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Decision No. 475

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April 16 1980
In Re: Accountability of Bishops and the Constitutionality of Par. 525.3 of the Discipline.

Digest of Case

Par. 525.3 of the Discipline is unconstitutional because it is in conflict with Par. 55 of the Constitution. Bishops elected by Jurisdictional Conferences are accountable to the Jurisdictional Conferences.

Statement of Facts

The Council of Bishops has requested the Judicial Council to render a declaratory decision on the constitutionality of Par. 525.3 of the Discipline, which states: The Council of Bishops is, thus, also the body in which the individual bishops are held accountable for their work, both as general superintendents and as presidents and residents in episcopal areas. The question is whether the above paragraph of the Discipline is in conflict with Par. 55 of the Constitution which states in part that the standing Committee on Episcopacy elected by the Jurisdictional Conference shall: ... review the work of the bishops, pass on their character and official administration, and report to the Jurisdictional Conference its findings for such action as the conference may deem appropriate within its constitutional warrant of power. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2515 of the 1976 Discipline . ANALYSIS There is conflict between Par. 525.3 of the Discipline and Par. 55 of the Constitution. Par. 55 provides that bishops elected by Jurisdictional Conferences are accountable to those Conferences. The standing Committees on Episcopacy of the Jurisdictional Conferences have oversight of the work of the bishops and pass on their character and official administration. The committee must, however, report its findings to the Jurisdictional Conference for such action as the Conference may deem appropriate. (See also Par. 2520 which relates to both Jurisdictional and Central Conferences.) It is clear that Par. 525.3 of the Discipline which purports to make bishops accountable to the Council of Bishops is in conflict with Par. 55 of the Constitution and therefore unconstitutional.

Decision

Par. 525.3 of the Discipline is in conflict with Par. 55 of the Constitution and is therefore unconstitutional and of no effect. Bishops elected by Jurisdictional Conferences are accountable to the Jurisdictional Conferences.

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