Thursday, April 17, 2008

More Praise for Due Process

The inimitable House of Bishops/Deputies listserv, where I cut my teeth on cyber- "conversation" beginning almost six years ago now, has been continuing to chatter about the canonically-flawed procedure for the putative depositions from the ordained ministry last month of Bishops Cox and Schofield. In the name of synergy, I share here some of my own participation in that discourse:

At the risk of aggravating those who consider this thread a thoroughly beaten horse ... a response to some posts that I was not able to engage as they arrived because of “technical difficulties”:

Re [name deleted] and the notion of “harmless error”— Your point is apposite as concerns the substance of the issues itself. Since neither Bishop Cox nor Bishop Schofield wish to minister in TEC, there is no harm done at that level. If there were something like a Supreme Court in our church polity, I suspect they might deny any appeal for that very reason. But what I and others have been contending all along is that there is something much larger and more important at stake here, which is that, in a time of very high conflict levels, with trust between the ideological divisions within the church running at a low ebb, it is vital to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. There is hardly anyone—even including some very vocal “progressives”—who doesn’t think that the language of the relevant canon (IV.10) is, at the very least, unclear, and in need of amendment. There is a growing perception, now voiced by at least three Bishops with jurisdiction and two Standing Committees—that canonical due process was materially violated. This is like an abscessed tooth. The chances of it quieting down if ignored long enough are virtually nil. It very well may erupt at a most inopportune time. Better to take care of it now.

As for a proposed alternative course, I would respond, “What [another name deleted] said,” only raise him a level. I don’t think a telephone poll is a good enough response. It doesn’t address the root problem, which is that, technically, there was a valid vote on the question of deposing Bishop Schofield, and the motion failed. That question is therefore settled: He is not deposed, because the number of Aye votes was less than a majority of “the whole number...entitled to vote”. (This, BTW, is precisely what prevented the legitimate Standing Committee of San Joaquin from stepping in an assuming the role of Ecclesiastical Authority; I have it on good authority that they were within a hair-trigger of doing so when the procedural fiasco was revealed, preventing them from acting.) What the PB needs to do is invite the Title IV Review Committee to provide a finding of abandonment with a fresh date (this should not be too difficult), get the three Seniors to consent to an inhibition, serve said inhibition, and bring the matter before the September HOB meeting in Utah, with the understanding of the level of consent needed for a valid deposition. The case of Bishop Cox is more complicated, because the PB neglected her canonical duty of inhibiting him before brining the question before the House, so there was no valid vote, whatever the outcome. So, once again, we need a fresh finding from the Review Committee (a five-minute conference call should suffice), and then the whole rest of the process. Yes, this sounds fastidious to an onerous degree. But nothing other than this course of action will serve to restore trust that the leaders of this Church are committed to abiding by the rules of this Church. Anything less will only hasten the political meltdown that we are in the middle of.

8 comments:

Scott K said...

Dan, thanks for your continued pursuit of this on HOB/D and for this post specifically. It was all I could manage to sit on my hands and not fire off a "What he said!" message to the list.

Anonymous said...

Dan, here is a big AMEN to your post. However being rational & thoughtful and following canons and all that stuff just gets in the way of KJS fulfilling her promises to the liberal fringe of the diocese of San Joaquin. Doing as you suggest [starting the review/inhibition/vote process over again] would admit her violation of canonical process [a presentable offense]. If Schofield isn't deposed, we have boundary crossing for both Lamb and Schori. We have a meeting in Stockton [Lodi]last month that was illegal and could not have acted as a 'convention' of the diocese. We have filing false documents on Lamb with the Secretary of State's office [corp sole transfer from Schofield to Lamb]. We have the fraudulent representation of Lamb as the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese.

While I agree the vote on Schofield failed to achieve sufficient number to sustain deposition, Schori can not back away from the charade she started. To do so makes she and Lamb liable to presentment, and potential civil/criminal charges.

monologistos said...

If we were to live by Schori's bizarre mandate to prosecute any who might be, Schori and Lamb ought to be presented and deposed. They ought to be sued in civil courts. The laymen serving them as a fraudulent diocese ought to individually be sued. That's what the world under Shoria Law looks like.

Malcolm+ said...

