Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Check it Out: Unless You’re Convicted, Perjury Is Okay for Clergy in The Episcopal Church

Here’s a good one: Another Title IV notice of dismissal from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

Where to start?
  • First, there is no requirement of a criminal conviction for conduct to be prohibited under Title IV. Indeed, Canon IV.4.1(h.6) makes clear that conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation is forbidden, period.
  • Second, it is not the role of the intake officer to assess whether a violation has taken place. It’s simply to ask two questions: If true, would the matter complained of be a violation of the canons and, if so, would it be “of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church.” Nothing more. Beyond that, the reference panel handles everything.
  • Third, there is no Title IV requirement of confidentiality apropos laity, and I refuse to be silenced by the church.  Requesting silence from those hurt by the church is highly inappropriate, just as is the case with the non-disclosure agreements of the Catholic Church.
  • Fourth, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has repeatedly ousted clergy for violations of Title IV, even when the complaint involves criminal conduct but there is no conviction. Out of respect for others, I don’t plan to publicly share specifics, but it is at best disingenuous for the diocese to contend that conviction is a prerequisite for a successful Title IV complaint.
  • Fifth, as of January 1, 2019, the identity of complainants is confidential per the express provisions of Title IV. So why is Bob copied on this and provided with my name? The diocese itself has violated Title IV.
  • Sixth, the diocese has repeatedly refused to provide the pastoral response required under Title IV, which must occur any time a complaint is made to the intake officer. Yes, even in cases of dismissal.
  • Seventh, police don’t charge suspects. Commonwealth attorneys do. Perjury also is notoriously hard to prosecute, so Mr. vanBaars essentially is saying that perjury is fair game for Episcopal clergy.
Screwed up, thy name is Episcopal.