May the Bishops Change the Conference Meeting Time?
The decision is clear. What is not clear is why a delegate from the Congo Central Conference had to ask in the first place.
My speculation is that the bishops wanted to change the date previously set by the conference to one that fit their own needs.
If the need to change the date were serious, such as a civil war or devastating weather event, the question would never have been raised. I do not think it is much of a stretch that there was a case of episcopal overreach and it was stopped by seeking the help of the Judicial Council.
But that’s me . . . .
Maybe the most important matter was that the Council took jurisdiction despite the fact that the matter was not before the General Conference in any petition or other action and it dealt with a matter that the General Conference could not handle. The questioner was allowed to use the plenary to raise a hypothetical question and the Council saw the wisdom of allowing it.
I’ve been aware in the past that the Council tends to relax the rules a bit in order to show respect for concerns of delegates from the central conferences.
Creative? Not particularly. Helpful? Certainly. Necessary? Probably, because bishops were acting outside their authority and they already think that they answer only to God. But the Judicial Council’s word has a way of sometimes keeping bishops within the bounds of their proper authority. So it is worth it to make requests for declaratory decisions even when the normal practices of the Council show little promise of getting a meaningful response.