Showing posts with label Episcopal diocese of Virginia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Episcopal diocese of Virginia. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Rev. Melissa Hollerith Confirms that Perjury is Okay for Episcopal Clergy Absent Conviction

Check it out: Melissa Hollerith, wife of the Dean of Washington National Cathedral, today confirmed in writing that perjury is acceptable conduct for Episcopal clergy in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Here is her memo:

And here is my response:



It is small wonder that, with so little ethical reference point, the Episcopal Church is collapsing. Indeed, the world will be a better place without it.



Friday, May 17, 2019

The Arrogance of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia: A Sign of Decline

Canon Mary Thorpe

It’s amazing, really. At a time when the rate at which The Episcopal Church is shedding members is surpassed only by the losses of the Presbyterian Church USA (and even that is questionable), the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is going pedal-to-the-metal in its efforts to drive away members. How does it do that? Chiefly through its incredible blind arrogance and belief that somehow people cannot exist without the church. In short, that it is, in the words of Saturday Night Live, “specccial.”

For example, in a letter to me and the other two complainants in one of the Title IV cases, intake officer Caroline Parkinson, after accusing us of “distracting, disingenous, and duplicitous” conduct, prattled on about how there would be no point to a Title IV case, as our alleged conduct would interfere with the Title IV goals of healing and reconciliation. That, of course, does four things:
  • Conveniently overlooks Bob Malm’s misconduct.
  • Assigns blame for the problem in the victims of Bob’s misconduct.
  • Demonstrates an utter lack of understanding of the dynamics of abuse, which is that victims often behave in ways that are not rational or helpful, up to and including things like alcoholism and suicide.
  • Ignores the fact that Title IV applies only to clergy. As in, clergy are always responsible for maintaining boundaries, full stop. And, as illustrated by the +Bruno case, in which allegations swirled about the conduct of parishioners, clergy are supposed to be accountable for their conduct, regardless.
Caroline also violated confidentiality, by disclosing a third complaint, and by lumping all three complaints together.

The real cherry on top, though, came  when she reverted to Jesus-babble in her letter, urging us to have the “grace to find a new church.”

Why on God’s green earth would anyone want anything to do with the church after this, including the diocese’s decision that retaliation for filing a Title IV complaint is acceptable?

Then we get to Caroline’s lie, which is that the diocese had already considered the matter of Bob’s decision to remove our names from the church directory the previous summer. Leaving aside the fact that there was no advisor, or communication from the reference panel, which means there likely was no reference panel that summer, the issue of the directory didn’t arise until that fall. All I can say is that I was not aware that the ability to time travel was one of the benefits of ordination. How special.

Similarly, Canon Mary Thorpe, whose husband serves as Executive Director of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, should surely have a handle both on Title IV and the pastoral implications of violating the promises Title IV sets forth to laity. Yet she apparently has said nothing about:
  • The outrageous and appalling conclusion set forth in the most recent Title IV notice of dismissal that perjury by members of the clergy is acceptable as long as there is no criminal violation. 
  • The fact that the diocese has repeatedly ignored the requirement of a pastoral response in all Title IV cases, including those involving dismissal. (Indeed, mapping out a pastoral response should be one of the first things to happen when a complaint is filed. But I guarantee you that the diocese has done nothing in this regard. Indeed, a pastoral response should be implemented from the moment a complaint is filed.)
  • The fact that the diocese itself has repeatedly breached confidentiality in this matter, including through its violation of the Title IV whistleblower provisions.
Yet she wants to try to insist that I should keep the diocese’s actions confidential? All I can say is I call BS on that one. It takes a special kind of arrogance for the diocese to repeatedly violate Title IV in all directions, yet try to apply Title provisions to laity. This, despite the fact that with the exception of one provision, Title IV expressly doesn’t apply to laity. 

What’s really sad, though, is that we have clergy, aka professional Christians, who get paid to do this stuff full-time, who consider Title IV so unimportant that they don’t bother to learn its requirements, or to follow them. And doubly sad when I, as laity (if that’s what you want to call a former Christian), am far more familiar with the provisions of Title IV than they are.

And for the record, this is not the only time that the Diocese has ignored the Title IV requirement of a pastoral response. In the case of the lovely small church of St. Thomas’ in McLean, the diocese violated not only every best practice out there (including having Pat Wingo show up unannounced to tell people that the rector had been suspended), but it adamantly refused to do anything to care for the parish in the aftermath.

