Yes, of course they could -- but that admission does nothing to mitigate the sorry, sorry state of affairs that persists in that Church already.
This is still calendar 2012 -- barely six months since the last meeting of General Convention. Since that time:
ECUSA has lost another Diocese -- and not just "another" Diocese, but one of its largest, healthiest and most vibrant.
ECUSA's House of Bishops, spurred on by its Presiding Bishop, is preparing to depose one of its most orthodox and spiritual members ever, in a triumph of mediocrity over mission.
ECUSA points the blame at the Diocese (of South Carolina) -- but for doing what? According to ECUSA and its oh-so-wise attorneys, the Diocese hasn't left; only its people (and its Bishop) have.
So ECUSA, through its hopelessly conflicted Disciplinary Board for Bishops, blames the Bishop for the actions of the Diocese -- even though he had no vote on them to begin with, and no Constitutional power to set aside the acts of the diocesan convention.
And then the Presiding Bishop, while trying with one hand to lure Bishop Lawrence into further mediation talks, uses her other hand to sign a certificate restricting his ministry -- and then still wants to continue talks as scheduled while keeping his restriction "confidential." (Oh, yes, that would certainly work.)
To top it off, she then claims that "her hands were tied," and that once she received the certification that he personally had "abandoned" ECUSA by the actions the diocesan convention took, she had "no choice" but to restrict him.
Well, that is indeed the way the Abandonment Canon now reads -- but don't forget: it was Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori who decided she did not need the consent of the "three most senior Bishops in the Church" to restrict Bishop Duncan back when the Canon (before its amendment in 2009) still required such consent. Could she have obtained that consent to restrict Bishop Lawrence in 2012, on such flimsy charges?
I doubt it entirely. But she wanted the provision eliminated, and she got her way. So she now owns this process, and must take responsibility for bringing about the mess that exists in South Carolina today.
Meanwhile, she is also proceeding apace with the charges against the nine bishops who dared to disagree with her in open court, even though she is hopelessly conflicted in that situation, as well. (She sees nothing wrong with being (1) the person supposedly wronged; (2) the person charged with determining whether the charges are valid; (3) the person who decides what disciplinary remedy to impose; and (4) the person who actually imposes that final disciplinary remedy.) Prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner all in one? Move along, move along -- nothing to see here, just more dysfunction.
As for the complainants who filed the charges against the bishops, never mind that they are the chief opponents in court of the parties who wanted to use the bishops' testimony as part of their case. So now we have two lawsuits in civil court, in which the Episcopalian litigants seek to punish their opponents for using the same kind of expert testimony which they were using. And they see absolutely nothing wrong with that!
So also with those puny South Carolina Episcopalians who were complaining about Bishop Lawrence for what their own Diocese was doing. Do you see any signs of apology or regret for the trials and tribulation which their extreme minority views have now brought upon the Diocese? Again, move along, now; I said, move along! -- nothing to see here but still more dysfunction.
Then we come to the other bishops in the House of Bishops, and the other Standing Committees across the whole geographical span of the Church. Though a few here and there have published statements of regret for what has happened, the biggest single note that has been sounded is one of utter silence. The Standing Committees have not voiced any objection to the Presiding Bishop's actions taken in defiance of the jurisdiction of the diocesan standing committee in a diocese which she claims has not left the Church, and the Bishops are just biding their time until they can hide behind an anonymous voice vote to remove Bishop Lawrence next March.
Dysfunction, dysfunction everywhere, as far as the eye can penetrate.
To this long-time Episcopalian, it seems that the time has come to say, with David:
To the choirmaster: according to The Sheminith.1 A Psalm of David.
12 Save, O Lord, for mthe godly one is gone;
2 Everyone nutters lies to his neighbor;
3 May the Lord cut off all oflattering lips,
the tongue that makes qgreat boasts,
5 “Because rthe poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
sI will now arise,” says the Lord;
“I will place him in the tsafety for which he longs.”
6 uThe words of the Lord are pure words,
you will guard us2 from this generation forever.