Bishop Schori writes to the House of Bishops

BB NOTE: Things are heating up. The Presiding Bishop has issued the following letter in defense of the actions she has taken (and note who she points to that will go down in her ship). Tip of the Tinfoil to StandFirm. We have a few comments.

April 30, 2008
For the House of Bishops

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

Inasmuch as the past several weeks have involved some significant situations (you can say that again), I thought it would be helpful to review and comment on process (which is a PR-style way of saying “I have made some major boo boos and now I’m going to try to wiggle my way out of them.” Note that she doesn’t mention the bishops who have requested an investigation into the attempt to depose two bishops at the last HOB meeting, very interesting). First, regarding deposition for “abandonment of the communion of The Episcopal Church,” (note that she doesn’t cite where she’s getting this quote – the Episcopal Church is not in communion with itself – that’s called narcissism) it is important to remember (in her opinion, which is apparently all that matters these days) that such an act is not by definition punitive (but in her case it is), but does give formal recognition to a reality already taking place (in other words, the “reality” is that we’re pissed off and we’re going to do something about it). Once the Title IV Review Committee (yo – and who hand-picked the appointments of these people by the way???) has certified that a bishop has abandoned the communion of this Church (which has now been reinterpreted to mean a “communion of one” – i.e., the only church in communion is the Episcopal Church, there is no other church in communion which is not a communion, which is a farce) under Title IV, Canon 9, the bishop in question is given sixty days to respond (but what if they have resigned? Oops, she’ll have an answer to that in a minute).

During this sixty day period, Title IV has a provision for temporary inhibition of the bishop by the Presiding Bishop with the consent of the three senior active bishops of the Church (except when she tries to go around them, as she tried to do with Bishop Duncan and failed, but nevermind). These bishops who must consent to the temporary inhibition do not, however, have a veto over consideration of the merits of the deposition by the House of Bishops, any more than those who must consent to temporary inhibitions in other circumstances have a veto over consideration of the charges by a trial court (now – WHO WROTE THIS LAST SENTENCE???? Hello? Hello?). This understanding of the canon is held not only by my Chancellor (BINGO! We have liftoff!) but also by members of the Title IV Review Committee including an attorney (“The Episcopal Church Litigates You”) who is an original member of the Committee (and who might that be and why should we care what an “original” member thinks – is the “original member” still on the committee and when did this committee get formed and who gave authority to this committee to do anything, we’re getting the idea that this committee does not go back to the founding of the Episcopal Church after that unfortunate REVOLUTION when we overthrew the last group of bishops and told Canterbury to get lost, at least for a couple of years, oh, but nevermind – one never knows how committees are formed or who appoints the members to the committee after its formed and who gives authority to a committee or why “original” members should be quoted, no wonder Rowan Williams is reading Dostoevsky these days), the chancellors of several dioceses who have been consulted (does that include the chancellor of the Diocese of San Joaquin? Or the Diocese of Pittsburgh? Or the Diocese of Quincy? Or the Diocese of Springfield? Or the Diocese of Ft. Worth? Or even the Diocese of Albany? Or perhaps the Diocese of West Tennessee? Or the Diocese of Rio Grande? Or the Diocese of South Carolina? So why don’t you mentioned which dioceses you consulted, Bishop Sauls, I mean Bishop Schori?), and the former Chair of both the Standing Commission on the Constitution and Canons and the Legislative Committee on the Canons at the General Convention (obviously this is supposed to be impressive, but unfortunately, these are just more committees that find their hope in 815 – Kafka, call your office).

As the actual vote regarding deposition draws near (“and I screwed up big time last time, but let’s not mention that, shall we?”), it is important to recognize what does and does not constitute a relevant response by the bishop in question (oh, and who do you think you are telling the House of Bishops what is a “relevant response?” Excuse me, I have to go get a gin and tonic before I read the rest of this thing … ). A letter of resignation from the House is irrelevant to the charges brought forward by the Review Committee and the deposition proceedings (PANTS ON FIRE! PANTS ON FIRE!), since deposition concerns a person’s ordination in this Church (ANGLICAN – can we say A N G L I C A N ???), not simply participation in the House of Bishops (PANTS ON FIRE!). Resignation from the House thus has no bearing (ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU ARE 80 PLUS YEARS OLD AND YOUR WIFE HAS ALZHEIMER’S OR YOUR SON HAS JUST DIED OR YOU HAVE MOVED TO ANOTHER JURISDICTION) on following through with the charges brought forward by the Review Committee (NOPE, PANTS STILL ON FIRE). Deposition in this situation makes clear in an official way that the bishop in question is no longer permitted to exercise ordained ministry in this Church (just because you say some thing does not make it so, especially when you have been selective on whom you talk to – BLINK BLINK BLINK).

