Do that which is good, and no evil shall touch you. Go your way; eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God now accepteth your works; let your garments be always white, and let your head lack no ointment.
Revd. Dr. John Henry Newman quoting the Holy Ghost, 25 April, 1843.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
It has been revealed to me that there is life on a planet within our Galaxy. Among the living creatures on this planet are humanoids – that is, beings that bear a great similarity to humans on this Earth, but who do not appear to be intelligent, as we humans are, but rather sub-human in their reasoning faculties.
These humanoids are at present quite busy building large structures such as bridges and tall buildings with concrete, which they invented many years ago, but without the use of reinforcing bars, or rebars, as we call them.
Of course, since we are intelligent, we know what has to be the result of their efforts: continual collapses which cause these poor humanoids great grief and disappointment.
It appears that in the remote past these creatures did use rebars in concrete constructions, but an influential politician whose name is recorded in their history as “Nicson” finally decided that concrete did not require rebars to give it tensile strength, and therefore banned their use.
At the present time their media of communication are filled with discussions on how to prevent concrete structures from collapsing, with consequent disruption of life. The situation is very distressing.
Some commentators in the editorial pages of the well-regarded newspaper “Cement Times” recommend closer supervision of the building of concrete structures; others recommend more transparency regarding building methods, while some recommend that buildings be constructed in such a way as to prop each other up, to avoid collapse. In the meantime, no formula has been found to remedy this plague of collapsing buildings.
A very few of these humanoids are mentioning the fact that when rebars were used, long before Nicson, buildings did not collapse. Scarcely any attention is given to these “rebar bugs”, as they are derisively referred to by the élite of the inhabitants, who are venerated as well-informed and expert authorities in the matter. The rebar-bugs have a spokesman who goes by the name of “Paulum”, but they seem to be fighting a losing battle against the sub-human intelligence of the majority and those wielding political power.
Rebars are regarded by the cement manufacturers’ representatives as old-fashioned and unnecessary, and in fact, as “barbarous relics”; they allege that reverting to use of rebars would hamper the economy, because it would slow down the building industry, which is thriving because buildings are collapsing daily and of course, have to be rebuilt. Besides, they argue that rebars are “too scarce”.
Indeed, it might be suspected that the “Federal Cement Manufacturers’ Association” has an interest in retaining the present mode of rebar-less construction. Their disdain for rebars speaks louder than words of their sub-human nature, for by the simple expedient of allowing the use of rebars, which they have banned completely, they would find an undoubtedly efficacious remedy to the parlous situation which prevails on their planet. However, it is apparent that there is no wish to accept the application of this remedial measure on the part of the Federal Cement Manufacturers’ Association, or the “Fed” as they call it.
Such is the travail now prevailing amongst the humanoids of that remote planet. There is nothing to be done; they must be allowed to suffer. Perhaps they may, in the course of millenia, eventually acquire human intelligence.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Apart from raising no substantive issues that warrant review, the Petition for a Writ of Certiorari should be denied on jurisdictional grounds because trial court proceedings remain ongoing and no final judgment will be entered until those proceedings have run their course.
(3) If the court determines that the plaintiff has established a probability that he or she will prevail on the claim, neither that determination nor the fact of that determination shall be admissible in evidence at any later stage of the case, or in any subsequent action, and no burden of proof or degree of proof otherwise applicable shall be affected by that determination in any later stage of the case or in any subsequent proceeding.
Friday, March 26, 2010
First, let us set the scene. The Olivet Presbyterian Church in Evansville, Indiana traces its origin to a congregation first organized in 1900. In 1968, it moved to its present property, which it purchased with donations made by its congregation. The Presbyterian Church (USA) had not yet formed as of that time, but the parties stipulated in court that neither it nor its predecessor entity in Indiana, the United Presbyterian Church (USA), had at any time contributed any money to the purchase or the maintenance of the property.
