...Rather than force the House of Bishops to a vote, I hearwith tender my resignation as a member of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church effective midnight EST, March 7, 2008...Is that sufficient to avoid a vote by the House of Bishops regarding deposing this bishop? According to the Constitutions and Canons of the Episcopal Church, it appears to be an insufficient statement.
Regarding the resignation of a Bishop, we find this in the Constitution:
Article II, Sec. 6. A Bishop may not resign jurisdiction without the consent of the House of Bishops.The House of Bishops has not given their consent to this resignation, nor are they likely to do so, in light of Bp. Schofield's assertion in the letter than he will remain as the Bishop of San Joaquin. He has no intention of resigning his jurisdiction. He is only resigning from the House of Bishops.
Bp. Schofield could have chosen another route to avoid a vote by the House of Bishops regarding his deposition. He could have renounced his orders:
Title III, Canon 12, Sec. 7. Renunciation of the Ordained Ministry (a) If any Bishop of this Church not subject to the provisions of Canon IV.8 shall declare, in writing, to the Presiding Bishop a renunciation of the ordained Ministry of this Church, and a desire to be removed therefrom, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to record the declaration and request so made...the Presiding Bishop may pronounce that such renunciation is accepted, and that the Bishop is released from the obligations of all Ministerial offices, and is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God's Word and Sacraments conferred in Ordinations.But since Schofield seems determined to still claim to be a bishop, the above was clearly not the intention of his letter.
Was there anything Bp. Schofield might have done to dodge being deposed? Yes. The charges of abandoning this Church were affirmed by the Title IV Review Committee. With the consent of the three senior bishops, the Presiding Bishop inhibited him. He then had two months to refute or recant the charges against him:
Title IV, Canon 9, sec. 2. 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.In Bp. Schofield's "resignation" letter, he did not resign juridiction, he did not renounce his orders, and he did not deny or recant the facts alleged in the certification against him (actually, by declaring himself a member of the Southern Cone, he affirmed the facts). All he did was resign as a member of the House of Bishops.
Note the language of Title IV, Canon 9; "...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." It seems clear that the vote by the House of Bishops to depose Bishop Schofield must go forward.
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