ACN Chancellor Responds to Property Task Force Memo on Deposing Bishops

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Memo is a regrettable effort to justify the unjustifiable. No right thinking person will be taken in by it. Perhaps the Task Force could redeem its work, however, by turning the Memo into a polemic for the amendment at General Convention 2009 of Canon IV.9.2 to require only a mere majority of those present and voting to consent to the deposition of a Bishop of TEC. On the other hand, simplifying the process of deposition for Bishops who disagree with the agenda of those in power may not be in the best interest of the members of the Task Force. After all, tomorrow….

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Communion NetworkEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Polity & Canons

17 Comments
Posted May 30, 2008 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

Elves, it would really be helpful if we had a link to whatever it is the ACN Chancellor is responding to.

here’s a link


The Rabbit.

May 30, 5:48 pm | [comment link]
2. Rev. Patti Hale wrote:

...“Now, here’s what is amazing. Neither the Memo nor the Presiding Bishop has attempted to argue that the consent requirements of the Canon were met. Instead, each invokes a “line of reasoning” designed to support the argument that what happened was and should be enough to validate the consent even though it was not “a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote. “

It’s the same line of reasoning coming from the same people who reads the PLAIN words of the Gospel..“I am the way, the truth and the life” to mean “I am a vehicle to the divine, one among many…...”

May 30, 6:18 pm | [comment link]
3. tjmcmahon wrote:

Rabbit, I think he is responding to the errrr… irregular document put forward by Bp. Sauls.  Who occasionally likes to sign himself as the grand poobah of the TEC “Property Task Force.”

May 30, 6:49 pm | [comment link]
4. James in Texas wrote:

But wait a minute. I thought that Bishops Cox and Schofield didn’t want to be Episcopalians anymore, and I thought they made that rather plain.  How is the HOB’s recognition of that (I think, undisputed) fact even a subject of discussion?  I mean, are Bishops Cox and Schofield trying to be reinstated?  Unless the bishops are trying to rejoin TEC or claim that they didn’t quit, I don’t get what this is all about.  As I understand what happened, they were told they would be deposed for abandonment unless they either explained that what was in the presentment was untrue or rescinded the acts complained of.  In fact, they did neither and have not asked to have the decision revisited (at least that I’ve seen).  Just speaking practically, unless these gentlemen want to be Episcopalians, I’m not sure we have anything to discuss.  Jim

May 30, 7:23 pm | [comment link]
5. montanan wrote:

James in Texas (#4) - they have indicated they have transferred their episcopacy to another province of the Anglican Communion - not that they want to renounce their orders.  The vote was to remove the validity of their orders, as I understand it.  There is a vast difference, as you might imagine.

May 30, 8:13 pm | [comment link]
6. Cennydd wrote:

James in Texas, +John-David is my bishop, and I have known him for years.  I must tell you now that if he had to make a choice, he would’ve preferred to remain in The Episcopal Church, but since the Church has decided to walk its own path away from the teachings of Christ’s One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church over the past 2000 years, he felt that in all good conscience, he had no choice but to leave.  The overwhelming majority of us…..me included…..agree with him.  There will never be any turning back.

He and Bishop Cox have NOT renounced their orders.  They are Bishops in the Church of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of the Americas and consequently, they are members in good standing of our House of Bishops.

May 30, 11:56 pm | [comment link]
7. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

Jim (4),
You can get up to date on the ramifications of the failed deposition by reading from fairly-easy-to-find websites and weblogs such as cariocaconfessions, accurmudgeon, aci institute, mcj, descants, where much of it is laid out (I’ve given you actual terms from their URLs).
Briefly, though, besides the more obvious issue of canonical accountability (you see that, I hope), there is the consequence of judging a special convention held in and for the Diocese of San Joaquin (TEC) at the end of March as null and void, since +Schofield, without being deposed (volunteered resignation not-withstanding), would still be technically the official “ecclesiastical authority”, and the special convention—called by the Presiding Bishop in anticipation of the deposition—would then be called into being “illegally”, and the actions and results of that convention would necessarily be deemed null and void.
There is a primary uncanonical action related to the Standing Committee of San Joaquin (TEC) which makes the failed deposition even more poignant.  But you’ll find that all laid out in reading from the references noted above.

