Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Schofield Update

Last night I thought I was giving up punditry for a while, but ... oh well.

The archbishop's letter is a pretty masterful example of walking a fine line. It can be parsed a number of different ways, depending on what one wants to hear, as is already amply evident in blogland comments.

But once in a while, I have access to information that enables me to be more of a journalist than a pundit. So the question arises, Is there a backstory? Could it be that the letter that was made public today did not appear ex nihilo, but represents the fruit of some rather complex negotiations? Could it be that, while the Archbishop was never of a mind to rescind Bishop Schofield's Lambeth invitation, that the Bishop's last-minute decision to cancel his travel plans represents more than his health-based aversion to overseas travel (which is quite real), but, in fact, is at some level an acquiescence to Rowan's express preferences?

On balance, I would tend to score this one: Advantage Schofield (and, by extension, Venables, and by further extension, GAFCON). Not point or set yet, and certainly not match. But the Archbishop of Canterbury has manifestly declined to recognize Bishop Schofield's deposition by the Presiding Bishop, and has held open the possibility, through the ongoing work of the Windsor Continuation Group, of in future recognizing the relationship between San Joaquin and the Southern Cone.

Moreover, the strongest negative statement the Archbishop was able to make was that Bishop Schofield's status "remains unclear on the basis of the general norms of Anglican Canon Law." While that may at first blush have an ominous aspect, upon closer inspection it is quite harmless because it is not only true, but completely self-evidently true in a manner that no rational person would contest it. Hence, it isn't even controversial. Not even the most diehard GAFCON-ite would disagree that a province in South America having a diocese in central California is outside the "general norms of Anglican Canon Law."

That's tantamount to saying that rain in the San Joaquin Valley in July is "outside the general norms of local weather patterns." The question is, does such an outside-the-norm arrangement contribute to the greater good of the Anglican Communion. The jury's still out on that one.


Anonymous said...

Sorry Dan, but I don't see how you can say the ABC has "manifestly declined to recognize Bishop Schofield's deposition by the Presiding Bishop." The Episcopal Church claims Bishop Schofield was deposed from his ministry in the Episcopal Church and his see in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. To recognize that the Southern Cone has "picked up his contract" so to speak says nothing about the effectiveness of that deposition (assuming you ascribe to the theology of once a bishop, always a bishop). What does say lots about it, however, is the fact that Bishop Lamb is at Lambeth representing the Diocese of San Joaquin. To say that Bishop Schofield has been accepted as a member of the "episcopal fellowship" of the Southern Cone says absolutely nothing about his deposition from TEC or his removal from his seat as Bishop of San Joaquin, it merely states a "self-evident truth", as you put it. Also, the fact that the ABC does not refer to the Diocese of San Joaquin as Schofield's (but instead refers only to "the congregations associated with him") also says a lot, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

fresno mark,
You are funny! :) LOL!!! If KJS & Tec had done their deopsition properly and by their own canon law then your statement might bare some merit. Since they didn't and they called a special convention all done against, again, their own Tec canons & constitutions and appointed +Lamb to be the pseudo bishop for you and the Remain Episcopal's says volumes as well. Oh and before you get carried away...+Lamb's ticket to Lambeth was negoiatied and bought by 815 as it did not come from the ABC himslef but rather via a staffer via e-mail. WOW! That's a ringing endorsement............NOT!

Anonymous said...

Father Dan, I am troubled that there is even speculation at all. Why isn't Bp Schofield explaining what has happened? We have several days ago, a diocesan official saying rumors that +Schofield would be attending and then this confusing memo from ++Venables.

I am very much to the point where I could not care less what Rowan Williams says or does. He acts as if he has been bought off by American lucre.

Anonymous said...

He has been bought off. Just watch Lambeth and you will see him jumping through the KJS, VGR Integrity hoops for 2-1/2 weeks!

Leslie Littlefield said...

Excellent comments Fresno Mark!

Fr. Axberg Ponders the Propers said...


Invitations to Lambeth, as I understand it, are not sent to bishops by name, per se, but to bishops with jurisdiction (e.g. the Bishop of San Joaquin). If the See becomes vacant, the invitation is left on the desk, as it were, to be picked up by the one who follows.

In San Joaquin's case, it is possible that the invitation was not turned over to the current incumbent (+Lamb) by his predecessor, and so a fresh ticket was cut, not by 815 dollars but ABC protocol.

I don't know if that is what happened, of course, but suspect it is the case.

JDS may assert that he has his invitation to Lambeth (as he never turned it over to +Lamb), and though he is not a bishop with (ABC recognized)jurisdiction, he can assert that he has not been uninvited.

You may decide for yourself what the truth is, but speculation (yours or mine) doesn't really carry much weight, does it?

As for me, I will follow the trail with the fewest twists. While the situation in San Joaquin is of vital interest to the 9,000 souls who live here, ++ABC probably has more on his plate to deal with than 1 invitation that obsesses this thread.



Anonymous said...

For what its worth, I would say that this letter has bad news for both liberals and conservatives.

1. This letter does indicate that JDS's Lambeth invitation (note that Rowan says specifically that it was issued to "him", and not to the "Bishop of San Joaquin") has not been revoked. This means that officially, Rowan is on record as continuing to recognize - at this point in time - that Schofield IS a legitimate Anglican bishop in communion with the See of Canterbury. That means that Rowan Williams is also saying that he does not recognize TEC's alleged deposition as an effective ANGLICAN deposition.

2. However, this letter contains some ominous comments for JDS's future (although to be fair, Lamb's status may also be regarded as murky and subject to WCG recommendations). There are no "general norms of Anglican canon law" that put JDS's position into question. Williams has stated in the past that the basic organ of unity with the ABC is the diocese. If the basic organ of unity is the diocese and not the Province, then a diocese should be able to realign without offending "general norms of Anglican canon law." The fact that Williams brings this up (when arguably no such "general norms" exist) suggests that he is changing his position on what is the core unit of connection with Canterbury. Further, I found Williams concluding sentence about JDS's continuing ministry to be somewhat ominous.

Aghaveagh said...

Father Dan,

It rained this morning. In Fresno. In July. Thought you would like to know.