Monday, 16 August 2010

Standing Committee does not want Bennison back

Updated again Wednesday morning

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania has issued a statement.

Read An Open Letter to the People of the Diocese of Pennsylvania From the Standing Committee of the Diocese.

…We do not believe that Bishop Bennison has the trust of the clergy and lay leaders necessary for him to be an effective pastor and leader of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, nor that he can regain or rebuild the trust that he has lost or broken.

We believe that it would be in the best interest of the Diocese that Bishop Bennison not resume his exercise of authority here.

Updates
ENS has two detailed reports at Pennsylvania bishop returns to divided diocese and again at Pennsylvania bishop says he’s listening to lay, clergy leaders.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 16 August 2010 at 6:49pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA
Comments

The standing committee has been trying to get rid of Bishop Bennison since long before the revelations about the events in California of so long ago...and for reasons having nothing to do with those events. This is, IMO, just one more attempt.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 16 August 2010 at 10:19pm BST

A further comment:

In the letter, the standing committee offers no evidence to support their contention that Bishop Bennison no longer has the trust of the clergy and lay leaders of the diocese. Certainly, he no longer has the trust of the standing committee, but that is not the same thing. There is nothing in the letter that speaks to or of anything except the standing committee's opinions.

Certainly, there is nothing to indicate that Bishop Bennison does not or would not support the worthy initiatives and programs the committee lists in the body of the letter. Or anything to support the committee's evident belief that he would not.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 at 2:07am BST

"In the letter, the standing committee offers no evidence to support their contention that Bishop Bennison no longer has the trust of the clergy and lay leaders of the diocese"

The clergy and lay leaders elected that Standing Committee, for one thing.

The Bishop's cover-up was far enough in the past that the statute of limitations then in effect had run out. He was NOT exonerated on the facts of the coverup.

Even before that process began two years ago, Bishop Bennison had run afoul of the Standing Committee and many in the Diocese by a series of unilateral actions that were, if I remember correctly, fiscally disasterous for the diocese.

I cannot see how a Bishop who has brought so much grief to his diocese, and who is clearly unwanted by the elected Standing Committee, would want to do anythng but make a quiet exit to retirement.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 at 12:58pm BST

Bennison has no sense of shame. A man with any decency would have realized months, even years ago, that his episcopate was a total failure.

He should have resigned long ago to spend more time with his family or to explore other opportunities or whatever the current cliche is for people who know they have overstayed their welcome.

Posted by: jnwall on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 at 2:06pm BST

While it's certainly true that the Standing Committe has been trying to get rid of him for years for a variety of reasons, there have been other letters written by non-committee members asking him not to return and this letter was written after the diocese held a meeting at the cathedral to which everyone was invited to discuss concerns about his return. Even several liberal members of the diocese and TEC have posted their belief that it's better he not return. This last judgment did not find him "not guilty" the judgement found he was, it was just too late to charge him. Conceal bad behavior for 10 years and you're off the hook. Considering that this whole process has been in the public eye, does the diocese really want a bishop that everyone, in the Church or not, knows covered up child abuse?

Unfortunately, like my previous bishop whose affair didn't come to light for some years, he will probably need a large golden parachute to get him to leave.

Posted by: Chris H. on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 at 2:46pm BST

Perhaps delve deeper Pat, it was in the first paragraph;
We listened with care to the words spoken by many of you at our Cathedral this past Sunday and are grateful for your prayers.

There was a meeting held last Sunday afternoon where it is reported that many folks, including clergy, shared their anger and frustration at his imminent return.

Posted by: David | Dah•veed on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 at 3:10pm BST

Bennison may have canonical authority to resume his duties, but clearly he's damaged goods. For "the good of the service" he should resign.

Posted by: pete on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 at 3:32pm BST

A fight between SC and their Bishop? Ok! But see: With Roman Catholic Church with lots of cases of pedophilia, do you think that a suspect of even colaboration with pedophiles is a good choice for a Bishop in any Church? Surely not!... Fortunately you have more democratic structures on the direction of your Church and I'm certain: These cases tend to be exceptions!

Posted by: Pensamento Positivo on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 at 10:18pm BST

Do others besides myself think it unfortunate that they saved the "disinvitation" until the end of the letter? It looks like a hit-and-run.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 at 10:58pm BST

The standing committee members were elected several years ago, before the current controversy arose; therefore, the lay and clergy did not elect them based on their opinions regarding these issues.

The meeting at the Cathedral was not attended by representatives chosen by every parish; largely, it was attended by people who had a statement to make. It was, to use the statistical term, a self-selecting attendance. It's always easier to get the people who are unhappy to speak their piece than those who are happy.

