December 28, 2007

Do You Know the Way to San Joaquin

"I may go wrong and lose my way..."

Well, contrary to my advice in the previous post concerning patience, things are humming in connection with the decidedly hasty actions of +John-David Schofield and his diocese's convention, exacerbated by the speed with which the former Episcopal Bishop has chosen to displace the vicar of a mission that had been under his care.

The so-called reasserter blogs are strangely quiet with regard to this move --- perhaps out of embarrassment, or due to the extent to which this action rather undercuts the case being made in Virginia; or perhaps they are just keeping Christmas rather than leaving it alone.

Speaking of leaving it alone, there is no doubt who is cast in the role of Scrooge in this current reenactment. Bishop John-David has acted in haste, even before the California Supreme Court renders a decision on where property rights fall, and clearly contrary to the recommendations of more judicious, though no less conservative, minds.

Progressives are taking up the cry for agitation, with questions as to why the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies aren't doing more, or doing more publicly.

It appears to me that the "problem" of San Joaquin and its erstwhile Bishop has not yet fallen to the Presiding Bishop for response, but rather into the lap of the Review Committee charged with making a determination and recommendation. It appears to many observers (including observers with little or no stake in the outcome) that +JDS has renounced the Discipline of The Episcopal Church in no uncertain terms (why, after all, should he seek to place himself "under" another Primate and remove his diocese, contrary to the discipline of The Episcopal Church?) and has thereby abandoned communion with it. I take it as evident, his asseveration that this may only be "temporary" notwithstanding, that he has no interest in being or remaining in communion with a church he has recently described in such a negative light, as "an apostate institution that has minted a new religion irreconcilable with the Anglican faith."

The Review Committee consists of Bishops Henderson (USC), Ohl (NwTx), Jones (VA), Rivera (Oly) and Waggoner (Spo), The Rev. H. Scott Kirby (EauC), The Rev. Carolyn S. Kuhr (MT), Mr. J. P. Causey (VA), and Mrs. Deborah J. Stokes (SoOH). (See page 33 of the Journal of Convention 2006). Their action, described under Canon IV.9.1 as a "duty" is now expected. I hope they may already have begun to carry this duty out, so that the Presiding Bishop can move the process to the next step, which will require the consent of the three most senior bishops with jurisdiction.

Those are the rules, folks. This is no time for guerrilla actions, but for due process and care and clarity. In the meantime, we can also do all in our power to encourage the faithful Episcopalians of the central valley of California, the remaining members of the real live Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Tobias Haller BSG

10 comments:

sdbreuer said...

Well said, Tobias.

These are days in which I particularly wish I wasn't having technical problems with SarahLaughed.net -- there is much agitation and few wanting to be a non-anxious presence.

Malcolm+ said...

Glad to see a comment from Sarah. Hope all is well with you, sister.

On the other matter, if I've followed a thread of information correctly, have I got it right that Bishop Rivera of Olympia is the daughter of a former bishop of San Joaquin? If I've got that right, does that create any perceived conflict of interest in her role on the Review Committee?

thomas bushnell, bsg said...

It seems to me as well that his reponse to the letter he receive from the PB, asking "what's your status?" could be taken as a resignation under canon III.8(d).

I was assuming before that he would not reply to her when I said that the abandonment canon was the only way. By replying and saying, "I'm in the Southern Cone," she can now take this as a request for resignation.

RFSJ said...

Tobias,

I'm sure I've seen the list somewhere, but where is the list of seniority in the HoB?

RFSJ

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks for the comments. Thomas, you may be right about Canon (I think you meant) III.12.8.d (or perhaps IV.8?) but it might be dicey to go that route as JDS doesn't specifically use the words resignation or renunciation, which I think are wanted in this kind of action. This is, I think, the route I would advise +JDS take, but I think he is still trying to be cagey and have it both ways.

