Episcopal Church Inhibits Breakaway Bishop

The Episcopal Church inhibited a breakaway bishop Friday, banning him from practicing all his ministerial duties.

Three senior bishops agreed that Bishop John-David Schofield, who led his entire San Joaquin, Calif., diocese to break from the national church last month, had abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church and gave their consent to inhibit him.

Schofield is currently banned from giving sermons, doing confirmations and performing any religious rites until March, when Episcopal leaders will meet and vote on a final judgment.

"He was aware of the consequences of his action, warned repeatedly, and there comes a time when it is important for the church to hold its own leadership accountable," said the Rev. Canon Charles Robertson, canon to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, according to The Associated Press.

"This allows him time to recant and to steer off this course," he said.

In December, the San Joaquin diocese overwhelmingly voted to sever ties with The Episcopal Church, becoming the first full diocese to do so. The break came after years of conflict over what the diocese and other conservatives have contended is The Episcopal Church's departure from Scripture and traditional Anglicanism.

The Episcopal presiding bishop had warned the diocesan bishop of consequences if he went ahead with the split.

But discontent with the liberal direction of the national church on Scripture and homosexuality, the diocese finally said "enough," Schofield has said. The diocese realigned with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

Schofield has indicated no desire to recant and change direction, according to a statement issued Friday by the diocese.

"It is the primary duty of bishops to guard the faith and Bishop Schofield has been continually discriminated against for having done so," the statement read. "How is it that over 60 million Anglicans worldwide can be wrong and a few hundred thousand in the American Church can claim to be right?"

Conservatives across the 77-million member Anglican Communion have called The Episcopal Church to repent, particularly after it consecrated an openly gay bishop in 2003, widening rifts within the third largest Christian denomination in the world.

The Communion holds homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture.

If a majority of the leaders at the March 7-13 Episcopal House of Bishops meeting concur, Schofield will be deposed and the episcopate of the San Joaquin diocese will be declared vacant. Those remaining in The Episcopal Church would then organize a new diocesan convention and a new bishop would be elected and consecrated.

The Diocese of San Joaquin consists of about 8,500 parishioners in 47 congregations.

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