Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Church of England Newspaper and The Living Church Magazine Conduct Joint Investigation: Reveals HOB Trial Failed to Conform to Canon Law

George Conger reports:

The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops has deposed the Bishop of San Joaquin and the retired suffragan Bishop of Maryland for “abandonment of the Communion” of the Episcopal Church following a closed trial in Texas on March 12. However, a joint investigation by The Church of England Newspaper and The Living Church magazine has revealed procedural and legal inconsistencies that may render the vote a nullity.

The ecclesiastical trial of Bishop John-David Schofield was a necessary part of the Episcopal Church’s legal strategy to secure the property of the Diocese of San Joaquin, US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said on March 12. However, the flawed trial has created a legal anomaly leaving Bishop Schofield in place as Episcopal bishop of San Joaquin, when neither he, nor Bishop Schori, want him to hold that post.

“The current public dispute over the canonical legality of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops’ recent vote to depose Bishops Schofield and Cox amounts at best to a severe embarrassment to the Presiding Bishop, her advisors, and the House itself; at worst, it exposes a travesty of Christian justice and prudence,” the Anglican Communion Institute noted.

“The result of this dispute and the failures of good order leading up to it will inevitably be the further erosion of [the Episcopal Church’s] standing in the public’s eye and in the Communion’s councils,” it said.

Bishop Schofield was consecrated Bishop of San Joaquin in 1989. Last December, he presided over a diocesan convention at which clergy and lay delegates voted overwhelmingly to leave the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone. For this action Bishop Schofield was found by a review committee to have abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church, and was suspended from office pending a trial.

Title IV, Canon 9 section 2 of the Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons requires that the House of Bishops “by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote” must give its consent to depose a bishop under the abandonment of communion canon.

Eligible voters are defined as both active and retired bishops. Of the 294 bishops eligible to vote, less than a third were present for the trial. To lawfully depose Bishop Schofield, 148 votes would have to have been cast in favor of deposition.

As of breakfast on the last day of the House of Bishop’s March 7-12 meeting, 115 active and retired bishops were present. However, by the start of the trial only 68 active bishops answered the roll call, as did an undisclosed number of retired bishops.

The two hour trial in absentia began with a reading of the charges, followed by prayers from the chaplain. The bishops then broke apart into small groups and then gathered in a plenary session for debate.

A voice vote was held, first for Bishop Schofield and then for Bishop Cox, and both were declared to have been deposed. Questioned about the canonical inconsistencies at a post-meeting press conference, North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry defended the proceedings but admitted that there had been no discussion of its legality. “We have acted in recommendation to our canonical advisers,” he said. ”We acted in accordance with the canons.”

During the press conference, Bishop Schori said she had refused to accept Bishop Schofield’s resignation from the House of Bishops because the canons required a sitting diocesan bishop of the Church to receive permission to resign from the House of Bishops. His letter of resignation was flawed, she said. “He resigned his membership in the House of Bishops, not his status as a bishop with jurisdiction.”

The Episcopal Church had to bring him to trial and to refuse his resignation, as it needed to “clarify the status of the Corporate Sole. It is inappropriate for him to retain control of it.”

Trusteeship of the property of the Diocese of San Joaquin is vested in the Bishop, under California law, by means of a Corporate Sole-whereby the bishop by virtue of his office is trustee of the property.

Bishop Schori told the press conference that Bishop Schofield following the trial was “outside my sphere of influence. No longer a member of the House of Bishops. Not a member of the clergy. Not my concern.”

However, the revelation that the trial failed to conform to canon law, and by failing to garner enough votes to depose Bishop Schofield, had resulted in his legal acquittal, sparked a firestorm of controversy.

The Presiding Bishop’s lawyer, David Booth Beers released a statement on March 15, stating that his “position” was that the requirement that all bishops eligible to vote could be interpreted to mean all eligible to vote who happened to be present at the meeting.

What steps will now be taken to remedy the situation are unclear as both sides are confused as to how to act. Bishop Schori has already nominated a new bishop to serve as her designee in San Joaquin—retired Northern California Bishop Jerry Lamb. However, leading clergy of the diocese who wish to remain within the Episcopal Church have declined to meet with him, citing the failed trial as evidence that Bishop Schofield remains the Episcopal bishop.

On Palm Sunday, Bishop Schofield preached in his cathedral in Fresno—with Bishop Lamb seated in the front row of the congregation. Greeted with applause, Bishop Schofield defended his decision to affiliate with the Southern Cone as an act of moral necessity.

