Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rector's Forum

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The Rector held a forum last Sunday on the recent House of Bishops meeting and the attempted depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox. You can listen to the audio here.

Below are some relevant background materials: the applicable canons and articles including Conger's Living Church article first noting the irregularity. Also, some parishioners asked about resources to stay informed. Please take note of the "Church News and Comment" links near the top of the right hand column on this blog.

TITLE IV, CANON 9: Of Abandonment of the Communion of This Church by a Bishop

Sec. 1. If a Bishop abandons the communion of this Church (i) by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship of this Church, or (ii) by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with the same, or (iii) by exercising episcopal acts in and for a religious body other than this Church or another Church in communion with this Church, so as to extend to such body Holy Orders as this Church holds them, or to administer on behalf of such religious body Confirmation without the express consent and commission of the proper authority in this Church; it shall be the duty of the Review Committee, by a majority vote of All the Members, to certify the fact to the Presiding Bishop and with the certificate to send a statement of the acts or declarations which show such abandonment, which certificate and statement shall be recorded by the Presiding Bishop. The Presiding Bishop, with the consent of the three senior Bishops having jurisdiction in this Church, shall then inhibit the said Bishop until such time as the House of Bishops shall investigate the matter and act thereon. During the period of Inhibition, the Bishop shall not perform any episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts, except as relate to the administration of the temporal affairs of the Diocese of which the Bishop holds jurisdiction or in which the Bishop is then serving.

Sec. 2. The Presiding Bishop, or the presiding officer, shall forthwith give notice to the Bishop of the certification and Inhibition. Unless the inhibited Bishop, within two months, makes declaration by a written statement to the Presiding Bishop, that the facts alleged in the certificate are false or utilizes the provisions of Canon IV.8 or Canon III.12.7, as applicable, the Bishop will be liable to Deposition. If the Presiding Bishop is reasonably satisfied that the statement constitutes (i) a good faith retraction of the declarations or acts relied upon in the certification to the Presiding Bishop or (ii) a good faith denial that the Bishop made the declarations or committed the acts relied upon in the certificate, the Presiding Bishop, with the advice and consent of a majority of the three senior Bishops consenting to Inhibition, terminate the Inhibition. Otherwise, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops at the next regular or special meeting of the House. If the House, by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote, shall give its consent, the Presiding Bishop shall depose the Bishop from the Ministry, and pronounce and record in the presence of two or more Bishops that the Bishop has been so deposed.

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Deposition Votes Failed to Achieve Canonically Required Majority
March 15, 2008, by George Conger

Slightly more than one-third of all bishops eligible voted to depose bishops John-David Schofield and William J. Cox during the House of Bishops’ spring retreat, far fewer than the 51 percent required by the canons.

The exact number is impossible to know, because both resolutions were approved by voice vote. Only 131 bishops registered for the meeting March 7-12 at Camp Allen, and at least 15 of them left before the business session began on Wednesday. There were 294 members of the House of Bishops entitled to vote on March 12.

When questioned about canonical inconsistencies during a telephone press conference at the conclusion of the meeting, Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina said the bishops had relied on advice provided to them by canonical experts, and did not examine canonical procedure during plenary debate prior to the votes to depose bishops Schofield and Cox.

Bishop Schofield was consecrated Bishop of San Joaquin in 1989. Last December, he presided over a diocesan convention at which clergy and lay delegates voted overwhelmingly to leave The Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone. Bishop Cox was consecrated Bishop Suffragan of Maryland in 1972. He resigned in 1980, later serving as Assisting Bishop of Oklahoma from 1980 to 1988. In 2005, Bishop Cox ordained two priests and a deacon at Christ Church, Overland Park, Kan. Christ Church affiliated with the Anglican Church of Uganda after purchasing its property from the Diocese of Kansas.

