ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH?

Thursday, August 5th, 2010 | Uncategorized

You’re welcome:

Charles Bennison has been reinstated as the head of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania following a church court ruling overturning his conviction on charges of covering up a sexual relationship between his brother, also a priest, and a 14-year-old girl in California more than 30 years ago.

Bishop Bennison was tried before a church court in June 2008 and charged with conduct unbecoming a clergyman. He argued that he didn’t know about the sexual relationship, but the lower court determined otherwise.

He appealed. In May, the bishop appeared before the church court of appeals, composed of eight bishops from around the nation. Last night, the bishop was informed that court members had reversed the lower court’s decision.

From ENS:

On the fourth and final day of the trial earlier this month, Bennison told the court that he would do nothing different than what he did when he learned that his younger brother seduced the 14-year-old girl in his parish. He testified that he was made aware of the situation shortly before John’s ordination as priest. He said he confronted him but John denied repeatedly any improper conduct. The bishop said he ordered John to leave the church, but it was two more months before his brother departed, while continuing his abuse of the girl.

Bennison admitted under cross examination that he felt “a little bit” uncomfortable, but maintained that he knew of no impediment or criminal action to prevent John’s ordination. As a result, he testified, he presented his brother for ordination by his father, Bishop Charles Bennison Sr., at a service in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

UPDATE: Doug LeBlanc has posted the court’s complete ruling at The Living Church.
 

UPDATE: Chuckie B., bringin’ people together.  They’re sick about it over at Naughton’s.

28 Comments to ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH?

Truth Unites... and Divides
August 5, 2010

This is such a travesty that it goes beyond being ridiculous.

kc
August 5, 2010

Guess they ignored the following:

“My views have changed during the course of this week,” he said. “I have always felt terrible about this situation. It’s not the only thing in my pastoral ministry I’ve felt badly about, but it’s been a major hurt. I did not oversee John’s presence in these years. I can never escape responsibility over that. During this week, I think maybe my pastoral judgment was correct not to tell the parents, not to breach the confidentiality of Martha.”

Again, he defended his action not to tell the girl’s parents. “If it were divulged even to parents, she would have been seen as culpable, having done something bad,” he said.
He said he regarded the illicit relationship not as abuse, but as adultery by John and premarital sex by Martha. In response to questioning, he said he did not know what the term “minor” meant in the 1970s.

Two of the nine judges on the panel posed questions after his testimony finished. One asked if he was familiar with the term “statutory rape” in 1974-75. “To tell you the truth I was not familiar with that term,” Bennison said.

Allen Lewis
August 5, 2010

This is despicable, but we are talking about EGO, are we not?

Those bishops on the appeals court should be ashamed of themselves.

Allen Lewis
August 5, 2010

On another note, ENS is reporting on the Federal Court’s overturning of Proposition 8 in California:

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79425_123897_ENG_HTM.htm

What stupidity. Now this ruling will be appealed to the Ninth Circuit. What a circus.

Athanasius Returns
August 5, 2010

R E P R E H E N S I B L E

Bennison, both actually…

All members of TEC’s court of appeals

By extension all in TEC who do not hold all responsible for this utter travesty subject to proceedings on the abandonment of orders. That includes silent bishop partners (HoB) and the Presiding Bishop’s entire staff.

Utter apostasy!

The passage of time NEVER makes a wrong right!

FW Ken
August 5, 2010

I await with eager anticipation the outraged editorials and articles in The New York Times blaming the Archbishop of Canterbury and the TEC Presiding Bishop. Maureen Dowd will be shrieking at any moment and David Clohessy (SNAP) will be shocked… SHOCKED!

Of course, I’m high on pain meds (minor surgery) and may be delusional.

:-)

[...] ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH? | Midwest Conservative Journal themcj.com/?p=13412 – view page – cached Charles Bennison has been reinstated as the head of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania following a church court ruling overturning his conviction on charges of covering up a sexual relationship between his brother, also a priest, and a 14-year-old girl in California more than 30 years ago. Tweets about this link [...]

