I have decided to start a virtual trophy room, in which I shall mount the stuffed quotes which display the canonical ignorance of those on the left who ought to know better, but who manifestly do not. Thus, welcome to the first edition of "Canonical Absurdities on the Left." (The trophy room for those on the right will also be set up at an appropriate time, but its specimens will not, from my experience, be as numerous.)
Illustrating yet one more time his tendency to reinvent the canons to his liking, Bishop J. Jon Bruno of the Diocese of Los Angeles has given us in this quotation our first mounted trophy (for some reason, these specimens all turn a sickly green during the taxidermic process):
If by chance people are going to withhold consents because of [Bishop-elect] Mary [Glasspool]'s sexuality, it would be a violation of the canons of this church.Oh, really, Bishop Bruno? I take it you must be referring to Canon III.1.2, which reads:
No person shall be denied access to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age, except as otherwise provided by these Canons. No right to licensing, ordination, or election is hereby established.
Do you see those two words "discernment process", Bishop? And do you see that last sentence? "No right to . . . ordination or election is hereby established."
So Canon III.1.2 cannot be the one to which you are referring, Bishop Bruno. Let's take a look at Canon I.17.5:
No one shall be denied rights, status or access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disabilities or age, except as otherwise specified by Canons.
Perhaps a vote against Canon Glasspool on the grounds you describe would violate this canon? Not so fast: despite its superficially broad language, this paragraph is part of a Canon entitled "Of Regulations Respecting the Laity", and the marginal description of section 5 itself states: "Rights of Laity." And in case there were any doubt, there is that last clause to make things explicit: "except as otherwise specified by Canons." That language would, among other things, incorporate the qualification in Canon III.1.2 that no right of ordination or election was thereby established.
Well, let us try one more time. How about these provisions in Canon III.9?
From Canon III.9.3(a)(3):
If the Ecclesiastical Authority is satisfied that the person so elected is a duly qualified Priest and that such Priest has accepted the office to which elected, the notice shall be sent to the Secretary of the Convention, who shall record it. Race, color, ethnic origin, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age, except as otherwise specified by these Canons, shall not be a factor in the determination of the Ecclesiastical Authority as to whether such person is a duly qualified Priest.
And similar language recurs in section III.9.6(a):
No Priest shall preach, minister the Sacraments, or hold any public service, within the limits of any Diocese other than the Diocese in which the Priest is canonically resident for more than two months without a license from the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese in which the Priest desires to so officiate. No Priest shall be denied such a license on account of the Priest's race, color, ethnic origin, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities, or age, except as otherwise provided in these Canons.
There is just one problem: while this language is found in Canon III.9, entitled "Of the Life and Work of Priests," there is no equivalent language found in Canon III.12, "Of the Life and Work of a Bishop." Could that have been intentional, Bishop Bruno? Moreover, both of the passages just cited have that qualifier again: "except as otherwise provided in these Canons."
I am afraid it's a "no go", Bishop Bruno. We have exhausted the provisions of the Canons to which you could have been referring. Those diocesan bishops and standing committees who choose to withhold their consent to the election of the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool cannot be charged with violating any of the Church's Canons.
And one more thing, while I am at it: each of the passages quoted above forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, not on sexual practice. I am not aware of any single bishop or standing committee who has declared their opposition to the ordination to the ministry of a gay or lesbian person who was celibate. The Rev. Canon Glasspool, however, does not fall into that category. So not only do you read into the Canons prohibitions which are not there, but you cannot even interpret the language that is there.
Finished -- that trophy is now fully mounted. Let us pass on to trophy No. 2, in the form of this quotation provided to us by one Lisa Fox (courtesy of Kendall Harmon):
Recent, fervent comments from Kendall Harmon and Mike Malone make me wonder: Can the bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina vote on consent to Bishop-Elect Glasspool and still remain within their canons?
You will recall that the Diocese of South Carolina voted on this resolution . . . "to begin withdrawing from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them, the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference which have expressed the mind of the Communion, the Book of Common Prayer and our Constitution and Canons, until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions . . ."
If they indeed passed this resolution, withdrawing from all bodies of TEC, how can they vote on any action of the Episcopal Church, including the election of Bishop-Elect Glasspool?
