The Episcopal (Anglican) bishop of the state of Montana has resigned following a church court's decision to defrock him for sexual misconduct.

The resignation on February 26 by Charles I. "Ci" Jones III followed reports of a settlement under which Jones will be given $170,000. The Montana diocese also agreed to forgive the remaining mortgage for his diocesan home, Episcopal News Service (ENS) reported. In exchange, Jones agreed not to sue the diocese.

The Montana Diocesan Council had unanimously supported Jones' removal. Jim Hunt, a lawyer and member of the diocesan council, said that under his contract Jones was owed a severance package. Both sides had come to the conclusion that the bishop's resignation was in the best interests of all. "Ultimately, it was an amicable parting," Hunt said.

However, Jones' resignation only affects his status as bishop of Montana. He is appealing against the decision by the church court to defrock him as a priest, and he is asking for a modification of the sentence, according to Jan Nunley, spokeswoman for the Episcopal Church. She told ENI that Jones would retain his status as an Episcopal priest pending the outcome of the appeal.

If he is defrocked, Jones will no longer be able to administer the sacraments—the most severe punishment possible under church law.

The Episcopal Church's leader, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, has denied a request by Jones that would have allowed the bishop to undergo what is called "voluntary submission to discipline"—which would have left the way open for the possible reinstatement of Jones as a bishop. But Bishop Griswold has not publicly commented on the case.

The punishment of defrocking was recommended by a 7-2 vote on February 14 by a panel of fellow bishops ...

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