In 2006, 98% of the parishioners of the Olivet Presbyterian Church voted to realign with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and petitioned the regional presbytery (the plaintiff "Ohio Valley Presbytery") for permission to withdraw from that body. The Presbytery granted permission, but provided that Olivet would have to hand over all its property, bank accounts and other assets to the Presbytery. It asserted that a clause in the PC(USA)'s "Book of Order" (akin to ECUSA's Constitution) imposed a trust for the benefit of PC(USA) on all property belonging to a Presbyterian Church (USA) parish. The parish's real property was appraised for $1 million in 2008.
Olivet points to the existence of these undisputed notes and mortgages indicating Olivet is "mortgagor." Olivet asserts and the Court finds that this is another indicia applicable under the Neutral Principle Analysis that the Plaintiffs have acknowledged the full ownership interest in the real property held by Olivet. Standing alone, it would be insufficient; but it is an indicia of ownership since mortgagees do not have a real estate title interest in property unless or until there is a foreclosure. If the mortgagees (both Plaintiffs) owned the property in trust, this would be inconsistent with the mortgage form utilized and recorded by both Plaintiffs[, which also implicitly allowed Olivet to convey title to another -- there was no "due on sale" clause].
The facts providing indicia of support for Olivet concerning the Articles of Incorporation and the By-laws are that nowhere in the Articles of Incorporation or in the Bylaws was any statement made that the real or personal property was being placed in trust for the benefit of any of the Plaintiffs and/or the PC(USA). Further, nowhere in the Articles of Incorporation or By-laws was it stated that membership was irrevocable. . . .
Further indicia of a Neutral Principles Analysis in favor of Olivet is that there are no specific sets of By-laws prescribed by the Book of Order or other authority of Plaintiffs. Also, I.C. § 23-17-1-1(3), et seq. indicates that a non-profit corporation has the statutory right to make and amend by-laws. Neither side has been able to provide any authority for requirement for any specific set of by-laws and this Court must conclude that none exists.
The Neutral Principle Analysis that Plaintiffs assert is that the By-laws indicate that they are a congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and recognized church governance as the constitution while they voluntarily chose to be affiliated with such denomination. Also, Plaintiffs point out that the By-laws state that they will not be changed so as to be inconsistent with the church constitution while they voluntarily chose to be affiliated with such denomination. Olivet contradicts these assertions by Plaintiffs through indicating that there is no specific set of by-laws prescribed by the Book of Order, the Book of Order contemplates individuals and/or congregations leaving the denomination and finally, it is undisputed that one of the checklist items prescribed by the Plaintiffs to effect Olivet's disassociation was that Olivet change their By-laws.
. . . Olivet agreed to abide by the governance of the church so long as they were a member, but church governance permits their departure and all agree they have departed and are following a new Presbyterian Church governance. As Olivet has indicated, they had a voluntary right to put [language] in and have the same voluntary right to take it out regarding when they follow or recognize church governance.
The next indicia under a Neutral Principles Analysis is to look at other written documents. Based upon a review of the record, there is no written express trust existing between Olivet and the Plaintiffs. . . . No written and signed express trust has been presented by either party and thus the Court concludes one must not exist. This indicia favors Olivet's position. An express trust is one created by the direct and positive act of the settlor by some writing, deed, will or oral declaration. I.C. § 30-4-2-1 (a). Plaintiffs indicate that the Indiana trust provisions relied upon by Defendants were not passed until after purchase of the property. However, nothing prohibited a trust clause being inserted in the Olivet deed, which [clause] does not exist. Further, nothing prohibited Defendants from making a written expression signed by the appropriate official of the church indicating that the property was put in trust after passage of the Indiana trust statutes in 1971 and certainly none of the Plaintiffs nor PC(USA) appear to have sought to have Olivet make such a written expression since 1971.
Indiana real estate law governs whether title to real estate has been transferred. If the real estate property owned by Olivet Presbyterian Church of Evansville, Indiana is to be placed in trust, it ought to be done through real estate transfer by the property owners. Plaintiffs' initial admission concedes that Olivet never did so. (Complaint, ¶ 31). While Plaintiffs suggest the Trust Code requiring a writing was passed in Indiana after Olivet's original purchase of the property in 1968, nothing prohibited either party from inserting a trust clause in its deed or signing a written trust agreement placing the property in trust as required for real property being transferred into a trust through a written instrument bearing the signature of the authorized owner of the real estate, LC. § 30-4-2-1, et seq. Also, the Indiana Statute of Frauds has prohibited parole evidence to demonstrate transfer of title to real property to contradict a writing, I.C. § 32-21-1-13, and requires the conveyance to be made by a deed in writing and properly signed.
