Friday, 20 August 2010

USA: Clergy sex victims challenge 8 bishops

As a once-ousted Episcopal bishop resumes his office today, a support group for clergy sex abuse victims is challenging eight of his colleagues across the US to reform church policies and educate church staff and members about child sex crimes.

The organization is also urging the controversial prelate, Bishop Charles Bennison, to voluntarily step aside.

Leaders of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, are sending letters today to each of the bishops who recently concluded that the church statute of limitations on Bennison’s misdeeds had expired. At the same time, the same bishops (serving on a church panel called The Court of Review) ruled Bennison had engaged in “conduct unbecoming a minister.” For years, Bennison kept quiet about his brother, a now-former Episcopalian priest, who sexually violated a girl in California.

“You have an obligation to protect the innocent children and vulnerable adults (and) a duty to help educate and guide your congregation,” said SNAP in its letter to the eight. “Will you use this opportunity to send a clear, powerful public statement to everyone who will listen – that each of us has a duty to expose, not conceal, sexual assaults on the young?”

The prelates head the following dioceses: East Carolina (Kinston, NC), Maine (Portland), Western Louisiana (Alexandria), North Carolina (Raleigh, NC), Mississippi (Jackson), West Tennessee (Memphis), Eastern Michigan (Saginaw), and El Camino Real (Monterey, CA). Read more

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