The bishop of the
Episcopal diocese of Pennsylvania has been ordered to
cease his duties until a church trial about accusations that
he concealed a relative's sexual abuse of a
14-year-old girl in the 1970s, a newspaper reported
Katharine Jefferts Schori told Bishop Charles E.
Bennison Jr. on Wednesday that he was to ''cease all
episcopal, ministerial, and canonical acts'' as of
Saturday night, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The deadline will allow Bennison to lead Saturday's
annual diocesan convention.
or church indictment, alleges that Bennison reacted
''passively and self-protectively'' and ''failed to take
obvious, essential steps to investigate [the
relative's] actions, protect the girl from further
abuse, and find out whether other children were in danger.''
A special church
court is to hear the charges against Bennison sometime
next year and decide whether he may resume his duties. Until
that court acts, the diocesan standing committee is to
assume Bennison's duties.
Bennison, 63, was
rector of a parish in the diocese of Los Angeles at the
time. He has been bishop for 11 years in the Pennsylvania
diocese, which has 80,000 members in Philadelphia and
four suburban counties.
Bennison did not
immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday
Bennison apologized to the diocese for ''lack of action on
my part.'' He told the Inquirer that he had
told the relative ''to leave the parish's employ'' but
did not report the matter to civil or church
authorities because the girl's parents had not chosen
to do so.
conservatives have long criticized Bennison's liberal
stances on same-sex marriage and ordination of gay
people. The diocesan standing committee has sought his
removal for two years, accusing him of misusing
diocesan assets. (AP)