Schofield sends a letter: too little, too late
The Lead has the scoop. Bishop Schofield of San Joaquin has sent a letter [PDF] to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. In the letter, Schofield resigns from the House of Bishops of ECUSA. I have three observations and one rant.
First, I think it’s important to spell things correctly. Especially names. Especially on important, public letters. So I find it mind-boggling that Bishop Schofield writes to “Katherine” and consistently spells “Jefferts” as “Jefforts.” Oh, and he calls her Presiding Bishop Schori, rather than Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. How about showing some respect?
Second, in this letter, he fails to renounce his Holy Orders. [Note: see updates, below] He indicates that he’s sending this letter so that the HoB doesn’t have to vote on his Deposition. Yet, he hasn’t done the one thing that would stop the machinery of deposition. The canons are clear. Unless he issues a renunciation of his Holy Orders, the vote must continue. Incidentally, until the moment of his Deposition, he is still the Bishop of San Joaquin. Remember, the ECUSA party line of several months ago? People can leave, but not parishes or dioceses. So, our party line must be that the Diocese of San Joaquin hasn’t left. Nor has their Bishop, pending disciplinary proceedings. The See is not yet vacant.
Third, the Diocese of San Joaquin has gotten a raw deal. Their Bishop marched them down a foolish course, for no reason. No 815 staff were going out there to force mass blessings of same-sex relationships. No one was forcing Enriching Our Worship down anyone’s throat. They could have left well enough alone, except that their bishop stirred them into a frenzy. Sadly, they’ve also gotten very bad treatment from 815. The PB vacated the Standing Committee. And yet there is no canonical basis for her to do this. People are behaving as if Schofield has gone, and yet his trial has not yet begun. It might be a foregone conclusion, but what about the time-honored principal of “innocent until proven guilty.” The plan seems to be the creation of a wholly new diocese, and yet our own canons don’t really provide for what we’re doing.
Sure, our canons didn’t imagine this scenario. But they would have done just fine, if people were willing to wait a bit longer for the wheels of justice to turn. We seem to care about justice for GLBT people — thanks be to God — but not always justice for secessionists. Respecting the dignity of every human being includes those with whom we disagree, even if they have behaved badly.
It’s not too late. Schofield is out the door, almost. But we can handle future cases with justice and equity. We can ask our leaders to behave with absolute impartiality. We can seek mercy. We can proceed as the Church and not as those with power declaring that our way is the right way.
UPDATED AGAIN: The Postulant points out some of my sloppy language here. Rightly so. Bishop Schofield doesn’t need to renounce his Holy Orders to avoid deposition; he needs to renounce his ministry in this church. That’s the canonical language. But he hasn’t done that either. So I still think my point that the HoB must vote on this deposition is right. Sadly, 815 continues to fabricate “canonical actions” too. I’m about to write about that.