The recent deposition of bishops John-David Schofield and William J. Cox lends credence to those who say two sets of rules govern The Episcopal Church, according to Bishop D. Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana.
At a diocesan standing committee meeting on April 14, all six members approved a statement that noted that the deposition votes of the House of Bishops on March 12 failed to achieve the canonically required number of votes for enactment. A pastoral emergency prevented Bishop MacPherson from attending the standing committee meeting, but he endorsed the statement and urged its approval the following day at a meeting of diocesan council. All 19 members of council present also approved the resolution.
“The purpose is to express displeasure and concern, to encourage everyone to obey the canons” Bishop MacPherson told The LivingChurch. “Right now there is a disparity. It appears there are two different sets of rules for one church.”
When the statement was introduced during the council meeting by the Rev. William R. Bryant, president of the standing committee, one council member questioned whether everyone was familiar enough with the details to cast an informed vote. In response, Bishop MacPherson provided a brief narrative history and commended the statement for council approval.
“I didn’t twist anyone’s arms,” he said. “I told them it was important that we clearly state where we are as a diocese. We have got to have consistency and order. That is the purpose of the canons.”
The Very Rev. Peter J.A. Cook, a member of the standing committee, said Western Louisiana was hoping that other “right-thinking dioceses” would also express their concern. Western Louisiana, he said, had been inspired by a similar resolution approved by the South Carolina standing committee and bishop.
“The failure of the House of Bishops to follow proper procedure in deposing bishops Cox and Schofield resulted from no accidental reading of the canons,” Dean Cook said. “It, and the manner of the Presiding Bishop’s intrusion into San Joaquin’s affairs, were deliberate and ride roughshod over proper canonical procedure.”
Pay close attention to the quotes from Bishop MacPherson and from Fr. Cook, at whose behest I wrote the statement for consideration by the Standing Committee.