The LA Times reports on closing arguments filed last week at the end of Bishop Bruno’s disciplinary hearing, stemming from the 2015 closure of St James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach.
In written closing arguments filed last week, church attorney Jerry Coughlan asked that the panel deliberating Bruno’s fate order the church reopened and reinstate its vicar, the Rev. Canon Cindy Voorhees, “without retribution” and that the bishop step aside from governing the congregation.
“But a stiff sentence by itself would not help the congregation, the diocese, or the church and likely would exacerbate the situation. It would invite an appeal, further delay and controversy,” Coughlan wrote. “It is in the best interest of everyone to bring about prompt reconciliation. Therefore, the church attorney recommends that the penalty be stayed if [Bruno] agrees to forgo any appeal.”
The disciplinary panel heard evidence in March, and is considering its verdict.
In their own brief, Bruno’s attorneys repeated his defenses: that the church was never actually sold, that he acted on the fiscal information he had at the time and that he never promised the church wasn’t subject to sale.
Bruno’s attorneys said the ecclesiastical complaint, plus a failed civil lawsuit, “political actions and social media campaign” strategically derailed the sale.
Ecclesiastical law “was not intended to be used as a weapon to challenge a diocesan bishop’s decisions regarding the administration and stewardship of his or her diocese,” wrote attorney Julie Dean Larsen. “[The law] requires that the church attorney meet certain standards to override the fundamental and moral concept that the accused is innocent until proven otherwise. He has failed on all accounts to meet the burden.”
Photo: St James the Great, Newport Beach