When I skimmed the decisions of this session. I got the strong impression that the Council avoided making any decisions! I did not like that feeling at all.
Of the thirteen docketed items, the Council claimed it had no jurisdiction in nine. In two more, it could have let go and not done any work. In the final two, there was enough substance for the Council to act.
Easy session? By the time I finished seeing what they went through, I was exhausted! It is good they didn’t have another ten docket items, something more common in recent years coming out of annual conference season.
This Council group did a lot of explaining, continuing the tradition established in recent years for teaching the Church through its decisions. Even in the cases where they had no jurisdiction, they made clear what the problem was that prevented them from ruling. And they even added substantive responses when they did not need to. All of this helps students of church law and makes new students who learned something to help them next time, even if it was that they made mistakes. Several new bishops clearly had learned from earlier Council decisions, but several experienced bishops have not
There are not any real themes among these decisions. Regarding homosexuality, there were four items related to it but their decisions left the legal landscape the same as before their session. One item touches on the demographic changes in the denomination. (I expect to see more in the future.) Five deal with personnel issues. Three of those have church trials pending so we may see them again before the Council. Two of them are bishops and one a superintendent. That is unusual.
We can learn a lot about what the Council sees is necessary for them to take jurisdiction by studying this term’s decisions. Movants ( new legal term to indicate the ones making requests or raising questions) have a lot to learn! I again urge that those with desire to get something to the Judicial Council speak with someone knowledgeable about doing that, so that all the missteps noted in this session’s decisions can be avoided. I think the bishops have to be capable to being objective in such conversations. Being fair in such discussions does a lot to improve morale in a conference.
Again let me thank the Council for explaining their decisions. Thanks also for the greater detail available to church law students in the docket. Agree or disagree, we have a better chance of knowing what is going on and the reasons for the various decisions being made.