Sunday, April 06, 2008

Another Stir for the Pot

Most everyone who checks in at this location probably also reads TitusOneNine, but in the interest of keeping the pattern of abuse of due process (oh...heck...just plain callous disregard for due process) on center stage, I pass this along from that estimable blog:

I’m a reappraiser. Heck, I’m a lefty/liberal who usually posts here to point out weaknesses, inconsistencies and bigotry in re-asserter arguments.

The process used against Bishop Cox stinks to high heaven. The canon was willfully misread. We progressives are right about a lot of things, but we’re dead wrong if we defend this proceeding.

Not only that, but this was stupidly handled and unnecessary. The PB had Cox dead to rights--he was proud of what he did--but now he’s been railroaded and given his health he’s been made a potential martyr. Not a good moment for a group that claims to seek (social) justice within (and without) the church.

The HOB should admit it is wrong, repent and either

A. Do it correctly, or

B. Just forget the whole thing


--Dan Ennis

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I guess 'what goes around comes around.' Schofield never gave a damn about breaking both Diocesan and National Canons, so what's the big huff about him 'getting what he gave' to others.

If you check the procedures of what the House of Bishops considered canonical and proper in deposing bishops in the past.....why is it different now?

Didn't Cox accept the decision of the HoB, and then 'change his mind' after the fact

JamesW said...

So anonymous at 11:43pm - you would not have a problem is your local police officer pulled out his revolver and shot down an unarmed person dead in front of you, if the cop turned to you and said "Heh, what goes around comes around. This guy didn't give a damn about breaking the law, so what's the big huff about him getting what he gave to others?"

Accusations have been made against Schofield. Yet TEC has never successfully prosecuted him in ecclesiastical court, nor has TEC ever validly deposed him. All we have are unproven allegations.

Dan Martins said...

I will stipulate to Schofield's and Cox's guilt. I expect they would too. But, for the upmteenth time, that isn't the point. Think back to your high school algebra class: Was it enough to merely get the right answer? No, you had to "show your work." For good or for ill, in this climate of dissension, due process is the currency of our mutual trust in TEC. There must not even be the appearance that it is being observed in a slipshod manner. That is was done so in the past and "nobody complained" is immaterial. If a cop stops you for running a stop sign and you say, "Well, I've run it several times before and nobody complained!" how far will that get you?

JamesW. said...

Dan: I see it as about more then just "showing your work." It is about the future. If I and a police officer (in a capital punishment state) witness a murder, and the killer then begins to walk away, is the cop right to shoot the killer down in cold blood? After all, there is no doubt that the killer is guilty, right? And no doubt about the eventual punishment. So why not just wack the guy and never mind about the trial.

The reason is that if this precedent is set, the next case may not be so clear cut. But the precedent will have been set. Disregard the process when the process is inconvenient. But, the rules of due process are there to be followed in the cases where everyone is so convinced of the guilt that everyone thinks they can be set aside!!!

To date Bishop Schofield has NOT BEEN VALIDLY CONVICTED OF ANY ECCLESIASTICAL OFFENCE IN TEC!!! Neither Schori's, nor Beers', nor Dan Martins', nor Beryl Simkins', nor Dorsey Henderson's, nor Schofield's OPINION on whether Schofield is guilty or not matters. That is what due process is all about.

Concerned Episcopalian said...

Fr. Dan,

As I read through all these controversies, I see many twists and turns of what wasn't done quite right.

Without a note of challenge, I hope you can tell me (and others) how Bishops Schofield and Cox could have resigned, or transfered their orders, in a way that they could calmly and cleanly remove themselves from the TEC House of Bishops. We've learned that retirement and/or resignation isn't enough to dissolve voting rights, at least in some instances. When a TEc Bishop swears fealty to a new province and Primate, it seems both sides would benefit from good form.

And it doesn't seem that the HOB prefers to dispose and despose, as a rule. Can we help the next Bishop Cox, someone without diocesean authority, move more gracefully to the next phase of his or her calling?

Thanks for any thoughts.

Dan Martins said...

To Concerned Episcopalian:
You raise an excellent question. Of course it is possible to handle this sort of thing smoothly and charitably. I don't claim to know the precise process, but I think of a priest from the Diocese of Mississippi (Jackson Biggers) who in the mid-90s was elected to the See of Lake Malawi (I believe) in Africa. He was allowed to be consecrated and to serve without having to renounce his orders in TEC or be deposed. (Now retired in the U.S., Bishop Biggers is *not* a member of TEC's HOB.) More recently, the Bishop of Navajoland, Mark McDonald, was elected to a Canadian diocese and is now serving there. So there is a way to "peacefully" move bishops to foreign jurisdictions. Of course, the klinker in the current situation is that Bishops Schofield and Cox want to serve under the aegis of the Province of the Southern Cone while continuing to live and work in the U.S., thus raising the thorny issue of overlapping Anglican jurisdictions. By all appearances, the legal strategy of 815 includes "zero tolerance" for such anomalies, so there is no motivation in their part for amicable resolution.

