Thursday, February 18, 2016



Did the church knowingly pass along a sex abuser for decades?

The Rev. Howard W. White, Jr. is alleged to have committed sexual abuse of adolescents in three dioceses: the Diocese of Rhode Island in 1974 while he was chaplain at St. George's School, the Diocese of Western North Carolina sometime during the period 1989-2007 while he was rector of Grace Church in the Mountains, and in the Diocese of West Virginia in 1969 where he had his first parish assignment.

His treatment by church institutions over this period points to a systemic pattern of a long term failure to create a safe church environment. Investigations were never opened into his alleged misconduct. There is a pattern of officials knowing about White's behavior, and failing to share that information with others. Instead, he was allowed to leave institutions and go onto to others who were not warned of past allegations. And those institutions doing the same to others.

White's self-bio is reported here.

The Providence Journal reported the West Virginia case today. The Providence Journal also broke the Western North Carolina story.

The Rev. White has escaped a church review of alleged sexual abuse, not once but at least twice. Now retired, he is canonically resident in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania where a clergy misconduct investigation has been opened.

In 1974, a 14 year old male student at St. George's Episcopal School alleged to the headmaster that the school chaplain, the Rev. Howard White, had sexually abused him over a period of months. The headmaster, Anthony Zane, initially dismissed the allegations. But when another male student came forward saying he had been sexually abused by White, Zane terminated White. He did not report the allegations to the civil or church authorities. Zane told White not to take a position where he would be working with children.

White subsequently worked at another Episcopal school and another private school.

At Grace Church in the Mountains he was known affectionately as Howdy and is remembered for his work with the children and youth of the parish.

After the facts of his 1974 dismissal came to light in late 2015, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, the Rt. Rev. Nicholas Knisely,  contacted dioceses where White had worked or been canonically resident.

This included the Diocese of West Virginia, and the Diocese of Western North Carolina.

The allegation in West Virginia comes from a man who says that in 1969, at the age 11 year old, he was sexually abused by White. In 1998 the Supreme Court of West Virginia affirmed a lower court's decision that the statute of limitations had run out. Specifically, the court supported the arguments of the plaintiffs Howard White AKA H. Willard White and The Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia that there it was not necessary to decide the suit on the basis of the facts.

Yet the court's decision states, "It appears from the record that [the plaintiff] subsequently learned information tending to indicate that the defendant below, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of West Virginia may have known of White's alleged proclivity for deviant sexual behavior."
The Bishop of West Virginia in 1969 was Wiburn C. Campbell. Was White disciplined in anyway at the time? Was he allowed to leave West Virginia quietly, handed off him to a school in New Hampshire?

The Bishop of West Virginia in 1998 was John H. Smith. Did Smith inform the Diocese of Western North Carolina where White was canonically resident so that White could have been subject to disciplinary proceedings? More to the point -- so that the Bishop of Western North Carolina could protect the children of Grace Church in the Mountains?

Is the present bishop of West Virginia aware of the 1969 allegation, and 1998 court decision? Does the diocese plan to make a statement to the public? The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, bishop of West Virginia did email a statement to the Providence Journal which is reproduced at the end of its article.

It may be there, but investigating this article I did not find clear direction to safe church training on the Diocese of West Virginia website. Update it exists:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cables reveal officials met with Bahati at Church of Uganda HQ

Jump straight to Box Turtle Bulletin for coverage that cannot be improved -- including links to The Guardian's today.

But here are some stomach turning excerpts from the cables via Wiki-Leaks:
2. (C) PolOffs met with Bahati on December 15 to provide recent statements by Rick Warren and others against the anti-homosexuality bill. At Bahati’s request, the meeting occurred at the Anglican Church of Uganda’s headquarters where Bahati said he was reviewing the legislation with Anglican Church leaders. XXXXXXXXXXXX Bahati entered our meeting with a document entitled “The 10 Deadly Sins of Homosexuality”, and launched into a lengthy explanation of the current bill, saying it renders existing law more specific by defining homosexuality and attaching penalties for homosexual “recruitment”. He criticized international donors for short circuiting Uganda’s democratic procedures when it is in their interest, said demands to withdraw the legislation outright are unacceptable, and ridiculed recent threats by Sweden to cut its assistance (ref. A). Bahati attributed international criticism to a misreading of the text and a misunderstanding of the “situation on the ground” in Uganda.
8. (C) [David] Kato delivered a well-written speech defending the rights of gay and lesbians in Uganda. However, his words were nearly indecipherable due to his evident nervousness. Throughout Kato’s speech, XXXXXXXXXXXX UHRCXXXXXXXXXXXX openly joked and snickered with Bahati and Ssempa XXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXXXX representatives left shortly after Kato’s speech, fearing that Bahati had instructed the Inspector General of Police to arrest Kato. After a break, Ssempa showed graphic x-rated photos of what he described as gay sex, and several audience members rose to ask why authorities did not arrest Ugandan homosexuals when they had the chance. XXXXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXX said Members of Parliament who privately oppose the bill fear losing their seats if they speak out against the legislation, and therefore support the bill in public and will vote for it should it ever reach the parliamentary floor. XXXXXXXXXXXX said Bahati is blaming homosexuals for the spread HIV/AIDS, pornography, and increasing incidents of rape and defilement, and that the legislation is a diversionary ploy intended to steer attention away from real issues like corruption and the 2011 elections.