Why? Per Bishop Shannon, because diocesan chancellor JP Causey had told them not to get too involved due to fears of legal liability. All I can say is that’s pretty rich, coming from a chancellor who oversaw litigation in which the diocese bloviated on for years in the courts about the applicability of church canons to its constituent parishes. And no, there is no allegation of wrongdoing within the parish itself. And yes, it was nice that +Shannon apologized, but having not done anything to actually repair the damage, the gesture was purely symbolic.

In the meantime, a number of parishioners have left St. Thomas’, several of them life-long members, yet no one has ever reached out to them to care for them or attempt to fix the hurt that the diocese has caused. Proof that, as laity, we’re supposed to keep our mouths shut and send money, nothing more. And if we leave, we are of no consequence to the diocese. Next customer, window three, step right up.

The great irony in all of this is that these situations have created a deep well of knowledge and of pain among those hurt by the church. If the diocese had half the common sense God gave a goat, it would follow the lead of one of the dioceses in California, which ultimately invited friends of mine who had left the church due to abuse to serve on its advisory panel for preventing abuse. As is often pointed out within nonprofits, your critics are often your most useful allies, if you can lean into things and not feel threatened. But the church is nowhere near that self-aware.

With that in mind, it’s time I think for the diocese to engage in a period of introspection and repentence. Much of the harm it has caused in recent years is irreparable, and signs suggest that things are going to get worse, not better. But ignoring the problem will only allow it to fester.

For example, when the day comes in the not-distant future that Dysfunctional Bob packs it in, Grace church is headed for a period of turmoil. No matter how skilled an interim may be things will get ugly, especially when folks eventually realize just how problematic Bob Malm was and is. Having a priest for 30+ years who considers it nothing but a job, and who exploited the church shamelessly for his personal needs, is not a good situation for even the healthiest of churches, and Grace is far from healthy. But neither the parish itself nor the diocese see this, so there’s a storm lurking just over the horizon. Yikes.

Will the diocese reverse course and take my conflict with Bob seriously? Not bloody likely. Nor does it perceive any need to actually follow Title IV. And it is so blindly narcissistic as an organization that it has no concept or empathy for the pain it has caused and continues to cause. Moreover, just like individual narcissists, who often wind up late in life being profoundly isolated and alone (as appears increasingly likely for Bob Malm), it doesn’t realize that it’s sowing the seeds for its own destruction, for this sort of conduct inevitably causes organizations to rot from within.

That’s particularly troubling in light of +Goff’s progressive creds, as well as her academic background in psychology. One would think she, of all people, would recognize the looming problems, but she appears to have no insight beyond the tactical, day-to-day business of the rapidly dwindling diocese. Yes, she is a better tactician than +Johnston, but that’s not saying much. Indeed, the hot mess that was the diocese’s effort to find a bishop transitional should be of profound concern at every level in the organization, as it shows that problems are both systemic and structural. 

The fact that, even at the highest levels, the diocese can’t see the forest for the trees, and doesn’t recognize just how troubled it is, bespeaks an organization that is ill-prepared for the future—a future that will be marked by sharply declining revenue and membership. And until it actually cares for its members — even those who, like me, it both dislikes and distrusts — and demonstrates an ethical worldview marked by something more than empty Jesus-babble, the diocese will continue to crumble.

Not a pretty sight.





The Arrogance of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia: A Sign of Decline



It’s amazing, really. At a time when the rate at which The Episcopal Church is shedding members is surpassed only by the losses of the Presbyterian Church USA, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is going pedal-to-the-metal in it efforts to drive away members. How does it do that? Chiefly through its incredible blind arrogance and belief that somehow people cannot exist without the church. In short, that it is, in the words of Saturday Night Live, “specccial.”

For example, in a letter to me and the other two complainants in one of the Title IV cases, intake officer Caroline Parkinson, after accusing us of “distracting, disingenous, and duplicitous” conduct, prattled on about how there would be no point to a Title IV case, as our alleged conduct would interfere with the Title IV goals of healing and reconciliation. That, of course, does four things:
  • Conveniently overlooks Bob Malm’s misconduct.
  • Assigns blame for the problem in the victims of Bob’s misconduct.
  • Demonstrates an utter lack of understanding of the dynamics of abuse, which is that victims often behave in ways that are not rational or helpful, up to and including things like alcoholism and suicide.
  • Ignores the fact that Title IV applies only to clergy. As in, clergy are always responsible for maintaining boundaries, full stop. And, as illustrated by the +Bruno case, in which allegations swirled about the conduct of parishioners, clergy are supposed to be accountable for their conduct, regardless.
Caroline also violated confidentiality, by disclosing a third complaint, and by lumping all three complaints together.

The real cherry on top, though, comes when she reverts to Jesus-babble in her letter, urging us to have the “grace to find a new church.”

