Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bishop Schofield Responds to PB Schori (and uses the a-word!)

You might remember that --Schori wrote a little letter to Bishop Schofield inviting him to go away. Well the Bishop of San Joaquin has responded . . and how!

November 28, 2006

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts-Schori
The Episcopal Church Center
815 Second Ave.
New York, NY 10017

Dear Bishop Schori:

Greetings in the name of our Lord and only Savior Jesus Christ.

Note the use of the word “only.”

I am in receipt of your letter to me and wish to make clear from the outset that I have always remained faithful to my vows as an ordained bishop in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. At my consecration, I vowed to “guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church of God.” I was charged by my chief consecrator to “Feed the flock of Christ committed to [my] charge, guard and defend them in his truth, and be a faithful steward of his holy Word and Sacraments.” I carry out my vow by defending and propagating “the historic Faith and Order” which The Episcopal Church commits to upholding in the preamble of its own Constitution.

Unlike --Schori, who set herself up for that paragraph by her laughable call for +Schofield to submit to “the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.” Speaking of which . . .

In 2003, the General Convention committed itself to a theological path that is irreconcilable with the Anglican faith this Church has received and has torn the fabric of the entire Communion. The Primates repeated calls for repentance have not been heeded. More than half of the Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion have declared themselves to be in impaired or broken communion with The Episcopal Church. Beyond our Anglican Communion, relations throughout Christendom have been profoundly strained. With obvious reference to innovations and novelties introduced by The Episcopal Church, last week Pope Benedict XVI publically stated to Archbishop Rowan Williams that recent developments, “especially concerning ordained ministry and certain moral teachings,” have affected not only the internal relations within the Anglican Communion but also relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church.

The Episcopal Church, as an institution, is walking a path of apostasy and those faithful to God’s Word are forced to make painful choices.

Wow! A bishop actually using the a-word!

At a diocesan level, the choice is between continuing membership in an unrepentant, apostate institution. . .

He used the a-word again! I love this guy!

or following Holy Scripture and the Anglican faith. Whether or not the Diocese of San Joaquin will continue its institutional membership in The Episcopal Church is a choice that will be made by the people and the clergy and not by me. They will express their collective will as provided in the diocesan governing documents which were approved by the General Convention when the diocese was first admitted to membership.

It is important to point out that the vote at the Diocesan Convention in December 2006 is neither final nor irrevocable. Should the Constitutional amendments being proposed pass the “first reading,” then the diocese will simply have positioned itself to make a final decision at a second consecutive Annual Convention in 2007 if that proves God’s call.

Under our diocesan constitution, the second and final reading is automatically scheduled for October 2007. The setting of the exact date may be advanced or delayed by the bishop. There are some significant factors that would influence such a decision.

First, at the meeting with the leading Primates of the Global South in Virginia, November 15-17 this year, the Global South Primates Steering Committee encouraged us by supporting our faithful stand and commitment to Christ, and they expressed a desire to be of help to us to relieve our untenable position. They have promised assistance, the form of which they will bring to the entire Primates meeting scheduled for Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, in February 2007. In the meantime, in keeping with the goals of the Windsor Report and positioning ourselves to accept the Primates’ help, we are responding to the Primates who called upon us to remain flexible until the details are worked out.

And I think this is the right approach. None of this waiting and staying in TEC until the Second Advent. But at the same time, he is seeking to act in consort with the broader communion, particularly the Primates.

An additional consideration was your letter to me. I believe you have shown wisdom and restraint by not issuing an ultimatum. Instead, you have invited further discussion which could possibly lead to some degree of reconciliation.

That’s a very charitable interpretation of Schori’s letter. But I can’t begrudge him that.

In recognition of what you have proposed, I, too, will exercise restraint by not advancing the date of what could be an historic and final act. However, should proceedings be instituted against me as threatened in your letter, I would not feel obliged to exercise restraint. My prayer is that neither of us takes action which upsets the delicate balance which now exists until the Primates have given us direction at their February 2007 meeting.

And that’s a very charitable way of saying, “Back off!”

Until then, powerful forces will be at work that will ultimately shape the future.

I pray that God’s will be revealed to us all.

You may be assured of my prayers for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and guidance.

In Christ,

The Rt. Rev. John-David M. Schofield, SSC
Bishop of San Joaquin

Who, along with the Good Bishop Jack Iker, is now my hero. What a courageous steadfast clear-minded bishop!

(Are those oxymorons?)

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