It’s rare that staff here at Anglican Watch fall out of our seats when we read about clergy discipline in the Episcopal Church. After all, we are very used to reading the phrase, “Not of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church,” which is church-speak for “take a hike, ya (&%*^ loser.”
So it was a tremendous shock and happy surprise when, in the course of researching a particularly ugly case of clergy misconduct, we discovered that the Diocese of New Jersey takes Title IV seriously.
How did we reach that conclusion? We reached it by reviewing the diocese’s clergy discipline page on its website. Lo and behold, it has a real pastoral response team listed. As in the diocese actually cares for victims of misconduct. Woah! Not the stuff of which DioVA, DioMass, or any number of other dioceses are made.
Then, we plunged into the two reported cases listed on the page. There, we discovered that clergy actually are held to a higher standard than us mere mortals not blessed with “magic hands.” (That higher standard is articulated by the disciplinary canons, but in practice most clergy are held to standards much lower than those of corporate America.)
So yes, yelling at your vestry is conduct unbecoming. Yes, refusing to provide documents needed by your vestry to fulfill their fiduciary obligations is a failure to safeguard church assets. Yes, sexual harassment is grounds for being defrocked. Yes, lying to your vestry is a violation of church canons.
That contrasts favorably with DioVA, where the grand prize for adultery is free counseling for the offending priest. Meanwhile, the complainant gets a kick in the ass and nothing more. And sexual harassment of female church workers is treated as “confidential,” with no care for the victim at all.
So, it’s rare that we have much positive to say about TEC these days, but we’re saying it for all the world to see: We love that the Diocese of New Jersey is taking clergy discipline seriously.
Love it, love it, love it. We are so very happy to see integrity within the Diocese of NJ.