Both bishops were charged with abandonment of communion. The procedure for deposing a bishop under this charge is specified in Title IV, canon 9, sections 1-2. The canon stipulates that the vote requires “a majority of the whole number of bishops entitled to vote,” not merely a majority of those present. At least a dozen bishops voted either not to depose Bishop Schofield or to abstain, according to several bishops. The number voting in favor of deposing Bishop Cox was reportedly slightly larger than the number in favor of deposing Bishop Schofield.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was questioned about the history of the canonical proceedings against Bishop Cox. At first she said during the press conference that she had not sought the canonically required consent of the three senior bishops of the church for permission to inhibit Bishop Cox pending his trial. However Title IV, Canon 9, sections 1-2 do not describe a procedure for deposing a bishop who has not first been inhibited.

Consent Never Sought

Later in the press conference, Bishop Jefferts Schori clarified and extended her remarks, saying she had been “unable to get the consent of the three senior bishops last spring. That’s why we didn’t bring it to the September meeting” of the House of Bishops. One of the three senior bishops with jurisdiction confirmed to The Living Church that his consent to inhibit Bishop Cox was never sought.

In 2007, Bishop Cox sent a written letter to Bishop Jefferts Schori, announcing his resignation from the House of Bishops. Since he was already retired, he did not have jurisdiction, and therefore unlike Bishop Schofield, his resignation did not require consent from a majority of the House of Bishops. A trial of the 88-year-old retired bishop was not mandatory.

Bishop Cox also does not appear to have been granted due process with respect to a speedy trial. Once the disciplinary review committee formally certifies that a bishop has abandoned communion, the canons state “it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops at the next regular or special meeting of the house.” The review committee provided certification to Bishop Jefferts Schori on May 29, 2007. His case should have been heard during the fall meeting in New Orleans last September. When asked about the apparent inconsistency, Bishop Jefferts Schori said initially she did not include Bishop Cox’s case on the agenda for the New Orleans meeting “due to the press of business.”

Title IV, canon 9, section 1 requires the Presiding Bishop to inform the accused bishop “forthwith,” in other words immediately, after the review committee has provided a certificate of abandonment, but Bishop Jefferts Schori did not write to Bishop Cox until Jan. 8, 2008, more than seven months afterward.

The two-hour business session at which the deposition votes were taken ran slightly longer than originally scheduled. First a resolution was read followed by prayer from the chaplain. A period of silence followed the prayer. After the silence was broken, the bishops discussed the resolution in small table groups followed by plenary discussion. When it appeared that everyone who wanted to speak had done so, the voice vote was taken. Each resolution was read and voted on separately.



Call for review after trial ‘flouted Church rules’
March 27, 2008, by George Conger

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori failed to follow the procedural rules governing the trial of Bishop William Cox for “abandonment of the Communion” of the Episcopal Church an investigation by The Church of England Newspaper has found.

In a March 12 press conference, Bishop Schori stated she had not followed rules governing the requirement that the 88-year old retired bishop be granted a speedy trial, that he be informed of the charges against him in a timely fashion, and that the consent of the church’s senior bishops be solicited by the Presiding Bishop to suspend him from office pending trial. A subsequent investigation by CEN in conjunction with The Living Church magazine revealed an insufficient number of votes to convict were cast also.

The Bishop of Central Florida has called for a review of the proceedings, and the president of the church’s appellate court of review for the trial of bishops is understood to have agreed to look into the proceedings.

Elected suffragan bishop of Maryland in 1972, Bishop Cox was translated to Oklahoma in 1980 as assistant bishop and retired in 1988. In June 2005, Bishop Cox performed ordinations at Christ Church, Overland Park, Kansas on behalf of Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda. Earlier that year Christ Church negotiated an amicable parting of the ways with the diocese of Kansas and had joined the Ugandan Church. Bishop Cox returned the following month to Overland Park to perform confirmations on behalf of Archbishop Orombi.

The bishops of Kansas and Oklahoma filed a complaint against Bishop Cox for performing Episcopal acts without the permission of the local diocesan bishop. In March 2006 the Church’s Title IV review committee found there was sufficient evidence to bring Bishop Cox to trial, however, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold declined to prosecute.

