7/15/2008

Venables reads the letter from the Archbishop as he wishes...

The Primate of the Province of the Southern Cone has written Bishop Schofield, deposed bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, bishop of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, an invention of the Province of the Southern Cone. The letter was also to the members of that Anglican Diocese. You can read the whole letter HERE.

In it he quotes a letter received from the Archbishop of Canterbury and remarks upon its contents. Here is part of the quoted letter:

“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fellowship of the Province of the Southern Cone within the Anglican Communion and as such cannot be regarded as having withdrawn from the Anglican Communion. 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. Bishop Schofield has elected to decline the invitation to the Lambeth Conference issued to him last year 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.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury makes the following points (emphasis mine):

  • Bishop Schofield has been accepted as a bishop in the Province of the Southern Cone and therefore has not withdrawn from the Anglican Communion.
  • His exact status remains unclear.
  • He decided not to come to Lambeth without any reflection on his status as a bishop in the Anglican Communion.
  • There needs to be careful reflection to clarify the terms on which he will exercise his ministry.

Presiding Bishop Venables does two rapid fire revisions of the ABC's statement:

  • "This statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury is clear, even though we are in somewhat new territory; you remain within the Anglican Communion.
  • We are glad to have you as full members of the Southern Cone. As you can see, you are well regarded as members of the Anglican Communion."

Bishop Venables plays very loosely with the ABC's letter. HIS letter is to two entitites / persons, (i) Bishop Schofield and (ii) the people of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. The Archbishop of Canterbury's letter is about the Bishop.

It seems to me he is pretty clear that Bishop Schofield has been accepted by the Southern Cone and since there is no way to police how one Province does or does not accept ordained persons who have been deposed in another, he is there. Bishop Schofield has not withdrawn from the Anglican Communion and has been admitted to another Province. His status is unclear given the norms of Anglican Canon Law. Schofield's decision not to come to Lambeth is no admission of illegitimacy. His standing still has to be worked out.

The Archbishop's letter is about Bishop Schofield, NOT
about the people of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. But Bishop Venables using the plural language - sutable for the people of the diocese says "you are well regarded as members of the Anglican Communion." But the Archbishop of Canterbury says no such thing. He does not address the members of the diocese at all. As to the matter of Bishop Schofield it is hard to see how Bishop Venables can apply the phrase "well regarded as members" to Bishp Schofield (whose exact status is unclear).

Bishop Venables says of Bishop Schofield that the ABC's letter means that "you remain within the Anglican Communion." What the ABC said was that Bishop Schofield "cannot be regarded as having withdrawn from the Anglican Communion." That is quite different. Bishop Schofield has not "withdrawn" is very different from his saying "you remain within the Anglican Communion." The first has to do with Bishop Schofield's personal intent. The second has to do with the judgment of the Archbishop that Bishop Schofield' s intent was indeed not to withdraw.

Bishop Venables is slip sliding away with the language of a carefully crafted statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury, turning a letter that said nothing about the people of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin and nothing very positive about Bishop Schofield into a lauding of both.

The only good thing to say about all this is that Bishop Schofield is not attending Lambeth. Perhaps Schofield was asked not to attend and there needed to be a letter to state that Schofield not attending did not affect this standing one way or another. Who knows.

But we know this: Venables tells it as he wants it.

9 comments:

  1. I think the most critical unknown is how this will be addressed by the Windsor Continuation Group, especially inasmuch as "general norms of Anglican Canon law" are not yet clear in and of themselves. One thing that might be clarified is in fact this issue of "full" acceptance of a bishop in one province once that person has been deposed in another.

    As for those who left the Episcopal Church to follow Bishop Schofield: I don't know that anyone ever said they as individuals had "left the Anglican Communion." The issue was instead whether the institutional structures were "well regarded" within the Anglican Communion.

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  2. Fr Mark, I was unable to successfully Google any information on exactly which bishops the ABC actually invited. Did he invite only diocesans and coadjutors, or did the invitation include suffragans, assistants and retired bishops as well?

    Anyway, I think that the ABC said what he needed to say;
    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,
    As clear as the fuzz on his face, that is Rowan-speak for the obvious fact that John-David is a bishop, but no longer a diocesan, because he is a bishop in the Southern Cone and there are no Southern Cone dioceses in the province of TEC. He is a renegade with a few congregations associated with him.

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  3. Yes, Venables "tells it as he wants it" again and again and again, like a second rate laundromat that attempts to remove blemishes from "white sheets"...one needs to be extremely cautious when "listening" to Venables anytime (watch his pitches at Anglican T.V.)...do you remember his famous acceptance/approval speech he made/announced for the Archbishop of Canterbury (recalling a special private/personal conversation he had with his +++Grace) bordercrossing/poaching Venables actually said he'd been authorized to "go that way!"

    It's very sick and demoralizing the kind of dishonorable leadership that one encounters at Church...don't let your kids near these fantasy-making blokes.

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  4. I completely agree. I most certainly did not interpret Rowan's thinking as yep your're in...

    No matter how I try, I cannot get the letter to read that way.

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  5. Mark,
    Thank you for this excellent explanation.
    Many blessings to you and all who dwell here...

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  6. "Presiding Bishop Venables does two rapid fire revisions..."

    You see how irritating revisionists can be.....

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  7. As I've remarked before, poor Gregory simply isn't the sharpest knife in the box. It seems that if you leave a stick lying around he will unerringly pick up the wrong end. Result: he tells the itching ears of San Joaquin and elsewhere just what they want to hear.

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  8. FACT is...the ABC did NOT disinvite +Schofield

    Deal with it....

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  9. Or, Anonymous (which is often code for coward) he was given an option; be disinvited or decline the invitation.

    Maybe Schofield was Jeffry Johned!

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