Who the Hell Wrote the Undisclosed Memo?

Who the hell wrote the undisclosed memo concerning the possible bases for bringing the Presiding Bishop up on trial for violating the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal church? The Living Church posted the article by George Conger, titled, "Memo: Presiding Bishop Subverting the Constitution and Canons" in which an anonymous lawyer or lawyers opined on the matter of the Presiding Bishop's actions in reference to Bishops Schofield, Cox and Duncan. No indication was made as to the authorship of the memo, who commissioned the effort, or who distributed it. No reference was given to a place where the original source could be viewed.

George Conger, author of the Living Church article, also wrote another version for the Church of England newspaper. In it he writes,

"There is a prima facie case for bringing the US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to trial before a church tribunal for abuse of office, a legal memorandum commissioned by a group of concerned American bishops and church leaders has found. But whether the bishops have the political will to act is unclear, the paper concluded.

Prepared by an international lawyer in response to a request for an independent opinion as to the legality of Bishop Schori’s actions, and their implications for the polity of the Episcopal Church, the April 21 memorandum concludes the Presiding Bishop deliberately and with full knowledge and forethought “subverted” the “fundamental polity” of the Episcopal Church in her takeover of the Diocese of San Joaquin."

Now the lawyer author of the memorandum is identified as "an international lawyer" and the paper commissioned by "a group of concerned American bishops." Bishop John Howe of Central Florida is quoted as having seen the brief (memorandum) but that he does not know who is behind it. I suppose that means the memorandum came to him without names attached.

So we have a memorandum which is not offered for public scrutiny, authored by an unknown "international lawyer" for a group o f concerned bishops, whose concern does not extend to having us know who they are, circulated to bishops and certain well placed correspondents, and not otherwise made public by any bishop in the course of nine days. We might well ask, "What the hell is going on here?"

As to the particulars reported by The Living Church and the Church of England Newspaper, they are to some extent countered by the letter of the Presiding Bishop to the House of Bishops dated April 30th. Her letter did not remark directly on any aspect of the April 21st Memo, and The Church of England article, posted May 1st, observes, "Spokesmen for the Presiding Bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury declined comment, telling The Church of England Newspaper they had not seen the document."

If the comment that they had not seen the document was made in the past few days, it would appear that the Presiding Bishop's letter was not in response to the April 21st memo. Perhaps the questions from a CEN or TLC reporter provoked a general response. It seems the two documents do not form a question and answer pair.

Much of the April 21st Memo, as reported, seems filled with a different "read" of the canons than what is presented in the Presiding Bishop's letter. One significant difference, however, is that the April 21st Memo impugns the political and ecclesiastical will of the Title IV Review Committee, the Bishops and the whole of the Episcopal Church. The authors "were not optimistic the current legal and political environment within the church would see justice done." That is, the authors were not confident that the Presiding Bishop would be held accountable and brought to trial, given their arguments that "prima facie" there was grounds for such a trial.

Perhaps their lack of confidence is actually in their arguments, since they seem unwilling to let the world see the, know who they are and who commissioned them to write.

We shall see.

Meanwhile the question remains, "Who the hell wrote the Undisclosed Memo?"


  1. To say that there is a primae facie case is not a big deal in itself. It merely means that there is a coherent argument to be made, without any judgement as to the ultimate validity of the argument. Dan Martin has certainly made a primae facie case that the national church may not have followed the best course of actions in responding to events in San Joaquin.

    The only part of this which refers to a wholly new interpretation of the canons is that which refers to the depositions. The idea that it is a supermajority rather than a majority of those present and voting is new - and if accepted raises questions about the legitimacy of some number of past depositions which were seen as less controversial.

    All that said, I was most struck by the bit of expectation management at the end, where it was essentially claimed that, of course the Episcopal Church will ignore this. That allows the secret conspirators the means to claim victory whatever the outcome. If a presentment proceded and +KJS is found to have erred, they win. If anything else, it merely confirms that TEC is corrupt. How very convenient.

  2. "Who the...". Great priestly language. An example to all.
    One thing's for sure. People are sick of KJS. Less than 1/2 of the bishops attended her last hatchet session, even after they were told of the important agenda to discipline their own House members. It's going to get worse.
    What a disgrace this Church has become.

