January 12, 2008

Shedding Ones Inhibitions

Well, the awaited Inhibition has been issued against +John-David Schofield and a response has appeared from the Diocese of San Joaquin reported* by Kendall Harmon. This response, among other things, asserts that

Bishop Schofield is currently a member of both the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church and the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone, a position not prohibited by either house.

On the contrary, House of Bishops General Rule XXIV includes this:

...[A]ny Bishop of this Church who removed from the jurisdiction of this Church to the jurisdiction of a Church in the Anglican Communion may be continued in relationship to this House as an honorary member.... No vote shall be accorded the honorary member.

So, the question is, has John David removed himself from the jurisdiction of The Episcopal Church? An answer was shortly forthcoming (on January 11, 2008) from the Southern Cone Head himself, again reported by the inestimable Canon Harmon:

As of December the 8th, 2007 Bishop John-David Schofield is not under the authority or jurisdiction of The Episcopal Church or the Presiding Bishop. He is, therefore, not answerable to their national canon law but is a member of the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone and under our authority.

Un fuerte abrazo.

--The Most Rev. Greg Venables, Archbishop of the Southern Cone

John-David needs to make up his mind. Either he is a member of The Episcopal Church or not. It seems his present ecclesiastical superior (whoever he thinks that might be in either case) thinks not. It is up to him to clarify whether he is still in communion with The Episcopal Church, or has abandoned it. He cannot continue to play the game of Humpty-Dumpty in which things mean what he claims they mean.

Tobias Haller BSG

*Update: Canon Harmon has removed the first referenced statement from San Joaquin in light of the "correction" issued later. A more accurate term would be "contradiction." In the interests of reality checking, here is the text of the original notice from San Joaquin:

The Episcopal Church's assertion that Bishop Schofield has abandoned the communion of this Church is an admission that TEC rejects the historical Anglican faith which is why The Diocese of San Joaquin appealed to the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of South America for emergency and temporary protection. The majority of the other provinces of the Anglican Communion hold to the traditional faith. It is the primary duty of bishops to guard the faith and Bp Schofield has been continually discriminated against for having done so while Bishops and Archbishops around the world have affirmed not only his stance but the move to the Southern Cone. Bishop Schofield is currently a member of both the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church and the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone, a position not prohibited by either house. Governing documents of TEC do not prohibit relationships between different members of the Anglican Communion, rather they encourage it. TEC's action demonstrates that there is an enormous difference between their church and most of the Anglican Communion Again, this action is a demonstration that TEC is walking apart from the faith and its expression of morality held by the rest of the Anglican Communion.

The Episcopal Church's own identity is dependent upon its relationship with the whole Anglican Communion. TEC should consider whether it is imperiling that relationship by taking such punitive actions.

How is it that over 60 million Anglicans world wide can be wrong while a few hundred thousand in the American Church can claim to be right?

And here is the "correction" (which goes on to include the statement by "Greg" of the Southern Cone of America):

As a point of clarification, there is no confusion on the part of the Bishop of San Joaquin or the clergy, people, leadership, and convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin of their status. The claims of the Episcopal Church to have oversight or jurisdiction are not correct. The fact is that neither the Diocese nor Bishop John-David Schofield are part of The Episcopal Church. The Bishop is a member of the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone as of December 8th, 2007. The Diocese is a part of the Southern Cone. Neither the Presiding Bishop or the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church have any further jurisdiction. Bishop Schofield is no longer a member of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church.


Greg Jones said...

I've been struck by the mendacity of this chap and his whole faction for sometime now. Bald-faced lying seems to come naturally to them.

Marshall Scott said...

I guess, then, it's time to review the bylaws of all those congregations and just how they describe their accession, and to whom.

We knew all along, really, that Schofield would thumb his nose at this announcement. However, it might well inhibit him from further mischief among congregations that wish to remain Episcopal.

DeaconScott said...

It appears that Schofield has abandoned his claim to be a full member of both Houses, but I wonder if there might have been more to that idea than originally appeared.

I'm thinking of Mark McDonald. If I understand correctly, he is a full member of the House of Bishops of both TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada.

If he can do it, it can be done. If it can be done, why can't it be done by Schofield?

