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.