. . . a quiet title action was brought by trustees of a local church against officials of a general church. The Indiana Court of Appeals held that where the local church officials made their prima facia case with reference to the legal title to the church property and where the positions of the officials of the general church could not be sustained without reference to ecclesiastical law, church discipline and/or church doctrine, title was properly quieted in the trustees of the local church.
Generally, the Presbyterian Chmch (USA) Book of Order is an ecclesiastical set of rules. Unless one is sitting as an ecclesiastical judge, little reference is needed to the Book of Order and that book so states:G-9.0102 [Chapter IX, Paragraph 1(a)]Governing Bodies of the Church are distinct from the government of the state and have no civil jurisdiction or power to impose civil penalties. They have only ecclesiastical jurisdiction for the purpose of serving Jesus Christ and declaring and obeying His will in relation to truth and service, order and discipline.
Sec. 2. Resort to secular courts. No Member of the Clergy of this Church may resort to the secular courts for the purpose of interpreting the Constitution and Canons, or for the purpose of resolving any dispute arising thereunder, or for the purpose of delaying, hindering or reviewing or affecting in any way any proceeding under this Title.
Sec. 3. Review of proceedings by secular courts. No secular court shall have authority to review, annul, reverse, restrain or otherwise delay any proceeding under this Title.
Plaintiffs' case significantly relies upon G-8.0201, added to the Book of Order in 1981, which states:All property held by or for a particular church, a presbytery, a synod, the General Assembly, or the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), whether legal title is lodged in a corporation, a trustee or trustees, or an unincorporated association, and whether the property is used in programs of a particular church or of a more inclusive governing body or retained for the production of income, is held in trust nevertheless for the use and benefit of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).. . .
The Olivet Defendants reply asserting that the Book of Order is an ecclesiastical document which by its very terms is not supposed to have civil law jurisdiction[, citing the language of section G-9.0102 quoted above] . . . .
. . . the Court concludes that wading into various portions of the Book of Order which may or may not be conflicting requires this Court to determine ecclesiastical questions in the process of resolving property disputes which is prohibited by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Presbyterian Church in the United States v. Mary Elizabeth Blue Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church, 393 U.S. 440, 447 (1969). Plaintiffs ask this Court to hold that pursuant to G-8.0201, the Olivet property is held in trust for the use and benefit of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and yet Defendants assert that G-8.0201 is not a settlor's declaration but an assertion by an entity that does not hold title to any of the property at issue in the instant case and which never held property at issue in the present case. Plaintiffs assert the actions of its Presbytery consisting of voting members of various churches must be upheld while Defendants cite Chapter G-9.0102, stating goveming bodies of the church (i.e., a Presbytery) have only ecclesiastical jurisdiction. As further example, G-1.0307 of the Book of Order states: "That all church power, whether exercised by the body in general or in the way of representation by delegated authority is only ministerial and declarative . . . ." At G-1.0308 it states "An ecclesiastical discipline must be purely moral or spiritual in its object and not intended with any civil effects . . . ." This conflict and the other potentially conflicting provisions in the Book of Order appear to this Court to force an evaluation or determination of ecclesiastical questions or interpretations in the process of resolving this property dispute. This Court declines to do so, based upon the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Indiana State Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court precedent and state court precedent. "Civil courts will be bound to give effect to the result indicated by the parties, provided it is embodied in some legally cognizable form." Jones v. Wolf, 443 U.S. 595, 606 (1979).
