“The Consitutional Crisis, 2007”

September 17, 2007

Beloved, a document is being circulated among the Bishops of The Episcopal Church, and by internet, to broader circles. The full title is “The Constitutional Crisis, 2007: A Statement to the House of Bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Honored Visitors”. It has been circulated to be considered during the upcoming meeting of the House of Bishops, and it bears my name.

Although asked several months ago by Bishop Doss, the first lawyer-bishop to suggest the project, to participate in the writing of the document, I have not, in fact, contributed to its research, content or drafting. Consequently, I asked that my name be removed from the list of contributors, but the paper had already been sent to the printer for publication and distribution.

It is being said that I have “repudiated” the document. This, too, is inaccurate. Indeed, I asked for my name to be removed because, as stated above, I had not contributed to it and did not avail myself in a timely fashion to review and critique its contents—but also, as I indicated to Bishop Doss, because at best I would be “concurring in part and dissenting in part”. I think that there are parts of the thesis which the authors set out which are worth consideration—along with many others which have been developed as part of the process commended to us in The Windsor Report.

However, I also believe that the document, and the dialogue which it will provoke, must necessarily involve consideration of the following:

1. The specific inclusion of the provisions of The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (see pp. 876-877 of the BCP) as well as the Creeds of the Church, would bring, in my opinion, greater clarity to the concept and content of such a constitution.

2. Because the catechism reflects the historic and traditional understanding of the ministry of the various orders, I am convinced that bishops, who specifically—and unlike the other orders—have the responsibility “to guard the faith, unity and discipline of the whole Church” Accordingly, it would seem that Bishops, in those limited areas, have a responsibility which does not require the concurrence of the General Convention (as much as concurrence is to be desired). My view is inconsistent with the position taken in the paper.

3. A good dose of Richard Hooker would—again, in my humble opinion—enrich the content of “The Constitutional Crisis” and the dialogue about it.

4. I also fear that some of the “tone” of some the language utilized in the paper will tend to be a barrier to objective consideration of the overall concept.

I commend to your diligent prayers the bishops, The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as we convene in New Orleans beginning the evening of September 19.

Faithfully in our Lord, +Dorsey USC VII

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2 Responses to ““The Consitutional Crisis, 2007””

  1. George Gray Says:

    I am very thankful that Bishop Henderson has not “contributed to its research, content or drafting.” The document is not up to our bishop’s usual standards.

  2. TXAnglican Says:

    Bishop Dorsey, then why did you describe this document as a ‘magnum opus’ if the other authors view the role of bishop quite differently from your view, and if the ‘tone’ it takes is destructive and alienating? This document will not be taken seriously by anyone who knows church history, who understands the conflict, and who agrees with the Primates’ call for response.

    The Primates have been quite clear about what they are asking and when an answer is needed. Most laypersons understand it. The House of Bishops has not developed the backbone to provide that answer. Does this not fly in the face of what you’re saying – that they (bishops) ‘have a responsibility which does not require the concurrence of the General Convention’ ? In an attempt to be generous to your peers I think calling this document worthy of consideration or even close to the answer that the Primates are looking for is a bad call. Your yes needs to be a yes, and your no a no.


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