Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Loose Canons?

So far as I can tell, discussion of the HoB's recent vote to remove Schofield and Cox fails to establish what the precedent is for such votes. Surely there is a body of precedent, and if it is consistent, it could lend some guidance to what the canons should be taken to require, no?

Arguing a priori from what seems like the obvious and clear sense seems tendentious when there should be a body of practice already in place. Does anyone have information about what such a history would indicate?


At 2:38 PM, Blogger Marshall said...

This comment over at Mark Harris' blog speaks to the last time a bishop was deposed, and cites the ENS report of the event. Fact is (and I think it's blessed), we haven't had to depose bishops much. I would fear that might make for some thin precedent.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

But these are strictly empirical questions; I am pretty sure there is no room for much of a grey area.

There ought to be a definite number--say "n"--of times a bishop was desposed, and of those we could check for consistency with the Chancellor's interpretation, arriving at one of several posible findings:

(a)total consistency with his reading, or
(b)total inconsistency with his reading, or
(c)consistency sometimes, but not always, or
(d)unable to determine consistency most of the time.

Please note only (b) above suffices to make trouble for him.

Is that what critics are implying--that the HoB has never deposed anyone in a manner consistent with his reading of the canons?

At 3:54 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

Here is Tobias Haller from the link you put up; I think his comment is decisive, so far as it goes, in favor of the Chancellor:

"I checked up on two of the past depositions under this canon for which I had copies of the Journal, and it is notable that for at least the last 15 years or so a canonical majority (taking the canon in the sense I have taken it) appears not to have been present in either case. I would note that the only other matter upon which such a majority -- the whole number of bishops entitled to vote including retired bishops -- is required (Article X ¶2) achieves the needed majority due to the fact that such decisions are only taken at sessions of General Convention. A quick review of the 2006 journal shows that there were well beyond a simple majority of "all bishops entitled to vote" in attendance. (Note the distinction in Article X between matters requiring two Conventions and matters addressable at a single session; the latter requiring the higher majority -- unless this is a mistake!)

However, as far as depositions go, which often seem to come before interim meetings rather than at GC, it appears the canon has not been held to the more rigorous interpretation I and others have advanced. Whether deliberate or accidental, a good case can be made, given the antiquity of the canon and its other signs of retaining archaic features ("the three senior bishops" is a throwback to the days when the PB was "the senior bishop" ex officio), an application of the legal principle of desuetude might well be invoked.

Whatever else can be said, this canon needs to be rewritten to bring it into line with actual practice -- or even better, we need to adopt, on its second reading, the amendment to Article I.2 that removes the vote, but not seat and voice, of resigned/retired bishops."

At 12:22 AM, Blogger Christopher said...


Jared has made some insightful points, raising up some the concerns Fr. Haller, you, and I have been talking about.

At 4:04 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


Interetsing links those.

Jared's quote from Ramsey hits the right note, and I think Ramsey has touched on something quintessentially Anglican that can easily be lost in all the sound and fury: how we must attend to and live within the ambiguity of our concrete particularity, with whatever dead-ends and pitfalls come up.

Here your idea, "a concrete pneumatology", seems especially apt. Thanks for the references to Bishop Epting and Yeago, esp. the point that

"Lambeth (and other “instruments of communion”) are not static things. They may well have to develop into something other than “what they have always been” to serve a global church in the globalized world."

True, but pace Radner, we have not already arrived there, and if we do, we should have to arrive there in a process that takes account of us together.


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