Basically, most of the lay people of the diocese really don't care about any of this. It doesn't affect them or their parish at all. To say they have lost trust in the bishop is to say they care at all who is the bishop.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 at 11:49pm BST

What a nightmare. This diocese has already lost 10,000 members and is in financial shambles. And that was before this problem even started. He stated today that after engaging in "the listening process"...he is going to return immediately. For the good of the church, he should step down.

Posted by: Josh L. on Wednesday, 18 August 2010 at 12:49am BST

"Basically, most of the lay people of the diocese really don't care about any of this. It doesn't affect them or their parish at all. To say they have lost trust in the bishop is to say they care at all who is the bishop."

That'ss quite a sweeping set of unsupported generalizations. I know if I were in that diocese I indeed would care that my bishop had shielded a predatory priest. It's a feeling called 'shame,' and must be one unknown to Bp. Bennison.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 18 August 2010 at 1:49pm BST

I know one priest in Pennsylvania who's had an association with Bp Bennison both before and after he became bishop. She is a liberal by any definition, likes him as an individual, but she is dreading his return and cannot see how he can possibly come back. Far too much damage has been done.

I also have a good friend (not from Pennyslvania)who knew Bp Bennison while he was at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., who says he was a really great guy, but doesn't understand how things could have gone so wrong.

For the good of his diocese Bishop Bennison should not come back. Perhaps the members of the Standing Committee should also resign. Since they are elected, if the same members are re-elected it will be clear that they have lay and clerical support, and will have a new mandate to move forward in working to heal the diocese.

Posted by: Jeffrey on Wednesday, 18 August 2010 at 2:11pm BST

http://www.snapnetwork.org/snap_press_releases/2010_press_releases/081610_clergy_sex_victims_challenge_8_bishops.htm

*Clergy sex victims challenge 8 bishops

*Episcopalian officials reinstate top prelate

*SNAP urges denomination leaders to blast cover ups

*It also wants church hierarchy to lift statute of limitations

*Letters are sent on Bennison’s first day back in office in PA

Posted by: J. Thomas on Wednesday, 18 August 2010 at 2:26pm BST

Wow, most of the lay people don't care that their bishop enabled and covered up a statutory rape by his brother. Or that his was the rape of a member of his congregation? In fact, apparently most lay people don't care who their bishop is?

Perhaps you could offer some evidence on these claims?

Kevin K

Posted by: Kevin K on Wednesday, 18 August 2010 at 3:56pm BST

Ask any member of your parish if he even knows who the parish representatives at diocesan convention are. I will lay you good odds he doesn't. Ask if he has ever inquired of them about diocesan level controversies. Same odds--he hasn't. Ask if he bothered to follow the trial of Bishop Bennison. Same odds--he didn't.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 18 August 2010 at 9:37pm BST

I can ask ANY member of my parish, Pat? (I hope you're not a gambler: you're gonna lose!)

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 18 August 2010 at 11:17pm BST

This truly tickles my grim, absurdist funnybone.

Here there's a serious debate as to whether this man can return and act as a unifying force and focus for his diocese and the diocese to the larger church - all in a fierce hammer-and-tongs snarkfest between his supporter and everybody else.

So, when does Godot get here, again?

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 19 August 2010 at 8:01am BST

I'd say that a fairly high % of my parish knows who the delegate to Annual Council is and know as well the major issues we've been dealing with - I suppose that is one of the unintended consequences of the Minns et allia and their attempt at Grand Theft Church. Quite likely a lot of folks in Dio of Va are not up on the Bennison discgrace, but I expect a lot in his unfortunate diocese do. See for esample p. 855 of the BCP, which describes the ministry of bishops and see if that fits Bp B.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 19 August 2010 at 1:25pm BST

Pat, I know the people in my parish are well aware of their diocesan representatives. We've been very supportive of Bp Bennison over the years, but now that has changed dramatically - right or wrong. His legacy, at this point, is one of deep dissatisfaction and deep divisions, while the mark of the episcopate is unity.

Posted by: dave on Thursday, 19 August 2010 at 3:56pm BST

When Bennison was in Atlanta he Listened to no one, warred with the vestry, showed disdain for parishioners' problems, and refused to cooperate when counselors were brought in to try to effect compromises between him and the vestry. Attendance and giving declined dramatically. Was finally shown the door by the bishop. I suspect that, today, he's just more like he always was.

Posted by: Tom T. on Saturday, 28 August 2010 at 2:02am BST
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