Statement to the Diocese of Pennsylvania

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The following is the Standing Committee statement that was read at Sunday’s gathering at the Cathedral.

The Right Reverend Charles E. Bennison, Jr., has served as the Bishop Diocesan of Pennsylvania since May 16, 1998. On October 28, 2007, the National Church Title IV Review Committee issued a Presentment against him charging him with two counts of Conduct Unbecoming a Member of the Clergy under Title IV.1.1(g), and on November 3, 2007, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church inhibited him from all episcopal and clerical acts, thereby temporarily stripping him of Ecclesiastical Authority over the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Pursuant to the Canons of The Episcopal Church, the Standing Committee became the Ecclesiastical Authority in Bishop Bennison’s absence.

Bishop Bennison was tried on the charges in the Presentment in 2008, and the Court for the Trial of a Bishop found him guilty of the two separate counts of Conduct Unbecoming a Member of the Clergy, and on September 30 imposed a sentence directing that he be deposed pursuant to Canon IV.5.29. Bishop Bennison then appealed his conviction and the sentence to the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop.

Oral argument was presented to the Court of Review in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday, May 4, 2010.

On Wednesday evening, August 4, 2010, the Court of Review issued a Final Judgment in favor of Bishop Bennison reversing the judgment of the Trial Court.

Under the Canons of the Episcopal Church, the inhibition imposed by the Presiding Bishop expired upon the entry of the final judgment by the Court of Review.

Although he could not exercise Ecclesiastical Authority or exercise any of the gifts of ordination of a Priest or a Bishop during the period of his inhibition, he remained at all times the Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania throughout the process. With the entry of the Final Judgment, Bishop Bennison’s Ecclesiastical Authority in the Diocese of Pennsylvania was automatically restored.

Bishop Bennison will be returning to Church House on Monday, August 16, 2010. The Secretary of the Standing Committee, Ms. Arlene McGurk and Father Glenn M. Matis, President of the Standing Committee will meet with Bishop Bennison on Tuesday afternoon, August 17, 2010 at Church House. Bishop Rodney Michel, who has been serving as Assisting Bishop for the past two years in Bishop Bennison’s absence, has been asked by Bishop Bennison to remain for a period in order to effectuate an orderly restoration of Bishop Bennison’s assumption of authority.

We in the Diocese of Pennsylvania owe a great debt of gratitude to Bishops Rodney Michel, Allen Bartlett, and Edward Lee and Chancellor Michael Rehill for their willingness to assist the Standing Committee during the period of Bishop Bennison’s inhibition.

 

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