Attorney Pauline Getz has served as the Vice Chancellor of the Diocese of San Diego and is an expert on Title IV as former chair of the standing commission charged with the study of the canons, including Title IV. She says some confuse the role of the chancellor with the role of a Church Attorney. The Church Attorney is the attorney designated to represent the diocese in the proceeding and to protect the interest of the church as well as to gather evidence about an alleged incident of misconduct. Best practices dictate that the diocesan chancellor not be the Church Attorney for a Title IV proceeding in his or her diocese.
Long-time Chancellor of the Diocese of the Virgin Islands, Rosalie Ballentine, says it is hard for people to accept the fact that chancellors are outside of a specific Title IV proceeding in their diocese. She considers it a best practice to tell all involved at the start of a Title IV proceeding that as chancellors, they cannot analyze the merits of a proceeding. She educates participants about what chancellors can and cannot do.
The boundaries are especially important in that chancellors are often asked to assist a bishop or other diocesan entity in selecting officers for the Disciplinary Board or in selecting a Church Attorney. Bishops also might hold a chancellor as a confidant when considering canonical actions regarding clerics. A chancellor’s duties can result in conflicts of interest as a Title IV proceeding progresses. Attorney Getz suggests it is best not to cloud a process with complications of boundary issues.
While the chancellor may not have a specific role in a particular Title IV proceeding, he or she remains a valuable entity as an advisor to the office of the bishop and a trainer.