Following the 2006 election of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop the charges were resubmitted. Bishop Cox, then 87 years of age, declined to contest the matter telling his attorney he was too old to fight, and by letter resigned his membership in the House of Bishops on March 28, 2007.

In his letter of resignation Bishop Cox said that although he was resigning his membership in the House of Bishops and was not resigning his orders and would be joining the Province of the Southern Cone and would continue his episcopal ministry in that branch of the Communion.

Bishop Schori forwarded the letter to the Title IV review committee asking it to determine whether by this letter, Bishop Cox had “abandoned the communion” of the Episcopal Church.

On May 29, 2007 the Title IV review committee issued its certificate and report under Title IV Canon 9 that Bishop Cox had “abandoned the communion.” On Jan 8, 2008 she informed Bishop Cox that he had been determined to have abandoned the communion of this church. She gave him 60 days to recant, or else he would be brought before the next house of bishops meeting and be deposed. Offering no defence, Bishop Cox was deposed on a voice vote of bishops attending the final day of the meeting.

The procedures laid out in Title IV, Canon 9, sections 1 and 2 (the abandonment canon) to depose a bishop state that after the Title IV review committee issues a certificate of abandonment the Presiding Bishop “shall” “forthwith” notify the accused. The Presiding Bishop then “shall” seek the consent of the three senior bishops with jurisdiction to inhibit the accused bishop, and trial “shall” take place at the “next” meeting of the House of Bishops.

At a March 12 press conference Bishop Schori outlined the procedural history surrounding the Cox case. She said the Title IV review committee had “certified [Bishop Cox] several years ago. … before her time.” She added, however, that “it was never brought to the House of Bishops for action.”

She then said she “did not send it to the three senior bishops” and the House of Bishops “did not consider it in September” at their meeting in New Orleans with the Archbishop of Canterbury due to the “the press of other business.”

Several minutes later, Bishop Schori said she wanted to “clarify” her earlier statements. She said she had been “unable to get the consent of the three senior bishops last spring. That’s why we didn’t bring it to the September meeting” of the House of Bishops.

Contacted after the press conference, one of the three senior bishops, who declined to be named, stated he had never been asked by Bishop Schori to consent to Bishop Cox’s supension.

The Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor, Mr. David Booth Beers, declined to address the issues surrounding Bishop Cox’s case in a March 15 statement released through the Episcopal Church’s press office. However, he stated that his “position” was that there had been a legal quorum to depose the two bishops on March 12.

Canon lawyer, retired Bishop William Wantland of Eau Claire told CEN the deposition of Bishop Cox was “void” for failing to achieve the required “majority vote of all bishops entitled to vote” and because the “canonical procedure was simply not followed.”

In defence of the proceedings against Bishop Cox, Indianapolis Bishop Catherine Waynick wrote that while the “canons may need to be clarified, what does not seem to need clarifying” was that “William Cox willfully violated the canons by functioning where he had been specifically asked not to.”

However, the charge brought against Bishop Cox was not violating diocesan boundaries. In 2006 Bishop Griswold dropped the charges proffered against Bishop Cox for the Kansas ordination, raising the question whether the bishops convicted him of a crime not before the bishops for adjudication.

The charge was “Abandonment of Communion,” Bishop Wantland said. The punishment for violation of diocesan boundaries “is a totally different charge. In my opinion, this is what he should have been charged with, and the procedure under Canon IV. 9. 2 was totally inappropriate and without any justification,” he said.

On March 15, Central Florida Bishop John W. Howe urged the Episcopal Church’s three senior bishops to review the case, saying he was under “no illusions that the outcome of the despicable vote to depose John-David [Schofield] and William [Cox] will be reversed, but at least we might want to obey the canons.”

On Maundy Thursday, Bishop Howe repeated his call for justice to those falsely condemned, noting “I recall that another person of influence washed his hands of a difficult matter on this same weekend some years ago.”



Bishops demand to know litigation costs
March 31, 2008, by George Conger

Two retired American bishops have called upon the national church in New York to disclose the amount of money the Episcopal Church is spending on litigation with breakaway congregations.

