Anglican Unscripted Episode 101: July 7, 2014 July 7, 2014Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican.TV, Property Litigation, San Joaquin, South Carolina.
Published on Jul 7, 2014
Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe. Please donate athttp://anglican.tv/donate
Final arguments presented in San Joaquin case: The Church of England Newspaper, January 24, 2014 February 3, 2014Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, San Joaquin, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: John-David Schofield
The legality of the secession of a California diocese from the from the Episcopal Church is in the hands of California Judge Donald Black following the closing arguments presented to the Fresno Superior Court last week.
On 13 Jan 2014 the videotaped testimony of the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield who presided over the 2007 vote by the diocesan synod to quit the Episcopal Church was presented to the court. Bishop Schofield, who died in October 2013, testified in the 2011 recording to his actions surrounding the diocesan vote to amend its amend its constitution and canons to replace language acceding to the Episcopal Church’s constitution with language that affiliated the Diocese with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.
In 2008 the national church and loyalists members of the diocese brought suit against Bishop Schofield and various parishes, seeking to acquire control of all church properties. The breakaway diocese has argued that the diocese’s actions conformed to secular and ecclesiastical law. Attorneys for the national church have argued that while the church’s constitution does not forbid the secession of dioceses, a ban on quitting is implied in the church’s governing documents.
Judge Black ordered the parties to file their final briefs on 24 Feb 2014, and their reply briefs on 17 March 2014. A decision is expected from the court by late summer.
Overseas bishop to lead loyalist faction in San Joaquin: Anglican Ink, September 29, 2013 September 30, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Ink, San Joaquin.
Tags: David Rice, Diocese of Waiapu
The Bishop of Waiapu has been tapped to be the next Provisional Bishop of San Joaquin, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia’s press office has announced.
The Rt. Rev. David Rice is expected to take up his post following confirmation by the diocesan synod. An American expatriate, Bishop Rice was born in North Carolina and trained for the ministry at Duke University Divinity School. He was ordained deacon in 1989 and elder in 1991 in the United Methodist Church in Western North Carolina and served congregations in the state from 1989 to 1997. From 1991-93 Bishop Rice led a congregation in New Zealand and returned to the country in 1997 to be ordained a deacon and priest in the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch.
After entering the Anglican Church the bishop served as a parish priest and was appointed Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in Dunedin in 2002. In 2008 Bishop Rice was elected Bishop of the Diocese of Waiapu on New Zealand’s North Island. He also was one of four candidates who stood for election as Bishop of Southwest Virginia in March 2013.
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Anglican Unscripted, Episode 71, May 10. 2013 May 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Los Angeles, Property Litigation, Quincy, San Joaquin, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: Diocese of Niagara, Michael Bird, St James Newport Beach
In this week’s Episode your host talk about the latest legal heartbreak in California. Also this week, there is late breaking international news about a Bishop who accidentally invokes Scripture. AU’s Legal segment covers all of the court cases in the US, and Kevin interviews David Jenkins about his lawsuit from Bishop Byrd. #AU71 Comments: AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com
Episcopal Church takes a legal hit in California: The Church of England Newspaper, Nov 26, 2010 p 7. November 26, 2010Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, San Joaquin.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
Civil courts may not adjudicate ecclesiastical disputes, the California Court of Appeals has ruled. On Nov 18 the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno overturned a lower court order that had given trusteeship of the property of the Diocese of San Joaquin to a faction loyal to the national Episcopal Church.
In its 11 page decision the Fifth Court of Appeal held that while civil courts would accept the determination of the Episcopal Church as to whom it recognized as one of its bishops or dioceses, the court would not extend that power to the disposition of property. Church property disputes in California would be governed by “neutral principals of law” where the court would look to title deeds and trusts, and not to canon law or church polity, in determining ownership.
The “First Amendment rights of individuals and corporations” along with “general California statutory and common law principles governing transfer of title by the legal title holder, the law of trusts, … and general principles of corporate governance” control the disposition of church property in California.
The court held the dispute “whether Schofield or Lamb is the incumbent Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, is quintessentially ecclesiastical. Accordingly, the trial court erred in adjudicating that cause of action and, upon proper motion, must dismiss that cause of action.”
Both sides in the San Joaquin case have hailed the court’s decision as a victory. However, the ruling is likely to undercut the church’s national legal campaign. Its “strategy of claiming the property of a departing diocese because it is somehow ‘hierarchical’ today went down to defeat in Fresno,” canon lawyer Allan Haley said.
Beginning in 2004, the Diocese of San Joaquin has taken steps to distance itself from the national Episcopal Church. One of three dioceses that do not ordain women priests, San Joaquin had also objected to the innovations of doctrine and discipline surrounding the Gene Robinson affair, and in 2007 its synod voted to leave the Episcopal Church and seek the oversight of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori responded by deposing Bishop Schofield and calling a special meeting of synod, which elected the retired Bishop of Northern California as the diocese’s acting bishop. Bishop Lamb and the minority faction then deposed the clergy who supported the secession, and initiated a lawsuit seeking control over the diocese’s property.
On July 21, 2009 the trial court granted a motion in summary judgment on the first count of the complaint brought by Bishop Lamb, which asked for a “judicial declaration that the amendments finally adopted by the Diocese in December 2007 were illegal and void under the Constitution and Canons of ECUSA, and that as a consequence Bishop Lamb had succeeded to the position as bishop of the Diocese, incumbent of its corporation sole, and president/trustee of its associated property-holding entities.”
Bishop Schofield and the now Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin appealed the motion, which effectively gave the minority faction absolute control of the property. However, in its ruling the Court of Appeals held the trial court erred in determining who the proper bishop of San Joaquin was.
The trial court was instructed to determine who the lawful owner of the property was by way of a review of the property transfers made by Bishop Schofield and to determine if these transfers were valid under civil law.
In a statement released after the verdict, attorneys for Bishop Lamb accounted the decision as a victor. San Joaquin Chancellor Michael Glass claimed the decision means “the defendants can no longer assert in court that a Diocese has the right to unilaterally secede from The Episcopal Church, or that Bishop Lamb is somehow not the Bishop of the Diocese.”
Mr. Glass used a baseball analogy to describe the decision. “Think sacrifice fly-ball. Sure, we might have taken an out, but we just put the rest of the case in scoring position,” as the issues had been “narrowed” in favor of the loyalist faction.
Mr. Haley, a member of the majority faction’s legal team, disputed Mr. Glass’s characterization, as the “decision reversed and vacated a ruling by the trial court stating exactly [Mr. Glass’s claim].”
“If we take the present opinion as our guide,” Mr. Haley said, the court held the Episcopal Church “may call any group of its followers it wants a ‘diocese’ in its Church, even a tiny minority who remains behind after the great majority leaves. But whether the majority or the minority succeeds to legal title to the property is a matter of civil, not ecclesiastical, law — including First Amendment rights of freedom of association, trust law, and the law of corporations and corporate governance. Resolution of those issues on neutral principles will decide the ultimate ownership of the disputed property, and not resolution of who is the bishop, which is an ecclesiastical question.”
Mixed results in latest US Court proceedings: CEN 10.09.09 p 7. October 23, 2009Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, San Joaquin.
State courts in Texas and California have handed down interim rulings in the Dioceses of Fort Worth and San Joaquin cases. While partisans for both sides can claim a win from the mixed bag of rulings in the dispute over whether dioceses may secede from the Episcopal Church, the courts appear to be pulling back from accepting at face value the arguments of the national church that canon law alone should govern church property disputes.
On Oct 2, Texas 141st District Court Judge John Chupp rejected a motion from Bishop Jack Iker and the Diocese of Fort Worth asking that he reconsider last month’s ruling in the bitterly contested battle over the name, corporate seal and assets of the Diocese of Fort Worth. On Sept 16 the judge told the court he saw no reason why a diocese could not withdraw from the Episcopal Church.
Bishop Chupp however, ruled that Bishop Gulick’s attorneys could not represent Bishop Iker’s Diocese or its Corporation, a Texas not for profit association founded in 1983 when the diocese was formed. But he refused to strike the loyalists’ pleadings even though their attorneys stated they were acting on behalf of the 1983 association.
A motion continuing the proceedings until January was approved. In a statement posted on its website the loyalist faction stated they did not oppose the motion for the continuance, but said that none of their attorneys “has ever claimed” that they represented Bishop Iker.
