Saturday, January 26, 2008

You Can't Have It Both Ways

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has taken another clarifying step in relation to the Diocese of San Joaquin. She has informed the eight members of the Standing Committee that she no longer recognizes them as the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Part of their offense was acting "in support of an attempt to take the diocese out of the Episcopal Church and into affiliation with the Province of the Southern Cone." Another part was "attempting to organize as the Standing Committee of an entity that identifies itself as an Anglican Diocese of the Province of the Southern Cone."

In short, you must be one or the other, you cannot be both. Now that the Standing Committee is vacant, it only remains for the Bishop to be deposed for the process of reorganizing the diocese to begin.

As has been noted elsewhere, the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church do not contemplate the secession of a diocese.

I paid a visit to SFiF and found that as usual neither the headline writers nor many of the commenters understand what's going on. They claim that Bishop Katharine has somehow acted to dismiss the Standing Committee. In any case, six of them were already dismissed by Bishop Schofield and thus are not members of the Standing Committee of the new Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin (if that is its name.) Whether the six members who were dismissed by Bishop Schofield ultimately choose to stay in the Episcopal Church or leave it, they have forfeited their right to be recognized as members of the standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. That's not firing by the Presiding Bishop, it's a recognition that they have ceased to act within the Episcopal Church. Why on earth do the so-called "reasserters" object?

Another thing I picked up on SFiF was a piece about a post on MadPriest's blog. In my view, Jonathan passed the bounds of good taste on that one, and so did some of the commenters. But Sarah also crossed a line, which is SOP for that blog.

MadPriest's post and the comments seem to have centered around Matt Kennedy, the former Episcopal priest in Binghamton. I don't know what provoked the ruckus -- I haven't paid that close attention to OCICBW in the past couple of weeks.

I do, on and off, pay attention to what Matt Kennedy has to say. He uses the term orthodox Anglicanism, which to me suggests Cranmer, Hooker, Laud and the other Caroline Divines and a long tradition of comprehensiveness, but to him seems to suggest something else. On SFiF, if you hover over the word orthodox, you learn that they think it means "holding to long-held beliefs." As I see it, one of the long held beliefs that Matt Kennedy and others like him seem to hold to is the notion that the Bible consists of God's instructions to us -- but only on certain matters. I don't have time right now to expand on this thought.

A Big Week

Let’s see. On Sunday I saw for the third time a play about the last days of Socrates. It was put on by our local Morningside Players and I have promised to write a review of it for our local Morningside Gardens News.

Then on Tuesday morning I was urged to run for the Board of Directors of our co-op. After discussing it with Liz, I decided that I would indeed run.

Tuesday was indeed a big day. Right after lunch I headed up to the Columbia Dental School where I had two more dental implants – that makes a total of seven so far. These two went very easily.

Tuesday evening I attended the meeting of the Board of Directors in my capacity as a member of the Bylaws Committee. Our committee was reporting to the board on a plan to go to open market sales – the complete background to this would constitute too long a digression at this point so you’ll have to bear with me. At the board meeting, the board in effect took over the process of designing the plan to be voted on by the stockholders and established an ad hoc committee to design a complete proposal for stockholder approval. It was suggested that I be the chair of the new committee and I accepted. So now I have taken on a big responsibility – chairing the process of producing a viable plan to go to open market.

Thursday I went to the MGCA (Morningside Gardens Cooperators Assembly) meeting because of the open market question. I ended up being the major presenter on the board action -- in part because I've been around and know a lot, and in part because I play it absolutely straight -- I treat all questions, even hostile ones, as serious.

I don’t know how much time I am going to have for fun things like the blogs. I will pay attention to events in Anglicanland, but maybe only the high profile ones. We'll see.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Unihinhibited Abandonment -- Part 2

Sunday afternoon

Well, I didn't get back to this topic for four whole day and in the meantime Bishop Wimberly has come clean about his reasons. I was right -- he is applying a criterion that appears to me to go beyond the facts.

This morning after church I asked my friend at 815 pointblank if s/he knew anything about the Iker situation and s/he said s/he didn't. Even if s/he had known, I didn't expect s/he would be able to tell me. But I'm done speculating on that one -- I'll just watch.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Uninhibited Abandonment

Wednesday morning.

Last night I came home late from a meeting and checked my email. There was the ENS report that the Title IV Review Committee had determined that Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh had abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church, but that the three senior bishops had not consented to his inhibition.
I decided to post this blog entry this morning in real time, as it were. First, I am writing it directly into the Blogger editor rather than offline. Second, I am writing it before I have checked to see what any of the "usual suspects" have to say on the subject.
My intiial reaction is that I am impressed that Bishop Katharine sent the matter to the Title IV Review Committee at this stage. As I wrote earlier, I think it is clear that Bishop Duncan has in fact openly renounced the discipline of the Episcopal Church and that in itself that renunciation constitutes abandonment of the communion of the Episcopal Church. I can only speculate as to why the senior bishops do not agree, but I suspect that at least one of the three senior bishops is applying a criterion that goes beyond the actual facts -- it's like "reasonable doubt" when you're on a jury -- the judge says that reasonable doubt is doubt that you can give a reason for, but then if you vote to acquit no one forces you to give the reason.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Renunciation and Adultery

Friday afternoon, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori inhibited the Bishop of San Joaquin, John-David Schofield.

Bishop Schofield was inhibited according to the canons of the Episcopal Church. First, the Title IV Review Committee certified that he has abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church. The review committee met on Wednesday and then notified the Presiding Bishop that a majority of the committee agreed that the documentation provided to them "demonstrated that Bishop Schofield has abandoned the communion of this Church by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline or Worship of this Church." Then on Friday, the three senior bishops with jurisdiction gave their consent for the inhibition and without delay the inhibition was issued.

Now the practical effect of the inhibition, as I see it, is simply to prepare the way for the House of Bishops to vote at their March meeting to depose Bishop Schofield, which will open the way for an interim Bishop to be appointed and for the governance of the Diocese to be reconstituted.

There are undoubtedly practical issues relating to pensions and possibly insurance to be resolved. Most of the clergy in the diocese voted to sever ties with the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Province of the Southern Cone. It is also true that there will then be litigation over property. Since Bishop Schofield and the other leadership in the Diocese of San Joaquin claim that they are no longer subject to the discipline of the Episcopal Church, nothing much will change on the ground until Bishop Schofield is deposed. Moreover, the inhibition specifically exempts acts relating to “the administration of the temporal affairs of the Diocese of San Joaquin.”

Over a year ago, Bishop Schofield openly declared his intention to renounce the Discipline of the Church. Everybody knew it was coming – all we were waiting for was the act. He had, you might say, already committed renunciation in his heart.

In the Gospel of Matthew (5:27-28) Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NRSV)

It is clear to me that there are at least two other diocesan bishops who have already in their hearts committed “open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline or Worship of this Church.” It seems to me that any reasonable person would conclude that both Bishop Duncan and Bishop Iker should be inhibited on the strength of their declared intentions to leave as soon as their dioceses (improperly) vote to go with them.


Father Jake has posted on the Diocese of Fort Worth and in the comments the question of an inhibition of Bishop Iker has been raised (not by me.) In response, I went further there than I did above --- as I see it, Bishop Iker has already openly renounced the discipline of hte Episcopal Church and is thus subject to inhibiton and deposition. Of course, those canonically responsible would have to agree for this to happen, and I strongly suspect that Bishop Katharine will not move unless she is certain that there is agreement at least on inhibition.