Why on God’s green earth would anyone want anything to do with the church after this, including the diocese’s decision that retaliation for filing a Title IV complaint is acceptable?

Then we get to Caroline’s lie, which is that the diocese had already considered the matter of Bob’s decision to remove our names from the church directory the previous summer. Leaving aside the fact that there was no advisor, or communication from the reference panel, which means there likely was no reference panel that summer, the issue of the directory didn’t arise until that fall. All I can say is that I was not aware that the ability to time travel was one of the benefits of ordination. How special.

Similarly, Canon Mary Thorpe, whose husband serves as Executive Director of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, should surely have a handle, both on Title IV and the pastoral aspects of violating the promises Title IV sets forth to laity. Yet she apparently has said nothing about:
  • The outrageous and appalling conclusion set forth in the most recent Title IV notice of dismissal that perjury by members of the clergy is acceptable as long as there is no criminal violation. 
  • The fact that the diocese has repeatedly ignored the requirement of a pastoral response in all Title IV cases, including those involving dismissal. (Indeed, mapping out a pastoral response should be one of the first things to happen when a complaint is filed. But I guarantee you that the diocese has done nothing in this regard. Indeed, a pastoral response should be implemented from the moment a complaint is filed.)
  • The fact that the diocese itself has repeatedly breached confidentiality in this matter, including through its violation of the Title IV whistleblower provisions.
Yet she wants to try to insist that I should keep the diocese’s actions confidential? All I can say is I call BS on that one. It takes a special kind of arrogance for the diocese to, itself, violate Title IV in all directions, yet try to apply Title provisions to laity—which, with one recent exception—Title IV expressly does not apply to laity.

What’s really sad, though, is that we have clergy, aka professional Christians, who get paid to do this stuff full-time, who consider Title IT so unimportant that they don’t bother to learn its requirements, or to follow them. And doubly sad when I, as laity (if that’s what you want to call a former Christian), am far more familiar with the provisions of Title IV than they are.

And for the record, this is not the only time that the Diocese has ignored the Title IV requirement of a pastoral response. In the case of the lovely small church of St. Thomas’ in McLean, the diocese violated not only every best practice out there (including having Pat Wingo show up unannounced to tell people that the rector had been suspended), but it adamantly refused to do anything to care for the parish in the aftermath. Why? Per Bishop Shannon, because diocesan chancellor JP Causey had told them not to get too involved due to fears of legal liability. All I can say is that’s pretty rich, coming from a chancellor who oversaw litigation in which the diocese bloviated on for years in the courts about the applicability of church canons to its constituent parishes. And no, there is no allegation of wrongdoing within the parish itself. 

In the meantime, a number of parishioners have left St. Thomas’, several of them life-long members, yet no one has ever reached out to them to care for them or attempt to fix the hurt that the diocese has caused. Proof that, as laity, we’re supposed to keep our mouths shut and send money, nothing more. And if we leave, we are of no consequence to the diocese.

The great irony in all of this is that these situations have created a deep well of knowledge and of pain among those hurt by the church. If the diocese had half the common sense God gave a goat, it would follow the lead of one of the dioceses in California, which ultimately invited friends of mine who had left the church to serve on its advisory panel for preventing abuse. As is often pointed out within nonprofits, your critics are often your most useful allies, if you can lean into things and not feel threatened.

It’s also time, I think, for the diocese to engage in a period of introspection and repentence. Much of the harm it has caused in recent years is irreparable, and signs suggest that things are going to get worse, not better. 

For example, when the day comes in the not-distant future that Dysfunctional Bob packs it in, Grace church is headed for a period of turmoil. No matter how skilled an interim may be things will get ugly, especially when folks eventually realize just how problematic Bob Malm was and is. Having a priest for 30+ years who considers it nothing but a job, and who exploited the church shamelessly for his personal needs, is not a good situation for even the healthiest of churches, and Grace is far from healthy. But neither the parish itself nor the diocese yet see this, so there’s a storm lurking just over the horizon. Yikes.

Will the diocese reverse course and take my conflict with Bob seriously? Not bloody likely. Nor does it perceive any need to actually follow Title IV. And it is so blindly narcissistic as an organization that it has no concept or empathy for the pain it has caused and continues to cause. Moreover, just like individual narcissists, who often wind up late in life being profoundly isolated and alone (as appears increasingly likely for Bob Malm), it doesn’t realize that it’s sowing the seeds for its own destruction.

