From Columbus: Title IV May Stop its Trip Through Convention

Episcopal News Service. June 18, 2006 [061806-7-A]

Jim DeLa, Director of communications for the Diocese of Southwest Florida

The Legislative Committee on Canons will recommend that the proposed revisions to the Title IV disciplinary canon be referred to a task force to "complete and perfect this vital work" for consideration at the 2009 General Convention.

The proposal to revise the canon came from a task force created by General Convention in 2003. The resolution would have replaced the current court-oriented system with a multi-layered approach intended to focus on mediation and reconciliation. It also included a controversial provision that would subject certain lay leaders to the new canons.

After hearing significant concern about the proposal, particularly about subjecting laity to ecclesiastical discipline, the legislative committee attempted to rewrite the 30-page resolution to clarify issues. However, it quickly became apparent to committee members the revision could not be accomplished in time for this convention to act.

The current referral resolution makes note of the change in philosophy sought by the current task force, which is to move away from an adversarial model to one that encourages pastoral intervention as early as possible in the process. It charges a new task force to continue the work with a set of "critical goals, concerns and values" which will:

* reflect of the values and theology and ecclesiology of the church;

* move Title IV toward a reconciliation model for all appropriate circumstances;

* encourage the prompt resolution of conflicts in the Church, and the reconciliation of all persons involved in those conflicts, at the earliest appropriate and the most conducive level of the Church;

* consider the possible inclusion of certain lay persons in Title IV where their office or other leadership role makes inclusion appropriate, provided the treatment of their accountability and discipline is commensurate with their lay status, responsibility and commitments;

* maintain the historic canonical pastoral role and authority of bishops; and

* respect the roles, rights and integrity of those subject to the title; and of injured persons, parishes, missions and congregations and the church.

The committee will meet again June 19 at 7:30 a.m., but as of yet, the referral resolution is not on its posted agenda.