Three more dioceses complain about bishops’ deposition: CEN 6.20.08 p 7. June 24, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops.
Three American dioceses have written to US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori asking her to revisit the deposition of Bishops John-David Schofield and William Cox by the House of Bishops last March, arguing the procedures used violated canon law and common justice.
The standing committees and diocesan boards—the governing bodies of American dioceses-of Central Florida, Northern Indiana and Springfield last month released independent letters raising concerns over the legality of the proceedings.
In a letter dated May 15, and published on its diocesan website on May 22, Central Florida voiced its “strong protest” to the “failure to follow the Canons” by the House of Bishops in the “recent depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox.”
Central Florida said the interpretation of the canons used to punish the two bishops did not conform to church law, citing with approval an analysis of the proceedings prepared by the Diocese of South Carolina, which along with the Diocese of Western Louisiana had earlier registered its formal protest to the proceedings.
“We respectfully request that you and the House of Bishops revisit those decisions and make every effort to follow our Church Canons in this and all future House of Bishops decisions,” Central Florida said.
The Diocese of Springfield took a stronger line “rejecting the purported depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox.” It called upon the Presiding Bishop to acknowledge her error, “revisit this issue at a future meeting of House of Bishops” and conduct “any further proceedings in accordance with the clear language of Canon.”
Northern Indiana endorsed the call to revisit the proceedings, and noted “with alarm” Bishop Schori’s intention in September to bring “deposition proceedings against Bishop Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh for abandoning the communion,” even “before the diocese votes to do so in November. We plead for calm and prayer in the face of temptations to escalate abuses of power in this way,” they said.
“Depositions are an unnecessary and unfortunate way to deal with disagreement, dissension, and even division within our Church. We believe it also borders on unchristian,” Northern Indiana said.
The Presiding Bishop has not responded to the calls by Western Louisiana, Central Florida, South Carolina, Springfield and Northern Indiana to revisit the depositions. Church watchers note she is unlikely to do so, for were she to admit to her mistake, then her creation of a rival diocese of San Joaquin under the oversight of the former Bishop of Northern California would collapse.