That’s particularly troubling in light of +Goff’s progressive creds, as well as her academic background in psychology. One would think she, of all people, would recognize the looming problems, but she appears to have no insight beyond the tactical, day-to-day business of the rapidly dwindling diocese. Yes, she is a better tactician than +Johnston, but that’s not saying much. Indeed, the hot mess that was the diocese’s effort to find a bishop transitional should be of profound concern at every level in the organization, as it shows that problems are both systemic and structural.

The fact that, even at the highest levels, the diocese can’t see the forest for the trees, and doesn’t recognize just how troubled it is, bespeaks an organization that is ill-prepared for the future—a future that will be marked by sharply declining revenue and membership. And until it actually cares for its members — even those who, like me, it both dislikes and distrusts — the diocese will continue to crumble.





Wednesday, May 15, 2019

My Email to Canon Mary Thorpe



After notifying the diocese that I have requested criminal charges against Dysfunctional Bob, there were several emails back and forth with Mary Thorpe, canon to the ordinary of the diocese. In her last one, she asked the following (emphasis added):

Thank you for the clarification, Eric. It is helpful to have a clearer picture of what happened from your perspective. And how far were you from the church property line? It is my understanding that there are restrictions as to how close you can stand to the church if you exercise your First Amendment rights in this way.

I am curious, though, now that I’ve looked at the blog, as to why you published the Disciplinary Report Notice of May 1, which clearly instructs you that “this matter is confidential and, except as authorized by Bishop Goff, you should not discuss it with anyone except your Advisor or your counsel.”

And here is my response (typos corrected):

I was well past 1000 feet, and that has been verified by the police. Additionally, I was well past 1000 feet from Bob’s home. Bob’s decision to engage in this behavior followed a conversation he had with his wife Leslie, who previously observed me there.

Apropos the canons and confidentiality, that was addressed in previous emails. Specifically:

1) With the exception of 1 provision, effective following last convention, Title IV applies only to clergy. As Robin Hammeal-Urban notes in her excellent book, “Wholeness After Betrayal,” laity have every right to disclose a Title IV complaint, and it is highly improper to suggest otherwise. Robin does suggest cautioning complainants who wish to do so that they may face ostracism if they choose to do so. Having renounced Christianity due to my experiences with DioVa and Bob, the latter is of no concern to me.

2) As I am not a Christian, the Diocese cannot instruct me to do anything. And with all respect, in light of its shocking proposition that perjury is only actionable if a conviction is secured, I will never agree to keep the diocese’s actions confidential.

3)  Having violated the whistleblower provisions of Title IV, which were effective 1 January 2019, the diocese is hardly in a position to argue for the sanctity of Title IV,

4) Having repeatedly ignored the requirement  under Title IV of a pastoral response (not the same as pastoral care) in all cases in which a complaint is made to the intake officer — including in the last case, where the reference panel specifically noted that requirement — again, the diocese cannot insist that I keep its repeated violations of Title IV confidential.

With all due respect, you are dealing with people’s lives and their faith. You don’t get to pick and choose which aspects of Title IV apply. And any church that thinks perjury is acceptable clergy conduct absent a criminal conviction is morally bankrupt anyway, and not one that anyone should join who values their personal integrity.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it’s an honest answer to your question.

Eric

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Catholic Efforts to Address Abuse Ignore Lessons from Title IV



One of the sad things about the myriad denominations within Christianity is that they too often fail to learn from one another. And so it is with the recent papal efforts to address abuse. These, while well intentioned, will prove problematic in exactly the same way as The Episcopal Church’s clergy disciplinary canon, Title IV, is inherently flawed.

For starters, much like the recent changes to Title IV, which purport to protect whistleblowers, the papal decree requires people to blow the whistle on abuse and coverup. But just as dioceses—including the Diocese of Virginia—are already ignoring the whistleblower protection provisions of Title IV with impunity, the lack of an enforcement mechanism within the papal provisions makes it highly likely that Catholic dioceses will ignore these requirements. In other words, only the truly foolhardy or those with incredible fortitude will risk the reprisals they will face if they come forward with allegations.

Similarly, the requirement in the new Catholic legislation that survivors be treated with respect will quickly fall prey to the advice of attorneys, who will urge diocesan officials not to get too involved. This is common in The Episcopal Church, where dioceses routinely ignore the Title IV requirement of a pastoral response in every case in which a complaint is made to the intake officer, even when a parish is traumatized by the removal of a rector in a Title IV proceeding. This mirrors the finding of the Church of England’s recent report on clergy abuse and Bishop Bell, which found that the needs of survivors were routinely ignored in the quest to protect the church’s reputation.

