12/14/2007

Good Questions on the Status of Bishop Schofield

The Presiding Bishop has written Bishop John-David Schofield the following letter:

"December 14, 2007

The Rt. Rev. John-David M. Schofield, SSC
Diocese of San Joaquin
4159 E. Dakota Avenue
Fresno, CA 93726

My dear brother,

I was deeply saddened to hear of the actions of the Diocesan Convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin this past weekend, particularly the declaration that you are no longer part of The Episcopal Church, but are now under the authority of the Province of the Southern Cone. I assume that this means you understand yourself to have departed the Episcopal Church and are no longer functioning as a member of the clergy in this Church.

I would like to have confirmation from you of this understanding of your status. Many interrelated matters depend on that status – for example, your membership in the House of Bishops and the acceptability of pension contributions on your behalf.

You continue in my prayers.

Yours in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori"

Dated today and posted in an article by the Episcopal News Service, one presumes the letter was sent by electronic means as well as by post, so that Bishop Schofield has it in hand. It cannot have been a surprise.

There are indeed "many interrelated matters" that depend on the status of his membership in The Episcopal Church. If he has abandoned The Episcopal Church his position in the House of Bishops will be resolved by his being deposed. Details are available HERE. . His pension will indeed be frozen at some point. He can of course receive the pension due worked out in terms of years of service, etc, but at some point he ceases to be able to add to his pension contribution.

More to the moment, actions taken by Bishop Schofield in and for "The Diocese of San Joaquin" following his departure would be of questionable legal standing. And if he has left and now is part of the Province of the Southern Cone, does this mean the Standing Committee becomes the Ecclesiastical Authority? What if the clergy members have also left The Episcopal Church? What of the lay members? Might there be a quorum of Standing Committee members who continue as members of The Episcopal Church until such time as they too declare they are no longer part of The Episcopal Church, even though the Bishop has declare himself out and the diocese with him? What if, while the ecclesiastical authority, the Standing Committee gave approval to various reassignments of clergy, passed on the decision to ordain new candidates, etc? Would those stand? It is not simply his membership in The Episcopal Church that is at stake here. If he also contends that clergy and congregations have gone with him, and that Diocesan Convention decisions affirmed that, then the whole structure of ordained and lay leadership is without continuing clear power to act in The Episcopal Church context. If I were a bank manager where Diocesan funds are held, I would want to have assurances that the Bishop continues to have signatory powers for the Diocese, and barring that that his signature card is voided. What is to be done with all this?

Unsnarling this mess of tangled interrelated matters will be a knitters nightmare, unsettling until completed, and then only really settled when some new knitting can commence.

The Presiding Bishop is absolutely correct in asking for Bishop Schofield's understanding of his current status. His reply will be most informative, I am sure.


17 comments:

  1. Also of interest, what is Canterbury's take on the status of Schofield's Lambeth invite?

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  2. The woeful fact is that our canon law was never really written to accommodate these latest twists and turns. The canon on abandonment "just growed" and was finessed to meet each new troublesome bishop, without ever really being thought through with care. And the idea of a diocese thinking it could leave... well, the thought never occurred. If, in response to this letter, the former bishop of the former diocese makes it clear that he is no longer part of this church, that will make matters much easier, as he will have renounced the ministry of this church and not simply abandoned it.

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  3. Richard Warren14/12/07 11:01 PM

    Fr. Haller makes some good points and it would probably behoove the church committee that deals with such matters to start taking a serious look, so that some of this may be dealt with in Anaheim.

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  4. What if Schofield simply doesn't reply?

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  5. All of this is pretty much what the TEC has ask for in it's "walking apart" from the rest of the Anglican Communion. It is not until TEC decides to give up it's miltant "rightness", and claim to "revelation" on human sexuality and non-historical interpretation of the Scriptures, that anything near healing will begin to happen. I think the odds of that happening are about as likely as +Gene Robinson renounce his orders. Penance and repentance is the only solution as outlined in the Windsor Report, but of course will not happen either, unless the Holy Spirit decides to show a majority of the Episcopal Bishops, personally, that they are out of step with the rest of the Catholic Church, i.e. Rome and Orthodoxy, as well as the rest of the Anglican Communion. The arrogance of the Episcopal majority is just amazing to me, to think that they have a "truth" that no one else in the world has been made privy to. Just amazing!

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  6. apostle in exile15/12/07 1:54 PM

    The Diocesan Convention did, indeed, vote to join the Southern Cone. None of the Standing Committee members spoke or voted in opposition to it. That would seem to me to be clear evidence that they are no longer members of the Standing Committee of the EPISCOPAL Diocese of San Joaquin. And, you're right--no one ever anticipated, or quite knows how to deal with, this eventuality.

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  7. One of the key things that I found in the resolutions out of San Joaquin is that +Schofield has declared himself a corporation sole...i.e a Roman Catholic Bishop...Has he filed as such in CA, I don't know nor so I know if he can. I wondered how this strange legal quirk would be handled.

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  8. What is the process for reconstituting a Standing Committee?