Here we have a lay person trying to reach canonical conclusions, so I shall give this specimen only a light treatment. (I note in passing, however, that a certain Canon Doctor of the Church has added this uninformed comment to the post just quoted: "So they can't. Vote. But they will. Sigh." My specimens grow apace.)
The process of voting to consent to the election of a bishop (when there is no General Convention due to meet within 120 days) is spelled out in Canon III.11.4, and includes this language:
Each Standing Committee, in not more than one hundred and twenty days after the sending by the electing body of the certificate of the election, shall respond by sending the Standing Committee of the Diocese for which the Bishop is elected either the testimonial of consent in the form set out in paragraph (b) of this Section or written notice of its refusal to give consent.
To refuse to give consent, in this context, has the same practical result as declining to participate in the election altogether. True, the Canon does mandate some response from each standing committee (although not, please note [in this most "hierarchical" of Churches], from the diocesan bishops), but it would certainly do the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina no harm to reaffirm its unwillingness to participate in actions contrary to Scripture by sending a notice that it withheld its consent to the election of the Rev. Canon Glasspool. (Contrary to Scripture? See Titus 1:6: "A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife . . ." It's not difficult to read scripture written as plainly as that.)
That finishes my second trophy: it is now mounted in the trophy room, too. Before leaving the room, however, I shall remark on a potential problem which, given the language of consents to the election of a bishop, might affect the conduct of Bishop Lawrence of South Carolina in this matter (along with other Bishops who have announced they will, or may be expected to, withhold their consent). The language in question (from Canon III.11.4[a] again) reads (with my emphasis added):
The Presiding Bishop, without delay, shall notify every Bishop of this Church exercising jurisdiction of the Presiding Bishop's receipt of the certificates mentioned in this Section and request a statement of consent or withholding of consent. . . If a majority of the Standing Committees of all the Dioceses consents to the ordination of the Bishop-elect, the Standing Committee of the Diocese for which the Bishop is elected shall then forward the evidence of the consent . . . to the Presiding Bishop. If the Presiding Bishop receives sufficient statements to indicate a majority of those Bishops consents to the ordination, the Presiding Bishop shall, without delay, notify the Standing Committee of the Diocese for which the Bishop is elected and the Bishop-elect of the consent.What we have here is a two-step process. The standing committees send their written consent forms (or their withholding of consent) to the standing committee in the diocese of the bishop-elect; the diocesan bishops, however, communicate their consents (on no prescribed form, again please note [how "hierarchical"!]) directly to the Presiding Bishop. So we have this canonical question: does the phrase "a majority of those Bishops" refer just to those Bishops who return some sort of vote to the Presiding Bishop, or to "every Bishop of this Church exercising jurisdiction"?
If the Presiding Bishop were to be consistent with her parliamentary ruling in the deposition of Bishop Duncan, then the phrase would refer only to those Bishops who actually send something back to her. In that case, a non-response by Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina, or by others who intended to indicate thereby that they were withholding their consent, would not count in the final tally. That, in turn, would have the effect of reducing the required number of overall consents to confirm the election. Thus, in this case, the better practice for such non-consenting Bishops would be to send the Presiding Bishop a letter to that effect.
Note that the same is not true of the standing committees, under the language just quoted. The standing committee of the diocese with the bishop-elect is required to return to the Presiding Bishop, in order for the election to be confirmed, evidence of the consents by "a majority of the Standing Committees of all the Dioceses." So the bishop-elect's standing committee will not bother with the non-consents; what counts are the consents, and there must be 56 of them (given the fiction that ECUSA currently maintains -- that it has 110 "dioceses" with standing committees) to send to the Presiding Bishop before the election can be confirmed. The standing committee of South Carolina, therefore, does not have to send in its non-consent to ensure that it will be counted -- on penalty that if it did not, the total number of consents required might thereby be lessened.
But the observation just made serves to point up, once again, how there is absolutely no textual support, in any of the Canons involving votes which affect the life of the Church, for the Presiding Bishop's reading of the language "a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote" in Canon IV.9 to allow the deposition of a bishop of the Church on the vote of just a few dozen bishops (a majority of the minimum quorum needed to be present in order to transact business). Under the way she interprets the Canons, far more bishops are needed to elect a colleague than to depose one.