Friday, May 04, 2007

Sauce for the Goose

From Episcopal Cafe by Andrew Gerns

Do you know the old saying: What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander? The ruling handed down by a South Carolina judge in the cases of a breakaway parish versus the Diocese of South Carolina is most certainly sauce for somebody.

Episcopal News Service presents the facts of the matter. But the “takeaway” as editors like to say, is that if you want the Episcopal Church to violate its constitution and canons to advance your agenda, don’t be offended when the offer is refused, and don’t expect civil authorities to back you up.

The significant parts of the South Carolina ruling are these:

  • In a hierarchical church such as ours, Diocesan and Episcopal Church canons concerning of membership supersede parochial by-laws.
  • A judge may determine if a congregation is departing from the "doctrine, discipline and worship" of this church by how the congregation adheres to the constitution and canons of the church. Judge Thomas W. Cooper, Jr., wrote that a "quintessentially religious question is left up to the church authorities" and defined that authority in terms of the constitution and canons of the church.
  • He said it "constitute(s) a fraud" to take a parish into a new denomination when all of the current members freely chose to enter the existing Church.
The judge may have tried to avoid knotty theological questions, but his ruling reiterates a fundamental element of what it means to be the Church. Entering the Church means not only enjoying the style of worship and teaching, but entering into the common life of the whole Church, a life that includes adherence to the Church’s constitution and canons.

If the ruling in South Carolina is embraced by other states, the strategy of those trying to break up the Episcopal Church will collapse under its own weight.

1 comment:

Father Doug said...

Presumably "entering into the common life of the whole church" does not include allowing those Africans any say in our Amurican, indEEpendent, all-by-are-OWN-selves, precious, shrinking denomination. After all, if they don't respect our almighty polity, we have nothing more to say to them about anything we might have done in the past or will do in the future. Right?