Tobias: thoughts on that?

June Butler said...

Bishop Schofield is no longer a member of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church.

Well, that settles that, unless we get another clarification.

It seems to me that he/they didn't think this through, nor did they even bother to get their stories straight.

FatherJones, I was moved just today to put Big Daddy's words from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on my sidebar:

"There ain't nothin' more powerful than the odor of mendacity...You can smell it. It smells like death."

R said...

The words "stuff and nonsense" come to mind.

I am grateful for the clarity of the PB, therefore.

When boundaries are violated, it is leadership's job to steward them appropriately. Whether John-David Schofield honors the discipline of this body of Christians or not is less important than our following due process and remaining true to ourselves and the many who remain.

Anonymous said...

I was reading real fast before work and read Un fuerte abrazo as Un fuerte brazo, which instead of 'best wishes'* means 'strong arming'.

*lit. 'a strong hug'

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Dear Deacon Scott,

The Macdonald situation is anomalous. Personally, I think it is uncanonical; but it is also very unclear to me exactly what he is doing in relation to the Navajo Area Mission: some places list him as "Bishop of Navajoland" others as "Assisting Bishop" -- and his status in the TEC House of Bishops would vary depending on which he is.

Although his appointment in Canada was touted as an exciting new thing (a non-geographical episcopate similar to the Bishops for the Armed Forces) I find the concept unchurchly and, to be blunt, racist. I am opposed to "ethnic" church divisions, apart from the practical needs for addressing language and culture, which can be resourced in other ways. This recent invention in Canada reminds me all too much of the "Bishop for Colored Work" we used to have in TEC not so very long ago.

I am utterly opposed to the novel idea that "a bishop is a bishop for the whole church" rather than for a specific diocese. The idea that a bishop participates in trans-diocesan entities (such as synod or House of Bishops, or even a Council) should not supplant but rather supplement the role as a geographically limited diocesan. (I am less concerned about the Armed Forces episcopate, though still find it a less than adequate solution to the reality of the mobility of troops and their needs; but at least it doesn't have racist overtones.)

Anyway, I'm not entirely clear exactly what position Mark holds in the TEC HoB. I would think he should be granted an honorary seat and voice, as any assisting bishop from another part of the Anglican Communion who was "helping out" in a diocese might have.

Anonymous said...

"I find the concept unchurchly and, to be blunt, racist. I am opposed to "ethnic" church divisions"

From my point of view, I don't see how ethnic churches are that different from national churches. I live in New Mexico. Why is it that I am automatically thought to have more in common with Maine than Mexico? I am politically under the same government as the New Englanders. But culturally? Socially?

There is some sense in treating the Navajo Nation as a separate entity. It is, literally, a conquered country. And, having been for some years a member of the Navajo Nation Bar Association, and having practiced before the tribal courts, there is certainly some case for treating the rez as a separate country (even though, as everyone probably knows, the Navajos are quite overrepresented in the American armed forces).

--rick allen

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Rick, you've gotten hold of the wrong end of the stick here. I was referring to the creation of the office of a Canadian Bishop for Indigenous People, not the Navajoland Area Mission -- which is indeed a geographical area dealing with the reservations. The Canadian solution (as far as I understand it) seems to me to be too much an ethnic basis for a church, and though it may have some practical implications, it concerns me for what it says about the gospel. In any case, my major concern is the need to clarify Bishop Macdonald's status, and I was mostly venting about my larger missional concerns. (Yes, I confess I vent from time to time!)

On the other matter, it is precisely because you don't have as much in common with Maine that you are part of a national (or international) church. The church is not meant to be divided up along ethnic lines, as both Jesus and Paul make clear. One way of doing this is by holding all in a particular area to belong to the same church. As you know, the RCC has struggled for years to maintain this discipline for parishes: that is, people should go to their local parish, not the one where they like the pastor or the music across town. (This is a rule perhaps observed more in breach... but it is a discipline often encouraged for the health and diversity of the local parish.) The church is healthier when people mix and find what they have in common to be Christ, not their culture. And we learn more from each other that way too. As the vicar of a multi-cultural congregation, I can say it sometimes leads to tensions, but the energy gained for mission is greater than the energy lost.