Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Fracas in Fresno

Quick Recap: The Diocese of San Joaquin voted at its annual convention to leave the Episcopal Church for the Province of the Southern Cone. Bishop Schofield was inhibited by the Episcopal Church. He is scheduled to be deposed in March at the meeting of the House of Bishops. Our beloved Presiding Bishop sent an open letter to the Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin that she did not recognize them as such.

Yesterday the Standing Committee replied to the Presiding Bishop via open letter. It is well worth reading. The reply has not been picked up by the ENS as of the writing of this post. Stand Firm reprinted the letter in its entirety and pretty much left it at that. Father Dan Martins, who is most knowledgeable about all things San Joaquin also ran with it early. On the revisionist side, the only person to post anything has been junior jailer Jake, who put something up seven hours after Stand Firm posted.

The timing means little, even bloggers have lives. What does mean much is that Jake excerpted the letter with his own inaccurate, biased and erroneous commentary (in abler, more coherent hands, this is known as fisking). Father Dan Martins also commented on the Standing Committee's response, favourably I might add, whereas the StandFirm post was 'as is' with no official commentary (but check out the comments following).

In my opinion, Fr. Dan Martins is right. However, Jake's point of view will prevail. Why, you might ask? Because the sole authority to decide such matters is the General Convention. The next meeting of the full General Convention is in 2009. The House of Bishops is meeting in March. If Bishop Schori has the votes, they will vote to confirm her actions. If she does not, then the vote will not happen until she does. The safe bet is that she has the votes. I think she has the votes due to her background. In an earlier life our Presiding Bishop was an oceanographer who studied certain aquatic invertebrates. This has well equipped her for handling our bishops, the overwhelming majority of whom are completely spineless.

So did the Standing Committee act in vain? No. For one thing, the Episcopal Church's litigation position just got worse. A lot worse. Part of being allowed to sue people is actually having what attorneys call 'standing'. You have to be an affected party. The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has standing to sue Bishop Schofield and the Southern Cone Diocese of San Joaquin. So the question as to who may act for the Diocese of San Joaquin has just become a great deal cloudier.

Also, the Presiding Bishop has either exceeded her authority in a rather dramatic fashion (Dan Martins) or is doing a new thing (Jake). Either way, there are political considerations here. Until this whole secessionist dust up, the Presiding Bishop was considered simply the primus inter pares. If the other bishops move to confirm her actions, then they will be yielding her a great deal more power than she has under the canons.

Regardless of what happens, life in the Episcopal Church just got a great deal more interesting.

Addition: BabyBlue has much worth reading over at her site.

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