Malcolm+ said...

Dan: "Of course, the klinker in the current situation is that Bishops Schofield and Cox want to serve under the aegis of the Province of the Southern Cone while continuing to live and work in the U.S., thus raising the thorny issue of overlapping Anglican jurisdictions. By all appearances, the legal strategy of 815 includes "zero tolerance" for such anomalies, so there is no motivation in their part for amicable resolution."

There's the rub.

Seems to me that "zero tolerance" of border crossing and such is appropriate. But that is no excuse not to dot the canonical "i"s and cross the canonical "t"s. While I am still not convinced the process was either improper or invalid, it was certainly not helpful that it left behind a lack of clarity.

Now, the upshot is that Schofield is no longer a bishop of TEC. A "reconstitution" meeting has occurred in San Joaquin (whatever technical imperfections there may or may not have been).

So, where do we go from here.

From what I have seen, the current TEC process in San Joaquin is open to the participation of any person who says they are still part of TEC vice the Southern Cone.

You used the non-jurors as an example once. Bear with me.

At the Restoration in 1662, there had been (from a strict legal perspective) no valid legal authority in England for at least 13 years, and in places for longer.

Legally, virtually every sale of land, every contract, every appointment in the Kingdom in the previous 13+ years was ldegally void. And episcopacy having been illegitimately abolished, the same could be said of every canonical or ecclesiastical appointment or development.

However, both Church and State took a more pragmatic view so as not to create legal chaos.

What is the pragmatic view here?

From where I sit (oh so far away) it seems the logical thing to acknowledge what structures exist and for an San Joaquin Anglican to align him/herself with one or the other - the "Southern Cone" San Joaquin or the "Episcopal Church" San Joaquin as they see most fitting.

The only other option is the creation of a "Pox on both your houses" San Joaquin which, however gratifying to a few, will do nothing to solve any of the problems.

Thoughts?

JamesW. said...

Malcolm: How about TEC 'fessing up to their canonical irregularity and redoing the process? This is what is best for all involved. And if the folks on the left in the Church would speak out instead of sycophantically nodding their heads, the PB might just listen. But it seems like "speaking out" for justice is only what you do when your political opponents are in power.

Dan Martins said...

Malcolm,
I take your point about political pragmatism in re the Restoration. But that was after 13 years of lawlessness, and the "bad guys" had been decisively kicked out! So I'm not sure that precedent is apposite for a situation that is literally only days old and is still potentially in flux. It's not too late to do the right thing. And the "bad guys" (by my lights--I realize you may disagree) are manifestly still in power. There's a lot more cage rattling that needs to be done before it's time to just fold and move on.

Malcolm+ said...

Dan, I take your point about the differences between the two circumstances. Analogies are never perfect.

Frankly, I'm less concerned about the depositions than about the "reconstitution" of the diocese. On the matter of the depositions, the end state is what all sides wish the end state to be - JDS is not a bishop of Episcopal Church. Redoing that process merely brings us back to the de facto status quo.

It was unquestionably unhelpful for the Presiding Bishop to act so summarily wrt the remnant of the Standing Committee. There is room to argue whether or not it was canonical. There seems little room to argue it was anything but unhelpful.

Whatever the canonical status of the recent meeting, its outcome appears to be generally in keeping with the desires of a majority of those who have chosen to remain in the Episcopal Church. The invitation to attend was sent out fairly broadly. I've heard no accusation that any were turned away. The one member of the Standing Committee remnant who spoke was heard out.

I think what needs to happen is for the new Standing Committee and the new Bishop to reach out to the remnant of the old Standing Committee. That conversation can address most effectively how to resolve the canonical scruple that some (though not all) feel about the process to date. It could be as simple as cooperatively agreeing to let the canonical ambiguity continue for the moment and to allow the next convention of the diocese to be called conjointly by both sets of authorities.

I won't bother responding to James's comment beyond noting that the procedural purity of the "conservatives" is not without stain as well. One procedural anomaly does not justify another - but neither does one procedural anomaly justify the other "side" pretending their slate is clean.

My interest in this is to explore what possible ways forward exist.