Questions raised about deposition vote earlier this week

Update: The presiding bishop’s chancellor responds here.


There is a report that the House of Bishops may have acted in violation of the Episcopal Church canons when announcing the result of their vote to depose Bishops Schofield and Cox. The concerns focus on whether or not there was a quorum of eligible bishops present needed to take such action, and on whether or not the canonical procedure was followed in Bishop Cox’s case.

According to an article on the website of the Living Church:

“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.


[…]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.

Later in the report it is asserted that the Presiding Bishop has not properly sought the consent of the three senior bishops of the House before proceeding with the action against Bishop Cox:

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.

The canon that seems to be operative in the question of determining a quorum would be Article I.1.2

Sec. 2. Each Bishop of this Church having jurisdiction, every Bishop Coadjutor, every Suffragan Bishop, every Assistant Bishop, and every Bishop who by reason of advanced age or bodily infirmity, or who, under an election to an office created by the General Convention, or for reasons of mission strategy determined by action of the General Convention or the House of Bishops, has resigned a jurisdiction, shall have a seat and a vote in the House of Bishops. A majority of all Bishops entitled to vote, exclusive of Bishops who have resigned their jurisdiction or positions, shall be necessary to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

The issue would appear to center on the question of the status of retired bishops, most of whom “resign” their jurisdiction with consent of their house before they retire or, mandatorily, by the age of 72 according to Article II, section 9.

Read the rest here.

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