishop Lawrence’s theological opponents reacted to these developments? One prominent assertion has been that the automatic response of the diocese triggered by the disciplinary board’s action proves that Bishop Lawrence “lied” and intended to leave all along. But this claim fails both the tests of logic and simple chronology.