Two weeks ago, more than two dozen delegates to the diocese of Florida’s recent bishop election filed objections to the electoral process. This election was the second attempt by the diocese to elect a bishop after a Court of Review upheld objections filed for the first election.
The objections were;
- There was a material error in voting not disclosed nor discovered until after the election.
- Clergy with Cure Not Granted Residency; Disparate Treatment of Similarly Situated Clergy.
- Duly Elected Lay Delegates Denied Seat, Voice, and Vote.
- The Diocese’s own rules were not followed.
- The election process was fundamentally unfair.
This week, the Standing Committee offered an initial response to the allegations raised by the objectors. Below is a summary of their responses.
There was a material error in voting not disclosed nor discovered until after the election.
The Standing Committee admits there was an error on the part of the volunteers who checked in the clergy voters, but assert that these errors had no impact on the vote since the independent auditors confirmed that only those clergy actually present voted saying that; “At the time of the first ballot, two independent auditors counted 113 canonically resident clergy on the floor, each wearing blue canonically resident clergy name tags. These same auditors collected, counted, and tallied 113 paper ballots from clergy in the presence of our parliamentarian.”
Clergy with Cure Not Granted Residency; Disparate Treatment of Similarly Situated Clergy.
Their response first asserts that the complaint has no merit state their belief that the real issue is the policy of the current bishop and not the electoral process. Nevertheless, they also insist that they investigated the issue and assert that “the bishop had a clear standard for granting canonical residence, in line with applicable canons, and reasonably applied these standards.”
Duly Elected Lay Delegates Denied Seat, Voice, and Vote
Because of the issues raised with adherence to governing documents by the first set of objections the diocese sought to adhere to them strictly this time around. Parish delegates are determined by attendance and though previously parishes were allowed to use pre-pandemic numbers, in this case the letter of the canons was followed which altered some delegate counts.
The Diocese’s own rules were not followed.
In response to this one, the Standing Committee, asserts that the resolution calling for an election gave the Standing Committee wide leeway in organizing the lection and that the date by which it states the elections should be held was merely aspirational and not mandated.
The election process was fundamentally unfair.
The objectors felt that hiring the Rev Charlie Holt (who was the vote winner both times) offered him an unfair advantage, and the Standing Committee just disagrees.
The Objections will be presented to the Court of Review in January.