ACO issues study guide for Covenant

You too can own The Anglican Communion Covenant Study Guide and ancillaries.

Who needs our analysis when we have the Pluralist's fisking (more here)?

He notes it's a "study guide" that takes only one side. That's a category mistake - it's not a study guide, it's a marketing campaign. Buyer beware.

RevdLesley hears doublespeak.

Assorted links on religion - behavioral edition

1. While fervent believers benefit from their involvement, those with weaker beliefs are actually less happy than those who do not ascribe to any religion. These results may help explain why an increasing number of people are abandoning their faith.

2. A theory of liberal churches -- liberal in the sense of requiring moderate views and sacrifice.

3. This paper tries to explain the Catholic dogma of papal infallibility as a rational choice that virtually forecloses future doctrinal change and thereby triggers the adoption of more loyal behavior by church members.

4. Does higher income make you more altruistic? Evidence from the Holocaust. (But is it enough for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle?)

5. Thou wilt regret reminding thy significant other of the 10th Commandment.

6. The Bible for Straight Men

Asylum seekers' hope rests in David Kato, in death as in life

From The Guardian:
A lot happened to me in Uganda before I came to seek refuge here. I was imprisoned for being gay. I was also gang-raped, badly burned and beaten in a police station.
When I arrived here I was in a bad way. Aside from the internal pain I sustained from the rape, the burns were at that stage where they become boils filled with fluids – when they burst it is the most excruciating pain. They were all over my legs and thighs. I went to an NHS walk-in centre and they were so shocked they refused to touch me. They called the police who, after hearing how I got my injuries, took me to a rape referral centre. I was not prepared for what happened next. After you have been badly violated, the last thing you want is prying hands, bright lights and people checking you over, even if I now know it had to be done.

I got a doctor's letter confirming that I had been raped, and that my injuries corresponded with what I was saying. The police took forensic photos as well. Despite all this, I was refused asylum: I was told that the Home Office agreed that I was gay and could not deny I was attacked because of the medical report, but that I had to go back and relocate to another part of Uganda. I had to go to court a number of times and was asked to give details of my rape – despite having medical reports available. It was like experiencing the attack over and over again. It was only after conducting a public campaign, with the help of some very kindhearted British people and others around the world who signed my online petition, that I managed to get asylum.

So when I heard about BN at Yarl's Wood, my heart went out to her. The simple fact that her name appears in newspapers alongside the word "gay" is enough to put her in danger. If anyone saw the recent images of Kato in his coffin, then – I hate to say it – that is the same fate that awaits BN if she is sent back to Uganda.

Read it all.

Duncan issues godly directive to his diocese

Bob Duncan, The Archbishop of the one province ACNA, bishop of the ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued a statement to his diocese concerning the settlement that the Somerset Anglican Fellowship negotiated with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh without the input, fore-knowledge or approval of the Diocese.
In light of these very serious developments, I feel compelled to issue a godly directive to all of the clergy of the diocese not to engage in, conduct, or conclude negotiations without first discussing such actions with me, or with Canon Mary, and with our chancellor.

There have been rumblings of buyer's remorse in Duncan's diocese. Will tightening his grip improve matters, or widen the fissures?

