Monday, December 31, 2007

Time for Due Process and Care and Clarity

From Tobias:

...Progressives are taking up the cry for agitation, with questions as to why the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies aren't doing more, or doing more publicly.

It appears to me that the "problem" of San Joaquin and its erstwhile Bishop has not yet fallen to the Presiding Bishop for response, but rather into the lap of the Review Committee charged with making a determination and recommendation. It appears to many observers (including observers with little or no stake in the outcome) that +JDS has renounced the Discipline of The Episcopal Church in no uncertain terms (why, after all, should he seek to place himself "under" another Primate and remove his diocese, contrary to the discipline of The Episcopal Church?) and has thereby abandoned communion with it. I take it as evident, his asseveration that this may only be "temporary" notwithstanding, that he has no interest in being or remaining in communion with a church he has recently described in such a negative light, as "an apostate institution that has minted a new religion irreconcilable with the Anglican faith."

The Review Committee consists of Bishops Henderson (USC), Ohl (NwTx), Jones (VA), Rivera (Oly) and Waggoner (Spo), The Rev. H. Scott Kirby (EauC), The Rev. Carolyn S. Kuhr (MT), Mr. J. P. Causey (VA), and Mrs. Deborah J. Stokes (SoOH). (See page 33 of the Journal of Convention 2006). Their action, described under Canon IV.9.1 as a "duty" is now expected. I hope they may already have begun to carry this duty out, so that the Presiding Bishop can move the process to the next step, which will require the consent of the three most senior bishops with jurisdiction.

Those are the rules, folks. This is no time for guerrilla actions, but for due process and care and clarity. In the meantime, we can also do all in our power to encourage the faithful Episcopalians of the central valley of California, the remaining members of the real live Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.
Thanks for this reminder, Tobias.

To clarify the process, here is Title IV, Canon 9:

CANON 9: Of Abandonment of the Communion of This Church by a Bishop

Sec. 1. If a Bishop abandons the communion of this Church (i) by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship of this Church, or (ii) by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with the same, or (iii) by exercising episcopal acts in and for a religious body other than this Church or another Church in communion with this Church, so as to extend to such body Holy Orders as this Church holds them, or to administer on behalf of such religious body Confirmation without the express consent and commission of the proper authority in this Church; it shall be the duty of the Review Committee, by a majority vote of All the Members, to certify the fact to the Presiding Bishop and with the certificate to send a statement of the acts or declarations which show such abandonment, which certificate and statement shall be recorded by the Presiding Bishop. The Presiding Bishop, with the consent of the three senior Bishops having jurisdiction in this Church, shall then inhibit the said Bishop until such time as the House of Bishops shall investigate the matter and act thereon. During the period of Inhibition, the Bishop shall not perform any episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts, except as relate to the administration of the temporal affairs of the Diocese of which the Bishop holds jurisdiction or in which the Bishop is then serving.

Sec. 2. The Presiding Bishop, or the presiding officer, shall forthwith give notice to the Bishop of the certification and Inhibition. Unless the inhibited Bishop, within two months, makes declaration by a Verified written statement to the Presiding Bishop, that the facts alleged in the certificate are false or utilizes the provisions of Canon IV.8 or Canon III.12.7, as applicable, the Bishop will be liable to Deposition. If the Presiding Bishop is reasonably satisfied that the statement constitutes (i) a good faith retraction of the declarations or acts relied upon in the certification to the Presiding Bishop or (ii) a good faith denial that the Bishop made the declarations or committed the acts relied upon in the certificate, the Presiding Bishop, with the advice and consent of a majority of the three senior Bishops consenting to Inhibition, terminate the Inhibition. 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.
So, the process will be as follows:

1. The Review Committee certifies that there is evidence of abandonment.
2. The Presiding Bishop, with the consent of the three senior Bishops, will then inhibit the Bishop (note that this does not restrain him from running the temporal affairs of the diocese).
3. Two months are given for the charged bishop to issue a retraction or denial.
4. With the consent of the House of Bishops, the Presiding Bishop will then depose the Bishop.


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