Pastoral Letter from Bishop Rickel
To all the good people of the Diocese of Olympia,
This past summer, at our General Convention in Austin, Texas, the Episcopal Church took some historic and much needed steps in addressing past abuses by clergy toward lay persons and toward other clergy in the church. For far too long there has been too much silence, and often misdirection, when persons in our church were brave enough to bring such allegations forward. I am writing this letter, and asking that it be read in every congregation, on Sunday January 6th and/or January 11th, in order to make you aware of the implementation of one specific resolution from General Convention, namely, D034, which called for the lifting of the statutes of limitations as spelled out in Title IV.19.4 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church specifically as it relates to sexual misconduct of clergy. That three year period of suspension begins on January 1, 2019 and will run until December 31, 2021.
While the canon in question, and all the wording of D034, is attached to this letter and available on our diocesan website, the bishop's blog, and in hard copy for anyone who wishes to have it in that form, the basic result of this suspension is that any allegation against a cleric in this Church for acts of sexual misconduct may be brought forward in this three year window regardless of any prior invoking of a statute of limitations. In short, you do not have to wonder if the allegation comes from too long ago.
While I am in complete support of this measure, and voted for it at General Convention, I also want to make clear that since the moment I walked through the doors of DHouse to become the 8th Bishop of Olympia, whenever this particular clause regarding statute of limitations has arisen, my response has always been, "there are no statute of limitations in the Body of Christ." This has been our policy for the past nearly 12 years and will remain so even beyond this 3-year suspension. Also attached to this letter is the letter on this topic addressed to the church, from the President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings, and our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry. I urge you to read that too.
There is yet much more work to do on this topic. Our diocesan convention passed a resolution at our most recent convention which calls for the creation of a Task force on Sexual Harassment in our diocese. At our upcoming clergy conference all of these topics will be a major focus of our time together, including input from clergy on the make up of the Task Force. I invite anyone in the diocese, clergy or lay, to also offer your input on the creation of this committee. You will be hearing much more about all that, and many other topics in the days to come.
I want to summarize that this resolution, as well as our diocesan policy, has as its goal to break down every possible barrier to reporting an allegation of sexual misconduct in this church. As President Jennings and Presiding Bishop Curry said so well in the end of their letter, I will end this one. May this resolution and other steps help "our church move closer to the day when, having repented of our sins and amended our common life, we may be restored in love, grace and trust with each other through our Savior Jesus Christ."
Please pray for all those affected by misconduct, and pray for our Church. I remain your faithful servant.
The Rt. Rev. Gregory H. Rickel
VIII Bishop of Olympia
You can find the text of D034 below and here
You can find the letter from the President of the House of Deputies and the Presiding Bishop below and here
Letter to the Episcopal Church from the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies
Statue of Limitations Suspension for Clergy Sexual Misconduct Begins
January 1, 2019
[December 12, 2018]
Dear People of God in the Episcopal Church:
Nearly a year ago, we issued a call for the church to examine its history and come to a fuller understanding of how we have handled or mishandled cases of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse through the years. In particular, we asked to hear voices from thewider church at General Convention so that deputies and bishops might consider both how to atone for the church's past and shape a more just future. As followers of Jesus of Nazareth, as children of God with all people, we could do no less, and we must do more.
In July, General Convention considered 26 resolutions and one memorial addressing issues the #MeToo movement has brought to light, many of them developed by the House of Deputies Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation. One of these resolutions,Resolution D034, suspends for three years the canon (church law) that places a time limit on initiating proceedings in cases of clergy sexual misconduct against adults. There is no time limit on reporting clergy sexual misconduct against children and youth under age 21.
As a result of this resolution, from January 1, 2019 until December 31, 2021, those who wish to bring a case of sexual misconduct against a member of the clergy will be able to do so, regardless of how long ago the alleged misconduct occurred. Allegations of misconduct can be made to the intake officer in the diocese where the alleged misconduct occurred, or, if the allegation is against a bishop, to the Office of Pastoral Development. You can learn how to reach the intake officer in a diocese by checking its website or calling the bishop's office.
We hope that this temporary suspension of the statute of limitations will be one way for the church to come to terms with cases of sexual misconduct in our collective past. Between now and General Convention in 2021, laypeople, clergy and bishops appointed to several task forces created by the 2018 General Convention will be working on other ways of addressing these issues, including a process to help the church engage in truth-telling, confession, and reconciliation regarding our history of gender-based discrimination, harassment and violence.
We are grateful to the many deputies, bishops and other volunteers across the church whose careful work before, during, and after General Convention is helping our church move closer to the day when, having repented of our sins and amended our common life, we may be restored in love, grace and trust with each other through our Savior Jesus Christ.
