Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Episcopal Bishop May Face Charges, But Continues to View the World Through Rose Colored Glasses

It was has been reported that The Right Reverend Charles Bennison, leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, may face a church trial over his unauthorized spending of more than $6 million of diocesan funds without proper authorization. The Presiding Bishopette of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori (Disclosure: I represent a former Episcopal parish church currently involved in litigation with the national church) has forwarded a verified complaint setting forth the charges to a committee of review. If the committee finds probable cause that Bennison committed a triable offense, he will be put on trial before a Court for the Trial of a Bishop. Equally, alarming, at least, presumably, for Philadelphia area Episcopalians, is the fact, reported by the Inky, that the diocese faces a $500,000.00 deficit, and might not be able to pay its bills in a couple of months. But I digress. A few comments on this matter and the Inquirer story from this morning: First, Bennison will not be put on trial. The committee of review simply does not approve charges against bishops - especially thoroughgoing revisionists like Bennsion who more or less toe the theological party line. Really. Second, Bennison is probably guilty as charged. Third, Bennison is delusional. He seems to believe that he will in fact lead the Diocese for another 10 years, until he reaches retirement age. He seems to think that somehow, with ever declining church rolls, and with 20% of his parishes withholding funds, the diocese will somehow pull out of its financial death spiral. He also flatly denies, in theface of what I am told is overwhelming evidence, that he spent endowment funds without permission. So here is what is clear, from my perspective. Bennison is delusional, and probably guilty of that of which he has been accused (just my opinion). He will not be charged. And the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania will continue its slow journey down the toilet. And the world continues to turn.