Dissenting opinion in the Bruno case

“Resolution of property disputes properly resides within local diocesan entities,” wrote Bishop Michael Smith

The Bishop of North Dakota, the Rt. Rev. Michael Smith, has written a dissenting opinion to the 20 July 2017 Hearing Panel decision finding the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles, guilty on all counts of misconduct.

The 4 to 1 panel decision recommended BIshop Bruno be suspended from ministry for three years and that “as a matter of justice [the Diocese of Los Angeles] immediately suspend its efforts to sell the St. James property, that it restore the congregation and vicar to the church building and that it reassign St. James the Great appropriate mission status.”

“The hearing panel has concluded that the scope and severity of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct … unjustly and unnecessarily disturbed the ministry of a mission of the church,” the ruling stated.

The panel concluded Bishop Bruno’s closure of the parish was motivated in part by animus. The decision to shutter the church throughout the dispute was done “to punish Canon Voorhees and the St. James congregation for what he views as their defiance of him.”

Bishop Smith disagreed with the panel’s conclusion, writing the hearing panel should not have exercised jurisdiction over the dispute. “Resolution of property disputes properly resides within local diocesan entities,” he wrote, explaining the dispute should not have been “adjudicated through the disciplinary process.”

Dissenting Draft Opinion of Bishop Michael Smith before the Bruno Hearing Panel by George Conger on Scribd

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