Friday, January 27, 2006

Episcopal Bishop: Hell No, I Won't Go

After his Standing Committee's unanimous vote seeking his resignation, Bishop Charles Bennison of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania prayed about it.

Bennison's quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer this morning, and it seems God told him to hold firm:

In a telephone interview last night, the 62-year-old Bennison said he was "done praying" on it and is staying.

The standing committee, which is the top administrative board of the 65,000-member diocese - which takes in Philadelphia and the four suburban counties - voted unanimously Tuesday night to ask Bennison to leave by March 31.

The Rev. Greg Brewer, rector of Good Samaritan parish in Paoli, said yesterday there had been a "mounting sense of frustration over his leadership, concerns about financial mismanagement, that he oftentimes listens only to himself, and that he does not lead in a collegial fashion." ...

Bennison, a former parish priest and seminary professor of theology, was vigorously criticized at the diocese's General Convention in November for proposing to use $1.2 million in endowment monies to balance the diocesan budget.

He also was castigated for using $3 million in endowment money to buy 618 acres along Maryland's Elk River and the northern Chesapeake Bay to build a children's camp and retreat center.

The convention rejected his proposed $4.3 million diocesan budget for 2006. Several speakers there also called for his resignation, at which time he promised to step down if, after prayerful reflection, he concluded it was the right thing.

Bennison has been harshly criticized by church conservatives who say he is too liberal, and several wealthy, conservative parishes here have protested his support of gay marriage and gay ordination by withholding their diocesan contributions.

The leader of the unofficial opposition, who was ordained a bishop in a splinter Anglican group last year, gets ink -- sounding, as usual, conspicuously Catholic.

The Rev. David Moyer, rector of Good Shepherd, yesterday said he was "pleased that the standing committee has taken this action," but he urged the panel "to recognize that his failure as a bishop began with dishonesty and the abandonment of his vows to guard the faith."

Moyer, just swim the Tiber already.... God knows, with rhetoric like that, you'll be right at home.

And odds are you'll be a consultor to ICEL in no time.