However, at last week’s hearing the judge granted a third motion filed by Bishop Iker that joined Bishop Gulick and the chancellor and officers of the loyalist faction as defendants in the proceedings. The effect of this motion will be that Bishop Gulick and the loyalist group will have to prove they were lawfully elected to the positions they claim to hold in the Diocese of Fort Worth and have the legal right to hold themselves out as the Bishop and officers of the Texas not for profit association named “the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.”
In California, on Sept 22 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Word accepted the petition for review filed by Bishop John-David Schofield and the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin of July 21 Fresno Superior Court ruling granting summary judgment in favor of Bishop Jerry Lamb and the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.
Fresno Judge Adolfo Corona argued dioceses could not leave the Episcopal Church, as it was a “hierarchical church” where parishes are subunits of dioceses and dioceses are subunits of the national church. “In a hierarchical church, an individual local congregation that affiliates with the national church body becomes a member of a much larger and more important religious organization, under its government and control, and bound by its orders and judgments,” he said.
Although other issues remained outstanding and were set down for trial in 2010, the Appellate Court took the unusual step of agreeing to intervene in the case before the trial court had concluded its deliberations.
After Bishop Schofield filed his petition, the Appeals court asked Bishop Lamb to file an informal response. Bishop Schofield was then asked to file a reply by Oct 5. However, after reading Bishop Lamb’s brief, the Fifth District Court of Appeals declined to wait for Bishop Schofield to file his response and ordered Bishop Lamb to submit a formal response to the petition.
The effect of the ruling is to suspend the trial court’s judgment pending a full hearing before the Court of Appeals, which may reject or affirm all or part of the trial court’s decision, or set it down for further deliberations.
Churches battle in California courts: CEN 7.29.09 July 29, 2009Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles, Property Litigation, San Joaquin.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.
The California courts have handed the Episcopal Church and the ACNA a mixed bag of legal decisions this month in the battles over parish property. While both sides have trumpeted the importance of their legal victories, neither ruling is likely to settle the property litigation.
On July 21 the Fresno County Superior Court affirmed its May 5 ruling granting summary judgment in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in its suit against the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, while an Orange County Court on July 13 dismissed two motions filed by the Diocese of Los Angeles against St James Church in Newport Beach, that challenged the legal sufficiency of the parish’s cause of action in light of the California Supreme Court decision in favor of the Diocese.
The Fresno Court found in favor of the Episcopal Diocese granting a motion for summary adjudication of the first cause of action in its second amended complaint, finding in favor of the Episcopal Diocese on all counts.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori—whose office has been allocated over $7 million by the General Convention to fund litigation against the breakaway groups—issued a statement after the ruling noting the “court found that there is no question that the Episcopal Church is a hierarchical church, of which the diocese is an integral part.”
The Presiding Bishop noted the Fresno court held “the Episcopal Church’s rules did not permit the diocese to revoke its accession to the church’s constitution and canons or to join a different denomination” and that the “continuing Diocese of San Joaquin is ‘not a new organization’ created after former Bishop Schofield attempted to remove the diocese from the church, but that the diocese ‘is the older organization from which (Schofield and the other) defendants removed themselves’.”
The decision, she said is the “first involving a dispute over the property of a diocese of The Episcopal Church, and is expected to be helpful in cases involving other dioceses.”
The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin noted the decision was “significant” but it did not “end the case at this juncture and many more issues remain to be resolved at the trial scheduled for February 1, 2010.”
The Anglican Diocese rejected the trial court’s legal reasoning, arguing it could not be “sustained under a true ‘neutral principles’ analysis that is now required by our state supreme court,” and an appeal will be forth coming.
The legal significance of the Fresno Court’s ruling has also been questioned by legal commentators, who note that the current complaint before the court for consideration is the Episcopal Diocese’s fourth amended complaint. Issuing a decision on a the second amended complaint has no legal significance, it is said, as it had been rendered moot by two further amended complaints.
In the Orange Country, the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church were handed a defeat by the trial court on July 13 after Judge Thierry Colaw rejected its motions to grant it a summary verdict.
Los Angeles had argued that California Supreme Court’s 2009 decision had ended the litigation and had awarded it the disputed property. Lawyers for the diocese also argued that a 1991 letter written by the diocese to the parish waiving its interests in the parish property had already been decided by the Supreme Court.
Judge Colaw rejected both of the diocese’s arguments following oral argument on July 2. On Aug 21 the court will take up a motion from the parish asking it to remove the parish vestry as defendants in the case.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper
The third province movement in the United States may have received a severe setback this week after a California court issued a tentative ruling holding that dioceses are creatures of the national Episcopal Church and may not secede.
On May 4, Judge Adolfo Corona of the Fresno Superior Court issued a preliminary opinion, stating that he would likely issue a summary judgment on behalf of the Episcopal Church against Bishop John-David Schofield and the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin.
As a matter of law and fact the judge argued, the Episcopal Church was a “hierarchical church is one in which individual churches are organized as a body with other churches having similar faith and doctrine, and with a common ruling convocation or ecclesiastical head vested with ultimate ecclesiastical authority over the individual congregations and members of the entire organized church.”
“In a hierarchical church, an individual local congregation that affiliates with the national church body becomes a member of a much larger and more important religious organization, under its government and control, and bound by its orders and judgments,” he said. Under this principal, a parish is a subunit of a diocese, which is itself a subunit of the national Episcopal Church, the Judge Corona reasoned.
As the Episcopal Church held that Bishop Schofield had been deposed and that it recognized Bishop Jerry Lamb as Bishop of San Joaquin, the assets and property held by the Anglican diocese should revert to the loyalist group, the judge argued. The actions of the San Joaquin synod to amend its constitution to secede from the Episcopal Church were “ultra vires”, unlawful and void.
Judge Corona scheduled a hearing for May 5 for the parties to respond to his tentative opinion which accepted at face value the opinions of the Episcopal Church’s expert witness as fact, but rejected the diocese’s expert witness testimony as opinion.
Canon Bill Gandenberger of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin told The Church of England Newspaper the judge’s opinion was a “preliminary ruling which shall be argued against in court tomorrow.” San Joaquin looked “forward to the opportunity to present our positions properly and convincingly” before the judge.
The proceeding before the court was a motion for summary judgment by the Episcopal Church against the Anglican Diocese. Under California law a Summary Judgment or Motion to Adjudicate can be made when there are no disputed issues of fact, and the court may decide the issues on their merits.
However, in this case the judge’s assumption that as the Episcopal Church is “hierarchical” in a manner akin to the Roman Catholic Church is a disputed material issue of fact, upon which the whole case turns for the diocese.
Attorneys for the diocese argued in the May 5 hearing the judge erred as a matter of law in accepting the Episcopal Church’s expert witness testimony on the ecclesial structures of the Episcopal Church as uncontroverted, while the diocese’s expert witness testimony offered contrary evidence, asserting that when the two sides dispute the facts to which the law is applied, there is a disputed issue of fact, and as such the matter cannot be resolved via a summary judgment.
The diocese’s attorneys also argued in the hour and twenty minute hearing that the attempt by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to place Bishop Lamb in the San Joaquin see violated the constitution and canons of the diocese. Since the rules were not followed, the diocese argued, Bishop Lamb could not be Bishop of San Joaquin and had no standing to claim the assets of the diocese.
Attorneys for the Episcopal Church rejected the charge that the election of Bishop Lamb was defective, and cited the judge’s opinion that the synod votes to secede were ultra vires. The national church also argued that the courts had no authority to review the Episcopal Church’s internal procedures, and must accept the decision of the Presiding Bishop as to whom she recognizes as the lawful bishop of the diocese.
A decision by the court is expected in the coming weeks, however, whichever way the court rules, an appeal by the losing party is all but certain.
US legal battle is postponed again: CEN 5.01.09 p 7 April 30, 2009Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, San Joaquin.
The first legal test of the Episcopal Church’s claim that dioceses are subordinate creatures of the national church and may not secede at will, has been postponed for the sixth time by a California court.
On April 27 the Fresno County Superior Court announced that it had again rescheduled hearings originally set down for Feb 25 in the case of the Episcopal versus Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin.