Most importantly, the new Catholic regulations permit bishops to ignore complaints if they are found to be “manifestly unfounded.” This mirrors the materiality provisions of Title IV, which apply a two-pronged test to complaints; they must be both a violation of Title IV and “of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church.” Given that Episcopal dioceses that wish to avoid dealing with a complaint routinely invoke this clause, even in cases that involve retaliation by clergy and allegations of criminal conduct, one may be confident that Catholic bishops will find myriad behaviors that most of us would consider patently antithetical to Christian values to involve allegations that are “manifestly unfounded.”

In short, while the attention to these issues is to be commended, we remain far from resolution, regardless of the denomination.

Papal Law on Reporting of Abuse Underscores Problems in The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia



Earlier today, the pope issued a decree mandating various changes to abuse reporting in the Catholic Church. Among the changes:
  • Anyone in the church, lay or clergy, who believes or suspects that abuse has occurred is required to report it to church officials.
  • Required reporting of coverup, defined as “actions or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid” civil or canonical investigations.
  • Whistleblower protection, albeit limited in scope.
  • An increase in the age of consent from 16 to 18.
  • The inclusion of possession of child pornography in the list of offenses.
  • Reporting to civil authorities per local law.
  • The ability to report to regional metropolitans in situations that may implicate a bishop.
  • The ability to report coverup and other abuse of power directly to Rome.
  • The requirement that victims be treated with respect.
These measures, while well-intended, are likely to be ineffective, and every bit as useless as Title IV as implemented in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

As it stands, the Episcopal Church’s Title IV does not prevent retaliation against whistleblowers. Instead, it provides for anonymity in the complaint process, and ostensibly protects opposition to practices prohibited by Title IV. This protection is almost entirely illusory, however, as it provides no definition of prohibited conduct. Thus, shunning and other retaliation such as Bob Malm’s conduct towards me and my family almost certainly would be ignored. Moreover, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia refuses to see retaliation as within the penumbra of “conduct unbecoming,” so it refuses to address retaliation occurring before the effective date (January 1, 2019) of the recent changes to Title IV. Further, thus far the diocese is ignoring the whistleblower provisions, as evinced by its identifying me to Bob Malm in its most recent correspondence. (In fairness, my opposition to Bob’s conduct is hardly a secret, but some effort to adhere to the requirements of Title IV would have been appreciated. Moreover, it’s laughable that the diocese tried, in its correspondence with me, to insist on confidentiality, even though the letter itself violated confidentiality.)

Another issue with Title IV is that there is no meaningful appeal beyond the diocesan level. As it stands, +Todd Ousley and the rest of the crowd at 815 (church headquarters) may, if pushed, go through the motions of a Title IV case against a bishop, but unless he or she intentionally runs you over in a church parking lot (witnesses required), you can bet your bottom dollar that nothing will come of it.

As to treating victims with respect, that falls within the purview of Title IV’s entirely illusory “pastoral response,” which is required any time a complaint is made to a Title IV intake officer. Thus far, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia consistently refuses to implement that provision, even in cases where a parish is traumatized by a successful Title IV removal of clergy. (Yes, I am thinking of St. Thomas’ McLean. In that case, the diocese did next to nothing to care for the parish. While +Shannon later apologized and said that its refusal to get involved was based on the advice of legal counsel, the damage is done. And this effort at protecting the organization at the expense of laity who support it is damning in the message it sends to those of us in the pews.)

Similarly, reporting to Rome sounds good on paper, right up until you consider that George Pell, the former number 3 at the Vatican, also was an abuser. Does anyone really think that some fat cat in Rome, immersed in the system, is really going to do anything about abuse in some remote corner of the world?

Equally problematic is the requirement that coverups be reported. Great idea, but with no sanctions or penalties set forth in the statute, including for dioceses that fail to implement the new provisions, this one is every bit as toothless at Title IV.

The heart of the problem, both in The Episcopal and Catholic Churches, is neatly summarized in the comments of Cardinal Cupich, who said of the new law, “this past year has taught us that the systematic failures in holding clerics of all rank responsible are due in large measure to flaws in the way we interact and communicate with each other in the college of bishops.” This tendency in all hierarchies to minimize problems and to see criticism of individual conduct as criticism of the organization is alive and well in both churches, and I see no signs that either organization is doing anything to change this phenomena. Indeed, it will only be when churches recognize that this tendency is destroying organized religion from within that they will again find secure footing.

In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same, and the creaking, shuddering constructs that make up the Episcopal and Catholic churches continue their rapid unraveling.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

My Email to Canon Mary Thorpe

Here is my follow-up email to Canon Mary Thorpe. 

