In the run up to General Convention I am reviewing various resolutions coming up and would appreciate any thoughts from readers. So,
Rummaging through the Blue Book #1. Title IV.
The Title IV resolution, a rewrite of Title IV (the Disciplinary canons) of the Canons of The Episcopal Church, is a complex document and I will have to rely upon the opinions of the lawyer types as to whether or not this is a "GOOD THING."
My initial impression is that it will be of great value where the remnants of Christian hope is available to the various parties in conflict. It is less helpful where a clergy person has wilfully and knowingly done wrong, has no intention of cooperating and denies the jurisdiction or competency of those who sit in judgment.
A few specific questions:
From the proposed Title IV (lines 115-117, p 772 of the Blue Book)
"Canon 3: Of Accountability
Sec. 1. "A Member of the Clergy shall be subject to proceedings under this Title for:
(a) knowingly violating or attempting to violate, directly or through the acts of another person, the Constitution or Canons of the Church or of any Diocese."
What does "through the acts of another person" mean? Collusion? What?
"Canon 16. Of Abandonment of The Episcopal Church.
"During the period of such restriction, the Bishop shall not perform any Episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts."
The current canon reads, "During the period of Inhibition, the Bishop shall not perform any episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts, except as relate to the administration of the temporal affairs of the Diocese of which the Bishop holds jurisdiction or in which the Bishop is then
The change withdraws the exception of administrative acts, but does not determine that such actions are part of "Episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts." Where before a bishop, for example the former Bishop of San Joaquin, might argue that he had the right to administer the temporal affairs of the Diocese, including assigning the oversight of funds to new bodies, etc, the new canon simply drops the matter.
(line 824-827) on Abandonment by a Bishop
"If the House, by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote..." is exactly the same as the statement in the current Title IV. If there were problems of interpretation as to exactly what constituted the "majority of the whole number" in previous instances of the use of this canon, why wouldn't it be of some value to clarify that this means, "the majority of the whole number present at the meeting," or alternately "the majority of the whole number of bishops constituting the house," or some such language?
(line 836) on Abandonment by a Priest or Deacon
"by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline or worship of the Church, or by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with the Church, or in any other way, ..."
What does "in any other way" mean? Presumably by abandonment "in any other way." This leaves the door open to the definition of abandonment being enlarged considerably and in ways that make matters of non-conformity not only grounds for accusation of disobedience to the canons, doctrines, etc, but as a sign of actual abandonment. This has the makings of dangerous stuff.