Hearings on a motion for summary judgment brought by Bishop Jerry Lamb and the Episcopal Diocese against Bishop John-David Schofield and the Anglican Diocese, and on cross-complaint brought by the Anglican Diocese asking the court to order the national Episcopal Church to pay for the costs of litigation, including attorneys’ fees have been postponed until May 5 to enable the court more time to consider the merits of the cases.
While a majority of cases decided so far have sided with the diocese against the parish where the parish seeks to quit the diocese with its property, no court has addressed the question of whether a diocese may quit the national church. The constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church are silent on this issue, and the Dennis Canon—which states that parish property is held in trust for the diocese and church—does not on its face apply to property held by or for a diocese.
Virginia has proven the exception as a Civil War era state law permits a parish to secede from its diocese or ecclesial jurisdiction for a rival body in the case of a denominational schism. The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia have appealed the trial court’s decision, arguing the law is unconstitutional.
Supporters of the parish secession movement have turned to the state legislatures in Texas and Oklahoma, seeking a change in those states laws to model the Virginia statue and allow parishes to quit their diocese and keep their property. In February, Republicans Senator Gary Stanislawski and Rep. Pam Peterson introduced legislation to “define property rights in Oklahoma so that if people in Oklahoma, whether in a church or some other nonprofit, sign on a deed for the land, they own the land. If they ever separate from the parent organization, they own the land.”
In Texas, House Bill 729 seeks to amend property laws governing churches so that in the event of a schism “a court shall order a division of the estate of the parties in a manner that the court considers just and right, having due regard for the rights of each party and any other interested person.”
Church leaders have urged the state legislatures to reject the laws. Bishop Edward Konieczny of Oklahoma argued that state’s proposed law would “effectively take any property that is held in the name of a congregation in our denomination and gives them the authority to walk away with the property.”
Litigation is currently underway between the national church and its allies against the Dioceses of San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Fort Worth and Quincy. Last week a state constable served suit against Bishop Jack Iker, opening litigation against Fort Worth.
San Joaquin will be the first case that addresses the question of the secession of dioceses in the modern era—-10 dioceses quit the American church during the US Civil War in 1861 to form the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America, but the schism ended with the close of the war and the voluntary reunion of the southern dioceses with the national church.
The national church is seeking a ruling from the Fresno Superior Court granting it title to all diocesan properties, investments and accounts.
California vote to depose priests may backfire for Episcopal Church: CEN 10.24.08 p 6. October 23, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, San Joaquin, Secession.
The loyalist faction of the Diocese of San Joaquin has charged 52 clergymen of the diocese with having “abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church” and has asked provisional Bishop Jerry Lamb to depose them, unless they “recant” their sins and “return to the Episcopal Church” within six months.
The Oct 17 statement was issued by the Standing Committee of the “Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin,” a provisional body created by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori after the Diocese of San Joaquin voted to secede last year.
However, legal analysts note that by charging the 52 clergymen with “abandonment”, the provisional diocese has dealt itself a potentially fatal blow in its litigation with Bishop John-David Schofield and the “Anglican” diocese, as it may constitute an admission that the group led by Bishop Lamb is not a lawfully constituted entity.
In the provisional diocese’s press statement, the standing committee asserted the 52 clergymen had violated the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church by their “support of attempts to remove the diocese from the Episcopal Church, and their repudiation of the ecclesiastical authority of the Episcopal Church” and Bishop Lamb.
It believed that “individuals may voluntarily leave the church. Parishes and diocese are integral parts of the church, and may not leave without the express consent of the governing bodies of the church”—a point contested by the breakaway group, and also not found in the Episcopal Church’s constitution and canons.
However, legal analyst and canonical scholar A.S. Haley notes that “by charging these 52 clergy with ‘abandonment’, the pseudo-diocese of San Joaquin is making a legal admission that these same clergy were canonically part of its makeup over the past eleven months.”
This may prove fatal to the Bishop Lamb group’s legal challenge to the diocese, Haley said, as it is an admission that “when the pseudo-diocese held its special convention last March 29, those 52 [clergy] then counted towards the determination of whether a quorum of its clergy were in fact present to transact lawful business, such as the approval of the Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb as provisional bishop, and authorizing him to commence litigation against the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield.”
Under the rules of the diocese, a quorum to conduct business at a convention must include one-third of all the clergy. At the convention that voted for secession in Dec 2007, 82 clergy, including most of the 52 charged with abandonment were present. At the special convention called by Bishop Schori on March 29, 2008, only 21 clergy were present—28 were required for a valid quorum.
Mr. Haley noted that the absence of a valid quorum meant that “the business transacted on March 29 was null and void. Bishop Lamb was not validly approved as Provisional Bishop; the ‘standing committee’ that was purportedly elected was not validly chosen, and currently has no valid authority to charge any clergy with ‘abandonment’, and neither Bishop Lamb nor his “diocese” is a proper party plaintiff in the current lawsuit.”
If the diocese had argued the 52 secessionist clergy were no longer members of the diocese for purposes of a quorum, so that the rump group of 21 comprised a lawful quorum, “that would have deprived them of their ability to depose those clergy,” Mr. Haley noted.
By seeking to punish the 52 secessionist clergy, the provisional diocese led by Bishop Lamb, may well have scuppered its legal claim to the breakaway diocese’s property, Mr. Haley suggested.
California clergy receive ultimatum: CEN 8.30.08 August 30, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, San Joaquin.
|The Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, based in Stockton, California, has written to clergy affiliated with the breakaway Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, based in Fresno, California, asking that they affirm their loyalty to him or be deposed from the ordained ministry.
In a letter dated Aug 22, Bishop Jerry Lamb asked the clergy to “acknowledge me as Bishop of this Diocese of the Episcopal Church.” Failure to comply by Sept 5 could result in ecclesiastical sanction including being removed from the ordained ministry.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
Schofield is an Anglican: CEN 7.18.08 p 6. July 24, 2008Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Lambeth 2008, San Joaquin.
The Bishop of San Joaquin, the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield remains a bishop of the Anglican Communion, though his exact status must be clarified, the Archbishop of Canterbury has declared.
The long awaited decision by Dr. Williams as to whether Bishop Schofield is or is not an Anglican, avoids a confrontation at this week’s Lambeth Conference between two bishops of San Joaquin, and allows Bishop Schofield to withdraw from the conference due to his declining ill health, without conceding his right to attend the gathering.
Writing to the Presiding Bishop of the Province of the Southern Cone, Bishop Gregory Venables of Argentina, on July 12, Dr. Williams rejected assertions made by the Episcopal Church that Bishop Schofield and his diocese were no longer Anglicans.
“I understand that Bishop John-David Schofield has been accepted as a full member of the episcopal fellowship of the Province of the Southern Cone within the Anglican Communion and as such cannot be regarded as having withdrawn from the Anglican Communion,” Dr. Williams declared.
“However, it is acknowledged that his exact status (especially given the complications surrounding the congregations associated with him) remains unclear on the basis of the general norms of Anglican Canon Law, and this constitutes one of the issues on which we hope for assistance from the Windsor Continuation Group,” he said.
Bishop Schofield had decided not to attend the Lambeth Conference, Dr. Williams said, “although that decision does not signal any withdrawal from the Communion. I hope there may be further careful reflection to clarify the terms on which he will exercise his ministry.”
Speaking to The Church of England Newspaper during the Jerusalem Gafcon conference last month, Bishop Schofield had said no decision had been made as to whether he would attend Lambeth, though he added that the invitation extended by Dr. Williams had not been rescinded.
However Bishop Schofield, who was confined to a motorized wheelchair for much of the Gafcon meeting, had expressed concerns about attending Lambeth due to his poor health.
Writing to the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, Bishop Venables said Dr. Williams’ words were quite “clear.” While the secession by the bishop and majority of clergy and communicants of the Diocese of San Joaquin from the Episcopal Church to the Southern Cone had placed them in “somewhat new territory; you remain within the Anglican Communion.”
Bishop Venables said he supported Bishop Schofield’s decision not to attend Lambeth due to his health difficulties and applauded his sensitivity to Dr. Williams’ concerns. However, he had sharp words for the bishop of the newly reconstituted Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb.
Last week Bishop Lamb wrote to all San Joaquin clergy demanding they declare their conformity to the Episcopal Church. These “statements and demands” missed “the mark of Christian leadership” and were vulgar. He encouraged the “clergy and lay members of the diocese to ignore” them, while the Communion wrestled with the issue.
