Saturday, January 12, 2008

Former Bishop Responds with Much Bluster

A statement has been received from San Joaquin regarding yesterday's inhibition of the former Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. Although the author is not identified, since the Bishop has a history of being an autocratic leader, it is safe to assume that he approved this message before it was made public. It is rather difficult to comprehend exactly what this statement is attempting to communicate, so maybe the best way to consider it is in segments:

The Episcopal Church’s assertion that Bishop Schofield has abandoned the communion of this Church is an admission that TEC rejects the historical Anglican faith which is why The Diocese of San Joaquin appealed to the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of South America for emergency and temporary protection...
The logic of this statement escapes me. The charges that resulted in the inhibition is the reason he left for the Southern Cone? This is an attempt to spin around the reality, which is of course that his leaving for the Southern Cone was the cause for the charges being made. Beyond that, how is the decision to discipline a Bishop who has decided to abandon the Episcopal Church evidence of the rejection of "the historical Anglican faith"? I would imagine that a very similar process would have been followed if he would have done this in most of the other Provinces of the Anglican Communion. He broke the Canons. He is now facing the consequences. Or, does the Bishop want us to believe it is the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church that reveal a rejection of "the Anglican faith"? A very confusing statement, which adds little to his case.

But let us continue:

...It is the primary duty of bishops to guard the faith and Bp Schofield has been continually discriminated against for having done so while Bishops and Archbishops around the world have affirmed not only his stance but the move to the Southern Cone...
He has been discriminated against? That is rich. One of the champions of blatant discrimination against women, gay and lesbian Christians, and anyone else who disagrees with his rather eccentric understanding of the Christian faith, is now playing the martyr.

Regarding his claim of support from "Bishops and Archbishops around the world," it must be assumed he is referring to a letter of support he received from 33 bishops. Nine of those bishops are retired. Four of them are not recognized by Canterbury. That means that from the thousands of Anglican bishops around the world, Bp. Schofield was able to rally the support of twenty active Bishops. It is also worth noting that at least one of those Bishops is now known to be a closeted gay man. And what kind of support did he receive from the over 100 members of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church? Five active Bishops. If this embarrassing weak showing is all he could muster, I'd advise the Bishop to be quiet about it, rather than holding it up as further evidence of the rightness of his cause.

But, let's move on. The most absurd bit is yet to come:

...Bishop Schofield is currently a member of both the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church and the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone, a position not prohibited by either house. Governing documents of TEC do not prohibit relationships between different members of the Anglican Communion, rather they encourage it...
Unbelievable. He really thinks that he can have voice and vote in both the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church and the Southern Cone simultaneously. Since the Southern Cone seems committed to the strategy of invading North America, does it cross Schofield's mind that there might be a slight conflict of interest here? Apparently not.

So, this means that if he is inhibited by the Episcopal Church, he'll just change mitres and claim to be of the Southern Cone. And then it follows that if he was to be inhibited by the Southern Cone, he'll just change mitres again and say he was of the Episcopal Church. In other words, he does not feel bound by the discipline of either Province. He considers himself to be a free agent, and can do whatever he feels like doing. And he is doing this "new thing" while claiming he represents "the historical Anglican faith."

Moving on:

...TEC’s action demonstrates that there is an enormous difference between their church and most of the Anglican Communion. Again, this action is a demonstration that TEC is walking apart from the faith and its expression of morality held by the rest of the Anglican Communion...
I guess that the Bishop is assuming that in the bizarre statements preceeding this one that he has made his case? And so we now must agree that by following the Canons of this Province we have given evidence that we are "walking apart"? Sorry to disappoint you, Bishop, but, if anything, this statement appears to me to give evidence that you have seriously lost touch with reality.

And then, of course, no letter from Bp. Schofield would be complete without a veiled threat thrown in:

...The Episcopal Church’s own identity is dependent upon its relationship with the whole Anglican Communion. TEC should consider whether it is imperiling that relationship by taking such punitive actions...
In case you missed it, let me put this in the vernacular: "Stop picking on me or I'll have you thrown out of the Communion!" I don't know about you, but most Americans I know don't respond very well to being threatened, especially when it is so obviously such an empty threat. But, give it your best shot, Bishop. Or are we to understand that this statement is your best shot? Surely you can do better than this?

And then one final closing cut:

...How is it that over 60 million Anglicans world wide can be wrong while a few hundred thousand in the American Church can claim to be right?
The Bishop is using that new math, again, it appears. To get those numbers, we have to assume that the Abp. of Nigeria speaks for all Anglican Nigerians; the Abp. of Kenya speaks for all get the idea. And then we have to ignore the stats that show there are over two million Episcopalians, which is a bit more than his "few hundred thousand."

What surprises me the most about this statement is that Bp. Schofield has known for over three years that this day would arrive. One would think that he would have written his response some time ago, and fine tuned it so it was a show piece that would, if not convince, at least give cause for Anglicans around the world to pause and reconsider his position. Instead, we get this illogical, barely comprehensible, bit of bluster.

God speed to you, Bp. Schofield. But, as you set out to wherever it is you are headed, a word of advice. Get yourself a competent ghost writer. As but one suggestion, I hear that Martyn Minns is highly recommended.


UPDATE: It appears that Bp. Schofield's new boss disagrees with his claim that he can be a Bishop in the Episcopal Church and the Southern Cone simultaneously. Oops!

Next time, make sure you run your pronouncements past your superiors before making them public, Bishop. Egg on your face is not becoming of one who claims such an esteemed ecclesiastical office as Bishop of...(please feel free to fill in the blank with the jurisdiction of your choice).

SECOND UPDATE: The original statement from San Joaquin in response to the news that Bp. Schofield had been inhibited has now been pulled from the websites on which it appeared this morning.

No doubt the statement will be revised at some later date. However, in an attempt to bring all things into the light regarding exactly what is going on in San Joaquin right now, I think it is worth noting the content of that original message. Consequently, I have reposted it on one of my own sites, and changed the link in the above post accordingly.

THIRD UPDATE: Thinking Anglicans informs us that the original statement from San Joaquin was put together by a public relations firm. That was the work of experts in the field of crisis management? It seems to me they just escalated this little crisis.

Regardless, it is still safe to assume that Bp. Schofield approved the message before it was sent out, so he gets the credit.

This morning:

Bishop Schofield is currently a member of both the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church and the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone...

This afternoon:

...neither the Diocese nor Bishop John-David Schofield are part of The Episcopal Church...

What a circus.

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