Bishop Bennison was tried by an ecclesiastical court in September of last year which held for his deposition from the ordained ministry for "having engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy." Yesterday it confirmed that ruling, unwilling to modify its sentence.
Now, the ENS reports that he intends to appeal to the The Court of Review of the Trial of a Bishop. This court consists of nine bishops, three elected by the House of Bishops at each regular meeting of General Convention. Current members are: North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry, East Carolina Bishop Clifton Daniel (presiding judge), Mississippi Bishop Duncan Gray, El Camino Real Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, West Tennessee Bishop Don Johnson, former Maine Bishop Chilton Knudsen, Western Louisiana Bishop Bruce MacPherson, Eastern Michigan Bishop Todd Ousley and Delaware Bishop Wayne Wright. Read the full report on the progress of this difficult trial process HERE.
This court is unlikely to modify or dismiss the ruling of the Court for the Trial of a Bishop. More importantly it is almost impossible to imagine a way in which Bishop Bennison could return to the exercise of episcopal ministry in the Diocese of Pennsylvania or elsewhere.
If he feels that he is not in any way guilty then of course he has every right to appeal, but that is unrelated to his ability to continue to serve. The damage to relationships in the diocese have already taken place. His further appeal will only put off the day when he moves from being inhibited as the Bishop of Pennsylvania to his being reduced to a place of permenant ineffectiveness in the exercise of ministry there, no matter what the finds of the Court of Review.
Bishop Bennison is now fighting for his good name. And there is much to be said for that. But that fight is now at odds with the call to serve the people and church to which he has been called. The Diocese needs to be about the task of finding new episcopal leadership and moving on to its vocation to the people of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
It is time for him to let it go.