Presiding Bishop–no compromise: CEN 7.18.08 p 6. July 18, 2008Posted by geoconger in Central Florida, Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, San Joaquin.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has rebuffed pleas for compromise from conservatives and rejected calls for the American Church’s House of Bishops to revisit the cases of deposed Bishops John-David Schofield and William Cox, saying the matter is closed.
“I have no ability to reverse or set aside any decision of the House of Bishops, nor does the House once the meeting [of bishops] is adjourned,” Bishop Schori wrote to the Diocese of Central Florida on June 2. However, should the two bishops “wish to re-enter” the Episcopal Church and “seek reinstatement, that is eminently possible,” she said.
Central Florida and four other American dioceses have objected to the procedural irregularities used to remove the two bishops saying it violated canon law. Questions over the legality of the proceedings have dogged the Presiding Bishop after it was revealed she neglected to follow the canons governing proceedings.
A legal justification of the House of Bishops’ actions by the Bishop of Lexington, the Rt.Rev. Stacy Sauls, released last month failed to quell the objections, and failed to ease concerns the Presiding Bishop would continue to use laws created to govern the secession of clergy to the Roman Catholic church to enact her political agenda for the church.
Central Florida, South Carolina, Springfield, Western Louisiana, and Northern Indiana has asked the bishops to conform to canon law in any further proceedings. Bishop Schori has stated she will bring Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh to trial in September for violating church canons.
Requests by conservative bishops that the Presiding Bishop bring the Bishop of California, Marc Andrus, and the retired Bishop of Northern California, Jerry Lamb—who presently serves as the acting bishop of the new diocese of San Joaquin organized by National Church—have been ignored, The Church of England Newspaper was told last month.
In her letter to Central Florida, Bishop Schori stated the deposition of the two bishops did not affect their ontological status as priests, but was merely a housekeeping task to straighten out the church’s books.
The two bishops had made it “abundantly clear” they no longer regarded themselves as members of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Schori explained. “It is a necessary duty of the leadership of this Church to clarify the status of clergy who no longer regard themselves as members. That is what deposition means in cases like these.”
“It is not, and is not meant to be, punitive, but rather clarifying in regard to the person’s ability to function as a member of the clergy in this Church. We hold a theology of ordination that says it is indelible. Deposition does not affect that theological understanding,” Bishop Schori explained.
She noted that objections to the deposition proceedings could not now be raised. Central Florida and the other dioceses lacked “standing” to object as protests could only be brought by bishops “who must object, during the meeting, if they wish clarification. No one did so.”
The former Bishop of Northern California, the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb, announced last week that on May 27 he had received an invitation from the conference organizers to attend Lambeth 2008 as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.
“This a clear sign from the Anglican Communion that the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is the only Anglican diocese in all of inland Central California,” Bishop Lamb said on his diocesan website. “I received this invitation because I am your bishop and, therefore, entitled to attend the Lambeth Conference as the Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
However, Bishop John-David Schofield of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin has also been invited to Lambeth. “Bishop Schofield received and accepted his invitation to Lambeth shortly after the invitations were first issued,” Canon William Gandenberger told The Living Church magazine. The invitation has not been withdrawn, he noted.
A spokesman for the Conference confirmed to The Church of England Newspaper that Bishop Lamb had been invited to Lambeth. However the presence of two bishops of San Joaquin, may present problems of protocol and ecclesiology for Archbishop Rowan Williams.
Last October, Dr. Williams wrote Central Florida Bishop John W. Howe reaffirming the traditional view that the diocese, not the national church or province, was the primary ecclesial entity within the Anglican Communion.
“The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such,” Dr. Williams said. “The Bishop and the Diocese” were the “primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the ‘national church’,” he noted.
While US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori nominated Bishop Lamb to be interim bishop of the Episcopal diocese, and called a special convention to ratify his nomination, a growing number of US dioceses have issued formal protests against her actions, and do not recognize the appointment.
Bishop Schofield’s actions have further complicated matters. While he resigned his membership in the Episcopal House of Bishops, he did not resign his see—transferring it and the diocese to the Province of the Southern Cone. Bishop Schori declined to recognize this transfer and sought to depose Bishop Schofield at a meeting of the House of Bishops this spring. The legality of this action is likely to be tested in the California courts.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper
The Province of the Southern Cone has begun work to amend its Constitution and Canons to permit parishes and dioceses outside of South America to affiliate with the church.
In an address to the Diocese of Fort Worth on May 3, Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of Argentina said his province had agreed to accept the diocese of San Joaquin into the South American church as a “pastoral” and interim response to the divisions within the US Episcopal Church. Work was now underway to alter the church’s constitution, removing language that limited membership to dioceses located in South America.
The “Anglican Communion in the United States has been hijacked,” Bishop Venables said, by a liberal clique that is less concerned with theological integrity than with power. They do not “mind what happens as long as they control it,” he said according to a report prepared by the diocese’s communications officer.
Bishop Venables told Fort Worth that the question before them was “whether or not you can stand with a group of people who have denied that Jesus is the Son of God and that the Bible is the Word of God.”
He conceded that the invitation to the Diocese of San Joaquin made following its December decision to quit the Church and affiliate with the Southern Cone was irregular. However, “if we don’t do something,” he said, we would be “complicit” in their oppression.
The Argentine archbishop’s visit to Texas provoked a letter from US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori asking him to cancel his trip. His visit to Fort Worth was an “unprecedented and unwarranted invasion of, and meddling in, the internal affairs of this province,” and would prevent “needed reconciliation from proceeding” within the US church, she said.
Fort Worth Bishop Jack L. Iker dismissed Bishop Schori’s complaints as “rude” and erroneous. “Far from being ‘an unwanted interference,’ [Bishop Venables] is coming at my request as an honored visitor and guest speaker,” he said, noting she had no authority to vet his invitations to foreign bishops.
The Presiding Bishop was not being entirely straight forward in her characterizations either, Bishop Iker said. “There are no efforts at reconciliation proceeding within this province, which is one reason why faithful people continue to leave [the Episcopal Church] in droves,” he said. “Your attitude and actions simply reinforce alienation and bring further discord.”
“Once again you are the one meddling in the internal affairs of this diocese, and I ask you to stop your unwelcome intrusions,” the Fort Worth bishop said.
The Episcopal Church’s legal battles entered a new phase last week, as lawyers for the national church filed suit in California against the Bishop and Diocese of San Joaquin in a bid to take control of its assets, while the Methodist Church sought to enter the fray in Virginia on behalf of the diocese.
Lawyers for the national church filed suit in a Fresno County Superior Court on April 24, seeking to transfer the assets of the diocese under the control of Bishop John-David Schofield based in Fresno to the new diocese based in Stockton created by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori under former Northern California Bishop Jerry Lamb.
“While it is regrettable that legal action is necessary, the diocese and The Episcopal Church have no other viable option but to seek the intervention of the court to recover the property and assets of the diocese,” said Bishop Lamb, the provisional Bishop of San Joaquin–Stockton
Last December, a supermajority of clergy and lay delegates at the San Joaquin-Fresno synod voted to quit the Episcopal Church and join the Province of the Southern Cone. Dioceses may not succeed from the Episcopal Church as “such actions are contrary to the Canons and Constitution of The Episcopal Church and the diocese,” the media Stockton diocese said.
Writing to the Fresno diocese, Bishop Schofield said, “please be assured that we have been expecting this litigation, and the contents contain no surprises,” adding that “in spite of the claims by The Episcopal Church, nothing in their current constitution and canons prohibits a diocese from leaving one province and moving to another.”
Bishop Schori’s handling of the San Joaquin affair has raised concerns. One group of bishops and church leaders commissioned a legal opinion on the validity of her actions from an international lawyer, who concluded she had committed 11 violations of canon law and should be brought to trial for abuse of office.
The Presiding Bishop issued a counter statement the same day, saying that her advisors had concluded that she had properly interpreted church canons. The Episcopal Church has no independent judiciary and has no way of reconciling opposing views save through political confrontations.
In Virginia the United Methodist Church on April 24 filed a brief in support of the national church and Diocese of Virginia against the breakaway congregations now grouped under the banner of CANA.