Bishop Schori had called a special convention of the diocese for March 29 to ratify Bishop Lamb’s appointment as Episcopal bishop. However, under civil and canon law the failed trial leaves Bishop Schofield as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in the US Church, and Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin in the Province of the Southern Cone.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Alas anon, the word you used was akin to throwing a cream pie. We're glad you stopped in, but perhaps we should order you a butterbeer and we'll ask Hagrid to go back to his seat by the door. Remember, cream pies are much better eaten.

We're far more interested in why you think or feel as you do - rather than tossing the pie. We get the pie. What we'd like to know is why you feel the way you do.


Anonymous said...

looking at the pic makes me wonder if the PB was a fan of the coneheads on saturday night live.

Unknown said...

Oh dear, I pick the photo because it was the most recent one I could find - taken just this last Sunday. I don't know who's giving her fashion advice, but she seems determined not to have anything that appears "traditional" anywhere near her. I'm not a fan of mitres anyway - the bishops in Virginia never wear them, at least in public.

Here's what wiki says:

"The mitre, also spelled miter (from the Greek μίτρα, 'headband' or 'turban'), is a type of headgear now known as the traditional, ceremonial head-dress of bishops and certain abbots in the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, some Lutherans, and also bishops and certain other clergy in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Churches and the Oriental Orthodox Churches."

Note that it doesn't say "Episcopal Church." That's because the Episcopal Church is a branch of the Anglican Communion denomination.

Wiki goes on to explain:

"In the Church of England the mitre fell out of use after the Reformation, but was restored in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a result of the Oxford Movement, and is now worn by most bishops of the Anglican Communion on at least some occasions."

This is true in Virginia. Since we never had a bishop for the first two hundred years of the Anglican church in Virginia, when we finally went and got one we told him to leave his mitre at home. I have never seen Bishop Lee in a mitre in my life (maybe at John Howe's consecration, but apparently I've blocked that out of my mind).

Wonder why she likes to wear it - it doesn't look Anglican. Maybe that's the point?


Anonymous said...

It's inclusive of all the colors?

Kevin said...

Oh, BB, did you HAVE to post that photo next to the story ... er ... ah ... it's a tad distracting ...

Anonymous said...

Come on BB, lighten up. This is not about miters per se. It's just that *that* particular one is hilarious - Nothing wrong with acknowledging that as a miter, it makes a darn fine tropical fruit popsicle.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one old enough to remember Carmen Miranda?

I know the story is not about the mitre, but just as with her consecration as presiding bishop, the plumage says a lot about the bird....


Anonymous said...

Over at MCJ Chris Johnson referred to her getup as "lederhosen and an oven mitt."

I'm OK with that characterization.

Also, it seems the PB has dropped the Jefferts from her preferred nomenclature. Could it be she is going all traditional on us? Next thing you know she'll be staying home baking cookies.

RMBruton said...

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Unknown said...

So it's not only her leadership skills that are in question, but her fashion sense? What is this, "The View?"

Of course, vestments are iconic theological symbols of authority. Her choice of vestments do give us a window into her theology. Seriously, what do those vestments tell us?

We do wish, though, that we'd explain our epithets rather than just shout them across the room. You get a sense that folks are dipping into the Fire Whiskey or hoisting up their Beer Steins and shouting at all the tables.

What do the vestments mean? And will she ignore this investigation?

And speaking of cookies, a fresh batch should be out of the oven shortly.


Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of mitres either, but if one is going to wear one surely one would pick something not a silly looking as the PB's. If I were ever present at an event at which she processed in wearing her garb, I doubt that I would be able to suppress a laugh.


Anonymous said...

Baby Blue in looking at the photo it just confirms for me the feeling I have had for sometime that TEC is now being run by the clown brigade. The miter of the PB is just the crown of the brigade.

Unknown said...

Sir Christopher has done it again - lederhosen and an oven mitt. See it all here:

Anonymous said...

Enough on the mitre. The STORY is about the illegal action of the PB & DBB in the sham deposition of Cox & Schofield. If Schori is foolish enough to actually SIGN the certificate of deposition [in the presence of 2 bishops] it will be a false statement. Cox and Schofield [whether or not they want to be in the Episcopal church] are not deposed in accordance with Canon IV.9.2. If she signs the document she commits perjury...something that is unbecoming of a clergy person and a cause of action in Title IV.

I would ask every reader to question their bishop about his/her response to this non-canonical act by the PB. Point out this is just the latest in a string of acts/behavior that is in violation of the C&C of TEC. [misuse of review committee, secret findings being withheld till politically expedient, dismissing the canonically elected Standing Committee she disagrees with, failure to follow certification requirements for bishop elections, establishing a congregation/licensing clergy in a diocese that is not hers, calling a convention without authority to do so]. And if she continues her plan, she will convene what she calls a convention in San Joaquin & install a provisional bishop [Jerry Lamb] in a diocese over the objection of a legitimate Standing Committee and a bishop that is not deposed.