About property, the ACNA Constitution states,

All church property, both real and personal, owned by each member congregation now and in the future is and shall be solely and exclusively owned by each member congregation and shall not be subject to any trust interest in favor of the Province or any other claim of ownership arising out of the canon law of this Province. Where property is held in a different manner by any diocese or grouping, such ownership shall be preserved.
ACNA's Canons state,
Concerning Property Ownership
All congregational property, real and personal, owned by a member congregation is and shall be solely and exclusively owned by the congregation and shall not be subject to any trust in favor of the Province or other claim of ownership arising out of the canon law of the Church; neither may any Diocese assert any such claim over the property of any of its congregations without the express written consent of the congregation. Where property is held in a different manner by any Diocese or grouping, such ownership shall be preserved.
The Constitution and Canons of Duncan's diocese says the same concerning property ownership. There is no requirement that a parish give the diocese advance notice of negotiations with the proper owners of the property (that is, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh).

The entire letter follows.

Letter from Robert Duncan to the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh (source)

Dear Friends,

Attached is a letter describing an agreement made by Somerset Anglican Fellowship with the TEC Diocese. Some of you have already read about this in the newspaper or received an email; many of you have communicated with me your concerns that there might be many “secret deals” being made which will leave many congregations “on their own.” Here is some information about the agreement, and our current situation, that we thought it would be helpful for you to know.

1) Somerset Anglican Fellowship negotiated this settlement without the input or approval of the Diocese. In fact, we have reason to believe that the lawyer representing SAF advised them not to inform the Anglican diocese. We are very concerned that a congregation thought itself to be so in jeopardy as to necessitate secret legal action.

2) St. Stephen’s, Sewickley and Church of the Savior, Ambridge have consulted legal counsel with regard to individual settlements with the TEC Diocese. Both parishes informed the Anglican Diocese at the time and both parishes have decided not to participate in any settlement without the involvement of the Diocese.

3) To the best of our knowledge, there are no other parishes which are unilaterally attempting to make a settlement with the TEC diocese.

4) The Anglican Diocese remains committed to finding the best solution for each of its parishes in light of the recent legal decisions. We also continue to hope for and look for some kind of settlement that would benefit all of our congregations.

5) Please do not hesitate to email or call Canon Mary, Geoff Chapman (Chair of the Standing Committee) or Jonathan Millard (Standing Committee member) or me if you have further questions or concerns.

In light of these very serious developments, I feel compelled to issue a godly directive to all of the clergy of the diocese not to engage in, conduct, or conclude negotiations without first discussing such actions with me, or with Canon Mary, and with our chancellor.


The Most Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Tales from the crypt, Southwark edition

Some comments at Thinking Anglicans following the leak that Jeffrey John will not be the next bishop of Southwark (SUTH-urk):
Ironic if the man who was vetoed for Southwark by George Carey for declining to repudiate his writings on homosexuality should now have vetoed Jeffrey John's nomination to the same diocese. As Göran Koch-Swahne posted earlier today at another blog, "Judas only betrayed his chum once".

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 12:47am BST


We're told that when Tony Blair received the names for the Diocese of Liverpool he sent them back and asked for another list with the name of James Jones on it. David Cameron should return the Southwark nominations and keep returning them until Jeffrey John's name is there.

Posted by: junius on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 7:13am BST

Rowan withdrew his name from Southwark after George invited him to a meeting at Lambeth - he found there his writings all laid out on a table .......

I think we can all pretty accurately guess at the sort of conversation that followed......

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 7:36am BST

Monday, June 28, 2010


Sarah Dylan Breuer on The Rt. Rev. Dr. Tom Wright:
I too am an alumna of St. Mary's Divinity College of the University of St. Andrews, and I'm not giving another dime to the university after this announcement.

Dr. Wright interviewed for a position in New Testament at St. Mary's/St. Andrews when I was a postgrad student there. He was the only candidate for the position who made much of his credentials as a true Christian as opposed (in his rhetoric frequently) to his credentials as a professor. And on the basis of the credentials he put forward as best, I recommended that he not be hired.

He treated professors at the college with respect. He answered their questions, laughed at their jokes, and made conversation with them happily.

He treated postgrad students as an annoyance, albeit one that could not be entirely ignored. He waved off their questions with a dismissive, albeit sometimes pithy, remark, and he did not engage any of us in conversation -- not even those of us on the interview committee, and not even when we tried.

He treated students training for ministry (which, at St. Mary's, were in the B.D. program) as completely invisible.

He treated university staff as if they had been rolling in manure for a week and were only there to inconvenience him.

He treated wait staff in restaurants, porters, and other working class people not affiliated with the university as radioactive -- both invisible and toxic.

I had read his work with deep and genuine appreciation for years before that, and I continue to do so to the extent that he remains true to his original scholarly foci. But I took his example as a negative cautionary tale.

