Guilty (?!) until proven guilty

The troubles in the Diocese of San Joaquin are well known. I’ve written about them as recently as Friday. I won’t keep rehashing the same-old, same-old, but there’s one new thing that’s gotten itself under my skin.

The Living Church has reported this:

A single candidate chosen to be the provisional Bishop of San Joaquin will participate in a two-day walkabout visitation to the diocese immediately after the House of Bishops’ meeting concludes at Camp Allen in Texas on March 12.

OK. I get it. Bishop Schofield is going to be deposed. The farce proceedings in the House of Bishops will serve to ratify that foregone conclusion. What I cannot fathom is why the arrangements for Schofield’s successor can’t wait until the proverbial body is cold.

Sure, maybe someone wanted to schedule a walkabout, knowing that it is almost certain that he’ll be deposed. But it could have been kept quiet. If for no other reason than to honor due process (not to mention our baptismal obligation to respect Bishop Schofield’s dignity), shouldn’t the public announcement have been delayed until the verdict is pronounced?

Let me be clear. Bishop Schofield has, prima facie, violated the discipline of the Episcopal Church. He should be deposed. That’s exactly what will happen. Had we proceeded more carefully, ECUSA could have maintained the moral high ground. Sadly, we seem to be racing the secessionists into the trenches for merciless combat.

Schofield is the duly elected and consecrated Bishop of San Joaquin until the moment his resignation is accepted or his deposition is pronounced. By ignoring that simple fact, every shred of moral authority to talk about compliance with canons has been eroded.

I can only hope that Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori has received bad advice, and that she quietly regrets this disastrous series of events. I can hope that next time, we proceed in a way that honors the dignity of everyone involved and respects our own canons.

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2 Responses

  1. the provisional bishop won’t have his walkabout until after the HoB. it doesn’t seem imprudent to have this in place ahead of time.

    for example, i have been there when a bishop made two simultaneous announcements to a parish: your rector has done bad things (sexual misconduct) and will be going away, and here is Fr. so-and-so who will be your new interim.

  2. Scott Gunn says:

    Well, in your example, I’d have an “issue” if the rector were being “replaced” before she or he has been removed. Sure, I’d be fine if the PB said, because Bishop Schofield has chosen not to function has your bishop, I’m sending someone to help out. But she shouldn’t say that there’s no bishop at present.

    Also, just I would expect the bishop to be in touch with the vestry in your example, I’d have been much happier if the PB had worked with the Standing Committee instead of sacking them (without any basis in canons).

    Again, I get the need the *schedule* the walkabout now. It makes sense to be ready to get on with things. They shouldn’t have *announced* it as if there’s no bishop.

    Blah, blah, blah. That’s my take on it anyway.


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