Lawlessness. Advise your own bishops that if they allow the PB to disregard canons here [Diocese of San Joaquin] & dismiss a Standing Committee and disregard a flagrant violation of the abandonment canons...then EVERY bishop and EVERY Standing Committee is in jeopardy.

Unknown said...

Anon is right. Time to put the lederhosen and an oven mitts away. Anon raises excellent points. The bishops are very quiet - are they waiting for Schori to actually sign the certificate first? Perhaps she better pause before she does that. This is just not right.

That's a very good suggestion for Episcopalians to contact their own bishop. The integrity of the House is at risk. And the calling of a diocesan convention by a Presiding Bishop? I've never heard of such a thing. You get a sense that she's frantic - what is this rush to judgment? The bizarre vestments may reveal more of a lack of judgment on her part than just comical relief.

Anon is right - it's Maundy Thursday. Do you know where your bishop is?


Andy said...

Has there ever been a PB who has attempted to use the HOB as their own personal Star Chamber?

The only thing this whole sad sordid story lacks are the are the NKVD goons knock on the door in the middle of the night. Sigh..

Anonymous said...

As an epitheter in an earlier resonse - and proud to be such - I'll be happy to defend my epithet borrowed from MCJ. The picture BB supplied does look like she is wearing an oven mitt and lederhausen with those ridiculous colors. That apart from the fact that vesting a woman in something approximating the attire of a bishop, an office which she can never really attain - she can't pass the physical, you see.

Vestments do indeed carry iconic meaning deeply associated with worship in the Catholic Church (I'm not talking RC here, so don't go there). And indeed how we worship expresses most clearly the content and nature of our theology. Her theology does not comport with the Catholic Church.

Mrs. Schori by her outlandish garb and equally outlandish manner of worship shows us most clearly her exceptionally outlandish theology.

She and her ilk are taking the Episcopal Church to hell in a hand basket and I am not going along for the ride.

Unknown said...

Well, Rick - as you know we do support the ministry of women in all orders of the church here at the cafe, so perhaps we could be careful in case the hostess tosses a cream pie of her own ... We'll hold ourselves back! ;-)

It is not her gender that is at issue here (though if we were dealing with stereotypes we do wonder about fashion sense, but this isn't The View either so never mind).

It does seem clear though that she appears to have little regard for tradition and her lack of sensitivity to those who, like Rick, struggle with the issue of the ordination of women leads us to think she doesn't intend to care for all the people, but only those who are loyalists. One sometimes wonder if she seeks to inflame - or does she just not know?

Perhaps Rick's ire (and the Anon who was tossed out by Hagrid earlier) are in fact intended to be set off by that attire - as well as her actions in the recent House of Bishops meeting. It's almost as though she's daring the traditionalists to mock her. It's meant to inflame - to make a statement that TEC is autonomous - which of course, it is not - it's part of the Anglican Communion which is why she was in Israel last weekend to begin with.

Perhaps though we should resist reacting and take the higher road. Have a butterbeer on the house.

I met the bishop who was up for the Archbishop of Canada and has now been called as a bishop to New Zealand when I attended the Virginia Diocesan Council with the Daughters of the King. She was completley different from TEC's PB. She seemed to know how to strike the balance between challenging tradition for tradition's sake and respecting tradition as a time-tested foundation. It was really quite remarkable - she showed her capacity for wisdom and a sensitivity to be a leader to all, not just a few who are loyal.

Quite a contrast - and it's difficult for me to believe that Bishop Victoria would behave in the way, or take counsel in the way that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has chosen to do.

And maybe that's why she's not the Primate of Canada, either.


Anonymous said...

A prayer for this season
Hymn #315, verse 2

For all thy Church, O Lord, we intercede;
draw us the nearer each to each, we plead,
by drawing all to thee, O Prince of Peace;
thus may we all one bread, one body be,
through this blest sacrament of unity.
--Wm Harry Turton

Unknown said...


Anonymous said...

Dear Christians:
I am very saddened to hear all of the pain in this blog. My prayer continues to be healing in His love. You have left the Episcopal Church. Perhaps it is time to leave this all behind you.
In Christ's love, I pray.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

How sad that you're sad. Perhaps you need to go somewhere to help you deal with all of your sadness.

I have not left the Episcopal church. I do not intend to leave the Episcopal church. At the same time, I also have no intentions of allowing the leaders of the national church to hide what is happening, nor do I have any intentions -- despite their desperate hopes -- of being quiet about their incompetence, dishonesty, and lack of integrity.

