Anglican Watch

Shocking email from Bishop “Holly” Hollerith brushes off child rape victim, makes clear he is undercutting resolution of underlying complaint

Bishop Holly Hollerith brushes off child rape victim

Silence in the presence of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak, not to act is to act.

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

If I sit next to a madman as he drives a car into a group of innocent bystanders, I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe, then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.

– Dietrich Bonehoeffer

Ever wonder what Episcopal bishops say behind the scenes when someone files a Title IV clergy disciplinary case? We don’t blame you, although we’ve been at this long enough that we have concluded we’re happier not knowing.

Now, along comes firsthand evidence that, yes, we were better off not knowing.

In a misdirected email about senior Episcopal prelates ignoring allegations of child rape, retired Diocese of Southern Virginia Bishop Herman “Holly” Hollerith shares his honest thoughts about the allegations, which involve Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Bishop for Pastoral Development Todd Ousley, Alabama Bishop Glenda Curry (no relation) and Massachusetts Bishop Alan Gates. 

Even worse, Hollerith does so as the stand-in for the Presiding Bishop, since the latter cannot participate in the Title IV cases pending against him.

Here is a screen cap of the email:

Episcopal Bishop Holly Hollerith brushes off allegations of child rape
Episcopal Bishop Holly Hollerith brushes off allegations of child rape

The shocking email, brief though it is, sheds painful light on several issues, including:

  • A shocking indifference to allegations of the sexual assault of a child. Specifically, the denomination likes to treat sexual misconduct as the only behavior adequate to get a meaningful Title IV response. Yet, in this case, Hollerith brushes the whole thing off as too politically fraught.
  • The abysmal state of “leadership” in the Episcopal Church. The fact that this sort of ugly, arrogant brush-off comes from an Episcopal bishop underscores the profound ethical and moral challenges we see in many Episcopal clergy and organizations.
  • The lack of compassion among Episcopal bishops. Indeed, even the most callous among us would respond with love to an alleged victim of child rape, as is the case with “Jack.” But not Hollerith. To him, the victim is a leper at the gate, someone he should avoid. Hollerith treats the whole thing as a nuisance and a political hot potato. That, despite the fact that the underlying charges are well-documented and the alleged perpetrator, Richard Losch, faces criminal charges.
  • Hollerith clearly is well familiar with the Losch situation since his putting quotation marks around the victim’s pseudonym, “Jack,” evinces knowledge that the name is not the victim’s given name.
  • The fundamental dynamics behind Title IV. Loosely translated, Hollerith tells us the real reason to have an intake officer for bishops, like the recently appointed Barb Kempf, is to help Pontius Pilate Michael Curry and the rest of the apparatchiks keep their hands clean. Similarly, the size and scope of Title IV meet a critical need for the organization. Like a will-o’-the-wisp, Title IV’s size and breadth lure the unsuspecting into the dark depths of the swamp of Episcopal polity, where they disappear, never to be seen again.
  • The organizational narcissism within the Episcopal Church. How on God’s great green earth did Hollerith think this email was okay to send? Who did he think he was actually sending it to? And doesn’t the fact he thought the underlying message was okay indict the entire House of Bishops? We cannot imagine any rational actor seeing this email and not feeling outrage. In other words, had he sent something like this in a for-profit organization — let’s say IBM — Hollerith’s backside would have been shown the door faster than you can say, “Book of Common Prayer.” Thus, we see deep moral failings juxtaposed with an abject lack of introspection despite Hollerith’s more than 35 years in the Episcopal clergy.
  • Speaking of, we wonder if Hollerith’s reaction would be the same if the victim were a family member. As it stands, Hollerith evinces an astonishing lack of human empathy. Indeed, how any human being can show such utter disrespect for a child rape victim escapes us.
  • We love how Hollerith wants to pawn the dirty work off on the little people. His sister-in-law Melissa may teach ethics at St. Alban’s school, but don’t think for a second Hollerith is going to touch child abuse with a ten-foot pole. Or even a thousand-foot pole. That’s for the peons like Barb Kempf.
  • To be clear, there is nothing of Jesus in Hollerith’s comments. Jesus would have cared for the victim. But Hollerith? Not so much.

We can only conclude that Hollerith is far from unbiased in the current complaints against the presiding bishop and Todd Ousley. Thus, Anglican Watch calls for:

  • An independent, external investigation into corruption in the handling of clergy disciplinary complaints in the national offices of the Episcopal Church.
  • Hollerith’s immediate recusal from all Title IV matters involving Michael Curry and Todd Ousley.
  • A written, public apology to all victims of abuse, as his behavior causes pain far beyond those immediately involved in this case.
  • Hollerith’s immediate resignation of holy orders.

In short, Hollerith’s comments are consistent with attitudes and behaviors in the upper echelons of the denomination. Even so, we are floored at the sheer stupidity and ugliness of Hollerith’s comments, and how truly evil Hollerith is.

And yes, we were happier not knowing.

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