Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Prayers for Episcopalians

In response to my post on this subject, St. Thomas' Valerie Munson writes:

Like Michael S., I pray these days for our Episcopal brothers and sisters.  I pray for the many who suffer a crisis of faith because of their church leaders’ own crisis of faith.  I pray that those leaders will somehow hear and heed the call of the two commandments upon which are based all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 23:34-40).  I also pray that forgiveness will come one day for all.  (Matthew 18:21-22, Luke 6:27-28)  I have prayed these prayers for a very long time.

My work with traditional Anglican parishes and clergy in the Episcopal Church began twenty years ago in Philadelphia.  I witnessed no greater personal cruelty in my twenty-five years of private practice than that visited for many of those years by then-Bishop Charles Bennison and his advisors on faithful traditional Anglicans in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Bennison wished to make it clear to those parishioners and clergy alike that they were not welcome in his Diocese.  He did. He saw to it that traditional parishes lived for years under constant threat that their clergy would be defrocked and their parish property seized.  He broke his word on countless occasions and in countless ways.    He misrepresented their words and intentions to others. He made a mockery of truth and trust at every turn.  He wanted traditional parishes to leave and they did.  As far as I know, their properties still sit empty – vibrant urban ministries gone.

Bennison has spent this week in a Pennsylvania state courtroom, the defendant in a jury trial that may well change First Amendment law on church autonomy.  After four pretrial hearings on jurisdiction, the court allowed the claim of a traditional Anglican priest that Bennison defrocked him by means of fraud and deceit to go forward.  This civil trial comes on the heels of a historic ecclesial trial in which Bennison was deposed based on a cover up of his brother’s sexual abuse of a girl in his parish 35 years ago. (You can read a little about both here.)            

My prayers for Episcopalians have changed somewhat over the past twenty years.  Now, I pray for myself as well.  I pray for the continued strength to bear a witness in the world that may help in some small measure to bind the wounds I have seen.

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Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink

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