Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Presiding Bishop Clarifies Canonical Acts One More Time

I don't find arguments about the canons very helpful, especially when these matters are nothing but a smoke screen put in place to distract us from the foreign Primates pilfering parishes in North America. However, someone needs to dispel the smoke, I suppose. Once again, our Presiding Bishop has stepped up and taken on that task by sending a letter to the House of Bishops:

...Title IV has a provision for temporary inhibition of the bishop by the Presiding Bishop with the consent of the three senior active bishops of the Church. These bishops who must consent to the temporary inhibition do not, however, have a veto over consideration of the merits of the deposition by the House of Bishops, any more than those who must consent to temporary inhibitions in other circumstances have a veto over consideration of the charges by a trial court. This understanding of the canon is held not only by my Chancellor, but also by members of the Title IV Review Committee including an attorney who is an original member of the Committee, the chancellors of several dioceses who have been consulted, and the former Chair of both the Standing Commission on the Constitution and Canons and the Legislative Committee on the Canons at the General Convention...
This is in reference to the January certification by the Title IV Review Committee that Bp. Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh has abandoned the Episcopal Church. The three senior bishops did not consent to Bp. Duncan being inhibited until the matter goes before a meeting of the House of Bishops. There has been the argument floated elsewhere that the lack of an inhibition meant that the charges against him had to be dropped. That is simply wishful thinking on the part of a few. The inhibition functions in the same way as a restraining order put in place while someone accused of a crime awaits trial. The lack of such a restraining order does not negate the charges. The House of Bishops will be asked to give consent to the deposition of Bp. Duncan at their next meeting.

On to other matters:

...As the actual vote regarding deposition draws near, it is important to recognize what does and does not constitute a relevant response by the bishop in question. A letter of resignation from the House is irrelevant to the charges brought forward by the Review Committee and the deposition proceedings, since deposition concerns a person's ordination in this Church, not simply participation in the House of Bishops. Resignation from the House thus has no bearing on following through with the charges brought forward by the Review Committee. Deposition in this situation makes clear in an official way that the bishop in question is no longer permitted to exercise ordained ministry in this Church...
This is in reference the resignation of John-David Schofield from the House of Bishops a few days before he was scheduled to be deposed. In that resignation, Schofield made it clear that he had no intention of surrendering his jurisdiction. Consequently, his resignation was judged to be irrelevant to the matter of deposition.

Finally, concerning how the votes to depose Bps. Schofield and Cox were carried out at the last House of Bishops' meeting:

...Regarding how the vote is to be taken, the canon is clear that a vote on deposition must occur at "regular or special meeting of the House." Although we have other canonical consent provisions where consents may be secured by written ballot through the mail, that process does not satisfy the canons here. Every bishop entitled to vote is invited to the meeting and given ample notice that there will be a vote on depositions. Materials surrounding the deposition in question are posted in the "Bishops Only" section of the College for Bishops website. The canon is read that a quorum be present and a majority of all bishops present who are entitled to vote consent to the deposition, as was done in the case of Bishop Davies of Fort Worth in the 1990s and Bishop Larrea of Ecuador Central in 2005. In terms of parliamentary rules of order, any questions about the propriety of a vote are to be raised before the meeting or, of course, during it...
This is in reference to a novel reading of the canons that claims that any deposition that does not include a majority of all bishops, reitired, resigned, assisting, etc., in the vote is not valid. As the Presiding Bishop points out, there are two matters to consider here. First of all, the reading of the canon as requiring a majority of the bishops present at the meeting to consent to the deposition is the way that canon has been understood in previous depositions of a bishop. Secondly, the time for such objections to be voiced was during the meeting. Raising such matters after the fact may give us reasons to review those canons, and propose changes for the next General Convention, but cannot reverse the decision of the House of Bishops. Bps. Schofield and Cox are deposed.

No doubt there will still be a handful of folks that will continue to try to convince us that these matters are of utmost importance, while ignoring foreign Primates prowling the perimeter seeking new assessments to devour. Hopefully the smoke is beginning to clear, and you will see such accusations for what they are; a weak attempt to divert our attention from the plots being hatched to destroy our Church.


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