If it were intended that the Olivet Real Estate and personal property were to be held in trust for PC(USA), the same could have been done by revising the deed and documents of ownership. Such was the charge of the United States Supreme Court in Blue Hull, that the parties organize their relationship to establish the trust clearly so Courts would not be forced to weigh conflicting evidence. The fact that this was not done allows an inference that the parties, or at a minimum Olivet, did not intend for an implied or express trust to be established. Insufficient evidence has been provided by PC(USA) to show that the property at issue in this case is held in trust. The best evidence of ownership is presented by Olivet in the language of the deed and the documents of ownership.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
All parties other than the petitioner are considered respondents, but any respondent who supports the position of a petitioner shall meet the petitioner’s time schedule for filing documents, except that a response supporting the petition shall be filed within 20 days after the case is placed on the docket, and that time will not be extended.
2. (a) A petitioner or appellant may file a motion to dismiss the case, with proof of service as required by Rule 29, tendering to the Clerk any fees due and costs payable. No more than 15 days after service thereof, an adverse party may file an objection, limited to the amount of damages and costs in this Court alleged to be payable or to showing that the moving party does not represent all petitioners or appellants. The Clerk will not file any objection not so limited.
The merry World did on a day
With his train-bands and mates agree
To meet together where I lay,
And all in sport to jeer at me.
First Beauty crept into a rose,
Which when I pluck'd not, "Sir," said she,
"Tell me, I pray, whose hands are those?"
But Thou shalt answer, Lord, for me.
Then Money came, and chinking still,
"What tune is this, poor man?" said he;
"I heard in music you had skill:"
But Thou shalt answer, Lord, for me.
Then came brave Glory puffing by
In silks that whistled, who but he?
He scarce allow'd me half an eye:
But Thou shalt answer, Lord, for me.
Then came quick Wit and Conversation,
And he would needs a comfort be,
And, to be short, make an oration:
But Thou shalt answer, Lord, for me.
Yet when the hour of Thy design
To answer these fine things shall come,
Speak not at large, say, I am Thine;
And then they have their answer home.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
The United Arab Emirates is a particularly interesting example. While officially a Muslim country, Indians make up the largest demographic presence and the dominance of references to Hindu (rather than Allah) is likely a reflection of this fact. Likewise the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian archipelago (particularly the island of Java) illustrate the complexity of religious practice in this region. References to Buddha, Allah and Hindu are all in evidence on Java. Other examples include the predominately Buddhist nation of Sri Lanka with some Hindu areas to the North and the difference between Pakistan (more Allah) and India (more Hindu).
Looking at the [above] map of user-created religious references in Europe, it can been seen [that there] are a significant number of places (e.g. parts of Switzerland, Germany, the UK) in which there are more references to Buddha than any other religious terms. Likewise there are parts of Belgium and France with a dominant number of references to Allah, and parts of the UK with a dominant number of references to Hindu. (The cluster of Hindu references on the Estonian islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa is tied to a village named Hindu rather than religious practice). Also of note is the transition of religion as one moves eastward and southward with references to Allah becoming more prevalent in Muslim North Africa and Turkey. However, one can also see how this is far from monolithic with references to Jesus also sprinkled throughout this region as well as strong clusters in Israel/Palestine as well as within Armenia.
One sees in this map how Catholics dominate the global scene of Christianity, including most of the United States, with Protestants predominating mainly in just the traditional areas that went with the Reformation. The anomaly of mostly-Catholic Brazil showing a significant number of Pentecostals and little Catholics is probably best explained by the fact that only English-language terms in Google searches were analyzed. ("Catholic" is spelled differently in English than it is in Portuguese and Spanish, while "Pentecostal" is not.)
. . . we did do searches on Unitarian and UCC but did not include them in the final map as they had a lower number of hits overall in the U.S. and we were stretching the color palette with ten denominations. Apologies. When included you do see a cluster in New England.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Dan Barber is the owner of and chef for two restaurants in New York, using produce grown from his Blue Hill Farm, in Connecticut. Here is a link to his homepage, from which you can derive much more information, and here is a page with a brief bio and other links, including one to this fascinating Q & A session that grew out of his TED talk. Watch his talk in high-res video (mp4) from this link; download Dan's talk in that and other formats from this link.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The brief itself is minimal, and makes just a one-paragraph argument. Citing the decisions from California, New York, Pennsylvania and North Carolina that have upheld the trust declared by the Dennis Canon, as well as some earlier decisions from other jurisdictions applying the theory of implied trusts (now disused, as I covered in this post), and even some of the decisions from lower courts which are currently on appeal, ECUSA's three attorneys (David Booth Beers, Mary Kostel and Heather Anderson -- who has left Goodwin Procter and is on her own) argue simply that those decisions were right and South Carolina's was contrary to them, and hence wrong. The Statute of Frauds, which predates the Dennis Canon by more than 300 years, is not mentioned once, and there is zero analysis of the rationale given by the South Carolina Supreme Court for its decision.
