Mark Lawrence plays the victim

Updated: John B. Chilton provided this link to an encouraging article in the Living Church. It goes a long way toward addressing some of the concerns I have expressed below.

If this article by Alan Cooperman in The Washington Post and this one by Adam Parker in the Charleston Post and Courier are any indication, the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence and the leaders of the Diocese of South Carolina plan to blame everyone but themselves for his failure to get the consents necessary to become their bishop.

This is not only unhelpful if they hope to get Lawrence confirmed on a second go-round, it is also dishonest.

Lawrence was not rejected because of his conservative views on Scriptural interpretation homosexuality; he was rejected because he did not state his intention to keep the diocese within the Episcopal Church with sufficient clarity until the 11th hour. By the time he said the words most Standing Committees were waiting to hear, those committees were up against a deadline and, in their haste to communicate consents, at least seven did not follow the proper procedures. (Keep in mind that some Standing Committees that reportedly consented to the election filed no paperwork whatsoever.) Hence their consents could not be verified.

The Presiding Bishop’s office gave South Carolina three extra days to get its consents in order. A number of standing committees met (some to reconsider decisions arleady taken) in emergency sessions when they received word that Lawrence, had, at last, been a bit more explicit in his profession of loyalty to the Episcopal Church. Both of these actions demonstrated both flexibility and generosity. In response, Lawrence and the diocesan leadership have chosen to cast themselves as the victim and attempt to make political hay out of a situation that is, in significant measure, of their own making.

My bishop voted to consent to Lawrence’s election. Our standing committee did not. I had no horse in the race, and have suggested in other postings that I think Lawrence can eventually be confirmed if the diocese reelects him. But if the candidate and the diocesan leadership continue this truth-distorting, self-exonerating media offensive, they will dissipate the goodwill necessary for that to occur.

Update: Tobias Haller points us to a worthwhile exchange.

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