Skip to comments.Leaked Documents Reveal Attack on Bishop John-David Schofield
Posted on 07/26/2006 4:54:27 PM PDT by sionnsar
SAN JOAQUIN, CA: (7/26/2006)--VirtueOnline has received explosive documents and correspondence sent between the Chancellor of the Diocese of San Joaquin and Bishop Dorsey Henderson, of Upper South Carolina, who heads the Title IV Review Committee examining charges that Bishop Schofield has "abandoned the Communion of the church."
William Swing, Bishop of California also writes to Bishop Schofield urging him to reverse the actions of his diocese in amending the diocese' Articles of Incorporation.
Four bishops in California, William Swing, (California); J. Jon Bruno, (Los Angeles); Jerry Lamb, (Northern California) and James Mathes (San Diego) have filed charges against Bishop Schofield under Canon IV.9 calling for the bishop's removal from office.
"How absurdly cruel these bishops are in attempting to use coercive tactics, they are downright evil," said a priest in the diocese. They are unwarranted and without justification, he said.
Read the correspondence here:
FROM: DIOCESE OF SAN JOAQUIN
July 17, 2006
Via Facsimile (803) 799-5119 and U.S. Mail
The Right Reverend Dorsey F. Henderson, Jr.
Title IV Review Committee
1115 Marion Street
Columbia SC 29201
Re: The Right Reverend John-David Schofield Bishop of San Joaquin
Dear Bishop Henderson:
As chancellor of the Diocese of San Joaquin, I write in response to the Title IV accusation against Bishop Schofield which was lodged by Bishops Swing, Lamb, Bruno and Mathes, all of California. The accusation is dated June 29, 2006, and I did not see it until a copy was forwarded to me on July 14 by David Beers, chancellor for the Presiding Bishop. I was the first in the Diocese to receive a copy. Given the serious nature of the accusation and the fact it has apparently been in the hands of the Review Committee for two weeks, I am making a hurried response to point out the obvious flaws in accusation and to offer some factual context.
Boiled down, the complaining bishops seek Bishop Schofield's removal from The Episcopal Church under Canon IV.9 which is meant to safeguard the doctrine and worship of the Church or, in other words, theological and scriptural points of view. However, the complaining bishops have admitted in writing that their dispute with Bishop Schofield has nothing to do with theological or scriptural matters. Instead, the issue with Bishop Schofield concerns litigation strategies the complaining bishops plan on using in the civil courts when they sue fleeing orthodox parishes over ownership of parish property. On June 22, the complaining bishops demanded Bishop Schofield sign and return documents which the complaining bishops deemed useful for their litigation purposes. The complaining bishops demanded return of these signed documents the next day, or on June 23. When this did not occur, the complaining bishops retaliated and lodged the instant Title IV accusation seeking Bishop Schofield's removal from The Episcopal Church. It is, of course, quite obvious that the application of secular law to parish property interests and the viability of legal arguments and strategies in the civil courts have no conceivable connection to Canon IV.9. You and the Review Committee should not be taken in.
Canon IV.9 provides for an expedited and closed-door deposition process where a bishop has allegedly abandoned the communion of the Church. However, this unique deposition procedure applies in only three situations: (1) where a bishop openly renounces the Doctrine, Discipline or Worship of the Church; (2) where a bishop gains formal admission into a religious body not in communion with the Church; and (3) where a bishop exercises episcopal acts for a religious organization outside the Anglican Communion without proper authorization from the Church. Bishop Schofield has done none of these things. It should be clear to anyone reading the papers that the charges are demonstrably false based on the evidence presented by the complaining bishops. Logically, the accusation should proceed no further. However, if you and the Review Committee intend to seriously entertain this ill-conceived accusation, then I respectfully ask you to consider the following.
First, let me provide you with some factual context which explains the complaining bishops' motives in lodging the accusation. On June 22, 2006, a mere seven days before submitting the June 29 accusation, the complaining bishops wrote Bishop Schofield a letter in which they explained their grievance:
"My point is this: you have let your diocese to take actions that put all Episcopal dioceses in the State of California in jeopardy. I am not talking about interpretation of Scripture or theological points of view. I am specifically talking about your legal language. All Episcopal dioceses in California are questioned by the court system as to whether or not we are a hierarchical church. You have taken unilateral actions that destroy any chance that the rest of the Episcopal dioceses in California could ever argue that we are a hierarchical church. That will create chaos for all of us for all time.  I beg you to take the lead in reversing the actions of your diocese.
No need to apologize; great need to begin now in reversing the situations. This issue of internal governance is crucial, and the moment is volatile." (Emphasis added.)