  3. Thank you Mark. Since you could not make headway with this--I feel better that I could not either.

    I have a funny story about ++Katharine --she served on the Diocesan COM while I was an aspirant for Holy Orders in Oregon. Since it takes about 10 hours to drive from one end of that Diocese to another, and the Pre-Postulant retreat was about 8 hours from where I lived, I set out for the retreat early what with winter driving and all, and arrived about 2 hours early.

    As I had some time on my hands, I explored the facility. I was nervous, so I thought the walk would do me good--this was the weekend that would decide it all --ordained or lay ministry....I was headed out and around, and there was this great big tall woman (and I'm six feet tall myself) dressed in blue jeans and a sweat shirt emptying the back of a pick up truck, --ice, food, coolers, that kind of stuff. So I went to help. I thought she was kitchen help or something. We got to talking--she asked me what I was there for --she put me at ease, asked me if I was nervous--I told her, of course, well yeah.... and told her what was happening, and just how nervous I was.....

    Later that evening, all spiffed up and ready for dinner and the retreat weekend to begin, she entered in her collar. And I thought --oh well, I can pack it in now --she knows exactly how I feel. But, in fact, it was instead very liberating that someone who was to be "my judge" in the process, already knew what I was thinking.... and she continued in that gracious servant mode in which I first met her.

    When I pray for our Presiding Bishop, I remember that image of her --hefting what is needed to feed us and get us through out of the back of the pickup, --unassuming, strong, calm.

    How anyone could read her differently probably says a whole lot more about them than about her.

    And this "memo" routine is like an obscene phone call from someone not brave enough to let their number be read by the caller ID.

    Again, thank you Mark.
    --margaret watson

  4. Another of those "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" things. In my opinion, The Living Church was irresponsible in printing such an article, in which no attribution can be attached to any of the claims. In my opinion, the purpose of publishing is to get us all riled up yet again. I refuse. I choose the way of one of my heros, the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, who just sails through all things with grace, and a positiveness which I wish for myself and seldom attain. (Of course, does the fact that I even wrote this comment imply that I took the bait? Yes indeedy, it does! LOL)

  5. Love your headline, Mark! I don't see you using many words that could be called unpriestly language. When righteous indignation is called for, you do it well. Thanks.

  6. ACI has a copy up here:


    Or at least most of it. It seems to end mid-sentence although it lists quite a few of the Presiding Bishop's repeated canon violations.

  7. I do not know the TEC Presiding Bishop. But I have this profound awe and respect for her, engendered by reading her writings & communications and a few videos.

    The Rev Elizabeth has a couple of fotos of ++KJS on her blog. In the one she looks almost lonely, but in the other she is radiant.

    I am reminded of Esther. Surely ++KJS was raised up for such a time as this.

    I am always so saddened when I visit the websites of the conservatives and they are so cruel and disrespectful of her.

  8. Allen,

    I mean this in the most affirming way possible. You are convincing me the upcoming schism is not all bad.


  9. Mark+, in light of the fact that the House of Bishops fails to take roll call votes on anything of consequence (including but not limited to depositions), allowing plausible deniability to all, your focus on the anonymous nature of this memo is absurd.

  10. I blame the stonecutters. Seriously, why does the authorship matter? Shouldn't the merits matter more?

  11. Wow, Mark, you do seem to be loosing your cool.

    It does seem someone is keeping track. Maybe some of her recent actions actually disturbed the Institutionalist? Maybe not, but having watched the spin and insertion of words where words are not, this did provide a slight, even if very slight, check and balance to the situations.

  12. If you live by canonical fundamentalism, you can die by canonical fundamentalism. With respect to +Cox, why not just go through the whole thing again and set that straight? +Schofield too.

    With respect to the Diocese of San Joaquin, we have a problem. Either the convention of March 29 was illegal because it did not conform to the DSJ Constitution and Canons - especially with respect to the quorum requirements and the existing Standing Committee or we have to admit that the several parishes and the diocesan structure left and a new diocese was being formed.