The Methodist Church argued that Virginia’s law granting congregations to withdraw from their parent churches in the case of schisms raised questions of the “appropriateness of the government’s intrusion into the freedom of any church body to organize and govern itself according to its own faith and doctrine.”
Virginia’s Attorney-General Robert McDowell in January filed a brief opposing the national Episcopal Church’s. A spokesman for the breakaway congregations, Jim Oakes, said the law, enacted in the wake of denominational splits following the American Civil War, was a tested and “reasonably neutral way for the state to adjudicate” the dispute.
The Zulu Bride May 10, 2008Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), San Joaquin.
There is nothing new under the sun. The dispute in San Joaquin has its precursor in the Colenso affair in South Africa in the 1860’s.
The caption reads:
The Zulu Bride
Bishop Tait: “Stay! — I protest!–”
Bishop Gray: “Upon what grounds, my Lord?”
Bishop Tait: “Bigamy! she’s married already.”
Dr. Gray, Bishop of Cape Town, was proceeding to consecrate the Rev. Mr. Macrorie as Bishop of Natal, with the avowed purposed of expelling Dr. Colenso the existing Bishop of that see, from the ministration of his holy office, when the Bishop of London, (Dr. Tait) published a strong letter, interposing, and the scheme was frustrated.–February 1868 (Punch)
Memorandum Concludes Presiding Bishop is Subverting Constitution and Canons: TLC 4.30.08 April 30, 2008Posted by geoconger in House of Bishops, Living Church, Pittsburgh, San Joaquin.
Sufficient legal grounds exist for presenting Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for ecclesiastical trial on 11 counts of violating the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, according to a legal memorandum that has begun circulating among members of the House of Bishops.
A copy of the April 21 document seen by a reporter representing The Living Church states Bishop Jefferts Schori demonstrated a “willful violation of the canons, an intention to repeat the violations, and a pattern of concealment and lack of candor” in her handling of the cases of bishops Robert W. Duncan, John-David Schofield and William Cox, and that she “subverted” the “fundamental polity” of The Episcopal Church in the matter of the Diocese of San Joaquin.
Prepared by an attorney on behalf of a consortium of bishops and church leaders seeking legal counsel over the canonical implications of the Presiding Bishop’s recent actions, it is unclear whether a critical mass of support will form behind the report’s recommendations for any action to be taken, persumably as a violation of the Presiding Bishop’s ordination vows. Title IV, Canon 3, Section 23a requires the consent of three bishops, or 10 or more priests, deacons and communicants “of whom at least two shall be priests. One priest and not less than six lay persons shall be of the diocese of which the respondent is canonically resident.” Victims of sexual misconduct and the Presiding Bishop also may bring charges before the Title IV [disciplinary] Review Committee. Title IV, Canon 3, Section 27 specifies that the Presiding Bishop appoints the five bishops to the Review Committee and the president of the House of Deputies appoints the two members of the clergy and two lay members. A spokeswoman said the Presiding Bishop was unable to respond to the charges as she had not yet seen the memorandum.
The Rev. Ephraim Radner, a member of the Anglican Covenant Design Group, said he found the matters addressed by the brief troubling. The lack of a common understanding of the church’s constitution and canons was “tearing apart our very episcopate and the credibility of our church’s ability to make formal decisions,” he said
The 7,000-word memorandum states it does not address issues of doctrine under Title 4, Canon 1, Section 1c, but limits its review to the “recent actions she has taken against bishops Cox, Schofield and Duncan and the Diocese of San Joaquin.”
The paper argues the Presiding Bishop “failed to seek the inhibition of Bishop Cox as required by [Title IV, Canon 9].” This failure was not a “technical issue that could be waived,” but was an “important procedural protection that is integral” to the use of the canon. Nor did she comply with the requirement that the bishop be given timely notice of the legal proceedings, as the Presiding Bishop withheld notice for seven months.
By not inhibiting Bishop Cox during the two-month period she gave him for denying the charges, the Presiding Bishop was also creating “new procedures” for deposing bishops. The 60-day notice to deny the charges applies only to an “inhibited bishop,” according to the memorandum. Bishop Jefferts Schori had made the same error in her treatment of Bishop Duncan, the document noted.
Bringing Bishop Cox before the House of Bishops without securing his inhibition first also violated Title IV, Canon 9, Section 2, the memorandum said, as “a bishop who has not been inhibited is not ‘liable to deposition’ under this canon.”
To suggest that the provision of Section 2 of the Canon: “Otherwise, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops at the next regular, or special meeting of the House,” was “nonsensical,” the paper argued for “if the ‘Otherwise’ sentence deals with uninhibited bishops such as Bishop Cox (and Duncan), there is no provision under which the Presiding Bishop is authorized to depose an inhibited bishop such as Bishop Schofield. No rule of legal interpretation permits such a nonsensical result.”
The Presiding Bishop’s deposition of Bishops Cox and Schofield was done without the “necessary consent” of the House of Bishops. “The conclusion that the requisite consent was not given is irrefutable” as the “plain meaning” of the words of the canon, as well as voting procedures detailed in other parts of the Constitution and Canons do not permit the interpretation interposed by the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor, the paper said
Concerning the Diocese of San Joaquin, the Presiding Bishop’s announcement that she did not recognize the “duly elected” diocesan standing committee violated Articles IV and II.3 of the church’s constitution and repudiated her duties under [Title I, Canon 2, Section 4(a)(3)] which permits her only to “consult” with the diocesan ecclesiastical authority in the event of an episcopal vacancy.
The appointment of “representatives and vicars” to act in San Joaquin violated Article II.3 of the church’s constitution, the document stated, while the convening of a special convention in San Joaquin and installation of Bishop Jerry Lamb as the provisional bishop violated Article II.3 and Title III, Canon 13.
“The violations with respect to Bishops Cox and Duncan, although willful and repeated, pertained primarily to individual bishops. The violations with respect to [San Joaquin] however, subvert the governance of an entire diocese and go to the heart of TEC’s polity as a ‘fellowship of duly constituted dioceses’ governed under Article II.3 by bishops who are not under a metropolitan or archbishop,” the legal memorandum concluded.
The procedural difficulties in bringing this matter to adjudication were formidable, the paper argued, as the “ability of the complainants to hold accountable the Presiding Bishop or another bishop thus ends at the [Title IV] Review Committee.”
The authors of the legal memorandum were not optimistic the current legal and political environment within the church would be conducive for a conviction. The Title IV committee could issue a presentment, it could decline to issue a presentment and “produce a rationale that is persuasive to most objective observers,” or it could “decline to issue a presentment on grounds that are not persuasive and serve only to discredit the Review Committee and the process as well as the respondent,” it said.
This third outcome is “highly likely,” the paper concluded, but it noted the effort should nonetheless be made to hold the institution “accountable.”
San Joaquin now has three dioceses: CEN 4.04.08 p 7. April 3, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, San Joaquin.
US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has overseen the creation of a new Diocese of San Joaquin—one of three ecclesial entities bearing that name and active in Central California.
At a special convention called by the Presiding Bishop held on March 28-29, a rump group of the diocese unanimously elected the former Bishop of Northern California, the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb to serve as interim bishop of the diocese, and repudiated the December vote to affiliate with the Province of the Southern Cone.
Delegates from 18 congregations met from March 28-29 at St. John the Baptist Church in Lodi, California. However, no delegates from a majority of diocese’s congregations were present at the meeting, nor were more than a quarter of the eligible clergy present.
Delegates to the convention were required to take an oath of conformity before being seated. Of the 18 congregations present, five were parishes of the Diocese of San Joaquin, three were aided missions, and the rest groups representing minorities in parishes that had voted to quit the Episcopal Church.
Clergy and lay delegates from one parish, St. John’s in Tulare objected to the legality of the convention, while its rector protested the Presiding Bishop’s usurpation of the authority of the standing committee in calling a convention, noting she had no right under canon law to proceed.
Critics of the meeting noted the special convention’s actions were of dubious legality, as a quorum of clergy and congregations were not present, and the requirement that 30 days notice of the convening of synod was ignored by the Presiding Bishop. However, delegates passed a resolution absolving itself of any canonical irregularities in the calling and convening of the meeting.
In a question and answer session, Bishop Lamb said the new Diocese of San Joaquin would move forward with the ordination of women, noting that it had received three women priests at the March 29 meeting—San Joaquin had been one of three US dioceses that would not license women priests. However, it would not move as quickly in other disputed areas. “I think the diocese needs to spend time in conversation before it decides where gay and lesbian people will be in this diocese in the future,” Bishop Lamb said.
