An 2010 Episcopal Church canonical court reinstated the Rt. Rev. Charles E. Bennison Jr. a Bishop of Pennsylvania, reversing a lower church court ruling. Bennison had previously been removed from office and defrocked for allegedly covering up his long-standing sexual abuse of a minor by his brother, a priest in California. The appellate court found that the ten-year statute of limitations had run, and thus it has no choice but to overturn the lower court’s decision. Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori had no comment on the ruling.
Responding to the decision, Bennison, who was vacationing in Michigan said:
“I hope I am a changed person,” he said, adding that his immediate goal was to listen to the men and women who have led the diocese since his suspension in October 2007. He said he would likely devote more attention to the spiritual affairs of the diocese than to its finances or administration.
“My main reason for coming back is that I think I have something to offer along those lines . . . preaching and teaching,” he said.
Others held a less generous view, even prior to the indictment, with the diocesan standing committee and regional deans unanimously calling for his resignation over issues including the use of diocesan assets to build a summer camp, as well as his defrocking of one of his critics, conservative priest the Rev. David Moyer.
Shortly after his return to office, the House of Bishops passed a strongly worded yet non-binding resolution urging Bennison to resign. He did so two years later.