Easy on the Alleluias, Deacon

By Zachary Guiliano

Thursday morning the House of Bishops passed resolution A128 (Amend Canon IV.6.3 Mandatory Reporting by Bishop). The resolution reads:

“Any person other than the Intake Officer who receives information regarding an Offense shall promptly forward the information to the Intake Officer. A Bishop Diocesan may shall forward information to the Intake Officer whenever the Bishop Diocesan believes that the information may indicate conduct constituting one or more Offenses.”

The chair of the Constitution and Canons committee, Bishop Robert O’Neill of Colorado, said the resolution was intended “to address complaints” and “to guard against bishops selectively withholding information from Intake Officers.”

Bishop Steven Miller of Milwaukee objected, worrying that the new wording of the canon would make bishops liable to charges in ecclesiastical courts if they failed to report even minor violations.

“I’m also aware that bishops are made aware of numerous rubrical infractions, which are indeed Title IV offenses,” he said.

As an example, he noted that he did not want to contact the intake officer “every time a deacon [adds] two alleluias” to the closing dismissal of Holy Eucharist outside of Eastertide.

Miller granted his concern could seem “very, very trivial,” but he noted that some bishops had been “blindsided” by minor charges and accusations in the past several years.

Bishop O’Neil said that, in the new form of the canon, “There is still plenty of room in the process to exercise discretion.”

When put to a vote, it passed the House. The resolution had already passed the House of Deputies; it is now an act of General Convention.

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