I hope my own life and work are better for it. I've tried all that much harder to make my best work accessible, to work hardest on the things that the most people might read, and to treat with the most honor those who don't have the power to make me powerful but who do use their gifts to serve whoever's around.

I am very sad that St. Andrews, having rejected Dr. Wright for appointment based on his credentials before, is taking him on now -- after he's published the same three books in dozens of different forms, after he took a diocesan appointment and spent the best of his time and effort outside the diocese he vowed to serve, and after he appeared in Columbus to work against our polity while supporting at least tacitly efforts to undermine mutual recognition of orders supported by the Chicago-Lambeth quadrilateral.

Bishop Tom, I wish we could talk again. Since I'm still a lay person but now am not on a hiring committee, I doubt even more that you'd listen, despite the Windsor Report's admonition to do so. I'd still listen to you, though, if you wanted to explain how your treatment of "townies" coheres with your Christianity.
Sounds like a nice guy once he gets to know you.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Church of Nigeria teaches parish property belongs to the diocese

Bishop of the Lagos West Diocese, Peter Adebiyi is embroiled in a dispute with a parish within his jurisdiction. Here's what he has to say about who owns the property:
The Bishop faulted the decision of the St Paul’s council members to quit the Lagos West Diocese. “It is not possible. By the law that established my diocese, they cannot move out of the diocese except I allow it. If I don’t allow it, there is nothing they can do; the best they can do is to leave the church. That church is entrusted unto us.

“In Anglican church, if I come to your house and you give me a piece of land at the back of your compound and I accept, thank you, build a church and you are a member of the church, from that day you have automatically lost ownership of the land. If you are aggrieved and you want your land back, you have to go to court. If the court says the land should be given back to you, so be it otherwise the land belongs to the church.

“So, the land and the church belong to the Lagos West Diocese. Nobody can even cut a tree there without our authority. If they want to leave the church, they can carry themselves and leave. They can go and build another church and give it to any diocese they want but St Paul’s Anglican Church, Mushin, belongs to Lagos West Diocese,” the Bishop maintained.
Akinola makes an appearance in the dispute:
the council on July 8, 2009 severed all kinds of relationship with the Lagos West Diocese through a resolution, which was read to the whole congregation and adopted by the church. Apparently, the die was cast and the council decided to take the matter to the outgoing Primate of All-Nigerian Anglican Communion, The Most Rev Peter Akinola, who they thought would satisfactorily resolve the matter.

But their hopes, according to the council, were dashed when the Primate set up a committee of three provincial archbishops to address the problem. The committee comprised the Archbishops of Lokoja, Enugu and Kwara. That of Kwara incidentally is Bishop Adebiyi’s first cousin.

The decision to set up the committee was ab initio greeted with mixed feelings by the council, who had expected the Primate to call a meeting where they would come face to face with Adebiyi to resolve the matter.

Besides, the committee’s composition did not go down well with the council as the members reasoned that with Adebiyi’s cousin in the committee, the outcome was predictable.
The article was published in The (Nigeria) Sun, February 14, 2010.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

From no service at the lunch counter to open arms in the home

Richmond Times Dispatch:
Fifty years ago, Elizabeth Johnson Rice was jailed for sitting where she wasn't supposed to -- the whites-only lunch counter at Thalhimers department store.

Next weekend, she'll be staying with the granddaughter of the man who had her arrested.

Rice sees the friendship she has forged with Elizabeth Thalhimer Smartt as a measure of how much has changed since Feb. 22, 1960, when she was one of 34 Virginia Union University students arrested for defying segregation in downtown Richmond.

"It's just sort of symbolic of the times we live in now," Rice said. "And it shows that things do change and people do grow."
Rice's brother, who was also arrested at Thalhimers, would later refuse to sit in the black section of Richmond traffic court. The U.S. Supreme Court in April 1963 overturned Ford T. Johnson Jr.'s contempt conviction and ordered the desegregation of all courtrooms. Two months later, the justices also overturned the trespassing convictions of Johnson, Rice and the other VUU students in the Thalhimers case.

Thalhimers already had begun a "quiet integration" process, she [Smartt] said. The store had the most liberal return policy for black customers and had integrated the employee lunchroom in the 1950s. Her grandfather, who died in 2005, was very sensitive to the issue, she said. He would tell her "we didn't choose to be born Jewish, and no one chose to be black or white." She thinks he would have integrated years earlier but for the economic clout of his white clientele, who would have forced him out of business.

Fifty years ago the Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia could not agree that it summer camps should be integrated.