March 16, 2023 | by Heather Hahn
As the suspension of Bishop Minerva Carcaño crosses the one-year mark, a United Methodist agency is asking to serve as a monitor as the bishop’s case is being adjudicated.
“For God’s work of justice, reconciliation, and healing to be realized in the body of Christ, fair process in the life of the Church must be applied to all parties involved equally and in a timely manner,” said the statement by the board of the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women. “Justice delayed is in fact justice denied with the compounding of harm as the process is prolonged.”
Western Jurisdiction leaders placed Carcaño on leave on March 8 last year while two complaints under church law against the bishop were under review. No one has publicly disclosed the nature of the complaints.
Since then, Carcaño has been suspended from her episcopal duties while the church’s judicial process moves forward in the Western Jurisdiction where she is bishop.
She also has been receiving full pay and benefits. Meanwhile, retired Bishop Sally Dyck has served as interim episcopal leader of the California-Nevada Conference, the regional body where Carcaño has been assigned since 2016.
The suspension of a United Methodist bishop under complaint is not unprecedented, but such a move is extremely rare.
Both the length of Carcaño’s suspension and the lack of public details about the complaints have led to some confusion and worries about the denomination’s commitment to fair process.
Carcaño, the denomination’s first Latina bishop whom the Western Jurisdiction elected in 2004, is among The United Methodist Church’s more well-known episcopal leaders. She has gained national recognition in the U.S. and respect across the denomination for her advocacy work for migrants and U.S. immigration reform. She recently led the denomination’s Task Force on Immigration.
Her suspension also has received some very public pushback. Both MARCHA (Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic/Latino Americans), the denomination’s Hispanic and Latino caucus, and ethnic leaders in the California-Nevada Conference have called for Carcaño’s immediate reinstatement.
Last year, the Judicial Council — The United Methodist Church’s top court — declined to rule on a judicial complaint against the bishop while the church judicial process is ongoing.
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