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Reforms to the disciplinary canons of US Episcopal Church published

08 March 2024

PROPOSED reforms to the disciplinary canons of the Episcopal Church in the United States have been published in a review regarded as urgent after complaints about the handling of certain bishops’ cases.

The reforms to the Title IV canons have been set out in a report for the General Convention. The report proposes potential changes, including expanding the range of outcomes for the disciplinary process, ensuring that the suspension of bishops matches suspensions of priests, and updating the language that describes the outcome of an investigation that results in a “pastoral response”.

The canons are reviewed regularly, but the review took on “scope and urgency” after the Presiding Bishop, the Most Revd Michael Curry, and the President of the House of Deputies, Julia Ayala Harris, urged action after several bishops’ cases (see separate story). In one, Ms Ayala Harris lodged a complaint of misconduct against a bishop which resulted in a “pastoral response” and no further action.

Bishop Curry has authorised the publication of details about ongoing conduct cases involving bishops. Brief details of allegations against five bishops have been published on the Episcopal Church website, to increase transparency. Previously, cases remained confidential until they were referred to a hearing panel.

Included in the new proposals is an additional outcome, a “restorative covenant”, which would, the report suggests, provide an opportunity to promote “healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation”.

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