RGEaton

May 31, 1:38 am | [comment link]
8. Br. Michael wrote:

4, even the most guilty of people is entitled to a fair and impartial trial.  It’s not so much for them, but it’s to vindicate the process.  Otherwise, why not shoot the guilty party on the town hall steps and avoid the expense of the trial.  That, in essence, is what TEC did.

May 31, 6:27 am | [comment link]
9. stabill wrote:

Kendall+

As you quote from the ACN Chancellor’s document:

The Memo is a regrettable effort to justify the unjustifiable. No right thinking person will be taken in by it. Perhaps the Task Force could redeem its work, however, by turning the Memo into a polemic for the amendment at General Convention 2009 of Canon IV.9.2 to require only a mere majority of those present and voting to consent to the deposition of a Bishop of TEC.

The fatal flaw in the ACN response to Sauls is that it fails to mention that Canon IV.9.2 requires an action by the House at a meeting of the House and no bishop having vote has entitlement to vote without being present at the meeting.

The minimum fair-use-of-context quote from IV.9.2 is this:

... 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.

This language would be rather significantly different from “a majority of the bishops present and voting” if a mail ballot on the question were allowed by the canon.  If that were the case, the canon would then be perverse without excluding retired bishops who are unable to function by reason of advanced age, infirmity, or self-disqualification.

Please note that the supermajority requirements for amending (a) The Book of Common Prayer and (b) The Constitution do contain an exclusion for “retired bishops not present” (at Convention).

May 31, 11:12 am | [comment link]
10. James in Texas wrote:

Rob,
So all this is really about whether a bishop can resign from TEC and keep his TEC diocese and its property?  If that’s what is driving this, then I think there is plenty of highly creative use of canons and logic and history to go around.  There is more than a little pot calling kettle black in all this conversation about following the canons.  (Creative eccleasitical disobedience a la Chapman, anyone?)  As for validity of orders, I don’t think anyone questions that Southern Cone can recognize the orders of whomever it chooses.  As far as I can tell (and I’m no expert), these folks are still bishops—just not TEC bishops.  I can’t take very seriously the idea that TEC is somehow mistreating Bishops Cox and Schofield by recognizing the obvious fact that they no longer wish to participate in TEC and have declared their intent to affiliate with another church.  (Letters dismissory would work if these folks were actually relocating to the Southern Cone, but not here, since the declared intent is to replace TEC, not just join another Province.)  Now, it sounds like these gentelment have good reasons based on their experience and personal theology not to want to be Episcopalians anymore, but let’s not pretend that they are still Episcopalians.

May 31, 12:17 pm | [comment link]
11. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “So all this is really about whether a bishop can resign from TEC and keep his TEC diocese and its property?”

No, it’s about whether the leaders of the national church will follow their own written-down canons.

It appears not.

May 31, 2:12 pm | [comment link]
12. James in Texas wrote:

Sarah,
These good gentlemen don’t want to be Episcopalians.  The HOB acknowledged that fact.  (Maybe badly, but the canons are less than models of clarity in my view.)  These gentlemen didn’t even show up to say, “No, I want to stay in.”  No one objected at the meeting when these issues could have been addressed.  One can’t skip meetings and then complain that one’s point of view was not heard.  At some point, folks need to let go of this stuff and move on. 
Jim

May 31, 3:37 pm | [comment link]
13. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

Jim,
You said in (4), “I don’t get what this is all about.”  Wanting to be helpful, and not seeing that (5) and (6) had answered satisfactorily, I decided to answer you in good faith - it now seems you really had something else you wanted to flail about.  You have completely ignored the further canonical and technical implications that I (and Sarah) shared with you of a failed deposition in order - apparently, from your subsequent comments - to press a single argument.  It doesn’t sound like you read the references I gave you, nor did you answer affirmatively my hope that you recognize the the matter of canonical accountability for its own processes of discipline. 