RFSJ, Louie Crew has a helpful list though it is a little hard to read. I t indicates that Frade, Lee and Wimberly are the senior bishops with jurisdiction. The table of consecrations in the "Red Book" doesn't indicate who is retired or holds jurisdiction.

JRG said...

Tobias, There is one minor revision to be made to your discussion of the canons. The recommendation of the Review Committee goes to the House of Bishops whether or not the three senior bishops with jursidiction join with Bishop Katharine in an inhibition. The inhibition is a separate step removing the bishop from active participation in the SPIRITUAL affairs of his diocese. Ironically it leave the inhibited bishop in charge of the temporal affairs until he repents or is removed by a vote of the House of Bishops. Thus the "splitting" bishops are foxes left in charge of the property and asset "hen" house. For the life of me, I cannot understand why TEC canons allow a bishop who seems to have left the church to manage its property, but that's how the canons read.

Joan R. Gundersen

Tobias Haller said...

Thank you, Joan, as I value your expertise in these matters. However, the canon being as poorly crafted as it is, still appears to me to require the inhibition period: "shall then inhibit the said bishop until such time as the House of Bishops shall investigate..." Section 2 speaks again of the distinct "certification and Inhibition" being delivered to "the inhibited Bishop" who then has two montsh to issue a response. So the two month period appears to require the inhibition, which can be terminated by the PB and a majority of the three "seniors" and then "Otherwise" (that is, no satisfactory response being made and the Inhibition remaining in effect) the PB presents the matter to the House of Bishops. So it appears to me that the inhibition is a required step in the process.

As I noted in a brief post to the HoBD list today, the involvement of the three senior bishops seems to be the gratuitous gum in the works -- and a revision of this canon (which as you know evolved to meet ad hoc cases over the years) is a matter for serious consideration. As is Canon IV.10, as current woes raise the question of who determines if a Standing Committee has abandoned the communion of this church! Talk about foxes and hen-houses...

I concur completely that the allowance for temporal authority to rest in an inhibited bishop's hands is deeply problematical, and I hope that will be addressed as well.

sam said...

One does not need to suppose JDS left. He did, I was at the convention. He clearly stated, in no uncertain terms, We are no longer part of the Episcopal Church.
Now he makes it sound like he is still here. He says he is the overseer of the DioSJ. So I guess he has figured out something the rest of us have not -- how to be in two places at the same time.

RFSJ said...

Seems to me that if an inhibition is issued, then there's every reason to seek a temporal injunction as well in the state courts to ensure that nothing untoward is going to be done to property, money, etc. There's a big hole in the canon as it stands, but it's not insurmountable.

As an aside, I have asked a member of the Executive Council to encourage the leadership to say something more public about what's going on. Tobias, maybe you can help here? I'm not talking about an ENS article; I think we need a Word to the Church from the PB. Behind the scenes actions are all wonderful, but the faithful - both on SJ and around the church - have a pastoral need to know that they are not being forgotten. This reeks too much of the days of the prior PB - not enough public action, or even comment, and too little, and ineffective, back channel effort.

RFSJ

Paul (A.) said...

The abandonment or resignation canons are not the only ones applicable here. Canon IV.1.1 has several offenses that can be named, ranging from conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy to violation of ordination vows to crime, if he is spending funds that belong to TEC or of which TEC is the trust beneficiary.

Proceedings under these provisions still go to the Review Committee, but someone needs to present the Charge to them. This may already have been done; we don't know.

But note Canon IV.1.5: A temporary inhibition against a bishop for offenses under IV.1.1 is not limited to nonadministrative episcopal acts. On the other hand, the Standing Committee is supposed to consent to inhibition of a bishop "with jurisdiction". Does Bp. Schofield "have" jurisdiction? Does the Presiding Bishop need the consent of a Standing Committee of a diocese of the Province of the Southern Cone? Is she waiting for a new Standing Committee to be constituted at the conclusion of the upcoming Listening Tour?

Interesting questions. Answers will presumably be forthcoming in the next few months if not weeks.