[Note: If J.R.R. Tolkien ever took refuge in satire, I am unaware of it. However, in writing the series of recent posts about the coming constitutional crisis in ECUSA and the spurious defense of the new Title IV offered by its drafters, my despair and forebodings, tinged with images from Tolkien's Mordor, eventually overcame my good sense, and the following piece is the result. I offer it in the same sense that Jonathan Swift published his "Modest Proposal": in the hope that by taking things to this extreme, what actually occurs may not be anywhere near as bad as depicted.]
Your trusty Curmudgeon recently received, via anonymous email from a server identifying itself with www.wikileaks.com, a scan of the top-secret communiqué set out below. While its authenticity is still being verified, its subject matter seemed to warrant immediate attention by all those still maintaining their membership in ECUSA. I reproduce the first page of the scan below, and then supply its full text below the image:
To: PB Advisory Council List
Subject: DSC plans
Executive summary: As you have been previously advised, this past February 19 the Diocese of South Carolina (DSC) approved certain resolutions to effect amendments to its diocesan constitution and canons. As passed, the resolutions purport to:
(1) have the DSC accede only to the TEC Constitution, and (paradoxically) not to the TEC Canons;(2) make a qualified accession by the DSC to the TEC Constitution, so that any provision in the DSC Constitution and Canons to the contrary will take precedence; and(3) specifically make inapplicable in the DSC the GC2009 revisions to Title IV.
Needless to say, these revisions to the DSC governing documents are illegal and ultra vires, hence null and void. However, until we can get them recognized as such within the boundaries of the DSC, we have a situation on our hands which requires a prompt and decisive response.
The purpose of this memorandum is to set out the strategies which the Presiding Bishop (PB) has decided upon, in consultation with her Chancellor and her Special Assistant for Litigation, in order to deal with the rebellious forces in the DSC.
First: The following principles are given, as previously established by long-standing precedent, and therefore governing this problem:
a. TEC is a hierarchical church, with three tiers: TEC at the top, then the individual dioceses, and at the bottom the various parishes.
b. A hierarchy by definition has to have an authority at the top: this is the General Convention. However, because it meets only for two weeks every three years, its authority in the interim is fully vested in the PB and her Executive Council. (Since the Executive Council gathers just three to four times per year, in practice this leaves all authority to be exercised by the PB, who in any event, directs the Executive Council as its CEO.)
c. Every diocese in TEC is subordinate to, and bound by, TEC's Constitution and Canons.
d. Previous occupants of the PB's office have not exercised the full authority of the position, in accordance with the preceding principles. The current PB is determined that there shall be no basis, ever again, to question or doubt the PB's authority over the whole of TEC.
Second: As the CEO of the Executive Council, and the PB of the entire Church, the PB alone decides, in consultation with her Chancellor and Special Assistant for Church Property Litigation, what court proceedings are brought in the name of TEC, who shall conduct them on behalf of TEC in any given case, and on what terms (if any) the cases so brought shall be settled or compromised.
Third: For the same reasons, the PB alone decides how much money is necessary to be spent on the litigation described in the preceding paragraph (in practice, she delegates that decision to her trusted staff with experience in such matters -- such as her Chancellor).
Given these preconditions, the PB herewith adopts and implements the following procedures, effective immediately, with regard to all further steps to be taken in regard to the DSC and its current bishop:
1. From this date forward, the garrison of the Episcopal Faithful (also known as the Episcopal Forum) in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, shall receive full logistical and tactical support from everyone still remaining at 815 Second Avenue, in New York. No reasonable request of theirs for assistance shall be rejected, ignored, or delayed -- should they be put under attack, they have the PB's personal assurances that reinforcements from the North will be sent as soon as possible. In any case of doubt, their request for assistance is to be passed upstairs immediately to the attention of Canon Robertson.
2. From this date forward, no Millennium Development Goals shall be implemented in favor of, nor shall funds gathered for those Goals be disbursed to, entities, groups or persons within the DSC (other than the Episcopal Forum -- see #1 above).
3. The PB has personally suspended all further plans for pastoral visitation, episcopal oversight or intervention within the DSC from this date forward until at least July 1, 2011, when the new provisions of Title IV take effect throughout the Church. After that date, the campaign in South Carolina will move into its "war is hell" phase (see next paragraph).
4. On July 1, 2011 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, the PB's Office will issue a Pastoral Direction to the Bishop of South Carolina, on the basis of her new powers under Title IV which take effect as of that instant. The precise terms of the PD are still under consideration, but at a minimum it is currently thought that they will include the following (subject to the Chancellor's approval):
(a) That Bishop Lawrence speak no more in public about his discontent with the national Church, its leaders, or its direction.(b) That Bishop Lawrence deliver a series of sermons in his Diocese extolling and acknowledging, in positive terms:(1) the recent governance of the Church under its current PB;(2) the research and scholarship of the Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls with regard to the proper uses of, and procedures under, the Abandonment Canons, including specifically the propriety of all depositions by the House of Bishops announced thereunder since the inception of the PB's current term of office; and(3) his Diocese's subordinate position within the hierarchy of The Episcopal ChurchTM, and his own willingness to submit to this Pastoral Direction without reservation, objection, or cavil, mental or otherwise.(c) That Bishop Lawrence, on behalf of the DSC, pledge all assistance and support for the ongoing campaign of TEC to force rebellious Dioceses into total submission -- including personally leading a drive for contributions to the newly created William Tecumseh Sherman Trust Fund, established to carry out that purpose.(d) That Bishop Lawrence and his Chancellor mount an immediate challenge to the ruling of the South Carolina Supreme Court in the All Saints Waccamaw case, simultaneously with the institution of a campaign to recall each and every justice on that Court who voted in favor of that decision, together with the filing of a lawsuit against the estate of Justice Harry Blackmun for malpractice.(e) That, as a final sign of his willing penance and submission to the PD, Bishop Lawrence use the next occasion of a snowstorm in Washington, D.C. (expected sometime during August 2011, according to the latest projections of the Episcopal Millennium Commission on Global Warming) humbly to approach the steps of the PB's see, the National Cathedral, in a cilice and on his knees, begging forgiveness and pardon in the same (Latin) words used by Henry IV at Canossa.
Should, for any reason whatsoever, Bishop Lawrence refuse to submit to this PD, the PB will immediately sign a certificate inhibiting him from the further exercise of episcopal functions within his Diocese. And should he continue in his recalcitrance and obstinacy, the PB will announce reluctantly that she is delegating all further responsibility for TEC actions in South Carolina to her specially constituted "General Sherman Memorial Task Force", consisting of (as presently contemplated) Bishops Sauls, Bruno, Shaw, O'Neill, Price, Ohl, and Buchanan, with the Rt. Rev. J.S. Spong serving as Task Force Chaplain. They will be charged with devising and implementing a strategy, in combination with the members of the Episcopal Forum, to finally bring the Diocese of South Carolina to its knees. (Preliminary plans call for an initial
Note: the contents of this message are absolutely confidential and privileged for those authorized to receive it. Should it come into the hands of any unauthorized person, it is not expected that they will know or understand what it is addressing, or appreciate its importance, let alone read this far. That is why the tic-tac-toe squares are printed on the reverse side.