Court, treading a fine line, finds bishop innocent of fraud — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Court, treading a fine line, finds bishop innocent of fraud

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It was a case about as welcome as the lawsuit against Santa Claus in “Miracle on 34th Street.” Judge Joseph Smyth of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, only reluctantly agreed to hear a lawsuit brought by a priest against the Episcopal Church bishop who defrocked him.

The Rev. David Moyer, rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, claimed that Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr., head of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, acted fraudulently when Bennison stripped Moyer of his ministerial privileges and functions. Moyer, a conservative priest who openly criticized Bennison for his liberal beliefs, claimed the bishop deliberately deceived him by promising a church trial before removing him.

The judge directed the jury to consider only whether the diocese committed fraud when it found that Moyer had “abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church,” the reason given for his defrocking. The jury found for the church.

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