    Dallas had its own convention that same weekend to elect a Bishop Suffragan. Bishop Stanton was very clear about the quorum requirements and very scrupulous about letting us know when clergy or lay delegats had arrived or left, changing the number of votes necessary to elect.

    Phil Snyder

  13. David,
    I take your point. While I am probably in theological agreemant with the websites you mention, at least in general terms, I go along with your disappointment at any cruel disrespect.
    As much as possible I try to be respectful and certainly not cruel to those with whom I disagree. And as an occasional poster here I will leave it to the readers to judge how successful I might have been. I have learnt that it not an easy ideal to live up to.


  14. Holy cow. Murdoch and Rove must have had a lunch date. What a pathetic piece of work. When you can't find anything of substance, make sh*t up. What a sorry spiritual state these cowards live in.

  15. On the issue of the legitimacy of a majority or super-majority. I would inquire as to the proceedings against +Davies and +L....from Equador. I am certain that the reporting on the Equadorian bishop was that the vote to depose him was unanimous. If the vote was such and +Schofield, +Cox and +Duncan were present, did their vote not de facto give credence to, at minimum, the theory that they themselves, by their action have shown tacit support and approval of the procedure? EmilyH

  16. Holy cow. Murdoch and Rove must have had a lunch date. What a pathetic piece of work. When you can't find anything of substance, make sh*t up.

    It's always nice to read this kind of penetrating analysis, especially in the face of the recent laughable trope that it's the mainstream Anglicans that spew all the hate and vitriol.

    What a sorry spiritual state these cowards live in.

    Yeah ... ain't that the truth. Physician, heal thyself.

  17. I say bring it on. If you want to press formal charges, you have to get your behind into court where all and sundry can see the face of those who spend time and money slandering God's servants instead of doing God's work.

    [multiple expletives edited out as noncondusive to the discussion]

  18. I wasn't attempting to offer "penetrating analysis", Phil, just a gut level comment about stuff that doesn't bear "penetrating analysis" in the first place. Doesn't belie the truth of what I said, though - there is no substance to the anonymous charges (Salem comes to mind) and thus the reference to excrement because that's exactly what it is. That's called truth, Phil, recognizing and naming that which harms the Body of Christ; hardly a sorry spiritual state (referring to your silly and unsuccessful attempt to try to use my words against me.) On the other hand, pushing witch hunt charges with no idenifiers is cowardly, just as I said. That and your misguided focus on what I said, rather than on the truth revealed in Mark's article and in my comments, reveals the sorry spiritual state to which I referred. Care to try again?

  19. The question remains, "Why no names?" If the merits of the memo are so great, why hasn't someone - anyone claimed ownership?

    Margaret, I love your story about Bp. Katharine.

  20. No need to try again, Marc. Both of your comments speak for themselves, to me and any neutral party that reads them.

  21. The difference between Allen and Margaret's comments demonstrates the difference between the convenience of creating a "devil" through the grid of one's meta-narrative, as opposed to actually getting to know others.

    As a relative newcomer to the Land Episcopal, one of the things that has bemused me the most in the midst of all this nonsense, is how secessionists are very comfortable in creating up procedures as they go along, but then charge those who are attempting to be faithful stewards of canons and procedures as previously agreed upon by all, as being the ones doing so.

    Go figure!

  22. As for the reason that the author and audience names are redacted is that our PB and those in power have shown a rather "loose" interpretation of the canons about deposing bishops. They obviously fear retribution if their identity is found out and that they will be deposed by 25%+2 of the HoB (50% +1 of a quorum) rather than the majority of the whole number entitled to a vote.

    I wish that someone could point out under which canons the existing Standing Committee of DSJ was deposed and under which canons and constitutional authority the Presiding Bishop set up the convention of March 29 and why the quorum requirements for clergy and parish representation were not followed. Face it. Unless you want to say that the clergy and the parishes all left for Southern Cone, then the convention was not able to transact any business because it lacked a quorum.

    Phil Snyder

  23. Mark,

    The question is not "who wrote it?" but "are the arguments sound?"

    This attempt to bring to bear once again the old ad hominem suspicions is transparently silly. Speak to the specific points; who wrote it is irrelevant.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.