Friday, February 01, 2008

Diocese of San Joaquin Standing Committee Writes a Letter

BB NOTE: And what a letter it is.

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin make a strong case that the Presiding Bishop has stepped far out of her canonical bounds and frankly, appears to be sliding into autocracy, not a good sign. And as we see in the correction made to the Anglican Communion website, there is only one Diocese of San Joaquin and it's bishop is still Jon David. Marketing and campaign strategies do not make good law - canon or otherwise, and some canons are not more equal than others. Her incredible missteps with the Diocese of San Joaquin's Standing Committee either means she is getting inept advice (and perhaps it's time for David Booth Beers to spend more time with family) or she is in way over her head. After all, she's never actually even run a Vestry meeting. How can she run 815?

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Office of the Presiding Bishop
The Episcopal Church Center
New York City, New York

Friday, February 01, 2008

We have received your letter dated January 25 in which you state that you do not recognize us individually as members of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin. We find your statements, published by ENS on the internet and read in Hanford prior to most of us receiving the actual letter, to be unhelpful. While you may hold any personal opinion you wish as an individual, the office of Presiding Bishop does not have the legal, canonical or moral authority to proclaim for the Episcopal Church non-recognition of duly elected members of a diocesan Standing Committee. Without having any canonical or constitutional authority to refuse to recognize us, we cannot accept your opinion as changing our status as the canonical Standing Committee of the Diocese.

We regret that you have based your “understanding” on conjecture and misinformation. Since you do not provide any evidence of specific acts of the Standing Committee, nor proof of any wrong doing, we are unable to comment in detail on acts or events you may have relied upon to form your “understanding”. We regret you didn’t attempt to confirm your understanding with the President of our Standing Committee when you called him on January 9th, or on any other occasion.

You cite Canon I.17.8 as setting a standard of duty for anyone in elected position in The Episcopal Church, however neither this canon nor any other canon gives the office of Presiding Bishop [or any other person] sole privilege to interpret what constitutes a failure to “well and faithfully perform the duties” of any office. If the interpretation of failure to “well and faithfully perform the duties” of office is open to anyone, a cursory look at your performance in office would be cause for a great number of Episcopalians to find that you “have been and are unable to well and faithfully fulfill your duties as” Presiding Bishop. To name just a few of your canonical violations:

  • Ordination of the Bishop of Virginia without the specific written consents from a majority of Standing Committees as required in Canon III.11.4.b;
  • Your intentional withholding [from May ’07 to January ‘08] of notification and failure to bring before the House of Bishop’s meeting in September 2007 the abandonment of communion finding of the Title IV review committee against Bishop Cox as required in Canon IV.9.2;
  • Your stated intent to delay consideration of the abandonment of communion finding of the Title IV review committee against Bishop Duncan past the March 2008 meeting of the House of Bishop’s [including your intentional withholding of notification from December 16, ’07 to January 15, ‘08] again in violation of the requirements of Canon IV.9.2.
  • Establishing a missionary congregation in Bakersfield and appointing a priest who is not canonically resident to be under the supervision of Canon Moore and under your authority in violation of Canon I.13.2b and Canon III.9.6

With this evidence of your willful disobedience to the requirements of Canon, many Episcopalians could, using your own words, state they “do not recognize you as” the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. And of course, in the spirit of reconciliation, we would encourage you to be aware a “future declaration of adherence to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church and a reaffirmation of the Declaration of Conformity, will once again make you eligible for election to office in the Episcopal Church.”

We regret the decisions you have made to misuse the Canons of The Episcopal Church. We acknowledge your personal opinion of our status as members of the Standing Committee for the Diocese of San Joaquin. In accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, we ARE the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of San Joaquin in the event the House of Bishops should choose to depose Bishop John-David Schofield. Any attempt on your part, or on the part of any other person, to circumvent or replace the Standing Committee as the Ecclesiastical Authority will be a violation of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

J. Snell
M. McClenaghan
R. Eaton
K. Robinson
T. Wright
R. James


rwk said...

So let me see if I have this straight:

1. Diocese of San Joaquin votes to leave, but six members of the standing committee demur. +Schofield ask them to join SC or remain TEC, they opted to stay.

2. TEC says they stand behind SJ but do not consider the remaining standing committee TEC and so she summarily dismisses them, despite the fact that they stayed.

3. The standing committee points (rightly) that 815 has no authority to dismiss anyone and they are the representatives of TEC and will, presumably, lead the reconstitution of the diocese.

BB, where does this fall on the HHHB?

I'm not certain, but I think this all may fall into the wise as serpents but gentle as doves category.

Regardless, the maneuvering would give Machiavelli a headache.

PS: Thanks for all your hard work.

Kevin said...

Yes, all very odd ... but WOW what a letter!!!!!!