There are many times when a Bishop finds it necessary or appropriate to issue a Pastoral Direction to a Member of the Clergy in circumstances that do not, at that time, involve an Offense. The same provision of the Canons still applies.
A Pastoral Direction (Title IV.7.2) is a written communication from the Bishop to the clergyperson involved, directing that clergyperson to address the behaviors involved. The Pastoral Direction is issued in the Bishop’s capacity as pastor, teacher, and overseer of the Member of the Clergy.
In order for a Pastoral Direction to be proper and compliant, it must reflect the following:
- It must be directed to some matter or behavior which concerns the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship of The Episcopal Church or the manner of life and behavior of the clergyperson.
- It must clearly state the reasons for the issuance of the Pastoral Direction.
- It must explain the responses required of the clergyperson.
- It must be provided to the clergyperson promptly.
It is strongly recommended that attention be paid to time lines, such as the duration of some limitation, or the time by which some step is to be taken. It is also prudent to require the Member of the Clergy to check in with the Bishop (and, conversely, for the Bishop to confirm ongoing compliance) until such time as the Direction is no longer in force.