The call for financial accountability from retired Bishops Williams Wantland of Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Bishop Maurice Benitez of Texas comes amidst tightening finances for the Episcopal Church, which has also announced it would no longer pay the stipends of overseas missionaries.

On March 7, the Episcopal Church’s mission personnel officer announced that missionaries sponsored by the national church would no longer receive stipends or reimbursement for travel expenses.

Lay missionaries would now receive the same pension benefits as ordained missionaries. However, this rise in costs plus increased health and conference fees coupled with a “reduction in our overall budget of 5 percent in 2008 due to budget constraints” had forced the church to cut off missionary stipends.

The cuts will take immediate effect for new missionaries, while those on current assignment will see the change when their “Letters of Understanding” are renewed.

The suspension of the stipendiary missionary programme follows a Feb 29 open letter from the two retired bishops seeking an accounting for the estimated several million dollars spent on litigation by the national church offices. The two bishops wrote their latest request was their third attempt to get an answer.

The first answer the bishops received, they said, was that the money spent on lawyers to fight the church’s property battles was “a secret.” A second request elicited the response that “no funds for litigation have come from either the Pension Fund or Trust Funds. However, [the national church] refused to disclose the amounts being expended on litigation.”

In their Feb 29 letter, the bishops stated the national church had no legal right to withhold financial information. Saying “it’s a secret” was “not acceptable. If there is nothing wrong with these expenditures, then why do you refuse to reveal the amount?” Bishops Wantland and Benitez asked.




Presiding Bishop charged with defaming Bishop Cox
April 2, 2008, by George Conger

Lawyers for the octogenarian bishop deposed by the American Church have written to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori charging her with defaming their client.

Questions over the legality of the March 12 proceedings have riled the American Church since the legality of the decision to depose Bishop John-David Schofield of San Joaquin and retired Bishop William Cox was questioned by The Church of England Newspaper and the Living Church.

On March 27 the Diocese of South Carolina issued a formal protest to the “failure to follow the Canons” and asked Bishop Schori to “revisit those decisions”, “refrain” from appointing a new bishop for San Joaquin and to “make every effort to follow our Church Canons in all future House of Bishops decisions.”

“Because we feel so strongly that the Canons were not followed in the depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox, we must respectfully refuse to recognize the depositions, and we will not recognize any new bishop who may be elected to replace Bishop Schofield, unless and until the canons are followed,” South Carolina said.

The Bishop of Central Florida last week called for a review of the decision, raising the matter with Bishop Clifton Daniels III of East Carolina, the president of the church’s court of review for the trial of a bishop. Though Bishop Daniels declined to respond to a query from the CEN, he is understood to have agreed to look into the matter.

R. Wicks Stephens, the chancellor of the Anglican Communion Network and attorney for Bishop Cox wrote to Bishop Schori and her lawyer David Booth Beers on March 27 stating “your purported deposition of Bishop Cox is unsupported by the canonically required consent of a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote on the proposed deposition of Bishop Cox which was presented to the House of Bishops at its last meeting. Accordingly, the deposition of Bishop Cox was not consented to as required, and your pronouncement of his deposition as a Bishop is without effect and void.”

He lambasted Mr. Beers’ argument that his “reading” of the canons required “merely the consent of a majority of those Bishops present in the House” to depose the two bishops, citing the text of the constitution and canons to support this reading.

“While assuredly your Chancellor has the right to offer interpretations of the canons when ambiguity so requires, nothing justifies a reading” of the canons “that is directly contrary to that canon’s plain language and meaning,” Mr. Stephens said, demanding that “you right the wrong by which you have defamed Bishop Cox by immediately withdrawing your pronouncement of deposition.”


Letter to the San Joaquin Standing Committee
The following is the letter sent to the elected members of the Standing Committee of San Joaquin, but without the addresses of each member (which were amazingly included in the original as posted to Episcopal News Service).

