Lutheran Worship and Resources
Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
VirtueOnline - News - Exclusives - PHILADELPHIA: Bishop Bennison lashes out at "Tabloid Journalism". Defends Rector
VirtueOnline - News - Exclusives - PHILADELPHIA: Bishop Bennison lashes out at "Tabloid Journalism". Defends Rector:
Following VOL's exposé of Fr. Gordon Reid's sexual past when he was in Scotland before coming to St. Clement's in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bishop Charles E. Bennison has come out in defense of Reid saying that no such improprieties were ever reported to him, calling the unsolicited articles in the Scottish tabloid "sensational" and "a transgression of God's commandment against bearing false witness."
An investigative report in the Sunday People, a British newspaper dated November 8, 1987, details the activities of the Rev. Gordon Reid, when he was Provost of Inverness Cathedral in 1984. It is a shocking account of what Reid said in a tape-recorded interview to a reporter posing as a young man who wanted counseling. The young man was subjected to the sexual advances of Reid. In the tape-recorded conversation, Reid admitted to engaging in sexual activity with hundreds of partners, in group sex orgies, extreme sadomasochistic sex acts and prostitution. http://tinyurl.com/7afmrmj
These newspaper reports were sent to VOL and published here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=15854#.T420ZdlRC8A
VOL has since learned that a book The Church in Crisis by Charles Moore, A N Wilson and Gavin Stamp, published 1986 by Hodder and Stoughton, describes in specific detail on pp 193-196 the abysmal events at All Souls' Leeds under the ministry of Fr. Alan Sanders, the "reporter" in VOL's story.
Fr. Sanders, himself a homosexual, was paid off by the Diocese of Ripon with a very large amount of money. After he resigned from the parish as agreed, he came to an arrangement with the Sunday People, to visit all the clergy he knew armed with a hidden tape recorder on the pretext of asking for advice about his relationship with his male partner, who had been his Churchwarden at All Souls. He accompanied him on these visits. In addition to money, Sanders was provided with a hire (rental) car for the tour around the country. It was a classic sting operation.
Sanders had known Reid as a fellow cleric in the gay sub culture in the UK. In order to gain entry and the confidence of those he interviewed, Sanders lied saying that he was coming for advice when in fact he was armed with a hidden tape recorder.
Some clergy were wise enough to send him out into the night; some invited him in, opened a bottle or two, and the gossip which ensued was all recorded. The Very Rev. Gordon Reid, then Provost of Inverness, was the first to be exposed in the course of a series of exposures by the newspaper using the hidden tape recordings.
Up to that point, Reid had been a rising star in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and was expected to become a Bishop. He had also been a prominent supporter of the Conservative Party. When the story was published, he swiftly vanished from Inverness and from the UK, turning up as an assistant priest in Ankara, Turkey, presumably having obtained the help of the Bishop of the Diocese in Europe, +John Satterthwaite. Once in that diocese, Reid was promoted again and again, as if nothing had happened in Scotland.
Another prominent priest known to Sanders, who had formerly been Vicar of St Alban, Hull, and Director of Clergy Training in the Diocese of York, was Canon Gordon O'Loughlin, who by now was priest in charge of a parish in Brighton on the south coast. He, too, fell for the ploy, and was duly reported on the front page of the Sunday People, advocating oral sex and claiming that married clergy were the most eager to engage in homosexuality with other men. Gordon O'Loughlin died died some 15 years later of lung cancer. A number of other priests were "outed" by the Sunday People. Original copies are available in London as part of the national newspaper archive.
Alan Sanders no longer appears in Crockford's Clerical Directory. The details of his fall were almost certainly recorded by Lambeth Palace to prevent his future employment as a priest in the Church of England. The Scottish Episcopal Church does not have a comparable blacklist.
Bennison, in a letter to the diocese, said no such improprieties in Canon Reid's history were reported through the Oxford Document background check carried out for the Diocese in 2003 when Canon Reid was a candidate for election as St. Clement's rector. "To our knowledge, there is no evidence that substantiates the alleged accusations. Indeed, his years in such positions as Vicar-General of the Diocese in Europe, Dean of Gibraltar, and Archdeacon of Italy & Malta show how absurd such rumors were. Throughout his tenure in the diocese, Canon Reid's ministry has been exemplary."
Bennison, who was found guilty of covering up his brother's sexual abuse of a minor and for which charges of "conduct unbecoming a priest" still hangs over his head despite a statute of limitations decision which got him off the hook, said attempts to stain another's honor in such a manner is to risk transgression of God's commandment against bearing false witness. To not sign one's name to such a letter is the height of personal cowardice and, inasmuch as it effects anxiety and division, an assault on the Body of Christ.
Not to put a too finer point on it, Bennison has been assaulting the "Body of Christ" with heretical teachings for more than 30 years. He has doctrinally shredded the historic faith in the diocese by allowing non-celibate homosexuals to be employed in the pastoral ministry. He also said he could not confirm the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead, or Christ's substitutionary atonement and is a powerful supporter of Bishop John Shelby Spong's 12 Theses.
Bennison concluded by asking for prayer for Canon Reid, for the people of St. Clement's, and those who have sought to damage his ministry in that Church.
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