Of course, you have to love the logic: Because there’s been no conviction for perjury, Bob Malm cannot have engaged in perjury. If that’s the case, then we can equally infer that Bob’s failure to sue me for defamation suggests that my assertions are accurate. 

The funny thing is that, in the end, The Episcopal Church is simply ensuring that it collapses into irrelevance. The fact that it cannot hold its clergy to basic standards of integrity, and cannot even adhere to the ethical standards of publicly traded companies (hardly a high standard in the scheme of things) makes clear that church no longer has a meaningful role in society. It’s just a clueless bunch of folks locked into a Madmen-era time warp, a good ole’ boys and girls club where folks look out for each other long enough to get to retirement.




Saturday, April 13, 2019

Todd Ousley and the Big Brush-Off

Remember when I posted that the Episcopal Church is morally bankrupt? Well, today’s email from Todd Ousley, the national intake officer for complaints against Episcopal bishops, confirms it.

Previously, I contacted the Diocese about Bob Malm’s perjury. Sure enough, the Diocese brushed off my concerns without even investigating. So, I kicked things upstairs to Todd Ousley. Sure enough, his response was essentially that as long as the diocese invokes Title IV in its response, that’s all that’s required. This, no matter how outrageous the conduct, the Diocese is free to dismiss it in this manner.

In my case, proving Bob Malm’s perjury is very simple. All the Diocese has to do is ask Bob for proof of his claim that Mom made multiple appointments with him—a claim at the very heart of his recent court case. But it refuses to even lift a finger.

Proof that The Episcopal Church is irretrievably dysfunctional.




Bishop Susan Goff Knowingly Permits Clergy to Lie Under Oath



Monday, April 8, 2019

See for Yourself: Despite Scandal, the Catholic Church is More Ethical than The Episcopal Church

As those familiar with my conflict with Bob Malm already know, in July 2015 the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia dismissed my Title IV complaint against Bob Malm. What does that mean in real-life? It means that my allegations, which included potential workplace harassment and clear retaliation by Bob for complaining, are not, per the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, even arguably violations of church canons. Indeed, even with the recent change to Title IV, which specifically forbids retaliation, the diocese does not view Bob’s conduct as being within the aegis of conduct unbecoming clergy, and thus actionable.

Before going further, you should note that the this decision was communicated in writing by the Rev. Carolyn Parkinson, then the diocesan intake officer.

That’s also really troubling.

Not only is retaliation illegal at publicly traded companies, but Bob’s conduct would expressly violate Catholic written “safe environment” policy, which requires inter alia that:
  • Clergy refrain from creating or permitting an environment in which harassment of any sort is allowed.
  • Clergy treat all persons with dignity and respect, and avoid intimidation, including verbal and written.
  • Clergy provide an environment marked by fairness and justice.
  • All involved take allegations of harassment seriously.
Guess that would preclude stating that harassment is not a violation of church canons, yelling at volunteers in front of others, permitting staff to do so, lying about parishioners, committing perjury, calling your parishioners “domestic terrorists,” or trying to drag the dying into court.

It is a sorry state of affairs when the Catholic Church takes the moral high ground versus the supposedly inclusive Episcopal Church.

The following screen caps are from Catholic Safe Environment policies:






Monday, April 1, 2019

Greetings from Mayo House

Monday greetings from Mayo House, the somewhat ratty headquarters of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Located in an antebellum mansion in Richmond marked by peeling paint, broken fencing and a disgracefully unkempt yard, Mayo House has long struck me as emblematic of the decline of The Episcopal Church: Big, outdated, inefficient, bloated, crumbling and uncomfortable, yet an asset that a dying church tenaciously clings to as a vestigial reminder of a privileged past. And much like Catholic dioceses, spectacularly inefficient and willing to trade its integrity for its survival.

Anyway, nothing like a glorious spring day to remind the diocese and the good Christians of Grace Church that I am not going away any time soon.

Bob Malm perjuring priest


Friday, March 8, 2019

Episcopal Diocese of Virginia Still Refuses to Even Investigate Allegations of Priest Bob Malm’s Perjury

As many of you know, in January 2018, Episcopal priest Bob Malm, my former rector, went to court, falsely claiming I had threatened him. Many, myself included, were suprised when the court ruled in his favor, despite a total lack of evidence that I, or anyone else, had threatened Bob.

I appealed, and Bob lied throughout much of the appeal process, including under oath. Thus, I believe Bob committed perjury.