January 25, 2008

The Very Rev. Canon James L. Snell
The Rev. Richard I. James
Ms. Kim Robinson
Mr. Ted Yumoto
The Rev. Michael E. McClenaghan
The Rev. Robert G. Eaton
Mr. Tom Wright
Mr. Stevie Oates

Dear Sirs and Madam,

I am writing to you because I have been informed that you constituted the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin prior to and/or during the most recent Convention of the Diocese in December 2007. It has come to my attention that in the past several months you have taken actions in support of an attempt to take the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin out of the Episcopal Church and into affiliation with the Province of the Southern Cone. I understand that these have included voting to amend the Diocese’s Constitution and canons and attempting to organize as the Standing Committee of an entity that identifies itself as an Anglican Diocese of the Province of the Southern Cone. These actions directly conflict with the Constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church.

Canon I.17.8 of the Episcopal Church provides that “[a]ny person accepting any office in this Church shall well and faithfully perform the duties of that office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church and of the Diocese in which the office is being exercised.” In the light of your recent actions, I find that you have been and are unable to well and faithfully fulfill your duties as members of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin under Canon I.17.8. Accordingly, with this letter I inform you that I do not recognize you as the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

I regret the decisions that you have made to attempt to take the Diocese out of The Episcopal Church and the necessary consequences of these actions. I want you to be fully aware that a future declaration of adherence to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, and, for clergy, a reaffirmation of the Declaration of Conformity, will once again make you eligible for election to office in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. I give thanks for your service in the past, and pray that it may once again be a blessing to this Diocese.

I remain

Your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori



Letter from San Joaquin Standing Committee

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Office of the Presiding Bishop
The Episcopal Church Center
New York City, New York
pboffice@episcopalchurch.org

Friday, February 01, 2008

We have received your letter dated January 25 in which you state that you do not recognize us individually as members of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin. We find your statements, published by ENS on the internet and read in Hanford prior to most of us receiving the actual letter, to be unhelpful. While you may hold any personal opinion you wish as an individual, the office of Presiding Bishop does not have the legal, canonical or moral authority to proclaim for the Episcopal Church non-recognition of duly elected members of a diocesan Standing Committee. Without having any canonical or constitutional authority to refuse to recognize us, we cannot accept your opinion as changing our status as the canonical Standing Committee of the Diocese.

We regret that you have based your “understanding” on conjecture and misinformation. Since you do not provide any evidence of specific acts of the Standing Committee, nor proof of any wrong doing, we are unable to comment in detail on acts or events you may have relied upon to form your “understanding”. We regret you didn’t attempt to confirm your understanding with the President of our Standing Committee when you called him on January 9th, or on any other occasion.

You cite Canon I.17.8 as setting a standard of duty for anyone in elected position in The Episcopal Church, however neither this canon nor any other canon gives the office of Presiding Bishop [or any other person] sole privilege to interpret what constitutes a failure to “well and faithfully perform the duties” of any office. If the interpretation of failure to “well and faithfully perform the duties” of office is open to anyone, a cursory look at your performance in office would be cause for a great number of Episcopalians to find that you “have been and are unable to well and faithfully fulfill your duties as” Presiding Bishop. To name just a few of your canonical violations:

* Ordination of the Bishop of Virginia without the specific written consents from a majority of Standing Committees as required in Canon III.11.4.b;
* Your intentional withholding [from May ’07 to January ‘08] of notification and failure to bring before the House of Bishop’s meeting in September 2007 the abandonment of communion finding of the Title IV review committee against Bishop Cox as required in Canon IV.9.2;
* Your stated intent to delay consideration of the abandonment of communion finding of the Title IV review committee against Bishop Duncan past the March 2008 meeting of the House of Bishop’s [including your intentional withholding of notification from December 16, ’07 to January 15, ‘08] again in violation of the requirements of Canon IV.9.2.
* Establishing a missionary congregation in Bakersfield and appointing a priest who is not canonically resident to be under the supervision of Canon Moore and under your authority in violation of Canon I.13.2b and Canon III.9.6

With this evidence of your willful disobedience to the requirements of Canon, many Episcopalians could, using your own words, state they “do not recognize you as” the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. And of course, in the spirit of reconciliation, we would encourage you to be aware a “future declaration of adherence to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church and a reaffirmation of the Declaration of Conformity, will once again make you eligible for election to office in the Episcopal Church.”

