ACI: Title IV Revisions: Unmasked
Written by: C. Alan Runyan and Mark McCall
Sunday, September 12th, 2010
Alan Runyan is a partner in Speights & Runyan, Beaufort, South Carolina. He has been a practicing trial attorney for 33 years and he is counsel for the Diocese of South Carolina. Mark McCall is a member of the New York bar and former partner of an international law firm where he practiced in the firm’s New York, Washington and Paris offices.
full pdf version with footnotes available for download here
On July 1, 2011 complex, far reaching and polity changing revisions to the disciplinary canon (Title IV) of The Episcopal Church (“TEC”) become effective. The revisions are a product of a multi-year process begun in 2000 whose stated purpose is to change Title IV’s “overly militaristic and rigid application.” The revisions are intended to provide a speedier disciplinary process based on a “reconciliation model”. Commenting on the Task Force’s progress in February 2008, the Chairman stated the revisions place “an emphasis on pastoral resolution” while moving away from a criminal-justice model. “Title IV Resources” made available for Diocesan use on the General Convention website state that the changes “emphasize pastoral care for all” and “reflect more clearly our theology.”
The revisions certainly will change the character of the disciplinary process making the disciplinary landscape appear less formal, speedier and more pastoral. However, these goals mask other very unsettling realities of the new disciplinary process, more suggestive of another pastoral analogy: a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Unmasked, these revisions do not simply change the form of the process in ways that dramatically alter Clergy’s due process but they also make very significant changes to the substantive discipline of Clergy, as well as to the very polity of TEC as it relates to the Dioceses, Bishops Diocesan and the Presiding Bishop. In summary, these revisions:
-remove procedural safeguards for accused Clergy, greatly increase the number and nature of Clergy offenses, broaden the reach of existing offenses, and dramatically allow a Bishop (and -Presiding Bishop infra at 16-18) not only to be involved in the decision to charge Clergy with offenses, but also effectively to control those decisions;
-are an unconstitutional infringement on diocesan authority;
-give unprecedented and unconstitutional authority to the Presiding Bishop;
-were passed without adequate disclosure and debate.
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...There are few descriptive terms that adequately describe what faces all Clergy next July, regardless of where they fall in the spectrum of church politics. One cannot help but be both simultaneously saddened and angered by the extensive revisions masked with soothing rhetoric like “pastoral reconciliation.” Underneath this veneer lies a disciplinary strategy, which places all Clergy at the mercy of those in power and weakens Diocesan independence. That this has been deliberate is obvious. That communication about the extent of these changes has been less than candid seems obvious unless one believes that the Clergy of the Episcopal Church simply do not care about their future. The deafening silence about these revisions forces us to believe that the sheep’s clothing strategy has been successful...