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Charles Bennison: A Bishop for Our Times...Not

Charles Bennison: A Bishop for Our Times...Not


By David W. Virtue
May 5, 2010

Bishop Charles E. Bennison...one more time

You wonder sometimes if it is all a bad dream, but then you wake up. He is still there, the silly grin on his face, ready to do battle to salvage what's left of his reputation.

Bennison won't or can't let it go. He's been found guilty of charges unbecoming a bishop. He has not yet lost on appeal and he is hoping a panel of his peers will declare him not guilty so he can go right back to work tormenting the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

One hopes it never happens. If he loses the appeal heard this week in Wilmington, Delaware, that is the end of the matter. There is no provision for an appeal to the House of Bishops in this kind of proceeding. If the word I got is true, he may turn around and sue members of the Standing Committee who he said didn't like the way he financially managed the diocese or his wretched theology...if you can even call it that. (What about blowing millions of dollars on a failed camp (Wapiti) purchase in Maryland doesn't he understand?)

How about a bishop who said Jesus was a sinner who forgave himself. Or likened the growth of the Anglican Church in Africa to the growth of the Nazi Party. Or a bishop who writes a Visigoth Rite for queers, for heaven's sake. What Bennison believes about the faith wouldn't fill his own miter.

Bennison will undoubtedly use his wife's millions to continue the litigation. It's as though he and Bishop David L. Moyer of Good Shepherd are looking for someone to sue so they can say "we were right, y'all had us wrong." The Standing Committee and Moyer both deserve each other. They voted for Bennison who in due course betrayed the orthodox remnant over flying bishops. The Standing Committee that once saw Bennison as their spiritual Caesar is now wishing he would fall on his sword.

At the end, it wasn't about money or theology, it was about sex, the only barometer TEC has to judge anything these days...and the more varieties of sex the better. Can anyone add additional letters to LGBTQ?

Even sex with a minor is still a no-no in TEC; until of course, liberals and revisionists manage to get the age of consent lowered to 14. Bennison, of course, knew what his brother was doing sexually with an underage teenage girl and conveniently said nothing in order to further his own career among other things. His lame excuse? He didn't want to hurt the girl or the parents.

One constant is the common hatred both Bennison and the Standing Committee have had and continue to have for the orthodox Episcopal remnant in the diocese. The remnant orthodox is getting the last laugh. The Standing Committee and Bennison may yet face off in court; the enemy of my friend is my enemy. Ha. Hundreds of thousands more dollars will be spent on lawyers. Lawyers like casinos prove that the house always wins.

What a contrast with the Global South meeting in Singapore recently. There, there was life and hope and joy with 130 Anglican leaders proclaiming a gospel of love and redemption ready to do battle with the spiritual forces of darkness the cross held high.

In the basement of a church in Wilmington, DE sat a 100 or so aging spiritually lifeless clergy and laity looking for all the world like tombstones in search of bodies while lawyers wailed over a vindictive, nasty spiritually, pasty faced, bankrupt little bishop, who should never have been a bishop in the first place, or a priest for that matter, trying to salvage or bury his worthless episcopacy under a pile of legal documents. All the while this is costing the diocese and national church hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorneys' fees on both sides of the aisle, and Bennison's full salary and benefits for doing absolutely nothing except to fight his own cause.

David Booth Beers, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori personal attorney sat there looking poker-faced like a tombstone of his own. Ironically Katharine wants Bennison gone as well. It'll be interesting to see if she is as successful getting rid of Bennison as she was getting rid of Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan. (The Episcopal Church did manage to get rid of Bishop Cy Jones of Montana; Bennison is proving a tougher turkey apparently.)

All the victims were at his latest hearing and listening, as, one more time, their lives were raked over by attorneys on both sides. There were tears and handkerchiefs; they have had to relive the horror time and time again.

Dear God, will it ever end, will the nightmare ever be over and Bennison finally sent into ecclesiastical exile, into his own personal gulag, where the damned are punished for all eternity by just living and remembering everything they did to screw the faith and those who desperately wanted to believe it?


CORRECTION: I have been told by a retired canon law bishop that there is no further appeal to the HOB that Bennison can make. Whatever decision this appeal board comes up with will be it for Bennison.

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