On the web pages of the Diocese of San Joaquin, an Anglican diocese of the Province of the Southern Cone, Bishop Schofield posted the following letter written to Canons Cox and Moore regarding their presence in The Diocese of San Joaquin, a diocese of The Episcopal Church.
February 15, 2008
It is my understanding that you have been hired by the Presiding Bishop’s Office to be a part of an interim pastoral presence with oversight in the Diocese of San Joaquin. This fact indicates one of the two things: 1) You do not believe that the Diocese was capable of removing itself from TEC in December 2007, and therefore you are intruding into the internal affairs of a recognized TEC diocese; or, 2) You do believe this diocese left TEC in 2007 and you are entering into the internal affairs of a diocese of another province.
In either case, at present, The Episcopal Church has begun attacking both me and this diocese. Your coming here is unconscionable in that you are meddling in the affairs of San Joaquin with neither the courtesy of requesting my permission as bishop nor even troubling to inform me of your plans. Such actions are hardly those of men with honorable intentions.
Even though you have already taken it upon yourself to be in contact with clergy and parishes, under no circumstances are you welcome to hold meetings in this diocese or to ask permission of clergy or other leaders to do so.
If indeed your proposal is to seek reconciliation with the goal to reduce the “threat of law suits” you are approaching the wrong persons. Why do you not come directly to me with your concerns and offers, for such lawsuits – presumably – would be lodged against me?
Should you choose to deal directly with me concerning the above mentioned proposals I would be willing to set aside time to meet with you in my office in Fresno. Apart from this, I ask you to desist from entering this diocese.
I remain, In earnest,
Cc: The Most Reverend Katherine Jefferts-Schori
The Most Reverend Gregory Venables
Bishop Schofield, not a bishop in this church by his own admission, having left for the Province of the Southern Cone (PSC), wants now to contend for some reason that Canons Cox and Moore are mucking about in his Diocese. This after he has insisted that the inhibition imposed by The Episcopal Church has no effect since he is not a member of The Episcopal Church.
He engages in some interesting logic chopping, supposing that what is wrong with the good Canons engagement with people in that part of California is that they are either (i) in his diocese or (ii) in an organized diocese of TEC without permission of its own leadership (assuming that leadership to be the Standing Committee). In either case he bemoans the intervention and invasion.
Of course what he doesn't say is that he has left the diocese and that the Standing Committee is not recognized by the Presiding Bishop as legitimately formed. That means that until the diocese reorganizes and forms a new ecclesiastical authority there is no one within the diocese from whom permission or authority to enter can be asked.
It all turns on the question of the Standing Committee, a fact which the Bishop does not raise at all. I have said in earlier posts that I am not moved particularly by the argument that the votes of the Standing Committee members determine their abandonment of communion or their lack of willingness to do as TEC Constitution and Canons require.
I am however persuaded that their actions in meeting with the Bishop following the December Convention formed the basis for reasonably questioning their continuation as the Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin. Before they met the Bishop was clear that he understood the Diocese to have left TEC. The Standing Committee members attended that meeting knowing that and seemingly with the assumption that they continued to be his council of advice and if necessary the ecclesiastical authority. It is reliably stated that several of the members of the Standing Committee were taken aback to discover that their presence was not enough and that they were dismissed by the Bishop because they had not overtly declared themselves to be out of TEC and in the PSC.
The real clincher, of course, is that Bishop Schofield dismissed them and they left. They certainly are not the Standing Committee of the PSC Diocese of San Joaquin. But what about their standing in TEC?
There is an anomaly here. TEC has inhibited and will in all likelihood depose the Bishop, but for now considers Bishop Schofield a bishop of this church under inhibition. So were his actions in dismissing the Standing Committee actions (which may be illegal) taken within the context of The Episcopal Church? If so he threw them out while a bishop of this church.
That the Standing Committee accepted his judgment on the matter (they left the meeting) means that they acceded to his authority either as the PSC Bishop or as a TEC Bishop, it matters not which. Either way they took it on the chin and left. By their acquiescence they are not now the Standing Committee.
It all might have been easier if the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin had simply told the Bishop, claiming to be Bishop in the Province of the Southern Cone, that he was no longer their bishop and they were the ecclesiastical authority. They didn't. So they accepted his authority and left the room. They did not form themselves in his absence and make a claim to authority.
We all might wonder what we would have done in those circumstances, particularly if we were wanting to be loyal to our bishop. Would we protest? Would we leave when asked or insist on staying? The Standing Committee members were in a difficult place. Now that the dust is settling I hope they will reaffirm their place in the Episcopal Church and that they might again be elected as Standing Committee.
But meanwhile we have Bishop Schofield's letter. It professes an outrage at the interference of Canons Cox and Moore in a diocese in which he no longer has authority. He has left in a huff.
Writing home to tell them he is mad as hell doesn't help much.