Monday, July 14, 2008

Philadelphia Bishop found Guilty of "Conduct Unbecoming"

There is a common perception that the Episcopal Church does not discipline clergy who are guilty of infractions. Ever since the days of Bishop James Pike and his "heresy" trial there has been the illusion that we have an aversion to public trials or discipline. However, that is not always the case and there are several recent encouraging developments.
Last year, Ann Holmes Reading, an Episcopal Priest serving in Washington State announced that she was also a Muslim. Her Bishop, Geralyn Wolf, of Rhode Island asked her to turn in her collar.
Now the Bishop of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), Charles Bennison (pictured), has been found guilty for behavior from decades ago. Read about it here -


The Rev Canon Dr David Wilson said...

Bishop Spong has never been discipled. Walter Righter was exonerated for ordaining a praticing gay clergyman and neither Vicky Gene Robinson or any of his consecrators have ever been disciplined. So what's your point?

Martin A. Rice, Jr. said...

Actually, Jim, your citing of these examples is underwhelming. Pedophilia is the heinous crime du jour and the one, punishment of which, that is media compliant and even media praiseworthy. TEC risks nothing by putting Bennison on trial and everything by not doing so in this age of clerical pedophilia scandals. In fact, they would suffer the undying ire of the media for failure to comply. Moreover, there's damage control at work here, since Bennison's victim would speak out with TEC looking like an accomplice for doing nothing. We could take this seriously if TEC also accused Bp Gene Robinson of conduct unbecoming for sodomy. But, of course, that would not be media compliant.
A similar argument goes for the case of the "Christian" Moslem now that most of the country is somewhat aware--as a result of having the Third Avenue El dropped on its head--that there are serious differences between the two religions. But, if you subscribe to a "peaceful" heresy, like being a bishop that professes some species of Buddhism, then you can keep your collar, a la retired Bp Spong.
So, I must disagree. The laxity of TEC in punishing infractions of the faith is no illusion.

Marty Rice