It is obvious from the foregoing statement that the complaining bishops' concerns have nothing to do with the doctrine and worship of The Episcopal Church, but rather have to do with legal arguments they plan on making to the civil courts concerning property disputes with their parishes. The Diocese of Los Angeles and Bishop Bruno are already involved in such litigation and the cases are on appeal. There is no causal connection between their legal problems and any actions of the Diocese of San Joaquin or Bishop Schofield. In any event, the resolution of secular legal issues is a matter not embraced by Canon IV.9 and the instant accusation is inappropriate.
The June 22 letter also demanded a written response and the signing of amended articles of incorporation by the next day, June 23, 2006. Bishop Schofield was in transit from GC 2006 on June 23 and never saw the letter let alone had the opportunity to respond to it before the one-day deadline expired. Further, the legal issues raised in the letter required my input and I was out of the country through June 29. I am at a loss to understand why the complaining bishops felt this matter was of such extreme urgency that a sensible dialogue could not be undertaken. A copy of the June 22 letter is attached.
Without any further notice, the complaining bishops lodged their Title IV accusation five days later in which they advance three reasons for deposition under Canon IV.9: (1) the accession language contained in the constitution of the Diocese of San Joaquin; (2) an amendment to the articles of incorporation of the Diocese's corporation sole; and (3) a resolution to seek continued recognition of the Diocese of San Joaquin as a member of the Anglican Communion. I will comment on each assertion in order.
The accession language contained in the diocesan constitution was enacted by the Diocese of San Joaquin at its 2005 Convention. This was an action taken by the Diocese as a California unincorporated association; a legal entity separate and apart from Bishop Schofield. Canon IV.9 simply does not apply to the actions of a diocese and it is the actions of the Diocese which are the subject of the accusation. Further, even assuming the lawful action of the Diocese is somehow imputed to Bishop Schofield, there is no explanation how the accession language of the Diocese of San Joaquin is in conflict with any doctrine, teaching or worship of the Church. The subject accession clause was adopted by the Diocese of San Joaquin in response to the actions of GC 2003 and reserves the right of the Diocese to disagree with the Church. How is this a problem? Given that 22 of 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion have publically denounced the actions of GC 2003, the response of the Diocese of San Joaquin is quite moderate and certainly understandable.
Next, the complaining bishops take issue with an amendment to the articles of incorporation of corporation sole. Corporation sole is completely secular in nature and therefore completely irrelevant to Canon IV.9. The complaining bishops are either mixed up on this point or they are not receiving appropriate legal advice, or both. Let me briefly explain. The Diocese of San Joaquin is a California unincorporated association. The California Corporations Code authorizes the creation of a corporation sole for the purpose of protecting and preserving the property of the unincorporated religious association; here, the Diocese of San Joaquin. The amendment has to do with the succession of the chief officer of corporation sole. The amendment does not in any way change the constitution and canons of the Diocese of San Joaquin which provide for the election of a bishop. Even assuming there was some error in the language of the corporation sole amendment, it has no impact on the diocesan constitution and canons. Moreover, I believe the current amendment to corporation sole is consistent with the Diocese's constitution and canons so I fail completely to see the point, let alone how this translates into an abandonment of the worship of the Church.
Finally, the complaining bishops assert there has been an abandonment of the communion of The Episcopal Church because of the April 8, 2006, resolution which seeks continued and separate recognition of the Diocese as a member of the Anglican Communion. This is a silly assertion. The Episcopal Church is a member of the world-wide Anglican Communion and so states in its constitutional preamble. The Diocese of San Joaquin is also part of the world-wide Anglican Communion and desires to remain so in the future. Unfortunately, the actions of GC 2003 and 2006 create a significant risk that The Episcopal Church will be removed from of the Anglican Communion. The subject resolution is meant to preserve the right to worship in the Anglican Faith and not to abandon it.
The relevant portion of Canon IV.9 only proscribes admission into a religious body which is not in communion with The Episcopal Church. Here, only recognition is sought by the Diocese and Bishop Schofield and all of the contacts are with members of the Anglican Communion. There is nothing in the constitution or canons of The Episcopal Church which discourage, let alone prohibit, developing relationships with or seeking recognition from other members of the Anglican Communion. Indeed, there is a program of the Anglican Communion that encourages partnerships between dioceses of one province and those of another province. At the present time, the Diocese of San Joaquin does not have such a partnership diocese. Canon IV.9 would only be relevant to the April 8 resolution if The Episcopal Church was not a member of the Anglican Communion.
Thank you for your consideration.
Very truly yours,
Russell G. VanRozeboom Chancellor of The Diocese of San Joaquin
cc:The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield
Standing Committee Kevin D. Gunner,
Chancellor David Booth Beers, Esq.
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