Regarding how the vote is to be taken (“since I completely screwed it up last time”), the canon is clear that a vote on deposition must occur at “regular or special meeting of the House.” Although we have other canonical consent provisions where consents may be secured by written ballot through the mail, that process does not satisfy the canons here (WAIT – that’s your opinion, you site no case law, no history, no nothing – BLINK BLINK BLINK). Every bishop entitled to vote is invited to the meeting (that’s like saying, every senator is invited to the Floor — PANTS ON FIRE) and given ample notice that there will be a vote on depositions (A MAJORITY OF THE WHOLE NUMBER OF THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS, we’re talking about the equivalent of the death penalty for ministry with what you are doing, Ma’am, hello? Do you think the entire House of Bishops are idiots?). Materials surrounding the deposition in question are posted in the “Bishops Only” section of the College for Bishops website (It’s labeled “WITCH HUNT). The canon is read (AHHH!!! This is so slimy I need another Gin & Tonic – “the canon is read” – that’s like saying “I shall read this law that says I must stop at a stop sign as meaning I can slow down as though I was about to stop but I don’t actually have to stop – it’s just a suggestion) that a quorum be present and a majority of all bishops present (WHICH IS A MAJORITY OF A QUORUM! PANTS ON FIRE! PANTS ON FIRE!) who are entitled to vote consent to the deposition, as was done in the case of Bishop Davies of Fort Worth in the 1990s and Bishop Larrea of Ecuador Central in 2005 (BISHOP PIKE! BISHOP PIKE! Where the hell is Bishop Pike?). In terms of parliamentary rules of order, any questions about the propriety of a vote are to be raised before the meeting or, of course, during it (JOHN HOWE and MARK LAWRENCE CALL YOUR OFFICE).

These are weighty matters (which you have made light of), and it is important that we take seriously our procedures (WHAT? A lecture – from you???), as well as their purpose and intent (this is so rich – shall we call the kettle black?). It is also important that we remember (more lectures – how do these bishops stand these lectures?) the reason that such canons and procedures are in place (so that you can change their meaning and enforcement to satisfy your own political needs?). These matters with which we are confronted have ramifications for many outside our House (like perhaps, your job security?). For those who would like an alternative to deposition, we already have one, in the form of renunciation of vows in this Church (HOLY COW – now she’s getting mean, really mean – did anyone review this letter rather than the lawyers before she sent it? Just how hot is the kitchen, any way?), so that anyone may pursue his or her conscience and desires in another part of Christ’s Body (or “MY WAY or the HIGHWAY, GOT IT?”). This option makes clear and clean an individual’s departure from The Episcopal Church (“and we won’t miss you, either”). Resignation from the House is quite different, since it only deals with the person’s relation to the House, not to The Episcopal Church. Thus, to resign from the House while still claiming jurisdiction over a diocese with its property and assets is not a viable alternative (uh,, who wrote this section? Can we spell D-AVIDBOOTHBEERS ?).

Some have misunderstood the impact and intent of deposition (this is possibly the UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR). It is this Church’s formal way of saying to the world that the deposed cleric is no longer permitted to act as a sacramental representative of this Church (AND YOUR LITTLE DOG TOO!). If vows to uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this Church are not voluntarily renounced, how otherwise can a cleric take up new vows to uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of another Church (HELLO? We all belong to the same denomination – TEC is supposed to be a member of the Anglican Communion – we’re not Presbyterians or Methodists or Baptists or Catholics – we’re Anglicans – we belong to the SAME DENOMINATION, someone please get Rowan Williams on his cell)? These are indeed difficult decisions that we at times are called to make, and I have no doubt that all of us would wish things were different (Nevada is looking mighty good). We must respond to the situations with which we are faced, compassionately but not naively (i.e., worldly), knowing that we make these decisions not for ourselves alone but for the people whom we are called to shepherd (OH NO – don’t lay that trip on the laity – this is on your head, don’t displace your responsibility and say you’re doing this for the laity – it’s your mess) and oversee. I remain

Your servant in Christ,

Katharine Jefferts Schori