BB NOTE: Steve Waring of The Living Church is reporting (see below). Note that Clay Matthews, Bishop for Pastoral Development at 815, had a very different view on obeying the canons then does 815 now. This is shown in how Canon Matthews advised the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina and its president, the Rev. Dow Sanderson. Waring reports:
"Fr. Sanderson said that Bishop Matthews considered the matter important enough that he delayed giving approval for South Carolina to send out its consent requests until he had personally sent the canonically correct language to Fr. Sanderson, who said he cut and pasted the relevant portion of Bishop Matthew’s email message directly into the South Carolina standing committee consent request letter.This contradicts what the Presiding Bishop and her office are saying now that the practice has been brought to light. So when is a canon really a canon, and when can it just be randomly discarded? Obviously Canon Matthews (who should know) thought it was very important. We should also note that Clay Matthews is the former Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia (see photo) and so it will interesting to see if he remains consistent with the opinion he gave to the Diocese of South Carolina when it now comes to his former diocese, the Diocese of Virginia.
Canonically Defective Testimonial Alleged in Virginia Coadjutor Request
The standing committee did not use a properly worded canonical request last winter when it sought consent to the election of the Rev. Shannon S. Johnston as Bishop Coadjutor of Virginia, a defect not considered serious enough by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to invalidate the election.
Instead the standing committee of the Diocese of Virginia used what the Rev. Canon Carl Gerdau, canon to the Presiding Bishop and Primate, described as a “short form,” successfully employed by a number of other dioceses in recent years. The so-called short form has been “used for a long time and no one has ever objected to it before,” Canon Gerdau said in an interview with The Living Church. “We don’t think this is a defect.”
When a diocese desires the ordination of a bishop-elect, if the date of the election occurs more than 120 days before the meeting of the General Convention, Title III, canon 11, section 4b requires that “the standing committee of the diocese for which the bishop has been elected shall by its president, or by some person or persons specially appointed, immediately send to the Presiding Bishop and to the standing committees of the several dioceses a certificate of the election by the secretary of convention of the diocese, bearing a statement that evidence of the bishop-elect’s having been duly ordered deacon and priest as to the bishop-elect’s medical, psychological and psychiatric examination required in Sec. 3(b) of this canon have been received and that a testimonial signed by a constitutional majority of the convention must also be delivered.”
The canon goes on to stipulate the exact wording to be employed in the consent request, including a clause in which the standing committee of the electing diocese testifies “in the presence of Almighty God” that they know of no impediment to proceeding with the consecration and ordination to the episcopate. The short form does not contain this clause. Instead standing committee members “give our consent.”
Initially last fall the standing committee of the Diocese of South Carolina also intended to use the “short form” when it sought consent for the consecration of the Rev. Mark Lawrence as Bishop of South Carolina. However, in an interview with TLC, the Rev. Dow Sanderson, who was president of the South Carolina standing committee at the time, said that the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews, Bishop for the Presiding Bishop’s Office of Pastoral Development, cautioned the diocese about the language in its consent request. Fr. Sanderson said that Bishop Matthews considered the matter important enough that he delayed giving approval for South Carolina to send out its consent requests until he had personally sent the canonically correct language to Fr. Sanderson, who said he cut and pasted the relevant portion of Bishop Matthew’s email message directly into the South Carolina standing committee consent request letter.
Consent to his consecration went relatively smoothly for Fr. Lawrence among bishops with jurisdiction, but not so among standing committees. He eventually eked out the minimum number needed, but Bishop Jefferts Schori ruled the election of Fr. Lawrence “null and void” after six were excluded for canonical deficiencies which included being received after the deadline and more importantly, unsigned. Without the signatures, Canon Gerdau said it was impossible for the Presiding Bishop to determine whether a majority of standing committee members from the six dioceses had voted in favor of the consecration of Fr. Lawrence.
Read the rest here.