So, to the thing you seem to be stuck on, if I hear you correctly, you are saying that an improper legislative disciplinary action cannot be judged invalid if the persons implicated don’t care about the results of that action, whether properly or improperly acquired.
Did I hear you correctly?
And - if that is correct - do you consider that true for civil and criminal court cases as well?  Or just for Church stuff?

RGEaton

May 31, 4:42 pm | [comment link]
14. Cennydd wrote:

James in Texas, the cause of all this mess lies with TEC itself.  Not a single bit of this mess would ever have happened if TEC had not begun changing forty years ago.  I would still be an Episcopalian, my family would still be Episcopalians, my bishop would still be an Episcopalian, and therefore, over 8,000 people in the Central Valley would still be Episcopalians. 

Don’t blame us.  Look in the mirror.

May 31, 4:48 pm | [comment link]
15. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “These good gentlemen don’t want to be Episcopalians.”

Irrelevant to the question of whether the PB followed the canons.

RE: ” . . . the canons are less than models of clarity in my view.”

But in the view of many many many others they are quite clear.

RE: “These gentlemen didn’t even show up to say, “No, I want to stay in.””

RE: “No one objected at the meeting when these issues could have been addressed.”

Irrelevant to the question of whether the PB followed the canons.

RE: “One can’t skip meetings and then complain that one’s point of view was not heard.”

Nobody’s complaining that “one’s point of view was not heard.”  People are complaining that the PB violated the canons.

RE: “At some point, folks need to let go of this stuff and move on.”

Well that point will certainly not be a point or time of your choosing, nor will it be at all convenient for revisionists who don’t mind if the PB violated the canons.  I expect people to not “let go of this stuff and move on” for a good long time.

May 31, 5:04 pm | [comment link]
16. stabill wrote:

Sarah (# 11)

... it’s about whether the leaders of the national church will follow their own written-down canons.

Why do the diatribes, beginning with Conger, criticizing the interpretation of Title IV.9 consistently (except for “Anglican Curmudgeon”) quote that one sentence out of context?  Stripping its context obfuscates its meaning.

As far as I can tell, the HoB did follow the canon correctly. Moreover, there were two previous cases where the same procedure was used without all of this ballyhoo.

May 31, 5:05 pm | [comment link]
17. James in Texas wrote:

Rob, thanks for the direction to the other materials.  I did read them and I appreciate your willingness to engage and be helpful. 
Re: “So, to the thing you seem to be stuck on, if I hear you correctly, you are saying that an improper legislative disciplinary action cannot be judged invalid if the persons implicated don’t care about the results of that action, whether properly or improperly acquired.
Did I hear you correctly?
And - if that is correct - do you consider that true for civil and criminal court cases as well?  Or just for Church stuff?”

Not really.  But I will point out that in law the concepts of waiver, case or controversy, standing, and harmless error (i.e., error that doesn’t change the outcome) tend to keep courts away from deciding issues like this one.  Usually the person actually aggrieved has to raise objections at the time or waive them, and even if the error is preserved, an appellate court won’t reverse unless the error would change the outcome.  We can argue forever about all that, and it won’t get us closer to resolution, so I propose a truce:

As Sarah was kind to remind me, these issues clearly do matter very much to many people.  I was wrong to minimize that.  In additon, this is Church stuff, and so an extra measure of clarity and kindness are required.  I, like most humans, fall down on that from time to time (ok, in my case, more often than not).  The actions of the HOB offended some of you on many levels.  For that fact alone, getting it out and discussing it among friends is probably a good thing.  I apologize for interfering.
Peace, Jim

June 1, 12:46 am | [comment link]
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