It’s Lent, the season of introspection and repentance. With that in mind, Anglican Watch has developed an action plan for Dallas Bishop George Sumner. By following it, Sumner can improve as a Christian and model what he preaches. So, with his weekend visit to St. James in Texarkana looming, here are our recommendations:
- Take Lent seriously. No one wants to hear more silly drivel about giving up chocolate or whisky for Lent.
- Address the elephant in the nave. Absent a handful of lemmings at St. James, everyone at St. James knows damned well Rich Daly didn’t retire. Instead, you fired him. You did so because you didn’t like his Christ-based approach of transparency apropos the abuse of a young lady connected with the church.
- Recognize that Rich immediately picked up at ACNA. So much for that lie of yours about retirement. Even those with no prior knowledge of the situation can see that you are a liar.
- Admit to your lie. Come clean in front of the entire congregation.
- Apologize. Not a Piski-pology, where you say, “I’m sorry if you were offended.” We’re looking for a real apology.
- Make restitution. That begins with meeting a certain young lady, finding our her pastoral needs, and making sure those needs are met.
- Grow a pair, and make clear to the congregation that the way to deal with a victim of sexual abuse is care and compassion, and that retaliation won’t be tolerated.
- Reach out to Rich Daly and his family to make amends. We don’t know his thoughts on this matter, but it’s up to him and his family to decide whether to accept your apology. Personally, to borrow a phrase from a Christmas movie, we wouldn’t touch you with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole. But then he’s probably kinder than we are.
- Provide a pastoral response to the St. James congregation. You’ve betrayed their trust, the trust of the young lady in question, the community, and the church as a whole. On what planet is it okay to cover up sexual abuse?!? And for the record, folks at St. James deserve better.
- As for Anderson’s ridiculous pleadings in the Massachusetts Title IV case against him, that’s another elephant in the nave you need to deal with. Yeah, we get that Anderson is a demi-god in Texarkana, but that little bit about “thou shalt have no other Gods before me” applies. And in case you weren’t clear:
- Married clergy don’t get to have sex on the side. Full stop.
- Sources tell us this isn’t Anderson’s first time at that rodeo.
- The responsibility to maintain boundaries is always and everywhere with clergy, world without end. So don’t even try the victim-blaming bit. That dog ain’t gonna hunt. And if you try it, directly or through others, we will rat you out. Big time.
- Tell the truth about Anderson. The church cannot be healthy, or in right relationship, when its view of its clergy is based on falsehood, corruption, and cover-up.
- Don’t weasel-word things. Most of us quit falling for that trick decades ago. You know the one–when in doubt, resort to lofty language about the dignity of all persons, throw in some quasi-Elizabethan babble, then cut and run and go back to whatever you were doing. And if you’re really desperate, have a litany of repentance, fumigate the place with some incense, and call it a day. All good, except that it doesn’t work.
- The best way to deal with the Title IV complaint filed against you is to fix the underlying issue, and damned quick. And if you think you can lie your way out of it, think again. We can and will publish documentation that will quickly sink your ship.
- And if Title IV doesn’t sink your sorry backside, we see signs that either the EEOC or the courts will do it. Do you really want to be in the headlines as the #churchtoo bishop? As it stands, you are the poster guy for misogyny, corruption, and #churchtoo for the Episcopal church, and things are about to get worse. Think about it. And think about the damage your conduct is causing the church.
- Turn over a new leaf. Any denomination in which it’s okay to lie and cover-up sexual abuse is one to be avoided. Your bad behavior needs to stop. Here and now. And Lent is the perfect time for that to happen.
In other words, to use the Pope’s phrase, you’re in deep caca.
Will you take our advice? Probably not. What the TEC hierarchy lacks in faith and common sense it makes up for in stubbornness. But the more you cling to your current approach, the faster you swirl down the drain.
Oh, and while we’re on the topic, we’re curious: What do your wife and the other women in your life think about your lies and cover-up? We can’t imagine they’re happy about your behavior.
And, if you’re not willing to be honest about this gosh awful mess you created, please do all involved a favor. Talk to your buddy Todd Ousley aka Mr. Golden Parachute about landing a nice gig somewhere as an interim, or maybe teaching at VTS. You certainly won’t be the first corrupt bishop to land there, and you sure won’t be the last. Just get the hell out of Dallas before you do any more damage.
Finally, to the ladies of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas: You deserve better. Tell Sumner the days when women were second-class citizens are long over. No woman deserves to be sexually assaulted — or to have an Episcopal bishop cover it up. Sumner needs to get with the program or get out.
Simple as that.