Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bishop Schofield Inhibited

Below is the ENS report of the Inhibition of +John-David Schofield. Checking the blogs, I have found some celebrating the action, and others crying foul. I find both in poor taste. To those that welcome the process of Ecclesiastical Discipline, recognize how sad this fracture truly is. It is no cause for celebration, but weeping for our Church. To those that cry foul and say this action represents betrayal by those involved, come on; When you violate the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of This Church, this is the process. +Schofield and San Joaquin knew this going forward. It is not punitive. It is the process.

Following the portion of the article from ENS posted, I include a copy of the relevant Canon.
Good Lord deliver us.

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on January 11 inhibited Diocese of San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield.
In the text of the inhibition, Jefferts Schori wrote: "I hereby inhibit the said Bishop Schofield and order that from and after 5:00 p.m. PST, Friday, January 11, 2008, he cease from exercising the gifts of ordination in the ordained ministry of this Church; and pursuant to Canon IV.15, I order him from and after that time to cease all 'episcopal, ministerial, and canonical acts, except as relate to the administration of the temporal affairs of the Diocese of San Joaquin,' until this Inhibition is terminated pursuant to Canon IV.9(2) or superseded by decision of the House of Bishops."

Jefferts Schori acted after the Title IV Review Committee certified that Schofield had abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church.

On January 9, Upper South Carolina Bishop Dorsey Henderson, committee chair, wrote to Jefferts Schori, telling her that the nine-member committee had met that day and that a majority 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."

Jefferts Schori needed, in accordance with Title IV, Canon 9, Sec. 1, the consent of the three senior bishops of the church with jurisdiction (as opposed to being retired or not in diocesan seats) to issue the inhibition. She noted in the inhibition that Leo Frade of Southeast Florida, Peter Lee of Virginia, and Don Wimberly of Texas gave their consents January 11.

"I think what is crucial for us is that the bishop was presented with potential consequences of his actions long ago and repeatedly, and now the review committee has indeed made their determination, which will go forward to the House of Bishops," the Rev. Dr. Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop, told ENS. "The three senior bishops have given their consent to his inhibition and, again, the ministry of the Episcopal Church continues and moves forward."

At Schofield's urging, the convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin voted December 8 to leave the Episcopal Church and to align with the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

Jefferts Schori warned Schofield of the possible consequences of his actions prior to the convention via a letter and then asked him on December 14 to confirm her understanding that he had left the Episcopal Church and was no longer functioning as a member of its clergy.

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
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.

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