ATTEMPT TO RESTRICT WHO CAN BECOME A BISHOP IN THE PHILIPPINES
It took awhile for officers of the Philippines Central Conference to get around to sending in all the proper minutes and records related to questions raised about authority of an elections commission. The process began in 2012. Fortunately, the bishop’s rulings became law for that Central Conference meeting and elections so the fact that the Judicial Council could not act on it (JCD 1249) until now is not the problem it could have been.
A proposal to have an elections committee to receive nominations and make sure the candidates were qualified was ruled as okay. What was ruled as not okay was the authority the proposal made that the committee also cull out candidates they did not think should be a nominee. Also not okay was the requirement that all nominations be made four months before the Central Conference meeting. Another element that was struck down by the presiding bishop was that the committee could take off from the nominee list any candidate that did not get at least 10 votes on a ballot. The Judicial Council supported all of the rulings of the bishop.
Someone was bound and determined to have a way of keeping competitors off the list of nominees and of eliminating them by rule. Fortunately, someone spotted this kind of manipulation, got it before the presiding bishop of the Central Conference meeting, and he saw the violations of the Discipline in a timely fashion so the elections could not be manipulated.
Election of bishops is terribly politicized as it is. What the Discipline allows in Paragraph 405 is that nominations may come in on the floor at the time of elections and that some nominees who do not do well early in the balloting may do very well toward the end. While those elements of election may mean a little extra time and money, the intent of the law is to allow the work of the Holy Spirit. The elections committee could have been authorized to deny the Holy Spirit! By means of reasonable judicial processes, that was avoided.
The other big story here is that the Council pursued proper documentation from the secretary and presiding bishop and acted only when that material was forthcoming. It was over a year and a half late. In this case, the bishop’s rulings were in order and the proposal to set up a bad policy for episcopal elections was nullified before it could cause harm.
If a bishop fails to rule correctly and if the necessary documents are not sent in in a timely fashion in a future case, I hope the Council will consider nullifying actions taken based on bad rulings pending full documentation.
I can name some cases where they would have been wise to have done just that.