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Presiding Bishop charged with defaming Bishop Cox: CEN 4.02.08 April 2, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops.

Published in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Lawyers for the octogenarian bishop deposed by the American Church have written to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori charging her with defaming their client.

Questions over the legality of the March 12 proceedings have riled the American Church since the legality of the decision to depose Bishop John-David Schofield of San Joaquin and retired Bishop William Cox was questioned by The Church of England Newspaper and the Living Church.

On March 27 the Diocese of South Carolina issued a formal protest to the “failure to follow the Canons” and asked Bishop Schori to “revisit those decisions”, “refrain” from appointing a new bishop for San Joaquin and to “make every effort to follow our Church Canons in all future House of Bishops decisions.”

“Because we feel so strongly that the Canons were not followed in the depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox, we must respectfully refuse to recognize the depositions, and we will not recognize any new bishop who may be elected to replace Bishop Schofield, unless and until the canons are followed,” South Carolina said.

The Bishop of Central Florida last week called for a review of the decision, raising the matter with Bishop Clifton Daniels III of East Carolina, the president of the church’s court of review for the trial of a bishop. Though Bishop Daniels declined to respond to a query from the CEN, he is understood to have agreed to look into the matter.

R. Wicks Stephens, the chancellor of the Anglican Communion Network and attorney for Bishop Cox wrote to Bishop Schori and her lawyer David Booth Beers on March 27 stating “your purported deposition of Bishop Cox is unsupported by the canonically required consent of a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote on the proposed deposition of Bishop Cox which was presented to the House of Bishops at its last meeting. Accordingly, the deposition of Bishop Cox was not consented to as required, and your pronouncement of his deposition as a Bishop is without effect and void.”

He lambasted Mr. Beers’ argument that his “reading” of the canons required “merely the consent of a majority of those Bishops present in the House” to depose the two bishops, citing the text of the constitution and canons to support this reading.

“While assuredly your Chancellor has the right to offer interpretations of the canons when ambiguity so requires, nothing justifies a reading” of the canons “that is directly contrary to that canon’s plain language and meaning,” Mr. Stephens said, demanding that “you right the wrong by which you have defamed Bishop Cox by immediately withdrawing your pronouncement of deposition.”


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