Curry removes congregation and its vicar from the line of fire, prevents revenge action while Bruno fights Hearing Panel ruling
Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry has issued a Further Partial Restriction of Ministry to Bishop Jon Bruno of the Diocese of Los Angeles.
Signed today by the Presiding Bishop, the Further Partial Restriction is effective immediately and is intended to protect the integrity of the Church’s disciplinary process until it is concluded and also allow the Diocese of Los Angeles under its new leadership to move forward even as the disciplinary process with Bishop Bruno continues, as explained by the Presiding Bishop
The Further Partial Restriction charts a way forward that clarifies and respects the appropriate role and authority of the Bishop Coadjutor and Standing Committee as well as the Hearing Panel and the Title IV process.
“It is my hope that this action will help to facilitate positive steps toward resolution and reconciliation,” the Presiding Bishop said.
The Further Partial Restriction removes Bishop Bruno’s jurisdiction over all matters related to the St. James real and personal property, the congregation, and the vicar.
Acknowledging that Bishop Bruno is not in a position to exercise pastoral oversight of St James, it transfers pastoral oversight and jurisdiction to the Bishop Coadjutor, with the Standing Committee functioning in its standard canonical capacity.
Over all, “The purpose of this is to create space for the Bishop Coadjutor and the Standing Committee to, a) exercise their respective ministries of healing and reconciliation within the diocese, and, b) seek to resolve the conflict over and determine the disposition of all matters related to the property, congregation and Vicar, which is the proper domain of their respective authority and responsibility as leaders of the Diocese,”
The Further Partial Restriction expands the “Partial Restriction on the Ministry of a Bishop” imposed by the Presiding Bishop on June 29. (See here.)
The text of the Further Partial Restriction follows:
Further Partial Restriction on the Ministry of The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno,
Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles
On June 28, 2017, I issued a Partial Restriction on the Ministry of the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, arising out of actions by Bishop Bruno that in my view may threaten the good order and welfare of the Church. As explained in that order, I had learned that, earlier this year, Bishop Bruno entered into a contract for sale of property (the “St. James property”), that has an important role in a disciplinary matter now pending under the Title IV of the Canons of The Episcopal Church, in which Bishop Bruno is the Respondent. According to Bishop Bruno’s submissions in that disciplinary matter, the contract for sale of the St. James property set the closing date as July 3, 2017.
Bishop Bruno’s actions and intentions regarding an earlier attempted sale of the St. James property are currently under review in the pending disciplinary matter. I continue to be deeply concerned that his act of entering into a new contract for sale of the same property, while his approach to the earlier sale is still under review, continues to have the potential to undermine the integrity of the Church’s disciplinary process. I noted that the secrecy with which the recent sales contract was undertaken has added to the potential for undermining the integrity of the Church’s disciplinary process.
The Title IV Hearing Panel with jurisdiction over this matter has now issued its proposed Order. My review of the order and the factual findings that undergird it, as well as my independent understanding of the deeply impaired relationships among the respective parties, have led me to have additional concerns about Bishop Bruno’s exercising any aspect of his episcopal authority over the St. James congregation, its “Vicar,” or St. James’ real and personal property, during the pendency of this matter in the Title IV process. In my opinion, any exercise of more general authority by Bishop Bruno over the St. James congregation while the Title IV matter is pending, including through a likely prolonged appeal process when any suspension or other disciplinary order would not be in effect, may threaten the good order and welfare of the Church.
Therefore, as set out more specifically below, I have determined to restrict Bishop Bruno’s entire authority over the St. James congregation until the Title IV proceeding is finally resolved, thereby removing him from all diocesan processes and decisions involving St. James. The purpose of this is to create space for the Bishop Coadjutor and the Standing Committee to, a) exercise their respective ministries of healing and reconciliation within the diocese, and, b) seek to resolve the conflict over and determine the disposition of all matters related to the property, congregation and Vicar, which is the proper domain of their respective authority and responsibility as leaders of the Diocese. With this restriction in place, I urge the diocesan leadership to press forward vigorously toward reconciliation for the sake of the ministry of the Gospel.
Accordingly, in order to further protect the integrity of the Church’s disciplinary process and the ministry of the Diocese regarding all persons with a genuine interest in the pending disciplinary matter, and thereby continue to protect the good order and welfare of the Church, I hereby, pursuant to Canons IV.7(3), (4), and IV.17(2), place the following additional partial restriction on the exercise of Bishop Bruno’s ministry until the pending Title IV matter has been finally resolved:
During the period of the restriction, Bishop Bruno, acting individually, or as Bishop Diocesan, or as Corporate Sole, or in any other capacity, is forbidden from exercising any episcopal authority or jurisdiction, secular, temporal, pastoral, or ecclesiastical, regarding in any manner any of the St. James real or personal property, the congregation that formerly worshipped in that property, as well as those who have since joined as members, and the Rev. Cynthia E. Voorhees, commonly referred to as the “Vicar” of the congregation.
This restriction is effective immediately. This document shall be served upon Bishop Bruno today and shall inform him of his right to have any objections to this restriction heard pursuant to Canon IV.7.
(The Most Rev.) Michael Bruce Curry
XXVII Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church