Okay, I see how you would resolve the high level irregularity.

Now, how about the more immediate one (more immediate for Episcopalians "on the ground" in San Joaquin).

Certainly the majority of those who participated in the convention did so in good faith. How do we unite these two parallel Episcopalianisms?

I'm serious about this. What do you see as a practical, pragmatic and realistic way forward.

(I've preciously suggested living with the ambiguity until it's time for a new convention which can then be called conjointly by the "new" standing committee and the remnant of the "old" standing committee and thus have the legitimacy of both. I suspect that might not pass your test.)

JamesW. said...

Malcolm: I would think that to follow the rules precisely (and I think that this is what Dan is recommending), the convention that was held in Lodi, including all appointments made there, would have to be declared null and void. By the same token, the real TEC Standing Committee (Rob Eaton plus ???) would agree not to pursue canonical charges against KJS, Jerry Lamb, Brian Cox, and the fourth guy (forget his name).

KJS would need to contact Rob Eaton and any other remaining SC members AFTER JDS is validly deposed and work with Eaton to call for a Diocese of San Joaquin convention, at which point, the vacant seats in the SC would be filled, and persons voted into the vacant offices. That new SC would then arrange for the new episcopal leadership.

Doug said...

Dan is being just a little disingenuous. If we are to praise "due process" (and we should) it should have started a number of years ago when Schofield and his cronies began to manipulate the process in San Joaquin. Dan was drinking Schofield's Kool Aid.
A number of proposed changes to the Constitutions and Canons of the Diocese were crafted and advocated to conventions without opportunity to have any form of input from the various deaneries or parishes. These changes advanced the long standing cause of Schofield to separate from the National Church. The sponsor of these changes basically said that ther was no requirement for any form of hearing or publication of the proposed changes and further that the actions of the Committee on Constitution and Canons could orginate anything they wanted to. Dan knows this, I have written proof of this assertion.
Proposed changes to the Constitutions and Canons of the Diocese of San Joaquin during the past 5 to 7 years have been ramroded through without opportunity for thoughtful and prayerful discussion. Dan himself, as I recall, on several occations was the moving party to insure than any speaker would be limited to 2 minutes for advocacy. Add to this the observation that one of Dan's former parishoners was the acting Chair at a number of these debates (because Schofield wanted to be in the audience and control the convention)and strangely enough the advocates for schism were not held to nearly as stringent a time standard as were the opponents of schism.
I was there and I know what happened. Dan can claim a difference of recollection but the fact of the matter is that the actions of Schofield and his party are not without spot or blemish as it would seem some believe.
As for the current process within the Church, what else would you expect for people of character to do? Schofield has relied upon people rolling over and playing dead. When someone stands up and opposes his actions he plays the victim. Nonsense! The good folks who assembled in Lodi were doing so in pursuit of their right to claim their heritage and repudiate the marginalization that they had suffered under Schofield. The laws of trust do not generally allow the highjacking of property from the purposes to which it was dedicated. It is entirly proper for those who wish to remain a part of The Episcopal Church to demand that the commitments of the past be honored. For my own part I do not believe that the several hundreds of thousands of dollars that my wife and I have donated to the Episcopal Church through the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin can be diverted to any other purpose or jurisdiction.

Phil said...

It is entirly proper for those who wish to remain a part of The Episcopal Church to demand that the commitments of the past be honored.

Good point, Doug. One of the commitments of the Episcopal Church going back some ways - one the entire Christian Church shares, really - is that marriage is a union of one man and one woman, and that this is the only venue within which sexual activity is acceptable. Wait! Here's another one: the priesthood has always been understood to be exclusively male. Commitments are commitments, right?

Just curious: what have you been doing about all that money donated to an institution that no longer honors those commitments (and when you say "past," boy, are these past)? Because I know you're a man of consistent principles.

Anonymous said...

RE: "A number of proposed changes to the Constitutions and Canons of the Diocese were crafted and advocated to conventions without opportunity to have any form of input from the various deaneries or parishes."

That's actually quite common for all dioceses. Of course, if there is a specific diocesan canon that does not allow changes to be advocated to conventions without "input from the various deaneries or parishes" than that's another matter. But typically diocesan canons don't regulate that at all.


Sarah