Among his lies:
  • That my mother, terminally ill, had made various appointments with him and no-showed.
  • That only his wife had blogged about our conflict; the Alexandria police department directly contradicted this statement, indicating that his daughter, Lindsey Malm Anders, was actually the primary blogger.
  • That I was never licensed to practice law (retired PA attorney ID 55971).
  • That I had never served as a police officer. (Inter alia, former Arlington County volunteer officer).
  • That I had violated the existing protective order.
Note that the statements, made in court filings, about my having allegedly not been an attorney and having allegedly not served as a police officer were not proferred to the court as opinions, or as the unproven results of legal research. Instead, they were proffered as facts.

Both at the time of these incidents and subsequently, I informed the Episcopal diocese of Virginia about Malm’s perjury. I even directly emailed both Bishop Shannon and Bishop Susan Goff. Neither responded, nor have they taken any action to investigate my claims.

Malm still serves as rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Alexandria. Bishop Goff still is the ecclesiastical authority for the Diocese of Virginia.

At a time when the Catholic Church finally is disclosing abuse after years of concealment and coverup, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is making every effort to conceal, cover-up, and avoid dealing with Bob Malm’s abusive, illegal, and unethical actions.

This Lent, know this: There is nothing Christian about the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Its only goal is to avoid accountability.

#bobmalm #fakechristians #perjury @thediocese @graceepisalexva 




Sunday, January 20, 2019

Out of Town and #Metoo

Well, it’s another road trip for the long weekend, off to sign some paperwork. More to come on that.

Meanwhile, lots of interesting conversations with the Diocese of Virginia, including one in which the church basically told me that it has no problem with clergy retaliating against someone if they complain to the diocese.

It’s conversations like that that show just how clueless The Episcopal Church really is. It carries on about #metoo and its desire to be a safe church for all persons, while at the same time adhering to a standard that hasn’t been seen in publicly traded companies in many years.

Of course, that raises the question: If The Episcopal Church is 20+ years behind the times, is there a future for it?

I doubt it. Any organization, church or otherwise, with such a low ethical bar isn’t worth the time of day.

On an unrelated note, earlier this morning the blog broke 60,000 hits. That’s chump change compared to social media results so far, but still a cool milestone. 

100,000 hits, here we come!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

A Working Covenant: Bishops’ Promise Proves Hollow

Last summer, the bishops of The Episcopal Church, having heard the #churchtoo testimony, entered into a covenant to work for justice and inclusion for all. A copy of the covenant follows.

So is this covenant consistent with my experience with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia? Answer: It isn’t.

Engaging in retaliation for asking the diocese to mediate a dispute with clergy? One that involves workplace harassment? Clergy committing perjury in court? Illegally misusing funds? And telling me that the matter isn’t of “of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church?” If that’s the case, what on earth qualifies? Rape, mayhem and murder? 

Let me just say this: Thus far, The Episcopal Church has shown that it is utterly broken and hypocritical at every level. And that includes both Bishop Susan and Bishop Shannon. Their only interest to date has been in protecting the reputation of the church.

Here is the text of the covenant that Bishop Goff presumably voted to approve, emphases added:

A Working Covenant for the Practice of Equity and Justice for All in The Episcopal Church

Giving thanks to God and listening deeply to the recent outcry expressing pain and brokenness in our church, we recognize the urgent need for change. The church as both community of faith and workplace is not immune to abuse, harassment and exploitation of people of varying gender, racial and cultural identities. As pastoral and prophetic leaders of the church, we bear the responsibility to continue the healing and transformational work that has yet to be fully realized. Together, we commit ourselves in our local contexts to strive daily, transforming the culture of our church into a more just, safe, caring and prophetic place for all. We are grateful for the substantial and insightful memorial offered at General Convention, 2018 by Gathering the Next Generation, 2016. We seek to shift our institutional life from one which benefits a few at the expense of others, and more determinedly live our baptismal vows following the way of Jesus.

Leading with greater awareness of God’s dream, deeper courage and integrity, we plan to engage our diocesan cultures and structures in the following ways:

Recognize and respect the official as well as unofficial power given to us by our office, exercising it with humble care and in loving service with all God’s people;

Participate in regular self-examination and seek amendment of life in our personal and systemic use of authorized, relational and positional power;

Increase our awareness of, listen to, and take to heart the stories that reflect the biases deeply embedded in our structure;

Create a culture of empowerment, giving space for leadership based on equity, not tokenism;

Make room for varying cultural and gender-based leadership practices, nurturing an ethos of cooperation and collaboration, exploring and supporting a broad range of leadership models;

Eliminate pay and benefit inequities among all persons;

Create and enforce equitable parental leave policies;

Utilize formational opportunities for congregational search committees to examine bias and make responsible choices regarding their selection and call of clergy into ministry with them.



