Bishop Henderson Withdraws Support Of “Lawyer Bishops” Report

From the Living Church:

The Rt. Rev. Dorsey F. Henderson, Jr., Bishop of Upper South Carolina, was erroneously listed as a contributing author of a legal paper prepared for the House of Bishops’ meeting next week.

“My name is on it because there was a criss-cross of e-mails,” Bishop Henderson told a reporter from The Living Church. “I asked that my name be removed, but I was informed that it had already been sent to the printer. There are parts in which I concur, but others where I dissent.”

The 98-page paper is titled “The Constitutional Crisis, 2007: A Statement to The House of Bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury, & Honored Visitors by Legally Trained Members of the House.” In addition to Bishop Henderson, five other bishops who are licensed attorneys are listed as authors: the Rt. Rev. Cabell Tennis, retired Bishop of Delaware; the Rt. Rev. Robert D. Rowley, Jr., retired Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania; the Rt. Rev. Joe Morris Doss, retired Bishop of New Jersey; the Rt. Rev. Creighton Robertson, Bishop of South Dakota; and the Rt. Rev. Stacy F. Sauls, Bishop of Lexington.

“We do not want the Anglican Communion to be defined by juridical ecclesiology,” the report states. “By training and experience we are poignantly aware of the meaning and value of law as well as of theology. This gives us a unique perspective, which in turn leads us to conclude that the Anglican Communion must not be reduced to a hierarchically controlled, monolithic confessional structure.”

The report concludes that the Anglican Communion already has an adequate constitution and the proposals for a covenant, alternate primatial oversight, and jurisdictions that cross provincial and diocesan boundaries would represent a radical break with previous polity and practice. “The fundamental issue in the current conflict is not the matter of theological innovation, but the proposals and actions that would revolutionize the Anglican Communion,” the report states.

Bishop Henderson said it was his understanding that the report was prepared at the initiative of Bishop Doss. Neva Rae Fox, a spokeswoman for Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, said she was not aware of the report and could not comment as to whether the Presiding Bishop had commissioned it or appointed its members. Bishop Doss and Bishop Sauls had not returned a phone message left for them before this bulletin was published.

“My major disagreement with the report has to do with its understanding of the authority of bishops,” Bishop Henderson said. “I believe bishops have authority and responsibility to act quite apart from General Convention, and you need look no further than the catechism in The Book of Common Prayer from where my views derive.

“Bishops are asked to guard the faith and unity of the Church; that responsibility is not ascribed to any other order of ministry. I remain convinced that the House of Bishops needs to come to terms with what it means to be a bishop in the church catholic and for the church to be more aware of what it means to be a part of something larger than itself.”

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