An appellate disciplinary board has placed further restrictions on the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, ending his priestly ministry as of Jan. 1, even as he appeals a three-year suspension as Bishop of Los Angeles.
In a one-page order, the Disciplinary Board for Bishops said in part: “Effective January 1, 2018, and during the time the appeal of this matter is pending, Bishop Bruno shall refrain from the exercise of the gifts of ministry conferred by ordination (Canon IV.2, definition of “Sentence”) and shall not exercise any authority over the real or personal property or temporal affairs of the Church (Canon IV.19.7).”
Bruno, who will turn 71 on Nov. 17 and the mandatory retirement age for priests and bishops is 72. The diocese now says he will retire Nov. 30.
The Diocese of Los Angeles has scheduled a series of five farewell receptions, followed by a fundraising dinner in Bruno’s honor, on Nov. 4.
The new order adds to a series of prior restrictions imposed on Bruno. In June, the Disciplinary Hearing Panel and Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry separately prohibited Bruno from selling the 40,000-square-foot church property in Newport Beach formerly occupied by St. James the Great.
Those restrictions came too late. Bruno already had signed a second contract to sell the property, even while the hearing panel was deliberating charges against him connected with his first attempt to sell the property in 2015.
In July, the hearing panel found Bruno guilty of misrepresentation and conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy, and ordered him suspended for three years. The suspension is stayed during the appeal.
Then on Aug. 1, Curry stripped Bruno of any remaining authority over the property and people of St. James the Great, and conferred that authority on Bishop Coadjutor John Taylor, who will succeed Bruno upon Bruno’s retirement.
Two weeks later, Taylor declared that the sale of St. James the Great will proceed, despite the strong recommendation of the hearing panel that the congregation be restored to the building.
The congregation, now known as Save St. James the Great, continues to worship weekly in a community room of the Newport Beach City Hall, led by the Rev. Canon Cindy Voorhees.