Friday, July 22, 2005

the meeting between +andrew connecticut and the people of st. john's

From the AAC blog via T1:9. Read the whole thing here.

Throughout the evening, as he attempted to answer their direct questions, the bishop seemed remarkably unfamiliar with the canons of the church as well as their proper application and limitations. I have served as a Canon to the Ordinary and have never seen a bishop as apparently uninformed about basic canon law as was Bishop Smith on Sunday night. His invocation of Title IV, Canon 10 (abandonment of communion) as the basis for all his actions was repeatedly challenged by the laity present. When his chancellor attempted this same un-canonical approach to explain the lock-out of the parish, he must have realized the weakness of his approach and quickly switched tacks, trying a “landlord/tenant” relationship as a justification. When it was pointed out to him that any landlord/tenant laws require due process before eviction or a lock-out, he used a third approach: the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He claimed that the diocese’s actions fall within the First Amendment, which gives certain freedoms and a correlating loss of some other freedoms. He then sat down. It was clear to even a casual observer that Bishop Smith had decided to invoke “abandonment of communion” for the inhibition of the priest, as well as using it as justification of the hostile takeover of the building, leaving his chancellor to explain the un-justifiable. But, according to Bishop Smith and his chancellor, the First Amendment provides the Constitutional basis for their actions.

Nearly 75 minutes into the two-hour meeting, Bishop Smith finally admitted that the grounds for his actions against Fr. Mark Hansen and the parish were based on Mark’s being a co-signatory to a letter earlier in the year calling the bishop to recant his theology, understanding of Scripture, and certain votes at General Convention–a letter also signed by the five other Connecticut Six congregations. He stated that this letter, along with Mark’s taking a sabbatical which “falls outside of Diocesan policy”, provided grounds for abandonment of communion. Since their priest has, according to the bishop, abandoned communion, the bishop had to take over the building and put a new priest in place. When commotion ensued, the bishop raised his voice exclaiming that all his actions were predicated upon Title IV, Canon 10 and yelling: “Let me be clear, you have to work with me.”

Once more, I can't see the angle on this one. Why does Bp. Smith see this as a good move? What does he get? It seems obvious to me that the people of St. John's get nothing. Fr. Hansen gets nothing. Looking around for a beneficiary, we're left pretty much with Bp. Smith as the only possibility. But what could he possibly get? Vengeance? That's all I can come up with. Does any one else have any ideas? Seriously. I'm stymied. This whole thing is just bizarre.


Father Nelson said...

I have to say this, attempting to be as charitable as possible. Smith is a sheep in wolves clothing. A priest in that diocese would be utterly abandoning his people if he did not call the local school and make arrangements to meet in the cafeteria the upcoming Sunday. We have got to stop worry about properties and start storing up for ourselves treasures in Heaven.

J-Tron said...

There's a decent rundown of things over at "Father Jake Stops the World" which may lend some insight. Father Jake postulates a couple reasons why this took place, while also arguing as I do that it was generally a bad idea.

koenigsfreunde said...

+Smith gains nothing. The only thing I'm left thinking is that he's turned to the dark side. To quote the great 'theologian' Yoda: "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."
This seems germane to what motivates Smith but in no way does it come close to justifying any of his actions.