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HOB Secretary: ‘No One Challenged’ PB’s Ruling: TLC 3.17.08 March 17, 2008

Posted by geoconger in House of Bishops, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church.

The Rt. Rev. Kenneth Price, Bishop Suffragan of Southern Ohio and secretary of the House of Bishops, said it is his understanding, “based on private conversations held prior to the meeting,” that the number of votes necessary to depose bishops John-David Schofield and William J. Cox was determined prior to the house’s March 12 business session by David Booth Beers, chancellor for the Presiding Bishop, and the Rt. Rev. John Clark Buchanan, House of Bishops’ parliamentarian.

Bishop Price told The Living Church he was not consulted on the number of votes needed for a deposition and he does not recall the resolutions approving the depositions of bishops Schofield and Cox being “singled out” as requiring a higher threshold of consent prior to enactment.

Title 4, canon 9, section 2 states that the vote requires “a majority of the whole number of bishops entitled to vote,” a higher threshold than that necessary to conduct business. There were 116 bishops registered at the meeting at 6 a.m. on March 12. The total number of bishops eligible to vote is 294, according to online sources.

“None of the votes taken were unanimous, each having both negative votes and abstentions,” Bishop Price said.

“However, the affirmative votes were so overwhelming that the Presiding Bishop declared them as having passed and no one challenged her ruling.”

In a statement published by Episcopal News Service, Mr. Beers contended that the vote conformed to the canons. His statement came following publication of an article on The Living Church News Service website on March 14 that raised the issue of whether the house had the canonically necessary number to depose two of its members.

“In consultation with the House of Bishops’ parliamentarian prior to the vote, we both agreed that the canon meant a majority of all those present and entitled to vote, because it is clear from the canon that the vote had to be taken at a meeting, unlike the situation where you poll the whole House of Bishops by mail. Therefore, it is our position that the vote was in order,” he said.

Bishop Price said the House of Bishops had “well in excess” of the minimum 68 bishops needed for a quorum to conduct business. Article I, section 2 of the constitution of The Episcopal Church, which defines a quorum as 50 percent plus one of all bishops “exclusive of bishops who have resigned their jurisdiction or positions.”

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