In short, the brief serves as a mere placeholder for ECUSA, to keep its options open in the unlikely event that four justices of the Supreme Court vote to grant review. The lack of any serious argument is a signal that ECUSA's attorneys understand perfectly well that the chances of that happening are minimal.
What is even more significant than the news that ECUSA filed a brief in support of the petition is that the Diocese of South Carolina did not. As I analyzed that possibility in this previous post, the case would now be fraught with legal complexities as to who can properly argue against the lower court's decision, should the Court grant the petition for review. Fortunately, however, given that the Court has denied review without comment in all the other church cases it has recently been asked to look at, the odds are more than 99-1 that it will deny review here, as well.
Denial of review will not remove the current bone of contention between the Presiding Bishop and the Bishop of South Carolina, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence. She and her Chancellor will undoubtedly see the Diocese's refusal to join in support of the petition as a betrayal of the dissident parishioners at Waccamaw. No doubt the failure to join (even though, technically speaking, it would not be the Bishop's decision alone to make, but would require the consent of the diocesan standing committee) will be added to the growing dossier of evidence to be submitted by Chancellor Beers to the Title IV Review Committee in the near future, as grounds for first the inhibition and then the deposition of Bishop Lawrence without a trial, for alleged "abandonment of the Communion of this Church." (Bishop Lawrence's failure to attend the upcoming meeting of the House of Bishops that starts in Texas at the end of this week will of course be regarded as yet another such piece of evidence.)
[UPDATE 03/18/2010: Having assumed, from Bishop Lawrence's address to his Diocese last August about "withdrawing from all bodies of governance of TEC that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture", that the language meant he would also not be attending future sessions of the House of Bishops, I am pleased this once to report that I stand corrected: over at Titus 1:9, Father Dow Sanderson confirms that Bishop Lawrence IS attending the session starting tomorrow (his birthday!) at Camp Allen in Texas. That should make it all the more difficult for the Presiding Bishop to embark on "Plan A." As for her "Plan B", were I advising the good Bishop of South Carolina, I would see to it that he addresses no letters or statements to the Presiding Bishop -- even ones that only ask questions.]
Should that dastardly step be taken (and who today has any doubt that the current Presiding Bishop is fully capable of it?), the Church will have come full circle from the time when it first adopted a canon allowing a bishop to be deposed for abandonment. The occasion was General Convention 1853, and the Canon was adopted as new Canon 1. As I explained in this previous post, adoption of the Canon was made necessary by the departure of Bishop Ives of North Carolina to join the Roman Catholic Church.
Thus the "abandonment canon" (currently Canon IV.9, for bishops) was designed for the case when a bishop (or lower clergy, in the case of Canon IV.10) resigned his position in PECUSA to become a communicant in a church not in communion with PECUSA. There is no trial provided under the abandonment canons, because presumably there is no need for one: the departure for another church is already a fait accompli, and the departing bishop or clergy does not contest the fact of his departure.
If Canon IV.9 were now to be misused to "depose" a sitting bishop of the Church, then the only reason to conceive of doing so would be to avoid the necessity of a full-blown trial, with the need for a presentment that would set out in detail exact violations of specific canons of the Church -- dates, times and full circumstances -- which would provide sufficient grounds for deposition. Under Canon IV.9, the facts constituting "abandonment" are whatever the Title IV Review Committee and the Presiding Bishop decide they are. There is no appeal, except to the Presiding Bishop herself -- the kangaroo-court procedure was designed, remember, to apply to bishops and clergy who had already left the Church, and had no intention of returning.