The formation of an ecclesial body swearing its fealty to the Presiding Bishop in San Joaquin creates a third Diocese of San Joaquin, critics note. In addition to the new diocese, the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin under the Province of the Southern Cone is extant, as is the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin under the ecclesiastical authority of its Standing Committee.
The failure of the House of Bishops to properly depose Bishop Schofield further complicates affairs. Bishop Schori declined to discuss her legal strategy, but noted the new diocese would act quickly to attempt to gain control of the property of all of the Dioceses of San Joaquin.
Doubts over deposition trial: CEN 3.21.08 p 7. March 19, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, San Joaquin.
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.
First published in The Living Church.
Slightly more than one-third of all bishops eligible voted to depose bishops John-David Schofield and William J. Cox during the House of Bishops’ spring retreat, far fewer than the 51 percent required by the canons.
The exact number is impossible to know, because both resolutions were approved by voice vote. Only 131 bishops registered for the meeting March 7-12 at Camp Allen, and at least 15 of them left before the business session began on Wednesday. There were 294 members of the House of Bishops entitled to vote on March 12.
When questioned about canonical inconsistencies during a telephone press conference at the conclusion of the meeting, Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina said the bishops had relied on advice provided to them by canonical experts, and did not examine canonical procedure during plenary debate prior to the votes to depose bishops Schofield and Cox.
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. Bishop Cox was consecrated Bishop Suffragan of Maryland in 1972. He resigned in 1980, later serving as Assisting Bishop of Oklahoma from 1980 to 1988. In 2005, Bishop Cox ordained two priests and a deacon at Christ Church, Overland Park, Kan. Christ Church affiliated with the Anglican Church of Uganda after purchasing its property from the Diocese of Kansas.
Both bishops were charged with abandonment of communion. The procedure for deposing a bishop under this charge is specified in Title IV, canon 9, sections 1-2. The canon stipulates that the vote requires “a majority of the whole number of bishops entitled to vote,” not merely a majority of those present. At least a dozen bishops voted either not to depose Bishop Schofield or to abstain, according to several bishops. The number voting in favor of deposing Bishop Cox was reportedly slightly larger than the number in favor of deposing Bishop Schofield.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was questioned about the history of the canonical proceedings against Bishop Cox. At first she said during the press conference that she had not sought the canonically required consent of the three senior bishops of the church for permission to inhibit Bishop Cox pending his trial. However Title IV, Canon 9, sections 1-2 do not describe a procedure for deposing a bishop who has not first been inhibited.
Consent Never Sought
Later in the press conference, Bishop Jefferts Schori clarified and extended her remarks, saying she had been “unable to get the consent of the three senior bishops last spring. That’s why we didn’t bring it to the September meeting” of the House of Bishops. One of the three senior bishops with jurisdiction confirmed to The Living Church that his consent to inhibit Bishop Cox was never sought.
In 2007, Bishop Cox sent a written letter to Bishop Jefferts Schori, announcing his resignation from the House of Bishops. Since he was already retired, he did not have jurisdiction, and therefore unlike Bishop Schofield, his resignation did not require consent from a majority of the House of Bishops. A trial of the 88-year-old retired bishop was not mandatory.
Bishop Cox also does not appear to have been granted due process with respect to a speedy trial. Once the disciplinary review committee formally certifies that a bishop has abandoned communion, the canons state “it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops at the next regular or special meeting of the house.” The review committee provided certification to Bishop Jefferts Schori on May 29, 2007. His case should have been heard during the fall meeting in New Orleans last September. When asked about the apparent inconsistency, Bishop Jefferts Schori said initially she did not include Bishop Cox’s case on the agenda for the New Orleans meeting “due to the press of business.”
Title IV, canon 9, section 1 requires the Presiding Bishop to inform the accused bishop “forthwith,” in other words immediately, after the review committee has provided a certificate of abandonment, but Bishop Jefferts Schori did not write to Bishop Cox until Jan. 8, 2008, more than seven months afterward.
The two-hour business session at which the deposition votes were taken ran slightly longer than originally scheduled. First a resolution was read followed by prayer from the chaplain. A period of silence followed the prayer. After the silence was broken, the bishops discussed the resolution in small table groups followed by plenary discussion. When it appeared that everyone who wanted to speak had done so, the voice vote was taken. Each resolution was read and voted on separately.
Backing for San Joaquin as Church prepares for battle: CEN 2.29.08 p 5 February 28, 2008Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, San Joaquin.
The House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of Papua New Guinea has joined in a statement of support for the Bishop of San Joaquin, giving Bishop John-David Schofield their backing in his battle with the Episcopal Church.
The pledge of support comes amidst a hardening of positions over the breakaway diocese. The Episcopal Church has set aside £250,000 to confront Bishop Schofield in 2008, and will seek to bring him to trial at the March meeting of the House of Bishops, with an eye to deposing him from the ordained ministry.
On Jan 29 the Primate of New Guinea and his bishops endorsed a statement put forward on Jan 3 by Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker and the leaders of Forward in Faith UK and the evangelical Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Philip Jensen that saluted Bishop Schofield on “the courageous decision of the Diocesan Convention of San Joaquin to take leave of The Episcopal Church and to align with the Province of the Southern Cone.”
The 41 bishops stated that they wanted Bishop Schofield “and the world to know that in this decision for the faith once delivered to the saints, we stand with you and beside you.”
Bishop Schofield will be brought to trial by US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on charges that his support for his diocesan synod’s vote to quit the Episcopal Church was evidence that he had “abandoned the Communion” of the Episcopal Church.
The San Joaquin Bishop is not expected to attend the trial, which will be held in camera at the Bishops’ March meeting.
Last week the Presiding Bishop appointed two priests from outside the diocese to serve as her “interim pastoral presence” in San Joaquin. The Rev. Canon Brian Cox and the Rev. Canon Robert Moore toured portions of the diocese from Feb 19-22 meeting with a select group of Episcopalians who had pledged their loyalty to the National Church.
The excursion did not take in all sides in the three way split in San Joaquin, as those who have quit the Episcopal Church for South America as well as those remain part of the Episcopal Church, but oppose the national church’s progressive agenda have not been included in the “listening tour.”
In a statement released on Feb 15, Bishop Schofield urged the two priests not to come, saying they were “entering into the internal affairs of a diocese of another province.”
He said the “Episcopal Church has begun attacking both me and this diocese” and told the Presiding Bishop’s surrogates their actions were “hardly those of men with honorable intentions.”
The breakaway bishop and his diocese are likely to come under further legal pressure in coming months. Last year the national church spent £650,000 in its property fights, and it noted that in the case of San Joaquin, “we will hold clergy leaders accountable to their vows to uphold the doctrine, discipline and worship of this Church, and lay leadership accountable to the fiduciary responsibilities of the offices they hold. Up to $500,000 of income from trust funds will be made available in the calendar year 2008 to support the mission work of the Diocese of San Joaquin and similarly situated dioceses,” it said on Feb 14.
Three-way split in San Joaquin: CEN 2.08.08 p 5. February 7, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America, San Joaquin.
The dispute over the secession of the Diocese of San Joaquin has led to the formation of three de facto ecclesiastical authorities for the California diocese: one loyal to Bishop John-David Schofield, one loyal to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and a third to the diocese’s Standing Committee.
On Dec 8 the San Joaquin Synod voted to transfer the primatial oversight of the diocese to the Province of the Southern Cone, and Bishop Schofield was received as a bishop of that province by the Primate, Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables.
At the meeting of the Diocesan Standing Committee, who in the absence of the bishop constitute the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese, Bishop Schofield on Jan 19 asked the clergy and lay members of the committee to formally join the South American church.
As a member of the South American Church, Bishop Schofield said in a statement released on Jan 21, “the Standing Committee, which is my council of advice, must be composed of clergy members who are Anglican priests of the Southern Cone.”
Six of the eight members of the committee, including the rectors of the diocese’s leading congregations declined to move to the South American Church, prompting Bishop Schofield to remove them as members of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin.
However, the six, who were elected to their posts before the Synod vote, remained members of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.
On Jan 25 Bishop Schori entered the fray, writing that she to did not recognize them as the official Standing Committee.