    I see that most of the websites for DSJ parishes and missions have been centralized into one, effectively cutting off their communication from the outside world. Fewer than a dozen parishes still have their own websites. Two parishes have removed all references to "Episcopal." One inflicts spyware on its visitors.
    --Pfalzprophet

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  9. It would seem to me that Bp John-David Schofield is still a bishop in the Anglican Communion - he has not taken any formal steps to renounce his orders; and that he is still the diocesan bishop of San Joaquin - that diocese has not taken any formal steps to depose him as their bishop. There is now an Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, not an Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, the latter entity now being vacant. Now the Anglican Diocese of SJ is free to elect its new bishops when the time comes and train and appoint its own clergy, and devote its missions funds for gospel work without any interference from, or burden imposed by the national church (PECUSA).

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  10. to the Rev. Dr J
    As a faithful Episcopalian in the diocese of San Joaquin, I would have said that those loudly claiming the "militant right" were on the other side. The "arrogance" of those who have been maligning the national church and Presiding Bishop Schori with such derision and disrepect is what has been just "amazing" to me, as though they have some kind of truth that none of the rest of us understands. There has been a lot of fallout as a result of the actions taken by Bishop Schofield, but I guess that is regarded among the "reasserters" as collateral damage and of no matter. Churches are divided and people have been driven out of their churches by these actions. Oh well, they are just loyal and faithful Episcopalians who love the Lord. Some are elderly, and oh so wise, and have no means to go seeking a church in another locale. Oh, well, that's of no matter, it is the importance of the cause; the ends justify the means. I pray faithfully for the reconstitution of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of San Joaquin.

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  11. The latest of Canerbury's amazing non-leasership documents contemplates (another!) committee of primates that will decide on the invitation status of the likes of ++Venables and +Schofield. If he sets up another chair like the covenant committee, they will be in.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  12. Beryl - I'm truly sorry that you are feeling the fallout now. Just so you know, I am a faithful Anglican in the diocese of Bethlehem who felt it 4 years ago. I can assure you there were many loyal, faithful orthodox (including the elderly) who also had no means of seeking another church. I suspect your help will be faster in coming then ours (I'm still waiting) -Prayers that all will find a church in which they feel welcomed, accepted and hear/learn God's will.

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  13. Viriato da Silva17/12/07 12:25 PM

    Wrote brian f:

    "It would seem to me that Bp John-David Schofield is still a bishop in the Anglican Communion - he has not taken any formal steps to renounce his orders; and that he is still the diocesan bishop of San Joaquin - that diocese has not taken any formal steps to depose him as their bishop."

    He is only a bishop in the AC via TEC; you are correct he has not been formally deposed yet by TEC, but that's a matter of ecclesio-legal processes which take time. And the AbC has made it clear that bishops in 100% analogous situations -- e.g., Cavalcanti of Recife -- may be in communion with AC provinces, but are not themselves deemed AC bishops.

    "There is now an Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, not an Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, the latter entity now being vacant."

    Entities cannot be "vacant," nor is there now a new legal entity called the "Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin." The *see* of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin (which continues to be the only legally recognized entity involved) is de facto vacant (the Episcopal Diocese continues to exist as a matter of law) in the wake of Schofield's de facto renunciation of his ministry within TEC and the communion of TEC, and soon it will be de jure vacant as well, once the processes (triggered by Schofield's and his convention's actions, and now intiiated by the PB's letter to him) have run their course.

    Any "Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin" is currently a figment of a number of folks' imagination, though they occupy (unlawfully) property belonging to the Episcopal Diocese of SJ (and ultimately will be ejected from it, and the property returned to its rightful and legal owners, the Episcopalians of the ED of SJ).

    Certainly, such an "AD of SJ" may come into being, but currently, it has not been so incorporated under the laws of CA, and even if it does, it will be legally discontinuous as an entity with the ED of SJ (i.e., it will not be deemed a "successor entity" entitled to the property), which was erected by and is entirely a creature/creation of TEC's General Convention.

    "Now the Anglican Diocese of SJ is free to elect its new bishops when the time comes and train and appoint its own clergy, and devote its missions funds for gospel work without any interference from, or burden imposed by the national church (PECUSA)."

    Well, once such an "AD of SJ" is legally formed, of course, though it will ultim ately have to do all of the foregoing without the property historically and rightly belonging to the ED of SJ.

    Such legal flights of fantasy these "reasserters" subscribe to! There will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth among them once the highest courts of the land speak.

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  14. Anonymous-
    My understanding is that last year Bp. Schofield did file papers in CA to be a corporation sole. I didn't live here, then, but I've been told by several lay people and clergy that a resolution was passed by convention last year to that effect, at the end of the day with several other resolutions, and was not discussed.

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  15. Schoefield's "orthodox Anglican" Church won't amount to much, as any group founded on hate and fear is destined to fail. As the racism of the last century has somewhat subsided, so will the hate and fear mongering of these days slowly subside. And as far as the "orthodox" spending time "suffering in a revisionist diocese", I feel sorry for them about as much as I feel sorry for somebody bemoaning the loss of the right to discriminate against minority races. People can practice their hatred elsewhere.

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  16. Contrary to what you've heard, being orthodox does not equate to hatred & prejudice. Although I believe the Bible is the Word of God, and am conservative in my position, I do not "hate" anyone. I'm not asking you to "feel sorry" for me. Why don't you try to "listen" to the other side rather than be so quick to judge us. (and you call yourself inclusive!!)

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  17. would anonymous PLEASE use a name in the process somewhere so we can tell Anonymous 1,2,3, etc apart? Thanks.

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