And it is precisely that one-way procedure which will draw our current Presiding Bishop to its misuse. She has shown no restraint whatsoever in her ability to defy the express language of this and other Canons; and she will exercise no restraint in defiling the Canon, either, by applying it to a sitting bishop who is entitled to a full presentment and trial before his peers.
Watch what happens at the upcoming House of Bishops meeting, or perhaps shortly after it concludes. If the Presiding Bishop follows the same pattern as she did with Bishop Duncan, then she will probably take an informal poll, or "sounding", among her colleagues as to whether they will entertain a resolution to depose Bishop Lawrence at their next meeting in September. Neither the poll nor its results will remain secret; since she has no one to check her, the Presiding Bishop is very open about her machinations. But machinations they remain, nonetheless, and to have to use the word in connection with the word "bishop" says all that need be said about what is destroying ECUSA from within. ("Due process" -- or the idea that one does not taint the jury in advance -- is a concept that is as alien to the Chief Kaitiff as it is to Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, or any of a number of similarly inspiring and glorious leaders.)
Having improperly and unethically determined in advance (following on the heels of her announcement of the confirmation of a new addition to the membership of the House, the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool) that she has support from at least a majority of diocesans -- and entirely dispensing with the need for approval by a majority of the full House, including all bishops who have resigned their earlier jurisdictions -- the Presiding Bishop will set yet one more egregious precedent in her most egregious career. She will deploy Canon IV.9 to "depose" a sitting bishop who, far from abandoning ECUSA, remains doggedly within it, and whose only "fault" -- no fault at all, but in fact a trait much to be desired in a bishop -- is being unwilling to sacrifice the welfare of his Diocese to the megalomaniacial and scorched-earth policies of the Church's Presiding Bishop (and, more accurately, its Chief Kaitiff).
The combination of the confirmation of Bishop Glasspool to the episcopate, and the illegal and unwarranted removal from it of Bishop Lawrence, may well touch off fireworks in the rest of the Anglican Communion. The other provinces of the Communion will announce their refusal to recognize the validity of either act, and (just as they did with Bishop Duncan) will continue to regard Bishop Lawrence and his Diocese as one of their own. At that point, the Presiding Bishop and her all-too-willing tools in the House of Bishops and the Diocese of South Carolina will have managed to bring about a self-fulfilling prophecy: they will leave Bishop Lawrence with no alternative but to organize his Diocese in realignment with another branch of the Anglican Communion, and we will have yet one more Diocese that has been forced to leave the Church. And ECUSA will at that point have burned most of the bridges that tied it to the rest of the Anglican Communion.
After such an arbitrary and cynical act, further consideration of the proposed Covenant by ECUSA would have to be regarded as a sick joke. Pressure will then mount on individual Dioceses to adopt the Covenant on their own (in addition to South Carolina, Dallas, Central Florida and Western Louisiana have already done so), and on the Archbishop of Canterbury to recognize those adopting Dioceses as still in communion with the See of Canterbury. The Presiding Bishop will thunder and threaten with deposition all diocesans who lead their dioceses to pass resolutions approving the Covenant before General Convention meets in 2012.
And where will we be then? In a maelstrom of counter-accusation and self-destruction. For as I explained carefully in this post, it will be necessary in any event for the individual dioceses to indicate their approvals of the Covenant before General Convention could take any final action. Unless ECUSA engages in a complete charade (which should not fool the rest of the Communion), and pretends to "ratify" the Covenant through a simple up-or-down resolution enacted at General Convention 2012, the only way for ECUSA properly to sign on to the Covenant would be through a Constitutional amendment. (I think that 815 already recognizes this fact, because they have referred to the constraint that it would take two cycles of General Convention -- until 2015 -- for the Covenant to be finally approved.) The Constitution (Art. XII) requires that all amendments be proposed by one General Convention, and then be
sent to the Secretary of the Convention of every Diocese, to be made known to the Diocesan Convention at its next meeting, and be adopted by the General Convention at its next succeeding regular meeting by a majority of all Bishops, excluding retired Bishops not present, of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops, and by an affirmative vote by orders in the House of Deputies in accordance with Article I, Section 5, except that concurrence by the orders shall require the affirmative vote in each order by a majority of the Dioceses entitled to representation in the House of Deputies.Please note in passing that the drafters of revisions to the Constitution and Canons knew perfectly well how to use language so as to exclude retired bishops not present from being counted in specifying that a measure be enacted by "a majority . . . of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops . . .". The language of Canon IV.9 (see the last sentence) has no such wording about "excluding retired Bishops not present". Thus the Constitution itself demonstrates how the Presiding Bishop is trampling on the language of the Canon when she declares a "deposition" to have carried with the vote of less than a majority "of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote," as the Canon expressly requires.