We regret the decisions you have made to misuse the Canons of The Episcopal Church. We acknowledge your personal opinion of our status as members of the Standing Committee for the Diocese of San Joaquin. In accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, we ARE the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of San Joaquin in the event the House of Bishops should choose to depose Bishop John-David Schofield. Any attempt on your part, or on the part of any other person, to circumvent or replace the Standing Committee as the Ecclesiastical Authority will be a violation of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

J. Snell
M. McClenaghan
R. Eaton
K. Robinson
T. Wright
R. James



San Joaquin now has three dioceses
April 3, 2008, by George Conger

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has overseen the creation of a new Diocese of San Joaquin—one of three ecclesial entities bearing that name and active in Central California.

At a special convention called by the Presiding Bishop held on March 28-29, a rump group of the diocese unanimously elected the former Bishop of Northern California, the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb to serve as interim bishop of the diocese, and repudiated the December vote to affiliate with the Province of the Southern Cone.

Delegates from 18 congregations met from March 28-29 at St. John the Baptist Church in Lodi, California. However, no delegates from a majority of diocese’s congregations were present at the meeting, nor were more than a quarter of the eligible clergy present.

Delegates to the convention were required to take an oath of conformity before being seated. Of the 18 congregations present, five were parishes of the Diocese of San Joaquin, three were aided missions, and the rest groups representing minorities in parishes that had voted to quit the Episcopal Church.

Clergy and lay delegates from one parish, St. John’s in Tulare objected to the legality of the convention, while its rector protested the Presiding Bishop’s usurpation of the authority of the standing committee in calling a convention, noting she had no right under canon law to proceed.

Critics of the meeting noted the special convention’s actions were of dubious legality, as a quorum of clergy and congregations were not present, and the requirement that 30 days notice of the convening of synod was ignored by the Presiding Bishop. However, delegates passed a resolution absolving itself of any canonical irregularities in the calling and convening of the meeting.

In a question and answer session, Bishop Lamb said the new Diocese of San Joaquin would move forward with the ordination of women, noting that it had received three women priests at the March 29 meeting—San Joaquin had been one of three US dioceses that would not license women priests. However, it would not move as quickly in other disputed areas. “I think the diocese needs to spend time in conversation before it decides where gay and lesbian people will be in this diocese in the future,” Bishop Lamb said.

The formation of an ecclesial body swearing its fealty to the Presiding Bishop in San Joaquin creates a third Diocese of San Joaquin, critics note. In addition to the new diocese, the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin under the Province of the Southern Cone is extant, as is the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin under the ecclesiastical authority of its Standing Committee.

The failure of the House of Bishops to properly depose Bishop Schofield further complicates affairs. Bishop Schori declined to discuss her legal strategy, but noted the new diocese would act quickly to attempt to gain control of the property of all of the Dioceses of San Joaquin.

4 comments:

Jon said...

It might be worth noting that the HoB has used this method of deposing bishops since sometime in the 1990's IIRC. Of couse that only includes something like two depositions, but at the very least it wasn't a new thing dreamed up to try to beat up conservatve Episcopalians.

Jon

Timotheos Prologizes said...

I know about Bishop Moreno of Ecuador Central in 2004. I can find no information about how many were present to vote, only that it was unanimous.

Other than that, I only know of Bishop Brown of Arkansas in 1925 for becoming a communist (but I don't know any details about voting numbers. Do you know who was the other bishop deposed?

Jon said...

I think the other was Donald Davies in 1993. The reference I found in TEC's archives (the second bullet point at the end of this article) didn't indicate numbers present at the meeting nor did it say that the vote was unanimous.

Jon

Jon said...

Thinking about it, Bishop Brown is more likely to have been tried under the heresy canons than the abandonment canons. The heresy canons, at least currently, specify the make-up of a court to pronounce a verdict (ex. the Righter trial), while the abandonment canons, at least currently, don't include an actual trial for the bishop accused of abandoning TEC.

Jon