Monday, August 13, 2012

A.S. Haley: What Choices Are There for the Diocese of South Carolina?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Now here is another unusual fact about associations: unless its governing documents give the rest of the members the power to do so, an association cannot expel one of its members from the association. So ECUSA, for instance, has no power to "kick out" the Diocese of South Carolina, because there is nothing in the Constitution or Canons of ECUSA giving such a power to General Convention, or to any other body (or person) within ECUSA. (That is not to say the current leadership might not try to engineer such a stunt, but it would be highly counter-productive, as explained below.)

This, then, is the first major point for the Diocese of South Carolina to realize: the choice of whether or not to remain in ECUSA belongs entirely to it. No bishop, Presiding Bishop, House of Bishops, or General Convention of ECUSA has the power to declare that the Diocese of South Carolina is no longer one of ECUSA's members.

And further -- why would ECUSA ever want to exercise any such "power", if it existed? If ECUSA had the ability to dissolve its relationship with any single diocese, then it could no longer make any claim to that diocese's property. It would, itself, have brought about the circumstances making impossible its claim to any diocesan property, and an ancient maxim of the law is that "no man may profit by his own wrong." ECUSA, in other words, could not by its own actions in purporting to "expel" a diocese create the occasion by which it could thereby lay claim to the Diocese of South Carolina's property. the rest
So ECUSA will never be able to dissolve unilaterally its relations with the Diocese of South Carolina. But the Diocese itself, as we just saw, is entirely free to withdraw its accession to ECUSA's Constitution and Canons at any time. The question which will face the delegates elected to its Convention is just that. Should it follow in the steps of the former Episcopal (now Anglican) Diocese of San Joaquin, and the Diocese of Fort Worth, and the Diocese of Quincy?


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