Bishop Bennison wins his appeal
The news that a Church appeal court, consisting of eight Bishops (a ninth recused himself) has reversed the findings of the verdict against Bishop Bennison has burst upon an astonished Church.
But I cannot understand why this should be so. As the appeal court said, the Bishop was never at any time accused of an immoral act, and it has now been shown (as he always asserted) that he had no knowledge of his brother’s crime until long after the event. Then, he remained silent at the request of the parents of the girl involved, who felt that publicity would hurt her.
It may well be that Bishop Bennison should have been more suspicious of his brother and made more vigorous attempts to find out what was really going on, but this hardly constitutes condoning immoral (and criminal) actions.
In the appeal court’s judgement, it is interesting that they make it clear that it is quite improper for those who disapprove of a Bishop’s theological opinions or use (or abuse) of Church funds to use an accusation of “conduct unbecoming a clergyman” as a way to remove him, which makes me think that they saw some evidence that this was what was happening. After all, it was only when another court found that there was no evidence of Bishop Bennison’s misusing Church monies that the present charges were brought.
The Bishop may choose to return as our Diocesan, or he may choose to retire and pursue his ministry as a Bishop of the Episcopal Church
elsewhere. I, for one, am glad that the ludicrously severe sentence of (purportedly) reducing him to the lay state has been shown for the nonsense it always was.