Religion News Service - Missouri School of Journalism [Columbia MO]
November 1, 2022
By RNS Press Release Distribution Service
Abuse survivors support proposed resolution D095
The Episcopal Survivors Network (ESN), comprising victims of abuse in the Episcopal Church, today sharply condemned Bishop Todd Ousley’s repeated mishandling of clergy disciplinary complaints made via Title IV, the church disciplinary canon. Ousley is the current bishop for the Office of Pastoral Development and reports to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.
“Ousley’s dismal and disgraceful handling of Bishop Whayne Hougland’s admitted extramarital affair is appalling. The notion of rewarding misconduct, while ignoring victims, is repugnant to basic notions of Christianity. We see no evidence of any effort by Ousley to care for those hurt by this situation, or any recognition of the added trauma his behavior has caused.
“Nor is this the first time we have seen Ousley ignore church canons. Indeed, he has repeatedly refused to address situations in which bishops ignore Title IV requirements altogether, both substantive and procedural. Ousley himself often does not provide the procedural notices required by Title IV.
“One common denominator in these cases is that Ousley refuses to hold bishops accountable who refuse to provide the pastoral response mandated in every instance in which a complaint is made to an intake officer. That response, which should embody respect and caring for all parties, is an essential part of the Title IV process and begins at the moment a complaint is made. That requirement exists even if the complaint is dismissed. And caring for those hurt by the church is an essential part of ‘The Way of Love.’
“It is disturbing that a bishop who handles clergy discipline so badly is responsible for training other bishops,” Hardy continued. “This does not bode well for the future of the Episcopal Church. Indeed, it appears Ousley lacks even a rudimentary understanding of Title IV requirements. And we note that watchdog publication Anglican Watch has already flagged the issues with the Office of Pastoral Development.
ESN endorses proposed resolution D095 “Call for Review and Support of the Presiding Bishop’s Office of Pastoral Development,” and adds the following recommendations:
- Ousley’s immediate resignation.
- An independent, external review of the Office of Pastoral Development and its role in Title IV cases, with a written report, documentation, and recommendations for remedial action.
- In-person Title IV training for all DFMS employees.
- Establishment of an independent national intake officer for all clergy disciplinary complaints per prior proposed resolutions.
- Establishment of a national Title IV database per prior proposed resolutions.
- Specifying in the Title IV canons that bullying and other non-sexual abuse is actionable under Title IV.
- Establishment of a church-wide ethics hotline, so that complaints may be addressed without reference to the personalities involved.
- Independent, third-party auditing of diocesan and national church adherence to Title IV requirements every two years, with results compiled and made publicly available.
- Disciplinary consequences for bishops who ignore Title IV, sandbag complaints, or dismiss them on pretextual bases. ESN is aware of dozens of such cases, including within DFMS, as well as the dioceses of Alabama, Virginia, Massachusetts and Newark.
“Reforming clergy discipline is essential to the survival of the Episcopal Church,” Hardy noted. “The days are long over when bishops can ignore misconduct because they like a particular priest or don’t like a particular layperson. Nor can bishops wash their hands of complaints because they don’t want to get involved, or cover-up misconduct via claims of confidentiality.
“The church cannot talk about ‘The Way of Love,’ while ignoring abuse, whether sexual or non-sexual in nature.
“If the church will not police itself, then we will shout it from the rooftops when we see misconduct,” Hardy added. “The result will be the end of the Episcopal Church as we know it. That is the bottom line. And cleaning up the mess that is clergy discipline in the church begins with integrity in the office of presiding bishop.”
The Episcopal Survivors Network (ESN) is a nonprofit network of survivors of abuse and their allies. We are dedicated to:
- Speaking out on behalf of those hurt by the church.
- Advocating for healing.
- Whenever possible, fostering positive relationships.
- Seeking justice.
ESN is on the web at http://episcopalsurvivors.org
Episcopal Survivors Network
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Religion News Service or Religion News Foundation.