The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
Presiding Bishop and Primate President, House of Deputies
Suspensión del estatuto de limitaciones para mala conducta sexual del clero comienza el 1 de enero de 2019
[12 de diciembre de 2018]
Estimado Pueblo de Dios en la Iglesia Episcopal:
Hace casi un año, nosotrospublicamos un llamamientoa que la iglesia examinara su historia y lograra una mejor comprensión de cómo hemos manejado o maltratado casos de acoso sexual, explotación y abuso a través de los años. En particular, pedimos escuchar las voces de la iglesia más amplia en la Convención General para que los diputados y obispos pudieran considerar tanto cómo expiar el pasado de la iglesia y formar un futuro más justo. Como seguidores de Jesús de Nazaret, como hijos de Dios con todo el mundo, no podíamos hacer menos y debemos hacer más.
En julio, la Convención General consideró26 resoluciones y una conmemoraciónque abordan los asuntos que el movimiento #YoTambién (#MeToo) ha sacado a la luz, muchos desarrollados por el Comité Especial de la Cámara de Diputados sobre Acoso y Explotación Sexuales. Una de estas resoluciones,Resolución D034, suspende por tres años el canon (ley eclesiástica) que impone un plazo para iniciar procesos en casos de mala conducta sexual en contra de adultos por parte de clérigos. No existe un plazo para denunciar mala conducta sexual en contra de niños y jóvenes menores de 21 años de edad por parte de clérigos.
Como resultado de esta resolución, desde 1 de enero de 2019 hasta 31 de diciembre de 2021, los que quieren iniciar un caso de mala conducta sexual contra un clérigo podrán hacerlo, independientemente de hace cuanto tiempo ocurrió la supuesta mala conducta. Las alegaciones de mala conducta pueden presentarse al gestor en la diócesis donde ocurrió la supuesta mala conducta, o, si la alegación es contra un obispo, a laOficina de Desarrollo Pastoral. Pueden aprender cómo comunicarse con el gestor en una diócesis buscando en su sitio web o llamando a la oficina del obispo.
Esperamos que esta suspensión temporal del estatuto de limitaciones será una manera en que la iglesia pueda aceptar los casos de mala conducta sexual en nuestro pasado colectivo. De aquí a la Convención General en 2021, los laicos, clérigos y obispos nombrados a varios grupos de trabajo por la Convención General de 2018 trabajarán en otras maneras de abordar estos asuntos, incluso un proceso de ayudar a la iglesia a involucrarse en la veracidad, la confesión y reconciliación respecto a nuestra historia de discriminación basada en género, acoso y violencia.
Agradecemos los numerosos diputados, obispos y otros voluntarios en toda la iglesia cuyo trabajo cuidadoso antes de, durante y después de la Convención General ayudan a que nuestra iglesia avance al día cuando, habiéndonos arrepentido de nuestros pecados y enmendado nuestra vida común, podamos ser restaurados en amor, gracia y confianza el uno con el otro mediante nuestro Salvador Jesucristo.
El Rvdmo. Michael B. Curry La Rda. Gay Clark Jennings
Obispo Presidente y Primado Presidente, Cámara de Diputados
D034 Amend Canon IV.19.4 - Suspending Statute of Limitations
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention amend Canon IV.19.4 to read as follows:
Sec. 4(a) A Member of the Clergy shall not be subject to proceedings under this Title for acts committed more than ten years before the initiation of proceedings except:
- if a Member of the Clergy is convicted in a criminal Court of Record or a judgment in a civil Court of Record in a cause involving immorality, proceedings may be initiated at any time within three years after the conviction or judgment becomes final;
- if an alleged Injured Person was under the age of twenty-one years at the time of the alleged acts, proceedings may be initiated at any time prior to the alleged Injured Person's attaining the age of twenty-five years; or
- if an alleged Injured Person is otherwise under disability at the time of the alleged acts, or if the acts alleged were not discovered, or the effects thereof were not realized, during the ten years immediately following the date of the acts alleged, the time within which proceedings may be initiated shall be extended to two years after the disability ceases or the alleged Injured Person discovers or realizes the effects of the acts alleged; provided, however, the time within which proceedings may be initiated shall not be extended beyond fifteen years from the date the acts are alleged to have been committed.
(b) The time limits of Subsection (a) above shall not apply with respect to persons whose acts include physical violence, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation, if the acts occurred when the alleged Injured Person was under the age of twenty-one years; in any such case, proceedings under this Title may be initiated at any time.
(c) The time limits of Subsection (a) above shall not apply with respect to persons whose acts include sexual misconduct, provided proceedings are initiated under this Title between January 1, 2019 December 2, 2018 and December 31, 2021.
(c d) Except as provided in Subsection (b) above, the time limitations for initiation of proceedings in this Section shall be retroactive only to January 1, 1996.
(d e) No proceedings under this Title shall be initiated for acts which are alleged to violate Canon IV.3.1(a) or to constitute a breach of Canon IV.4.1(b), (c), (e) or (h)(2) unless the acts were committed within or continued up to two years immediately preceding the time the proceedings are initiated.
(e f) For purposes of this Section 4, proceedings are initiated under this Title with respect to a particular Offense when specific allegations of the commission of that Offense are made to the Intake Officer.
The Rt. Rev.Greg Rickel
Bishop of Olympia
1551 10th Ave E
Seattle, Washington 98102