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COLUMBUS, OH: Title IV may stop its trip through Convention

COLUMBUS, OH: Title IV may stop its trip through Convention

By Jim DeLa

June 18, 2006 [Episcopal News Service] 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.

-- Jim DeLa is director of communications for the Diocese of Southwest Florida.

As of today, June 19, the following resolution was pending in the House of Deputies, according to Episcopal News Service: Resolution A153 Title: Proposed Title IV Revisions Topic: Canons Committee: Canons House of Initial Action: Deputies Proposer: Disciplinary Policy & Procedures Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 75th General Convention express its sincere and abiding appreciation and gratitude for the diligent, intensive, and dedicated work and leadership of the Task Force on Disciplinary Policies and Procedures ("Task Force I") since 2001, in the research, drafting, listening, and communicating of and about its work to develop a comprehensive revision to Title IV of the Church Canons, so that our Canons on discipline reflect our ecclesiology and theology; and be it further Resolved, That the 75th General Convention endorse the principles and values expressed in Task Force I's proposed new Canon IV.1: By virtue of our Baptismal Covenant, all members of this Church are called to holiness of life and accountability to one another. The Church and each Diocese shall support their members in their life in Christ and shall hold one another accountable as provided in this Title. and be it further Resolved, That the 75th General Convention acknowledge that the work of Task Force I requires further work, reflection, and perfection; and be it further Resolved, That Resolution A153 and the work of and documents from Task Force I be referred to a new Title IV Task Force ("Task Force II") of twelve persons comprising: three members appointed by Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons, three members appointed by Standing Commission on Ministry Development, and six other members, to include three members of Task Force I, jointly appointed by the President of the House of Deputies and the Presiding Bishop. Task Force II shall be charged to complete and perfect this vital work, continuing the focus on the following critical goals, concerns, and values:

1. Reflect the values, ecclesiology, and theology of the Church;

2. Move Title IV towards a reconciliation model for all appropriate circumstances;

3. Encourage the prompt resolution of conflicts in the Church and the reconciliation of persons involved in those conflicts at the earliest appropriate time and the lowest appropriate level of the Church;

4. Consider the possible inclusion of certain Lay Persons in Title IV whose office or other leadership role makes inclusion appropriate, provided the treatment of their accountability and discipline is commensurate with their lay status, responsibilities, and commitments;

5. Maintain the historic pastoral role and canonical authority of Bishops; and

6. Respect the roles, rights, and integrity of those persons subject to Title IV, and of injured persons, communities, Parishes, Missions, Congregations, and the Church. and be it further Resolved, That Task Force II meet during the next triennium, giving the Church due notice of its meetings; that it make available such periodic reports of its work as will best inform the Church of its activities; and that it make a final report, with a proposed Title IV revision along with explanatory and educational materials, to the 76th General Convention not later than January 1, 2009; and be it further Resolved, That the 75th General Convention consider a budget allocation of $60,000 for the implementation of this Resolution.

END

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