Bishop Bennison has been deposed

The Bishop of Pennsylvania has been deposed. Details are still coming out, but there are news reports describing the decision of the special court that was convened. He was deposed because of his actions in covering up a case of sexual abuse that occurred earlier in his ministry.

Deposition means that Bishop Bennison is to be removed from the clergy of the Episcopal Church and will not be allowed to exercise any ordained ministry in Episcopal churches.

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania has released the following statement:

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania has received the news that the Court for the Trial of a Bishop has rendered its decision and sentencing recommendations. The Court denied Bishop Bennison’s motion for a new trial and for a sentencing hearing, and recommended that Bishop Bennison be deposed.

The Standing Committee’s prayers and thoughts are with those affected by the trial, the verdict and now the sentence. We pray for healing for all.

The canonical process is long and not over. Under the Canons, Bishop Bennison has thirty days within which to file an appeal with the Court of Review. If the conviction and sentence are upheld by the Court of Appeal, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church would impose the sentence. The Standing Committee will be continuing its responsibilities as the Ecclesiastical Authority in the diocese until the matter is finally concluded.

According to a newspaper account:

Charles E. Bennison Jr., 64, deserved to be ousted from the clergy because of his “very significant failures to fulfill his responsibilities” and “a fundamental lack of professional awareness,” the special Court for the Trial of a Bishop said in documents released Friday.

The unanimous nine-person panel of bishops, priests and church members chose the harshest sentence for Bennison, who has been bishop of the nation’s fifth-largest Episcopal diocese for a decade. He could have faced a reprimand or a temporary suspension of his duties.

“The court finds that even today (Bennison) has not shown that he comprehends the nature, significance and effect of his conduct and has not accepted responsibility and repented for his conduct and the substantial negative effects of that conduct,” the ecclesiastical panel wrote.

The full court decision (in PDF) is here.

The court order (also in PDF) is here.

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