Bishop Michael Curry responds to complaints of ‘free passes’ for accused bishops

by | Sep 6, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, head of the Episcopal Church, announced recommendations for revising disciplinary procedures for bishops in a video posted Tuesday evening (Sept. 5).“For the sake of the gospel, for the sake of our integrity, and, above all, for the sake of the well-being of every child of God who is a part of this church, we cannot, we must not, and we will not sit idly by when anyone is hurt or harmed in our midst,” said Curry.
He asked the Standing Commission on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons, a representative body of 10 laity, five clergy and five bishops, to review how the church has disciplined bishops and recommend changes to that process to the General Convention, the denomination’s governing body.
Curry, who was recently hospitalized for a recurrence of internal bleeding and is scheduled for a related surgery later this month, was responding in his address to an Aug. 31 letter signed by at least 55 Episcopal bishops who are “angered by and deeply concerned about the perception — or the reality — that bishops get a free pass on behavioral issues,” as well as a separate open letter signed by over 240 individuals that called on Curry to deliver a “powerful word” in response to the church’s moment of “reckoning.” 
Last Wednesday, Julia Ayala Harris, president of the House of Deputies and the second-ranking officer of the church, wrote a letter stating concerns about the church’s response to her allegations that a retired bishop subjected her to “non-consensual physical contact” as well as “inappropriate verbal statements” on July 9, 2022, the day she was elected president.
Julia Ayala Harris. Photo courtesy of Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma
Ayala Harris wrote that she filed a complaint that led to a Title IV process, the internal disciplinary procedure for Episcopal clergy accused of misconduct. Though investigations found that the retired bishop likely violated church canons and New York sexual harassment laws, Ayala Harris said, he was referred for a pastoral response rather than discipline.
“I find this outcome deeply unsettling and feel …

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