The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania has issued the following statement with regard to the difficult matters we now face:
Statement Concerning the Presentment and Inhibition Issued Against Bishop Bennison
On Tuesday, October 30, 2007, the members of the Standing Committee and Michael F. Rehill, Special Counsel to the Standing Committee, had a meeting with the Right Reverend F. Clayton Matthews, Bishop for Pastoral Development, Office of Pastoral Development of the Episcopal Church; David Beers, Chancellor to the Presiding Bishop; and his assistant, Mary E. Kostel. At that meeting Chancellor Beers permitted the members of the Standing Committee to read the Presentment against Bishop Bennison which had been issued the prior day, and gave them copies of a draft of the Inhibition which the Presiding Bishop intended to issue with the consent of a majority of the members of the Standing Committee. After a full and frank discussion, all ten members of the Standing Committee gave consent to the Inhibition.
With the issuance of the Inhibition by the Presiding Bishop, pursuant to the Canons of the Episcopal Church and the Canons of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, the Standing Committee will assume the role of Ecclesiastical Authority in the Diocese of Pennsylvania commencing at
12:01 am on Sunday, November 4, 2007.
The Reverend Glenn M. Matis, President of the Standing Committee, made the following statement on behalf of all of the members of the Standing Committee:
We believe that the allegations in the Presentment against Bishop Bennison are profoundly serious and we respect and rely on the work of the Review Committee of The Episcopal Church to have properly and thoroughly investigated these allegations. These allegations were not made by the Standing Committee, but having read the Presentment document carefully and discussed it with Counsel, we felt it incumbent on us to allow the process to go forward as requested by the Presiding Bishop?s office.
We recognize that the Inhibition will greatly expand the role and responsibilities of the members of the Standing Committee. We want to assure the Clergy and people of the Diocese of Pennsylvania that the Standing Committee has and will continue to exercise its canonical responsibilities in the best interests of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Over the next days and weeks, we will be working closely with The Right Reverend F. Clayton Matthews, Bishop for Pastoral Development, Office of Pastoral Development of The Episcopal Church; Judge Michael F. Rehill, Esquire, attorney for the Standing Committee; and diocesan leaders, both lay and clergy, to develop and implement plans for exercising ecclesiastical authority in the absence of a diocesan bishop.
We are humbled as we assume this authority, and we are profoundly aware of our own and the diocese’s grief and sorrow at this time. We ask your prayers for Charles and his family, for the Standing Committee, and for all in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. With faith in Jesus Christ, with assurance of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and with sure reliance on the promises of God that will heal us and make us whole, we pray we may all be drawn together as we face this difficult time. May our hearts and minds be joined in such a way as to make possible the restoration of spiritual health in our beloved diocese, and may we once again become a place of leadership within the Episcopal Church.
The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania