Saturday, July 14, 2018

General Convention Adds Anti-Retaliation Provisions to Title IV

As some followers probably know, I have repeatedly urged revisions to Title IV, which comprises the disciplinary canons of The Episcopal Church. The good news (at least from my perspective) is that the recent General Convention adopted every one of my suggestions and more. This includes measure D076 which specifies that retaliation for filing a Title III or Title IV complaint is, itself, a violation of the canons.

Before we go further, it’s worth mentioning that Title IV arguably always contained implicit prohibitions against retaliation. Specifically, there is the catch-all prohibition against “conduct unbecoming” set forth at Canon IV.4.1.(h), as well as the stricture against attempting to influence Title IV proceeding set forth a Canon IV.19.11. 

From the provisions set forth above, it would seem clear that retaliation was verboten, facially unethical, and, in practice, a bad idea. But some (ahem, Bishop Shannon) don’t see it that way.

Recognizing this gap, I’ve been an ardent advocate of amending Title IV to address retaliation and to provide training, publishing in Episcopal Cafe,  Surviving Church, and personally lobbying members of the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons, as well as denominational officials.

The end result is a new website that provides Title IV training, located at Title IV.org, as well as a plethora of changes passed at General Convention. 

Thus, effective 1 January 2019, there is a roadmap for the Bishop Shannons of the world, who would otherwise decide that they, in the words of one diocesan official, “don’t want to get involved.” Retaliation now is specifically illegal under canon law. Whistleblowers are protected.

It’s also worth noting that actions occurring prior to this date would be covered, so long as they are not time-barred by the ten-year statute of limitations set forth in Title IV.

Below is a screen cap of the measure as approved at General Convention: