From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Bishops urge special episcopal election in Philippines

Date 02 Feb 2001 14:59:44

Feb. 2, 2001 News media contact: Linda Bloom·(212) 870-3803·New York

By United Methodist News Service

The United Methodist Council of Bishops will not make a recommendation
regarding the re-activation of a retired bishop in the Philippines.

However, members of the council's executive committee have suggested that
the Philippines Central Conference hold a special session to elect a third
new bishop, and they have offered a church grant of $25,000 to help pay for
the session.

The committee outlined those points in a Jan. 25 letter to the college of
bishops in the Philippines. Bishop William B. Oden, council president,
released the letter on Feb. 1 to United Methodist News Service.

Although the Philippines Central Conference elected two new bishops in
December, it was unable to elect someone to the third episcopal position.
The Revs. Leo Soriano and Benjamin Justo, the new bishops, supported the
reactivation of retired Bishop Daniel Arichea Jr., while supporters of
retired Bishop Emerito P. Nacpil disputed the nomination.

The matter came before the Council of Bishops' executive committee during
its Jan. 23-24 meeting in Atlanta. Committee members were asked to make a
recommendation based upon Paragraph 408 in the United Methodist Book of
Discipline, which states that a vacancy in the office of bishop "... shall
be filled by the Council of Bishops on nomination of the college of bishops
of the jurisdiction or central conference concerned ..."

Oden said the committee carefully researched the issue and consulted with
experts on the constitution and discipline of the church before deciding
that Paragraph 408 "did not apply...if a jurisdictional or central
conference failed to elect a bishop. Even if this has been done in the past,
we felt it should not be done in the future."

In the letter, Oden and the committee urged the Philippines Central
Conference "to call an immediate session in order to elect a third bishop.
The General Council on Finance and Administration has agreed to provide up
to $25,000 to fund this conference."

The executive committee also affirmed the decision by the Philippines
College of Bishops "to provide for interim oversight of the Manila Area by
appointing Bishop Soriano to serve that area as well as the Davao Area."   

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United Methodist News Service
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