Written by: Mr. Mark McCall
Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
It has become commonplace for those supporting the current majority in The Episcopal Church to claim that a bishop’s ordination vow, particularly what is called the “Declaration of Conformity,” is a vow to accept the majority’s interpretation of TEC’s polity that would grant unfettered supremacy to General Convention’s actions. For example, Fr. Mark Harris made this argument when criticizing proposed resolutions in the diocese of South Carolina:
Now, lets see: The Constitution of The Episcopal Church says this: I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church.” (Article VIII of TEC Constitution)
Perhaps Bishop Lawrence doesn’t get it. “Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship” includes the Constitution and Canons. This so called “oath of conformity” is paralleled by the one required of a new diocese. “After consent of the General Convention, when a certified copy of the duly adopted Constitution of the new Diocese, including an unqualified accession to the Constitution and Canons of this Church, shall have been filed with the Secretary of the General Convention,” the new diocese is admitted into union with the General Convention.
Get it? The conformity, by the Constitution of TEC, which Bishop Lawrence claims to uphold, is to the Constitution and Canons of TEC, not the Constitution alone. The authority for this is the Constitution of TEC.
Perhaps if we do not “get it” it is because Harris himself gets it half right and half wrong in his argument, which one can see at a glance is a complete non sequitur as worded.