“In light of your recent actions, I find that you have been and are unable to well and faithfully fulfill your duties as members of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin,” under the church’s canons. “Accordingly, with this letter I inform you that I do not recognize you as the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin,” she wrote.
The letter was followed by a Jan 26 meeting sponsored by the national church for members in the diocese who sought to remain affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Drawing mainly from the handful of congregations that opposed the synod vote and bolstered by supporters from outside San Joaquin, Bishop Schori promised the gathering of approximately 250 they had her support as the true Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.
On Feb 1 the Standing Committee responded to Bishop Schori stating that “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.”
The Standing Committee further noted that the Presiding Bishop had offered no facts to support her “conjecture” of misconduct, and accused her of abusing the canons for partisan political purposes.
“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,” they said.
Under canon law, if Bishop Schofield is removed from office as the Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin by the House of Bishops, the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese passes to the Standing Committee until the election of a new bishop. The national church has no power to alter the Standing Committee nor to pronounce on its fitness, under the canons.
US bishops explain their actions over inhibitions: CEN 2.01.08 p 5. February 1, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops, Pittsburgh, San Joaquin.
The three senior bishops of the Episcopal Church have released statements explaining their views on charges of “abandonment of Communion” lodged against the Bishops of Pittsburgh and San Joaquin.
The bishops of Texas and Virginia, Don Wimberly and Peter Lee, last week stated that they had consented to the inhibition, or suspension, of Bishop John-David Schofield, but had refused to countenance the suspension of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan. However, the senior bishop of the church, the Rt. Rev. Leo Frade of Southeast Florida stated he had concurred with the request to inhibit both men.
Under the canons of the Episcopal Church, if the church’s Title IV review committee issues a recommendation that a bishop be brought to trial before the House of Bishops on the charge of abandonment, the presiding bishop must ask the three senior diocesan bishops for permission to inhibit the accused pending trial. The three must be in full agreement for the suspension to take place.
Bishop Wimberly of Texas, a member of the “Windsor Coalition” of bishops stated he had consented the inhibition of Bishop Schofield “because the Diocese of San Joaquin had recently voted to leave the Episcopal Church”
“We did not consent to the request for Bishop Duncan because the Diocese of Pittsburgh has not held their annual convention yet and therefore has not formalized any change to their membership within the Episcopal Church, as the Diocese of San Joaquin had,” Bishop Wimberly explained.
Bishop Lee concurred with this sentiment saying it was “clear” Bishop Schofield had abandoned the Communion of the Episcopal Church. However, Bishop Duncan’s Diocese of Pittsburgh had “not formalized any change to their membership within the Episcopal Church.”
Episcopal Headquarters Takes Steps to Remove Conservative Bishops: Christianity Today 1.18.08 January 18, 2008Posted by geoconger in Christianity Today, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, San Joaquin.
Three conservative bishops of the Episcopal Church are under fire from the church’s national leaders and are being threatened with dismissal for seeking to pull their dioceses out of the church in protest of its leftward drift.
The attempted purge of conservative bishops Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, Jack L. Iker of Fort Worth, and John-David Schofield of Fresno by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori marks a new stage in the battle over church doctrine and discipline that has threatened to split the Episcopal Church since the hotly contested 2003 consecration of a non-celibate gay priest as bishop of New Hampshire.
On January 11, Bishop Jefferts Schori stated that a secret review panel had handed down an indictment against Bishop Schofield for “abandoning the Communion” of the Episcopal Church. In November delegates to his diocese’s annual convention voted to pull out of the Episcopal Church and seek the oversight of an overseas archbishop from the Anglican Communion.
Read it all in Christianity Today.
US Bishop wins wide backing in dispute: CEN 1.11.08 p 7 January 12, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, San Joaquin.
A coalition of 33 Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical bishops has endorsed an open letter to the Bishop of San Joaquin, backing him in his battle with US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
On Jan 3, Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker released the statement saluting Bishop John-David Schofield and the Diocese of San Joaquin’s “courageous decision” to “to take leave” of the Episcopal Church for the Province of the Southern Cone.
“We know that decision was to a large extent the result of your tenacity and faithful leadership, and for that we give thanks to God,” they said.
In an arch response to Bishop Schori’s Dec 14 statement that she felt badly for Bishop Schofield in his loneliness, the bishops wrote that though “it has been said that you are isolated and alone,” we “want you and the world to know that in this decision for the faith once delivered to the saints, we stand with you and beside you.”
Joining Bishop Iker were Evangelical leaders Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney and Bishop Wallace Benn of Lewes as well as Anglo-Catholic bishops John Broadhurst of Fulham, Martyn Jarrett of Beverley, John Goddard of Burnley, Keith Newton of Richborough, Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet and Lindsay Urwin of Horsham, along with active and retired bishops from the US, Africa, Australia, Papua New Guinea and England.
A spokesman for Bishop Iker told The Church of England Newspaper the letter arose from conversations between the members of the International Bishops’ Conference on Faith and Order, a group of Anglo-Catholic bishops who do not ordain women to the priesthood.
The Anglo-Catholic bishops are not a political action group, the Fort Worth spokesman explained but come together for study and fellowship. The letter was organized by Fr. Stephen Parkinson of Forward in Faith UK and distributed to the Anglo-Catholic group for signature. The spokesman noted that as other bishops learned of the letter outside of Anglo-Catholic circles, they too asked if they might endorse it.
The letter comes in response to an exchange of correspondence between Bishops Schofield and Schori over the San Joaquin bishop’s status within the Episcopal Church.
After being asked by Bishop Schori to clarify his status, on Dec 22, Bishop Schofield responded his answer would be guided by Dr. Rowan Williams’ Advent letter to the Primates.
Bishop Schofield stated that his status within the Episcopal Church would be defined at the forthcoming Lambeth Conference. “It is the Archbishop’s proposal for a course of action in the months ahead that may affect my status,” Bishop Schofield wrote. “Since everything that the Diocese of San Joaquin has done, it has done with an eye toward remaining Anglican and in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury; his proposal should naturally take precedence” in determining San Joaquin’s status.
He stated he was open to Dr. Williams’ proposals for “professionally facilitated conversations,” stating that “it may well be” in these exchanges “my own status and even that of The Episcopal Church vis-à-vis its membership in the Anglican Communion will be clarified.”
Bishop Schofield added that it would be a mistake to interpret the Dec 8 decision to align with the South American church as a mere protest vote. The San Joaquin synod was “saying that no matter what the consequences, they take a stand for a clear reading of Scripture, the faith that The Episcopal Church first received – but from which it has departed – and for Catholic Order within the Anglican Communion. Truly, the vote was for their bishop and diocese to remain in the Anglican Communion with the fullness of the heritage we have received as a part of that worldwide body.”
The vote did not “change anything within the diocese,” Bishop Schofield said. “With the status of The Episcopal Church’s member-ship in the Anglican Communion looking more and more precarious, the people of San Joaquin simply wanted to remain what we have always been, namely Anglican,” he explained.
Prayer ‘will be the only change in San Joaquin’: CEN 12.21.07 p 6. December 22, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, San Joaquin.
Little will change in the day to day life of the Diocese of San Joaquin, Bishop John-David Schofield said following the Dec 8 vote to secede from the Episcopal Church and join the Church of the Province of the Southern Cone.
“For the majority” of San Joaquin Anglicans “nothing will change. The familiar ways in which you worship, your clergy, the Book of Common Prayer, Hymnal, lectionary and place of worship will all remain,” Bishop Schofield wrote in a pastoral letter published Dec 15.
The sole “notable exception” will be the replacement of Gregory Venables for Katharine Jefferts Schori in the intercession for the Presiding Bishop, he said.
However the traditionalist diocese would “no longer [be] operating under the looming shadow of this institutional apostasy” found in The Episcopal Church, he said. The synod vote was “not a schism over secondary issues but a realignment necessitated by false teaching as well as unbiblical sacramental actions that continue to take place” in the national church.
Bishop Schofield stated the “orders of all Diocesan clergy” had been recognized by the Southern Cone. Clergy who wish a “period of discernment” would be granted “more time to consider whether or not to accept the invitation” to join the Southern Cone.
This provision would apply to parishes as well, he noted, as “no one is being asked to act against his conscience,” he said.
