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(RNS) Advocates for victims of clergy sex abuse have blasted the Episcopal Church for reinstating the bishop of Philadelphia who had been charged with not investigating sex abuse allegations about his brother.
A church appeals court ruled July 28 that Bishop Charles Bennison committed conduct inappropriate for a member of the clergy, but said charges against him had to be dismissed because the statute of limitations had run out.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which has criticized the Roman Catholic Church for not disciplining bishops, picketed Tuesday (Aug. 10) outside the Philadelphia headquarters of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
“SNAP believes that if wrongdoing goes unpunished, wrongdoing will be repeated, and that the top Episcopal hierarchy needs to do more to safeguard the vulnerable and heal the wounded,” the watchdog group said in a statement.
SNAP officials urged the bishops who made the decision to reinstate Bennison to warn families about John Bennison, a priest and the younger brother of Charles Bennison.
The ruling detailed how John Bennison had a lengthy affair with an underage female parishioner in the 1970s, starting at the church where Charles Bennison was the pastor. A lower court found Charles Bennison guilty of conduct “unbecoming a member of the clergy” in 2008 for failing to investigate or discipline his brother.
On the other side of the state, Bishop Sean Rowe of Erie has asked women to come forward who may have been abused by now-deceased Bishop Donald Davis. Rowe said in a pastoral letter that he did not know why previous church leaders did not publicize the abuse, which he said he only learned of it in March.
— Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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