The Title IV clergy disciplinary complaint filed by Anglican Watch against St. Paul’s rector Daniel McClain has been referred out for investigation.
Contrary to messages from the parish to its members, an investigation is NOT required any time a complaint is made. Instead, an intake officer must first ask two questions:
- Assuming the matter complained of to be true, would it be a violaton of church canons?
- And, if so, would the matter be of “weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church?”
If the answer to both questions is yes, the Title IV intake officer prepares a written report, which is forwarded to the Title IV reference panel. The reference panel has no role in evaluating the truth or falsity of allegations, but instead asks the question, “How should we address this issue?”
Options include dismissing the matter, or referring the matter.
If a decision to refer the matter is made, the reference panel has the following options:
- Take no action other than appropriate pastoral responses
- Refer the matter to Conciliation
- Refer the matter to the Investigator for further investigation and report back to the Reference Panel
- Refer the matter to the Conference Panel
- Referral to the Bishop for possible negotiation of an Agreement for Discipline
If the referral is to Conciliation, investigation, or referral to the Bishop, the matter would be expected to be returned to the Reference Panel except when the Bishop is successful in obtaining an Agreement for Discipline. If the Conciliation Report does not report a successful resolution of the matter, the duty of the Reference Panel is to resume its referral responsibilities. The Report of the Investigator to the Reference Panel may influence the Reference Panel’s choice of referrals, and in this case is expected to supplement and amplify the Intake Report. (Title IV.6.8, Title IV.10)
It is not the role of the Reference Panel or the Investigator to evaluate or comment on the perceived truthfulness or credibility of the parties or witnesses interviewed, but to refer or dismiss the matter assuming the information received is true.
Investigators should understand the context within which the Reference Panel receives and reviews the Investigator’s Report and the responsibilities of the Reference Panel in making a referral decision. This allows the Investigator to understand that the Reference Panel is not an adjudication body, but is part of the Intake and Referral process.
Thus, the prior claim by Joseph Dionsyiovich that McClain was “acquitted” based on an investigation is a bold-faced fabrication. Here are Dionsyiovich‘s exact words:
Fr. McClain has been exonerated by the Reference Panel after a thorough investigation. Upon completion of their investigation, his wife withdrew her complaint. The Title IV process is over. Glory to God.
As for Dionsyiovich‘s claims that the vestry unanimously supports McClain, that reveals nothing more than empty clericalism, since as Dionsyiovich himself acknowledges, the vestry doesn’t even know the contents of the complaint.
Again, we urge so-called parish leaders to avoid gossip, speculation and fabrications. We further urge parishioners to ensure that their comments are fair to all parties involved, versus merely supportive of Daniel McClain.
Indeed, the baptismal covenant talks about respecting the dignity of “every human being,” not just your parish priest. Moreover, it is spectacularly inappropriate to unconditionally support a clergyperson accused of domestic violence.
Anglican Watch also hopes that McClain’s conduct in the divorce proceedings will be consistent with the high standards expected of clergy.
Thus far, his conduct in the litigation appears to be anything but appropriate for a priest. Specifically, we are troubled by Daniel McClain’s:
- Failure to honor his commitment to go to mediation and to do so in good faith.
- Failure to pay utilities for his family as required by the court
- Apparent dating of another woman while still married to his wife
- Inappropriate public allegations of mental illness on the part of his wife
Nor we should ignore complaints by current and former parishioners — and even non-Episcopal clergy — that McClain frightens them. Fear is never of God.