On Dec 14 Bishop Schori wrote Bishop Schofield asking him to clarify his status and to affirm his “declaration that you are no longer part of The Episcopal Church, but are now under the authority of the Province of the Southern Cone.” His answer was required, she said, so as to ascertain his status within the House of Bishops and pension fund.
‘Letter backs our move’ : CEN 12.21.07 December 21, 2007Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, San Joaquin.
|THE DIOCESE of San Joaquin has welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent letter to the Primates, seeing it as a validation of its secession from The Episcopal Church to the Church of the Province of the Southern Cone.
“I find it difficult to imagine any other reading of Canterbury’s Advent letter than the intent to recognize — or maybe I should say, to allow San Joaquin to be recognized as a legitimate member of the Anglican Communion,” Diocesan spokesman the Rev Van McCalister (pictured) told The Church of England Newspaper.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper
First diocese quits the Episcopal Church: CEN 12.14.07 p 1. December 12, 2007Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America, San Joaquin.
The Diocese of San Joaquin has voted to secede from the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Church of the Province of the Southern Cone.
Saturday’s vote marks the first secession of an American diocese from the Episcopal Church since 1862, when the southern dioceses seceded to form the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. Four more dioceses are expected to follow suit over the coming year. However, US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has vowed to fight the secession, saying there will be legal and canonical ramifications for the separatists.
Delegates to the diocesan synod on Dec 8 passed a second reading of a constitutional amendment, nullifying its accession to the national church. Secession passed in a vote by orders, 72 to 12 amongst the clergy and 103 to 10 in the lay order. Synod also voted to accept the invitation to affiliate with the South American Church.
“Welcome Home. And welcome back into full fellowship in the Anglican Communion,” Southern Cone Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables said to the diocese in a statement read to synod by Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia.
In his Presidential Address to the Convention on Dec 7 from the pulpit of St James Cathedral in Fresno, California, Bishop John-David Schofield said delay would not answer. A ‘no’ vote to secession would not restore the status quo nor bring peace to the diocese. “Timing matters,” he said. “God’s timing is essential. Delayed obedience in scripture is seen as disobedience when opportunities and blessings are lost.”
He also promised congregations loyal to the national church would be permitted to secede from the diocese along with their property upon payment of any outstanding debts. Five of San Joaquin’s 47 parishes are expected to remain with the national church.
Reactions to the secession have been mixed. Bishop Schori stated she was saddened by the news, but noted the Episcopal Church would continue in San Joaquin, “albeit with new leadership.”
“We deeply regret [San Joaquin’s] unwillingness or inability to live within the historical Anglican understanding of comprehensiveness,” she said.
Leaders of the Global South Coalition of Primates meeting in Nairobi this week are expected to back the move, while the Archbishop of Canterbury has given mixed signals.
In a meeting with Bishop Venables in September, Dr. Williams was informed of the plan to bring the US traditionalist dioceses on board. At last month’s Fort Worth synod meeting Bishop Lyons of Bolivia reported the plan had the tacit approval of Lambeth Palace.
ACC general secretary Canon Kenneth Kearon confirmed Dr. Williams had been sighted on the South American plans but in an email to an American Episcopalian questioned if “the Archbishop would formally support such a development which is contrary to the Windsor Report (especially paragraph 155).”
A spokesman for the ACC released a statement on Dec 10 saying “Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has not in any way endorsed the actions of the Primate of the Southern Cone, Bishop Gregory Venables, in his welcoming of dioceses, such as San Joaquin in the Episcopal Church, to become part of his province in South America.”
The South American Church leadership told The Church of England Newspaper there was no contradiction between Bishop Lyons remarks and the clarification from Lambeth Palace and agreed that Dr. Williams had not given his formal support nor overt blessing to the secession plan.
Don’t leave, or face the consequences: CEN 12.07.07 p 7. December 9, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America, Property Litigation, San Joaquin.
US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has warned the Bishop of San Joaquin against allowing his diocese to quit the Episcopal Church, threatening him with legal and ecclesiastical sanctions.
In a letter published on Dec 3, Bishop Schori urged Bishop John-David Schofield to consider the cost “of the potential consequences” of his diocese’s potential secession.
On Dec 8, the San Joaquin synod will have the second reading of a Constitution amendment permitting it to quit the American Church.
Bishop Schori told Bishop Schofield that his support of the amendment would require her to “ascertain whether you have in fact abandoned the communion of this Church, and violated your vows to uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this Church. I do not intend to threaten you, only to urge you to reconsider and draw back from this trajectory.”
Bishop Schori said she would continue to pray for Bishop Schofield, “I continue to be concerned for your health, and for your evident sense of isolation,” and added that she continued to welcome his participation as a “loyal opposition” within The Episcopal Church, “particularly as a sign of your faithfulness to your vow to share in the councils of the Church.”
However, the US Presiding Bishop declared it was not possible for the diocese to secede. “While you may believe that the Diocese of San Joaquin can be welcomed into another Province of the Anglican Communion, I believe you will find that few parts of the Communion will recognize such a proposal,” she wore.
On Nov 16, Bishop Schofield released a statement welcoming the invitation by the Church of the Province of the Southern Cone to affiliate with it. “The invitation assures the Diocese’s place in the Anglican Communion and full communion with the See of Canterbury,” he said.
Planting the diocese’s flag in South America was a “sensible way forward and is by no means irrevocable. During the 1860’s, the Dioceses of the Southern States left the Episcopal Church and then returned after the Civil War. As the Southern Cone invitation makes clear, the Diocese may return to full communion with the Episcopal Church when circumstances change and the Episcopal Church repents and adheres to the theological, moral and pastoral norms of the Anglican Communion, and when effective and acceptable alternative primatial oversight becomes available,” Bishop Schofield said.
Bishop John-David Schofield October 18, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), San Joaquin.
The Bishop of San Joaquin, the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield. Photo taken July 31, 2007.
The Diocese of San Joaquin, California has accused US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of abuse of office for selectively enforcing church canon law to the detriment of conservatives.
The Presiding Bishop’s office admitted that it acquiesced in the Diocese of Virginia’s violation of the express language of Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons in the consecration process of its new bishop, but stated the violation was customary and not of sufficient merit to call into question the validity of the episcopal consecration of Bishop Shannon T. Johnston of Virginia.
In a letter dated July 20, the conservative-leaning diocese accused Bishop Schori of “unequal application of the same canon in two separate cases within months of each other,” permitting the “irregular consecration” of the Bishop-coadjutor of Virginia. These actions may have caused a “liability on your part for violation of the Constitution and Canons of the General Convention,” the diocese said.
Following the election of Bishop-elect Johnston the Diocese of Virginia solicited consents, or approval of his election, using a consent form not in conformance with the language of the Constitution and Canons. The so called “short form”, Canon Carlson Gerdau, canon to Presiding Bishop Schori told The Living Church magazine, had been used by other dioceses in recent years and “no one has ever objected to it before.”
It was the Presiding Bishop’s opinion that use of a form not authorized by the canons did not constitute a “defect”.
San Joaquin stated it protested the use of the “short form” in letters dated May 31 and June 18, noting that the church law required conformance to the explicit language of the canons. The diocese stated on July 22 it had not received an acknowledgment of its protests, however the Episcopal News Service reported the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor responded to the May and June letters “last week”.
Earlier this year, Bishop Schori nullified the election of Mark Lawrence as Bishop of South Carolina, tossing out ballots from dioceses in favor of his election for not being in strict conformance to the requirement that the ballots be signed by all members of a diocese’s standing committee, thereby depriving him of a majority necessary for consent to his election.
South Carolina initially sought to use the “short form” to solicit the consents of Bishop-elect Lawrence, but was cautioned by the Presiding Bishop’s office to use the proper language found in the canons so as not to violate the canons. The permissive stance taken towards Virginia while South Carolina was required to conform to the letter of the law, over the same issue within a period of two months by the Presiding Bishop’s office, prompted San Joaquin’s charges of hypocrisy and double standards.
The Diocese of Virginia declined to respond. However, observers in Virginia note that the diocese’s claims that the Virginia-based CANA Bishop Martyn Minns has irregular episcopal orders, would appear to be undercut, given the admitted defect in the consecration process of its bishop-coadjutor.
Further formal action is not considered likely, as US church law gives the Presiding Bishop the authority to determine whether a violation of canon law has occurred.