But wherever one goes, there is always pain, as we humans must live on earth.

I'm not at all for the avoidance of pain. Avoidance and denial are not the way to deal with loss and suffering.

I hope you find some place that will help you deal with your denial and avoidance of pain, and your sadness.

Yours in faith,


Anonymous said...

Dear Sarah,
I too am an Episcopalian from the cradle forward. In my opinion, a large part of being a Christian is feeding humanity in many ways. So I feel called to love those whom have left our church.
Do you believe that the Bible is all that God had to say? I have had the opportunity to meet PB Katharine and know her to be Holy Spirit filled....she is amazing.
My own dear mother used to tell us as children: "if it isn't loving, it isn't about God". That about says it all.
So, when I say that I feel the pain and hurt in here, I am being genuine. I pray that these people can move forward in joy.
In Christ's love, Anon

Unknown said...

The question remains - "can this marriage be saved?" Anon seems to think it can't and we should just ignore the brokenness in the marriage and either move on and live with it or move on and divorce.

But there is a third option and that is that the Episcopal Church returns to its biblical roots, that it takes to heart the Windsor Report and the Primates Communiques coming from Ireland and Tanazania - for the Episcopal Church to turn back from the brink and work to save the marriage, not destroy it.

To talk about pain is to recognize that there is a cause to that pain. To merely run away from that pain means we take the pain with us, but it's not reconciled, there's no healing because the Church is still broken - the Episcopal Church has taken actions that are causing - in the words of the Windsor Report - the fabric of the Communion to be torn.

To tell people to "move on" by those who are pleased with the decisions the Episcopal Church has made is disingenuous. To tell people to "move on" by people who have all ready left the Episcopal Church ignores the call of God's people to preach the Gospel, in season and out of season, to all the people - even Episcopalians.

But this verbal patting on the head and saying, "there, there, now - why don't just move on so we can do what we want with our church and not be troubled by your reminders that our actions are bringing schism" seems a bit less than sincere. That kind of rhetoric is used when the defenses no longer work.

In debate, one wants to disarm one's opponent and what better way than to say "oh, why don't you just leave and let us do what we want?"

I remember John Howe talking to us at Truro many years ago when he had just returned from a General Convention (I think it was Phoenix) and he talked about how he wanted to flee. It was horrible. But he said he wasn't threatening to leave, he was threating to stay.

I think the idea that there are some orthodox who are threatening to stay and not give in to this debacle from justice and truth is more scary than anything else.

Some of us are in exile - we haven't "left" - we are in a place of refuge. But we want to come home. Some of us are in the inside, still mixing it up, trying to instill change even at this late hour.

The question remains - can this marriage be saved? "Moving on" is no answer unless the answer is no.

Today is Easter. God has provided us a way through - will we take His Way or go our own way?


Anonymous said...

I know you "zapped" me, but I was speaking of the mitre--NOT the PB.

Very respectfully yours.

Happy Easter.

Unknown said...

Well, anon, it seems the PB may have taken your critical analysis to heart. She is now wearing traditional Anglican vestments in Israel as we can see in this photo from Easter:


Anonymous said...


How in the world do you draw that conclusion? You have left TEC and I respect your right to do that. Many (most)of us are joyful within TEC and like things the way they are. You have left, and we continue on. That is part of life, is it not?

We like TEC. I am very comfortable disagreeing with Christians, in love. I am sorry if that displeases you. I do respect your right to disagree. I believe that God is so much bigger that our human brains can even comprehend.

In Christ's love, Anon

Unknown said...

I am still an Episcopalian - an Episcopalian in exile. I continue to ask this question - can this marriage be saved? We are separated (I haven't "left" - we are separated). Disagreement is one thing - but we all must conform to the scriptures. We are free to believe what ever we want - but it's quite another thing to lead others astray. It's a terrible thing and I would not love my Church if I were just to walk away and forget about you. TEC is being led astray by perhaps well-meaning and not so well-meaning leaders who have forgotten what the scriptures teach us about marriage and about holy living. We may be free to disagree, but we are not free to lead others astray.


Anonymous said...


It is your opinion that TEC is being led astray. I disagree. Do you believe that the Bible is all God had to say? Are you open to the mystery of God?

Imagine what it must have been like when Jesus walked the earth and asked everyone to change their way of living (talk about radical!) and to not follow the Torah (the Holy law of that time).

I am not in favor of the "them" and "us" mentality. Boiled down, we are eah here to love and to serve God. We are the same, but different.

Trust the mystery. TEC is so inclusive.

In Christ's love, Anon