What the Hell is Bishop Brown Doing in St. Augustine?

As the Catholic Diocese of Orange heads toward a potentially blockbuster civil trial, as diocesan PR flacks spin furiously, Bishop Tod D. Brown is in...St. Augustine, Florida?!

Yep. His Excellency is there as part of the Joint Committee of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops. Now, we don't hold anything against our Orthodox brethren--Orange County Register columnist Steve Greenhut is Greek Orthodox--but surely there are more important things for Brown to take care of that a millennium-old schism, no?

Indeed, even as Brown kicks it with some of his fellow bishops, he's still trying to fight off efforts to hold him in contempt. Yesterday, Brown filed a declaration from St. Augustine stating under oath that he had "no knowledge whatsoever of any court order compelling" Monsignor John Urell to "appear at a deposition or trial" prior to shipping Urell off to Canada to treat an acute anxiety disorder. Brown refers to an August 30 order by Orange County Superior Court Judge Gail Andler ordering Urell to appear in court.

Ah, the old Know Nothing game. Problem is, Brown can't remember his own words. From his Sept. 10 deposition, page 51:

John Manly (the lawyer suing the Orange diocese): Bishop, did you know when you sent [Urell] to Canada that my client was trying to depose him?

Brown: Yes. I know that Monsignor Urell was going to be--had given a deposition and was going to be called back for a further deposition.

Manly: Did you know that he was going to be asked to testify at trial in this matter on the 18th of September?

Brown: No, I did not know that, that he was going to be asked to testify at trial on the 18th.

Homework for the afternoon: Is it appropriate for Bishop Brown to leave Orange County while the proverbial poop is hitting the diocesan fan? And did Brown really not know about Judge Andler's ruling nearly a week after the fact? Is the Pope Catholic?


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