As you can read elsewhere in the blogosphere, particularly one T1:9, the deadline for standing committee consents for the Rev. Mark Lawrence, bishop-elect of the diocese of South Carolina, is fast approaching. Rev. Lawrence has already received consents from the necessary majority of bishops with jurisdiction and consents from 52 of the 111 standing committees. 56 consents are needed. See here for updates from the diocese of South Carolina. The diocese has a list of consents already received: note who has held out -- not the Southern dioceses, nor the midwestern, but the Northeastern and California dioceses (except for San Joaquin and San Diego). Only one of the 6 New York dioceses has given consent, and only Western Mass. from New England has consented. Province II is woefully behind.
As the post on T1:9 notes, Rev. Lawrence could become the first bishop-elect in over 70 years to be refused consent. We consent readily to a man who left his family to come out of the closet in New Hampshire, but Rev. Lawrence, who surely is just as well respected in his diocese as Gene Robinson was in his, and who was elected resoundingly on the first ballot (Bp. Robinson was elected on the second), has to beg and plead? Would we RATHER our bishops be gay?
I heard a number of excuses in 2003 that the diocese of New Hampshire had spoken, and that was that. The election had given us the will of God for New Hampshire, and God forbid we intervene by refusing consent. Instead, we get this from Via Media:
"The case against consenting to Father Lawrence's election is not based on his theology or personal beliefs, but on the way these are likely to affect the polity, and hence the unity and integrity, of this church . . ."
Say what? Is this not an exact description of the hullaballoo we've been dragged through since Bp. Robinson's election? Is this not an exact description of the dangers of electing a very liberal woman as Presiding Bishop? Is this not an exact description of the fallout we caused by ordaining women to the priesthood? Is this not a crystal-clear admission that godly living and good theology are not at stake, but simply partisan politics between TEC's left and right? You often hear me ask, "Who's calling the shots these days?" I ask, what does this campaign say about the priorities of Via Media and TEC's left wing? Via Media claims to be made up of moderates who want nothing more than to stay in TEC. But this move unmasks them. The group ostesnibly is worried that Fr. Lawrence, all by himself, is going to rip apart the ecclesial fabric of our church -- is this a reasonable fear? Surely at his most vehement he would only issue letters, as Bps. Iker and Beckwith and others have done, and support the request his diocese has already made to receive alternative primatial oversight - which plan, by the way, PB Schori has already expressed support for and is likely to press the HoB to agree to.
Which all stacks up to mean that Via Media's campaign to undo this canonically proper election is basically nothing but spite. And it's a power play to exercise Rehoboam-like authority over a peer, like the princes of the gentiles. And if it succeeds, it's likely to endanger any assurance coming from the HoB that TEC is willing to play nice for the time being.