Fuinseoig
August 5, 2010

Obviously, being in our glass house, I can’t throw stones. But yeah – kind of sleazy. “I didn’t tell her parents because they’d have blamed her”???? Not the married older man who was in a position of responsibility in their local church? And I just came down in the last shower, Charles!

FW Ken, I think David Clohessy will be shocked by this; there was something in one of the reports about the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania accusations of abuse against a deceased bishop, in how TEC was handling such cases, that they praised the deposition of Charles Bennison for covering up for his brother.

Sort of hard to say you’ve learned from the RC scandal and are taking accusations seriously when you then go and reverse a decision like this.

Danby
August 5, 2010

Wow.

Being a Catholic I can’t gloat, but one would at least expect the bishops of the appeals board to understand the PR problems of such a move. I guess you can be eligible to be an Episcopal a bishop without understanding the concept of “minor” or “statutory rape”. Of course, every male I ever knew understood that last one well before the age of 18. Perhaps you can become a member of an appeals board without understanding “culpable assistance” or even “PR disaster”.

Or maybe it’s just a good-old-boys club that would overturn conviction for any crime short of “not fitting in”, “failure to scratch my back”, and “actually believing all that Christian mumbo-jumbo”.

Sinner
August 5, 2010

I guess you can be eligible to be an Episcopal a bishop without understanding the concept of “minor” or “statutory rape”.

Well it is clear you can be eligible to be an Episcopal a bishop without understanding the concept of “christian”.

In fact, understand that concept precludes you from being an Episcopal bishop

JIm McNeely
August 5, 2010

Hate to be the one person to present a different opinion, but…

The truth: this is the correct legal rending.

No one argues that Bennison’s conduct was appropriate. In fact, the decision reinforces that Chuckles committed conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy (a vast and nebulous notion that just about any of us could get thrown at us.) Bennison’s tenure as a pastor and bishop remains atrocious…and should be a clear enough body of information to force him out and into retirement.

The question is the statute of limitations. The exception in the canons involves sexual abuse. Bennison was not charged with that violation – and no evidence exists that he committed it.

As a result, the appeals panel had no choice but to reverse the ruling.

I’m not supporting Bennison, but the original court failed in its work to use the canons to support their decision.

-Jim+

Alice C. Linsley
August 5, 2010

Makes you yearn for the Lord’s return!

Christopher Johnson
August 5, 2010

I believe that you can make a case that knowing about and doing nothing to prevent someone else’s sexual abuse of a minor itself constitutes a form of sexual abuse. At any rate, I expect TEO to tighten up its canons considerably in the wake of this debacle. It’d better or Episcopalians lose forever the right to criticize any other church’s responses to their own sexual abuse scandals. After all, you have no right to demand perfection from others while falling back on narrow legalism in your own situation.

FW Ken
August 5, 2010

Christopher -

To be fair, I’m not sure the Episcopalians have specifically targeted Catholics in our current troubles. Of course, there is the general air of superiority that Bishop Kate, in particular, does so well; it’s more the secularists, in the corporate persons of The New York Times, The Boston Globe and the Associated Press that have dogged us by targeting the pope for the past few months. To do so, they simply had to drag out 30-40 year old cases and then adjust the facts to fit their goals. But hey, when you have Truth on your side, who needs facts?!

I do hope this doesn’t come across as Catholic triumphalism or defensiveness. The point I always want to make is that sex abuse is a cultural problem that requires a response from all of us, without scapegoating – or defending – any particular group.

Christopher Johnson
August 5, 2010

I’m not suggesting that they have, Ken, at least not formally(there have been informal shots here and there on the Anglican left). But was it “canonical” for Catholic bishops to repeatedly transfer sex-offender priests to new parishes? I assume that it was. Was it right? No.

My point was that if you fall back on narrow legalism when such a case happens in your church, you have no moral right to criticize that church over there, Catholic or otherwise, for doing exactly the same thing you did for exactly the same reason. Motes, beams and all that.

