This was a weird docket for the Judicial Council. Of the ten items on it, there were two actual decisions, both dealing with bishops in trouble, one of whom they relieved and one of whom they didn’t. In addition, there were four items seeking reconsideration which were all denied, there were two where the Council held it had no jurisdiction, one case was remanded to the bishop to answer the questions and one was held over because the secretary of the conference did not send in the minutes.
That the session was not apparently very productive was largely because of rules of procedures. The wrong group tried to raise an issue, questions were asked but without written texts, jurisdiction was not properly taken into account by those appealing, and the Council had the authority to refuse to reconsider without rationale.
In most of the cases, the Council provided pretty good statements of facts so that the reader can have a good taste of the grounds for the attempt to get a ruling as well as some measure of explanation for their decisions. Even so, my sense of the Council’s work this time is that they did not “bring their ‘A’ game.” It appeared to me that they missed the wisdom of two of their experienced members who were unable to attend the session.
The Council, like the rest of the Church, is a very human institution. Like the rest of us, they do not always get everything right. It is incumbent on the rest of us to be all the help we can so they can rise to the occasion and do the right thing for the right reasons as often as possible.
And the Council has to be ready to stand up to the prejudices and pressures they face in order to do their job. That is not always easy. . . . And they may not be the best option to rectify a situation even if they are the court of last resort.