Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Day 12: TEC fauxilliary bishop eviscerated on cross examination; claims ignorance of significant disciplinary Canon

Charles vonRosenberg and unidentified canine cohort
Things went from bad to worse for The Empty Church in South Carolina (TECSC) during the twelfth day of the trial to protect the assets of the legitimate Diocese of South Carolina. Charles G. vonRosenberg, fauxilliary bishop of the rump diocese was exposed for the ecclesiastical non-entity he is when, upon cross examination by diocesan lawyer Alan Runyan, he claimed to have no knowledge of the Canon, adopted by General Convention in 2009 when he was still an active bishop, which prohibits any lay or ordained member of the national church from asking a secular court to interpret church law.

Ironically, the Canon in question was specifically adopted so as to prevent the Right Reverend Mark J. Lawrence, the legitimate bishop of the legitimate diocese, from seeking judicial relief from the contrived disciplinary action brought against him by the national church. It was a classic "gotcha" moment which produced audible gasps in the courtroom.

In another bizarre twist in vonRosenberg's testimony, the make believe bishop said he had "re-confirmed" several persons originally confirmed by Bishop Lawrence in order to make sure they were "confirmed in The Episcopal Church." The implication was that since Bishop Lawrence, in the estimation of the national church, is an "unworthy" minister, any confirmations performed by him would not be considered legitimate. This is contrary to Article XXVI of the Articles of religion, which states in part:

Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments, yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ's, and do minister by his commission and authority, we may use their Ministry, both in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving the Sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ's ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God's gifts diminished from such as by faith, and rightly, do receive the Sacraments ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ's institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.

Furthermore, confirmation is not a rite unique to "The Episcopal Church." While it may be called by different names in different denominations, it is a rite of the whole church and transferable from one ecclesiastical body to another. The concern that a person's confirmation be specifically "in The Episcopal Church" is indicative of the fact that "The Episcopal Church" is behaving more like a cult than a legitimate branch of the Church of Jesus Christ.

David Booth Beers, the national church's haughty legal counsel, attempted to rehabilitate his discredited witness by trying to introduce some kind of context to the Canon of which vonRosenberg claimed not to be aware. However, his question was shot down by an objection on the grounds that it lacked foundation since the "bishop" had already said he was not familiar with the provision.

Judge Diane S. Goodstein also re-emphasized, for the umpteenth time, that she would not be swayed by the national church's repeated attempts to introduce arguments pertaining to its supposed hierarchical nature, going so far as to say she was not convinced that such was the polity of the church, as nothing to that effect has been put in writing.

Here is the full report on the day's proceedings from the diocesan press office:
ST. GEORGE, SC, JULY 23, 2014 – On the 12th day of the trial of the Diocese of South Carolina vs. The Episcopal Church and its local subsidiary, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, TEC attorney David Beers attempted to introduce the concept of church hierarchy once again into the trial, ignoring Judge Diane S. Goodstein’s repeated rulings that church hierarchy plays no role in this case.

Beers asked the first provisional bishop of TECSC, Charles vonRosenberg, to tell the court why the Bishop of San Joaquin, Ca., the Rt. Rev. John David Schofield had been removed as bishop of that diocese.

Judge Goodstein said, “It’s not relevant. For this reason: I don’t know what [that] state’s position is regarding the analysis of church disputes. I don’t really care. What I care about is the state of South Carolina. My Supreme Court tells me what I do when I analyze church disputes.’

She added, “In terms of whether or not the parishes in SC and the Diocese in SC were allowed to leave the national church – I’m going to make that determination on the basis of neutral principles of law under South Carolina law. I don’t care what happened any where else.”

Beers disagreed with the judge, saying that hierarchy is part of TEC’s polity or organization and the judge responded, “I’m not sure that’s your polity. I watched very carefully when Bishop [Clifton] Daniel testified and Mr. Runyan (attorney for the Diocese) popped up with the Constitution and Canons. There was nothing written that says, “You here forever.”

In response to her last statement coming out somewhat like Scarlet O’Hara, some in the courtroom laughed, drawing a reprimand from Judge Goodstein.

“I don’t say that to be humorous. It is a very serious matter,” she said. “You want to tell me this is the polity of the church? It’s not written. Seems to me it ought to be written. But it isn’t. It obviously happened to some folks. I’ve got that. But I’m not going to be bound by that. I’m just not. I’m going to be bound by South Carolina law.”

When cross-examined by Diocesan attorney Alan Runyan, Bishop vonRosenberg affirmed that he was familiar with that portion of the TEC canons commonly referred to as “the Dennis Canon,” which seeks to impose a trust in favor of TEC. He admitted, however, he was not familiar with the Canon which states “No member of the Church, whether lay or ordained, may seek to have the Constitution and Canons of the Church interpreted by a secular court, or resort to a secular court to address a dispute arising under the Constitution and Canons.”

“That is precisely what TEC has sought every time it has prosecuted this kind of litigation,” said the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary. “Its what Judge Goodstein emphasized today that she is prevented from doing under the law.”

Plaintiff calls rector as witness to dispute Rickenbaker testimony

The Rev. Gregory Kronz, rector at St. Luke’s on Hilton Head Island testified today that he was head of the search committee to find a bishop to replace Bishop Salmon.

Kronz said that he and another member of the committee, Paul Fuener, interviewed the Rev. Thomas Rickenbaker, one of about a dozen candidates that had made it to the interview stage. Henrietta Golding asked Rev. Kronz if he ever inquired as to whether or not Rev. Rickenbaker would be willing to take the diocese away from the national church, or if there were any indirect questions in that regard. Rev. Kronz said, “no.” Asked if Rickenbaker had removed his name from the search list, Kronz again said, “no.”

The rest of the afternoon was spent going over documents TEC sought to enter into evidence, relating to each of the individual churches involved in the dispute.

When Diocesan attorney Alan Runyan objected to the relevancy of one document, Judge Goodstein overruled him and added, “On documents, I understand why they’re being offered by the defendant (TEC). (However) They have relevance that also shows a very close relationship between parish and Diocese. How many times have I heard testimony say, ‘The diocese is important to us. We want to stay with the Diocese’... I heard time and time again, ‘the end of the road is the Diocese. We want to stay with Bishop Lawrence.’”