(This is Part 5 in a series. The first in this series is here.)
Decision 1238 consisted of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference requesting a declaratory decision concerning three questions. A contemporary account of this decision called the result a “split decision” because Bishop Wandabula “won” on the first question and “lost” on the second question. I’m not interested in the first two questions. I’m only interested in the third question: “Was the complaint filed by one member of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference (Nancy Denardo) properly dealt with in accordance with ¶ 413 of the 2008 Book of Discipline?”
From the Decision’s Statement of Facts:
In July 2011, Nancy Denardo filed a complaint against Bishop Wandabula. In March 2012, she filed a further complaint against Bishop Wandabula and was joined in that complaint by a clergy member of the East Africa Annual Conference. The Bishop has asserted that he has been notified that the complaint was dismissed. The complainant has said that she participated in no agreement about any resolution and has received no notification of any resolution.
In my previous post, I established that someone who files a complaint against a bishop should have heard something by the end of 130 days. So let’s assume that Nancy Denardo filed her complaint on July 31, 2011. From this chart, we can see that July 31, 2011 is day 212 of 2011. 212 + 130 = 342. Day 342 of 2011 is December 8, 2011. As of June 2012, she hadn’t heard anything? Something is not right here.
Here is the “Analysis and Rationale” from Decision 1238 regarding question three in its entirety:
In its third question, the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference asks whether the complaint filed against Bishop Wandabula was handled properly in accordance with the Discipline in ¶ 413. The question is, at this point, hypothetical because there is no conclusive evidence in the record that the complaint process has concluded. During the Oral Hearing in October 2012, Bishop Wandabula stated that the complaint had been dismissed, and he promised to provide documentation to support this assertion after the close of the hearing. However, the Judicial Council has received no such documentation from him or from any other source, and none was provided during the Oral Hearing in April 2013. Hence, the only indication that exists in the record about the outcome of the complaint process is the Bishop’s unsubstantiated claim. The Judicial Council, therefore, understands that the complaint process is continuing. The Council cannot intervene in the midst of an ongoing administrative or judicial process but can only do so in response to an appeal that is properly filed after any such processes are concluded. The complainant is certainly entitled to be included in active consultation with regard to the handling of the complaint, and the accused is certainly entitled to fair process. The Africa Central Conference College of Bishops and the Council of Bishops have responsibility for the proper handling of the complaint to its conclusion. Beyond that, the Judicial Council has no legal authority to intrude into the case.
I will make three related observations concerning the above:
- The Judicial Council has said that “The complainant is certainly entitled to be included in active consultation with regard to the handling of the complaint, …” The Judicial Council has politely noted that not talking to the complainant for over a year is not acceptable.
- In my opinion, the Judicial Council has been incredibly polite in concluding that “the complaint process is continuing” rather than draw any explicit inferences concerning the veracity of Bishop Wandabula’s claim that the complaint was dismissed.
- The Judicial Council has explicitly stated that the Council of Bishops has “responsibility for the proper handling of the complaint to its conclusion.”
The Judicial Council didn’t address what was in the complaint, probably because the contents were not properly before them. But here’s the thing: if we look at the 2012 Journal of the Western PA Conference, Daily Proceedings Chapter 6, p. 214, this is what we see (click to enlarge):
The original petition regarding the “African Central Conference College of Bishops” was not approved by the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference. The original petition is easy to find, and it’s easy to see why it wasn’t approved.
In my next post, I’m going to examine the most serious allegations. I do this for two reasons: (1) these allegations, if true, would be violations of the Church Constitution; and (2) these allegations, if false, should be simple to corroborate as false.