This, then will be the Catch-22 into which the Presiding Bishop will lead the Church and the Anglican Communion, if her ego leads her to try to "depose" Bishop Lawrence for "abandonment":
1. A godly Bishop who would lead his Diocese in giving its approval to the Covenant, as is necessary for its adoption by ECUSA, will have been declared "deposed" by a canonically insufficient vote in the House of Bishops.
2. A Diocese which declares itself unalterably opposed to the acts taken by ECUSA in defiance of the Windsor Report will be forced to withdraw from the Church by the "deposition" of its Bishop, which the majority of provinces in the Anglican Communion will refuse to recognize. Meanwhile any Diocese which indicates it wants to approve the Covenant before General Convention 2012 can act on it will be threatened with the "deposition" of its diocesan.
3. A Potemkin standing committee organized by the Presiding Bishop will announce the holding of a "special convention" to approve a "provisional bishop" for what it declares will be the "Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina."
4. As soon as he or she is declared elected, the "provisional bishop" will file suit against Bishop Lawrence and his Diocese, seeking all of its money and property. But given the recent decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court against indirect Church trusts (plus the fact that the Dennis Canon does not try to reach the property of a diocese), the suit will go nowhere in the South Carolina courts. (That will not stop ECUSA from devoting hundreds of thousands of dollars to it.)
5. Like his former colleague Archbishop Robert Duncan, Bishop Lawrence will be recognized by other Bishops of the Anglican Communion as a Bishop in good standing with the rest of the Communion. Those Bishops may even drive the point home, as the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt. Rev. Michael Scott-Joynt, has done by inviting Archbishop Duncan to preach and to confirm in his Diocese.
6. Why will that drive the point home? Because Archbishop Duncan will be able to do so by reason of permission having been granted to the Bishop of Winchester by the Archbishop of Canterbury to make the invitation. And with that permission, Archbishop Duncan (and Bishop Lawrence, if he is invited as well) will be able to do what the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori cannot do, even though ECUSA regards her as a bishop (and its primate). No woman may currently function as a bishop within the Church of England -- no, not even the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori.
We will then have the spectacle of how ECUSA, by plunging recklessly ahead with its "social justice" agenda without the consensus of the remainder of the Anglican Communion, and by deposing its orthodox bishops and clergy without justification or mercy, will have managed to cut itself off from the Communion by those very actions. Its ridiculous and uncanonical "depositions" will be shown up as the Stalinesque purges that they are. And its childish demand that all of its elected and confirmed bishops receive equal recognition throughout the Communion will be shown up as the dysfunctional and selfish swaggering which it is.
At that point, as I say, further actions by ECUSA in going through the motions of considering the Covenant, if they occur at all, will devolve into a surreal pantomime. In any event, the disunity of ECUSA will be evident for all to see. The House of Bishops will be too spineless to pull the Presiding Bishop back from the looming disaster, and too divided to be able to agree on a common plan forward in her stead. There will be no neutral or middle ground; it will be like being in the middle of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. As far as the Presiding Bishop will be concerned, one will be "either with her, or against her."
This is where the current "leadership" of ECUSA is headed -- they have become a runaway wagon. Events may not unfold precisely according to the above scenario, but unfold they will. And there is no outcome I can see which bodes well for the future of ECUSA, or perhaps even for the Communion as we have known it -- so long as the Church gives Katharine Jefferts Schori free rein in taking it over the cliff.