The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church has adopted resolutions calling for changes in the grand jury system and expressing "deep concern" for two former church employees jailed for refusing to testify before a grand jury.
The council urged Congress and state legislatures to adopt legislation to "prohibit unreasonable and oppressive use of the grand jury and of its processes to force witnesses to provide evidence under unnecessary adverse conditions.
The resolution on grand juries also urged that witnesses be permitted to have legal counsel present while they testify.
In the resolution of concern, the council referred to the jailing of Maria Cueto and Raisa Nemikin, who had been executive director and secretary, respectively, of the church's National Commission of Hispanic Affairs. They were jailed last spring for declining to testify to a grand jury seeking to locate a former member of the commission suspected of being a terrorist.
The council stated that the two women "were engeged in the work of the church in its ministry to Hispanic people and were deeply committed to their work and loyal to their constituents." It noted that Presiding Bishop John M. Allin and other church officials continue to seek the release of the women and expressed "its deep concern for the women and the Hispanic people."