I make two provisos in what follows: (i) I'm not a Canon Lawyer, just a Canon, (ii) I'm not dumb either.
The great CANON ISSUE of the week is the one raised by The Living Church (TLC) about the deposition of Bishops Schofield and Cox. As near as I can tell, the outline of the issue is brought up by two very intelligent men who are not experts in Canon Law either. They determined that the votes taken by the House of Bishops were not in accord with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.
TLC thinks the House of Bishops did not act in accord with the Constitution and Canons. The Chancellor to the Presiding Bishop and the Parliamentarian to the House of Bishops ruled otherwise.
Here's yet another read on the matter: The quorum determines the actual body of voters. Members not present are not, for that time, part of the decision making. If you are not present your vote, your absence, you personal wishes, and so on are not relevant.
Here is the wording from the Constitution: Article 1, Section 2 regarding quorum for the House of Bishops Meetings as part of General Convention.
"Each Bishop of this Church having jurisdiction, every Bishop Coadjutor, every Suffragan Bishop, every Assistant Bishop, and every Bishop who by reason of advanced age or bodily infirmity, or who, under an election to an office created by the General Convention, or for reasons of mission strategy determined by action of the General Convention or the House of Bishops, has resigned a jurisdiction, shall have a seat and a vote in the House of Bishops. A majority of all Bishops entitled to vote, exclusive of Bishops who have resigned their jurisdiction or positions, shall be necessary to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business."
At the last General Convention in 2006 (Journal pg 81) a understanding of the meaning of Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution and how to count the quorum was given in a note. It reads, "Note: A quorum is defined by Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution as "a majority of all bishops entitled to vote (281), exclusive of bishops who have resigned their jurisdictions or positions (156)" Thus the present quorum is 63."
The total membership able to vote includes all bishops. The quorum is based on the list of those who have not resigned their jurisdictions and who are present. The actual voting membership of a meeting of the House consists of all those present who are empowered to vote.
The Constitution recognizes one occasion for a "special meeting" of the House of Bishops, namely when the death or resignation of a Presiding Bishop takes place between Conventions. There are no provisions for meetings of the House of Bishops outside General Convention in the Constitution.
The Canons, specifically Canon I.2.4 (a) (4), in spelling out the duties of the Presiding Bishop, notes that the Presiding Bishop may call together the bishops as either the House of Bishops or as a Council. There are also canons related to a special meeting of the House of Bishops for purposes of electing a new Presiding Bishop between regular meetings of General Convention.
The Rules of Order for the House of Bishops refers to special meetings of the House of Bishops – meetings held separately from the whole of General Convention. It sets out an agenda but does not stipulate what constitutes a quorum. The house seemed to have often used a registration list as the basis for showing that a quorum was present.
\\What sort of vote is required in the case of deposition for abandonment of communion? The canon (IV.9.2) states "Otherwise, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops at the next regular or special meeting of the House. If the House, by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote, shall give its consent, the Presiding Bishop shall depose the Bishop from the Ministry, and pronounce and record in the presence of two or more Bishops that the Bishop has been so deposed."
Every session of the House of Bishops, either at General Convention or otherwise, determines to do business on the basis of the bishops entitled to vote and determines that there are enough present to conduct business by determination of a quorum. At that point the "whole number of Bishops entitled to vote" consists of those present and the "whole number" makes it clear that bishops other than those with jurisdiction may vote on the matter. To read "whole number" as meaning a reference back to all the possible bishops (300 or so) absent or present would provide the parliamentary boondoggle of making some votes based not on those present but on those possibly present. One might suppose it would be a virtue of any democratic system to insist that a majority vote ought to be on the basis of the whole body of voters on the rolls, but it would be a virtue that would either require compelling voters to be present or it would be increasingly unmanageable.
What is the reasoning for thinking that the "whole number" refers to some group of bishops larger than that present at the meeting? The whole number of persons eligible to be present at the meeting is the list of 300. The list of bishops eligible to vote at the meeting are (i) persons present and (ii) persons part of the whole list.
The reasoning of the Living Church fails. Were it right the Constitution and Canons would have presented us with a disciplinary procedure that simply would have no use in a church where less than half the whole number of bishops on the voting rolls come to any meeting save General Convention.
The argument that deposition is a matter so great that a supermajority is required may or may not have merit, but none is to be found in the canons. Those who believe that the Constitution and Canons have this in mind need to show it.
For now I remain unconvinced.
The actions were valid. It is time to move on.