Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lowdown on Lodi

Because I have an active fantasy life, I thought about how I would have handled the San Joaquin morass were I a litigation prone Presiding Bishop. First, I would have tried to cut a backroom deal with the existing Standing Committee. The deal would have been as follows: Recognition of the Standing Committee (hereafter SC) provided they 1) call a diocesan convention forthwith, 2) at that convention repudiate the last conventions actions, 3) select a mutually agreed upon and agreeable retired bishop to serve as bishop pro tempore and 4) step down, opening the field for fresh elections. They would be free to run for the Standing Committee.

I would have had Mr Beers and certain trusted associates get into communication with wavering parishes and attempt to bribe and/or strongarm the waverers into loyalty. I would have accepted Bishop Schofield's resignation and treat it as a resignation from the Episcopal Church, not just from the House of Bishops(hereafter HoB). I would have a resolution of the HoB with the required numbers for an abandonment vote accepting the resignation. This is both a tad more gracious and preserves the 815's litigation positions.

I would allow free and open elections at the Diocesan Convention, including those for the SC and a search committee to find a permanent bishop. However, behind the scenes, I would make it clear that any candidates for the same had better be loyal to the Episcopal Church or else.

That is how a competent thuggish Presiding Bishop would have handled things.

From a power political perspective, the Presiding Bishop is making too many enemies and fighting on too many fronts. If you really want to make an example of someone 'pour encourager les autres', then it's best to pick and chose one target rather than pursue all of the offenders.

If it were really up to me, I would have said to Bishop Schofield "Good luck on your new venture, go in peace and go with God". And I would have gone about gathering the remaining Episcopalians into an adjacent diocese. There would have be no litigation. But what do I know? I have these odd notions about how people are much more important than property and how it's better to let the property go than to behave unlovingly.


BabyBlue said...

The deal is Matthew, Schori has chosen not to recognize the Bishop of San Joaquin's resignation from the Episcopal House of Bishops because it would mean that she continues to recognize that he's a bishop in the Anglican Communion. When he voted to separate from the Episcopal Church, her litigation position (at least here in Virginia) is that he left the "communion" of the Episcopal Church (bet you didn't know that the Episcopal Church is now a communion all to themselves, huh?). Well, that's Booth Beers and Schori's position in the Virginia lawsuits. The Episcopal Church is a denomination and the Southern Cone is separate denomination and when he voted to leave the denomination he voted to renounce his position as a bishop in the church - in this case, in the Episcopal Church since it's a Communion of One.

So she cannot accept the resignations of an Episcopal Bishops who leave to join an another branch of the Anglican Communion's House of Bishops (i.e., Southern Cone) or she puts her own lawsuits at grave risk.

Of course, ignoring the meaning of the canons as she did in her deposition of the Bishop of San Joaquin still puts her at risk because her actions diminish the authority of the canons to impose discipline on the church. She can't reinvent one canon and then be a canon fundamentalist with others - say, like, the Dennis Canon.


Matthew said...

Normally, I'd agree with you. Inconsistent positions can be the devil in litigation. But she's already in that pickle, so approaching it another way, while it still wouldn't resolve the inconsistencies, would play better in the press and with the pewsitters.

Of course, I'm still baffled by the scorched earth, "sue 'em 'til they drop" policy of 815, so what do I know?

Cany said...

Matthew: couple of thoughts:

1. 3 of the members of the standing committee belong to churches that have voted to go south. they are, then, in the southern cone, not TEC. they must be a member of TEC to sit on the standing committee. therefore, at best, the standing committee has three members... cannot function.

2. the PB has a fiduciary responsibility to TEC... for assets. she cannot just turn away from that responsibility.

3. how the HOB issue will turn is unknown, but the VERY SAME process has been used in depositions of other bishops... and not a blink.

4. there are other churches, above and beyond the 18 that are staying with TEC in the SJDiocese who have still not decided what direction to take. members of churches who did leave to go south are migrating back to TEC.

5. Shofield left TEC, not the reverse. He has no right to assets in the church. Christ would not support thievery. There is no special commutation for bishops who act badly... and there shouldn't be. If a vestry embezzled funds, would we excuse that?

blessings, cany