Fuinseoig
August 5, 2010

Technically, the verdict seems to be based on a legal loophole: the statute of limitations applies because Charles was accused of “conduct unbecoming a clergyman”, not sexual abuse.

I suppose he’s doing this in part for his reputation – his line seems to be that he had no idea anything was going on until years later when the girl’s parents said something and asked him to keep it confidential.

But holy moly, what kind of reputation does he think he’s going to have as a bishop? What does he think the opinion of the diocese is going to be, both clergy and laity? Does he have supporters who want him back in Pennsylvania?

Certainly no-one wants to be thought of as having covered up knowingly the exploitation of a fifteen year old girl, but come on: whatever way you slice it, his repute is in tatters and he might as well go gracefully.

Don Janousek
August 5, 2010

“Why, I had had it and I put my foot down and ordered my brother to leave the church immediately. And, by golly, two months later he did!” Wow! What a showdown! This Bennison dude is like Texas – not something to mess with.

I love the expression “I was made aware…” Sooo slippery, non-specific, weasel-like and meaningless. Hey, I was walking down the street today and I was made aware that I had tripped when my nose met the concrete.

And he didn’t know what the term “minor” meant in the ’70′s? Not only a weasel, but a lying weasel. Bingo!

Intercessor
August 5, 2010

This is great news!!! A true Episcopal Church bishop rightly returns to rule his realm! I cannot think of an organization that deserves him more.
Intercessor

Anonymous Anglican
August 5, 2010

Here’s hair splitting between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Bennison getting off the hook is a travesty. And not unexpected. The only bishops that don’t escape the noose are those that uphold the Faith.

Intercessor
August 5, 2010

Ya know guys/gals….it is just the Holy Spirit workin here.
Intercessor

FW Ken
August 5, 2010

I agree with you Christopher, with the added comment that some on the Episcopal right are ready to throw down on the Catholic Church, too. However, blog comments aren’t the Episcopal Church, eh!

:-)

Hey,Don, Bennison is NOTHING like Texas.

:-(

And it’s always good to remember that Bennison only got in trouble when he ticked off his Standing Committee over some money stuff. When even the liberals turn on you…

midwestnorwegian
August 5, 2010

Good. Another nail in the coffin of TEO.

Llano Estacado
August 5, 2010

Wow. Just Wow.

Lyn
August 6, 2010

Urgent prayer is needed for the victims of and witnesses against Charles Bennison as well as for clergy and lay alike who have supported the victims on their journey for justice and accountability.

They have been so brave and now realize they have been slapped in the face.
This is a situation that transcends theological differences.

Please show your support at all web sites carrying this story and open your hearts to all of these people….many of whom are making spiritual altering decisions at this very moment and others who will do so in coming days because of this travesty.

Please use this opportunity compassionately and wisely. Show the world what being an orthodox Anglican is really all about. People of all stripes need your help. Be there for them.

JM
August 6, 2010

Statute of Limitations? Well, then, surely they can defrock the sleazy crapweasel for lying under oath in his deposition that he didn’t know what a “minor” is. Please! My aching credibilus maximus.

Sinner
August 6, 2010

This is a situation that transcends theological differences.

No it’s not. It is a direct result of the cancer of liberalism

Christians believe pedophiliac rape is a heinous sin.

Liberals believe it is joyous diversity to be celebrated!

Light has nothing whatsoever in common with darkness.

Dave
August 6, 2010

ON YOUR KNEES, CHRIS JOHNSON!! ON YOUR KNEES I SAY!
And thank the LORD for his bounty!

Such a feast for the bloggers of the world has rarely been seen. And just when Pennsylvania was getting booring! Just think of all the payback, the in-fighting, the vitriol to come!

It’s going to be fun to watch the Pennsy Piskies doing what they do best.

Sasha
August 6, 2010

Truly sickening to think that this psychopath has gotten his job back!! Truly, it seems that he, his brother and his parents (from what I’ve happened to read at various times in different websites) are all people who should never have been born in the first place!!! It’s as if Our Lord has as good as condemned that whole family to wholesale destruction…

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