Bennison repeats intention to stay

The reinstated bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania made clear to the diocese’s standing committee that he did not intend to resign despite their appeal to him. The standing committee had been the episcopal authority in the diocese since 2007 when Bishop Bennison was inhibited by the presiding bishop.


The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

Although Episcopal leaders in the Philadelphia region are urging him to resign, long-suspended Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr. told them Tuesday that he intended to stay at the helm of the five-county Diocese of Pennsylvania. At a meeting at Episcopal Church House in Society Hill, “he made it clear to us he would resume his responsibilities,” said the Rev. Glenn Matis, president of the standing committee that has run the 55,000-member diocese during Bennison’s nearly three-year absence.

For years before his suspension, the committee quarreled with Bennison over diocesan finances and other matters, and had asked him repeatedly to resign or retire.

Matis declined Tuesday to speculate on future relations between Bennison and the committee. “It’s too early to tell,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve seen him in two years and nine months.” When it became apparent in their meeting that Bennison intended to stay, Matis said, committee members did not broach the question of resignation, but instead “updated him on issues relating to the diocese.”

Public reaction to Bennison’s return has been largely negative. ..

Read it all.

ENS also has a report.

A new feature of The Episcopal Church website going by the name Perspectives has this as well: http://episcopalchurch.org/perspectives/diopa/. It provides a good background on the Bennison story. Added: In the comments below Torey Lightcap wonders what the objectives of Perspectives are in this case, and more generally.

Addendum.

The embattled Episcopal bishop of Philadelphia said he erred in not investigating his brother’s sexual abuse of an underage girl 35 years ago, but brushed aside calls for his resignation, saying it is more “interesting” for him to remain in office.

Read more of this RNS story.

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14 Comments
  1. Dä'ved Äyan | David Allen

    Pardon my ignorance, because that is surely what it is, ignorance, but what would happen if they just ignored him and locked him out?

  2. Paul David

    Perhaps the solution is for those unhappy with Bennison’s return would be to seek alternative Episcopal oversight from the Presiding Bishop.

    PDD

  3. www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=560747865

    If I may, I wonder if the last link in the story is a way for The Episcopal Church to provide commentary (albeit unofficially) on the Bennison trial outcome. It begs the question of what precisely constitutes taking a position in the matter at all. Is a “Perspective,” strictly speaking, a means of hedging institutional dislike for the Trial Court’s decision?

    I wonder, too (with the admitted naïveté of a relative newbie), whether there is a tenuous history of factionalism between the HoB and 815 with respect to authority. Do our communications reveal an underlying tension for the prevailing idea of the sovereignty of the diocese as the discrete unit of The Episcopal Church?

    Torey Lightcap

  4. David,

    They would probably be inviting legal trouble if they tried what you suggest. Sitting diocesan bishops are very hard to remove canonically from office (and generally that has been at only the discretion of the House of Bishops). Sadly, The Episcopal Church has a history of long stand-offs between bishops and their Standing Committees. It’s never a pretty or pleasant picture. This case is particularly ugly.

    Prayers for the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

  5. Jan Nunley

    >>Is a “Perspective,” strictly speaking, a means of hedging institutional dislike for the Trial Court’s decision?

  6. Re: Torey’s question and Jan’s response.

    I find myself wondering about the implications on the “Perspectives” page. We have to own as much what we quote as what we say for ourselves. So, I wonder why that page would cite only recent Episcopal News items, when we know there are many more relevant to these events.

    Could that go on virtually forever? Isn’t there need for some editorial decision? Yes, and yes; but the decision made will communicate a particular perspective, whether intentionally or not.

    Marshall Scott

  7. polysloguy

    What complete arrogance. The man’s pastoral ministry is over in the diocese and in The Episcopal Church.

    We need to revise the canons so that in a case such as this, the man can be removed from authority. This isn’t a dispute with some uppity council members – this is an utter trouncing of his pastoral (and personal)integrity.

    James

  8. Doesn’t he have any shame? Does his return up his pension?

    Don Hands

  9. www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=560747865

    At the end of every prayer of consecration in the Prayer Book (pp. 521, 534, and 545) we find that it is the People who provide the responding and prayer-completing “Amen,” and that they are to do so “in a loud voice.” In the case of an episcopal consecration, the People are responding to a prayer in which our desire is expressed before God that the new bishop “feed and tend the flock of Christ, and exercise without reproach the high priesthood to which [God has] called [the person].” What right-minded Episcopalian could muster an “Amen” in this case, much less one that came in above a whisper?

    Reproach is reproach, even when it has run beyond the statute of limitations.

    Torey Lightcap

  10. Peter Pearson

    As I have stated before, this situation is far more complicated than just the case against Bishop Bennison no matter how anyone feels about the man. It is also a struggle between episcopal and congregational polity in this diocese which has been the case for generations. What it demands of us at this time is to sit quietly and wait to see how this unfolds. We, with our “Talking Heads” weren’t built for that.

  11. LA Episcopal priest

    Can his salary be reduced as a token of appreciation? Can the standing committee provide office space for SNAP right next to his personal office? Maybe a sit-in is called for? Just asking.

    Bill Ledbetter

  12. Gregory

    One thinks back to the many sainted bishops of ancient times whose ministry began with them trying to evade, at great lengths, episcopal consecration, out of humility! Or those who, out of the same humility, were willing to step down from the episcopacy when faced with far less controversy than Bishop Bennison. Back in the sixth century, Isaac of Nineveh resigned his bishopric when, while arbitrating a debt dispute between two Christians, the lender refused to grant the debtor an extended due date when Isaac appealed to the gospel values of mercy and patience. “Leave your gospel out of this!” the lender rudely snapped. “Well, if you won’t heed the Lord’s commands in the gospels,” Isaac said, “then what remains for me to do here?” And so he stepped down from the episcopacy a mere five months after consecration and retired into a quiet life in a mountain monastery — where he wrote profound books that still make his episcopal ministry felt today! Having an impact as a Christian isn’t always about having an office…

    Gregory Orloff

  13. tgflux

    I have nothing to add, but

    Lord have mercy!

    JC Fisher

  14. What say we actually let the good bishop at least attempt to do some listening and reconciliation before suggesting that he be locked out or tossed out on his ear? If, as has been suggested, this is a systemic issue, then simply kicking out the bishop won’t solve the problem. If there continue to be issues, then clearly some intervention and advice from the Presiding Bishop would be helpful.

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