Tuesday, July 15, 2008

San Joaquin (CA) Diocese Bishop John David Schofield: In or Out of Anglican Communion?

Several reports on the web today are addressing the alleged comments of Rowan Williams to Archbishop Greg Venables (Argentina) in regard to (former?) Bishop John David Shofield. Shofield (once a Bishop of TEC, now a questionable Bishop of the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone) never really "went" anywhere, except in name. He remains perched in TEC's San Joaquin Diocese. Schofield retained the keys to parishes, the assets of the diocese and, last month, tried to change asset bank accounts rightfully held by TEC to another corporation, a move blocked by TEC.

The quotes and text for this matter are within a letter issued July 14, 2008 to David Schofield from Archbishop Greg Venables and can be read here, and also the original copy here.

The text pertinent to Schofield reads:

In addition, I have been in conversation with Archbishop Rowan. Over the weekend I received the following message from him:

“I understand that Bishop John-David Schofield has been accepted as a full member of the episcopal fellowship of the Province of the Southern Cone within the Anglican Communion and as such cannot be regarded as having withdrawn from the Anglican Communion. However, it is acknowledged that his exact status (especially given the complications surrounding the congregations associated with him) remains unclear on the basis of the general norms of Anglican Canon Law, and this constitutes one of the issues on which we hope for assistance from the Windsor Continuation Group. Bishop Schofield has elected to decline the invitation to the Lambeth Conference issued to him last year although that decision does not signal any withdrawal from the Communion. I hope there may be further careful reflection to clarify the terms on which he will exercise his ministry.”
Now i don't know about you, but I did NOT read that Schofield is accepted as a Bishop in the Anglican Communion. What I read is, gee we don't really know if he is in the Anglican Communion and the Windsor Continuation Group is going to have to try to figure this out for us.

There are two problems here:

1. Schofield was found to have abandoned TEC. Clearly he is not in TEC. Not only that, Archbishop Venables claims Schofield as one of "his".

2. While taken into the Province of the Southern Cone, that Province's bylaws do not allow for this. So, technically, he cannot be a Bishop there, either.

Leading us back to the obvious question again, where does Schofield belong, if anywhere, right now?

Earlier this year, Schofield was invited to Lambeth. Later, after being appointed as TEC's Bishop of the San Joaquin Diocese, Bishop Jerry Lamb was also invited. Lamb will be at Lambeth while Schofield will not (for whatever reason... some reasons are being tossed about).

Bishop Schofield's game of musical provinces may have left him without a seat. Mmmm.

UPDATE: You can also read Mark Harris on this topic, here.

UPDATE: You can also read Father Dan Martin's take on this letter. Martin was a priest in the San Joaquin Diocese until fall of 2007.