Like Father…

‘The dynamic diocesan center I envision would have to be a church first and foremost, housing at its heart the altar, with the various related aspects of the total mission of the Church going out as spokes from the altar hub to all parts of the Cathedral building and from there out to the world… Nothing which concerns any part of human life, in even the slightest way, could be divorced from the life and work of the Cathedral… in this age of ecumenicity and the constant need for the grace of reconciliation to be born in the hearts of all people, the Cathedral would have to serve as a spiritual reservoir of all people of every race and creed.’

Thus wrote Charles E. Bennison, fifth Bishop of Western Michigan and father of the current Bishop of Pennsylvania, as he committed his diocese to expenditure of 31,653,729-81 (don’t you just love the 81 cents?) on a new cathedral, the ugliness of which defies description.

Opened in 1969, the cathedral, under the leadership of its Dean, the Very Revd Cynthia L Black (no relation), currently offers two Eucharists each Sunday and Compline once a month. And that is all. Apart from an AA Meeting’ (whatever that may mean!) every Monday evening.

Little surprise, then, to read in the Kalamazoo Gazette (‘Everything Michigan) the following: ‘The Cathedral of Christ the King has been sold, members of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan were told Sunday.

A pastoral letter from Bishop Robert Gepert that was read in some congregations Sunday said, A contract for the sale of the Cathedral and land has been signed, the sale price being 31,275,000; the organ and other significant items will be sold separately. There will be a closing worship service for the diocese. A decon-secration service will be held when the building becomes vacant.’

In his letter, the bishop outlined some of the reasons the sale was decided, including the dwindling of a 31-5 million fund that had been set up for the operations of the Cathedral when it was built. Last year, the diocese moved its administrative offices out of the building and did a feasibility study to see whether 33-5 million could be raised to maintain the cathedral.

‘No one interviewed for the study was willing to contribute time or money for the long-term support of the Cathedral,’ Gepert’s letter said. A viable financial plan could not be found to keep the church open, he added.

Still, 38 years on, a loss of just 3378,000 on a Bennison ego trip is chicken feed…

…like Son

Following complaints to the Presiding Bishop by the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, a special committee of The Episcopal Church is to consider allegations that Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr, has spent more than 36 million in diocesan funds without proper authorization, and decide if he should face a church trial, according to reports reaching 30Days from the other side of the pond.

If the review committee concludes that Bennison has violated church rules, it will issue a presentment, and he will then face a trial of fellow bishops who will have to decide if he should continue to lead the diocese. Meanwhile, the leaders of several major diocesan boards advised Bennison in March that the diocese faces a deficit of as much as 3500,000 this year, and warned that it might not be able to pay its bills by mid-summer.


From Canada comes the exciting news that the Roman Catholic Womenpriests Movement ordained a further three women as ‘Roman Catholic priests’ on 27 May. Presiding at the ordination was German Bishop Patricia Fresen, who was evidently ‘ordained a bishop in 2005 by an active Roman Catholic bishop in good standing’ (sic).

This is, apparently, the first ordination ceremony of the Roman Catholic Women-priests Movement to take place on land in a church. All other public ceremonies have taken place on boats, usually in international waters, to avoid jurisdic-tional conflict with diocesan bishops. Also, for the first time in North America, a ‘man will be ordained in a public ceremony in the Roman Catholic Women-priests Movement. Whatever next?

Shock accord

It was only back in March that we commented on the shocking fact that 30Days had found itself in agreement with Colin Slee, the Dean of Southwark. Now, according to the Daily Telegraph, the Bishop of Fulham finds himself thinking Dean Slee is right as well. ‘It is such nonsense,’ shouted Slee, as Broadhurst barked, ‘The whole thing is stark staring mad!’ The target of their spleen, in case you hadn’t guessed, is the news that Nanny is insisting that No Smoking signs are affixed prominently to every entrance to every church in the realm.

Cyber Tiber

Many thanks to cyber journalist David Virtue for this totally untrue story: ‘FIRST MARRIED PRIEST IN THE VATICAN. Pope Benedict XVI has shown himself to be capable of breaking tradition by appointing the first married priest to head a Vatican Department. He appointed Mon-signor Michael Rear, a Catholic priest of East Anglia Diocese, England, and a former Anglican Clergyman, to head a new Vatican Congregation for the Conversion of Anglicans.

Aware of the present crisis in the Anglican Communion, the Pope feels the time is right for the Catholic Church to take advantage of the situation and make positive moves to welcome into the Catholic Church the large numbers of Anglicans disaffected by their Church’s present direction.’ Needless (and sad) to say, the story is, in the words of our good friend Fr Rear, a ‘total wind-up’.

Copy for 30 Days should reach FiF office by the 10th day of the month: 30days@forwardinfaith. com