Saturday, December 22, 2018

Plunging Stock Market May Exacerbate Grace Church’s Financial Woes

With recent stock market activity showing some striking similarities to the market crash of 1987, and the double whammy of a possible partial shut-down of the federal government, Grace Episcopal Church may well enter 2019 in dire financial condition.

As I stated in previous posts, when factoring in depreciation and amortization, Grace has been running an annual deficit for many, many years. That trend, together several related factors, has spelled a perfect storm in the making for quite some time. These factors include:
  1. An aging parish population.
  2. A costly physical plant.
  3. A wildly overpaid rector who often appears to place his own perceived self-interest ahead of the church.
  4. Decades of slipshod governance.
  5. Facially faulty financial reports.
  6. A rubber-stamp vestry largely controlled by Bob Malm.
  7. A refusal to save for the future.
  8. A culture that of denial and avoidance that has allowed the church to avoid dealing with these pressing issues for much of Bob’s tenure as rector.
  9. American culture, in which church member is no longer normative, and where young people increasingly oppose organized religion.
  10. The hypocrisy of church hierarchies, including that of the Roman Church, and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.
Now, with the stock market appearing poised to tank, the church faces several challenges:
  1. Year-end gifts of appreciated stock likely will be reduced.
  2. Parishioners on fixed incomes will find it difficult to maintain current pledging levels.
  3. Families directly or indirectly dependent on the federal government will face financial constraints.
  4. Investments, including the Grace Trust, which is heavily invested in the stock market, will lose value, thus reducing church revenue.
  5. Banks that might otherwise be willing to lend to the church will seek to reduce risk in the event of another major recession.
All this, of course, ties into the loss of public confidence caused by Dysfunctional Bob and Sugarland Chiow’s rather disastrous foray into court, continued misconduct and conflict within the parish, the departure of Fanny Belanger, the fact that Dysfunctional Bob will retire in the not distant  future, and Bob Malm’s smear campaign against members of his own parish.

Grace church surely is poised for big problems over the next few years.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Breaking News: Additional Lawsuit Possible Against Grace Episcopal, Diocese, Malm Family, Vestry Members

Shortly after Christmas, I will be out of town for several days to meet with attorneys and other potential plaintiffs to a multi-party lawsuit against Grace Episcopal Church, Dysfunctional Bob and his family, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, vestry members (both as officers of the organization and in their individual capacities) and several specific members of the parish. Should a decision be made to proceed, I anticipate we will be filing in federal district court towards the end of January.

Fun times on Planet Malm.

Monday, November 5, 2018

DioVA Plans Listening Sessions, I Call Bullcrud

When I was a kid, a family member commonly  used the phrase “a day late and a dollar short.” This words come to mind as Bishop Susan Goff now takes on the ecclesiastical authority for the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and announces that she will begin a series of “listening sessions” across the diocese. All of which is a nice way of saying that the listening sessions are a bunch of hogwash. A complete waste of time for all involved.

Why do I say that? Because +Susan, and the rest of the Mayo House crowd, has been well aware of Bob Malm’s antics over the past three years and have consistently refused to do anything about them. That begs the question: Why even have a bishop if they can’t so much as ensure that church is a safe place?

Indeed, +Susan is well aware of Bob’s perjury; his efforts to drag my mother, dying of COPD, into court; and more. In fact, she refused to get involved when I asked her to help mediate rising tensions with Bob Malm, even though Pay Wingo had suggested I reach out to her if help was needed in this area.

In short, why bother with listening sessions if the diocese won’t even address clergy misconduct?  What an absolute waste of time! If the diocese wants to mend its ways, why not start with the issues it already knows?

Bishop Goff, please don’t offer false hope. DioVA is utterly indifferent to the welfare of its members, and you can quote me on that. Moreover, you and the rest of the Mayo House fat cats have demonstrated this repeatedly, so let’s not waste time on such silliness.







Tuesday, October 30, 2018

More Signs of Trouble from DioVA

As some of you know, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia recently announced that there will not be a vote on a Bishop Provisional at this weekend’s general convention. The news was released immediately following Sunday’s farewell reception for bishop Shannon, held at the Virginia Theological Seminary. 

Taken in light of recent events within the diocese, the announcement adds to the growing evidence that the diocese has serious governance issues. These include:
  1. The abrupt resignation this summer of Pat Wingo, who served as the bishop’s assistant, or canon to the ordinary.
  2. The collapse, not long after, of the search for a bishop adjutant, followed by the resignation of Bishop Shannon.
  3. Evidence of multiple bad decisions in the area of clergy discipline, including the diocese’s repeated failure to exercise appropriate supervision over Bob Malm, resulting in profound damage to the reputation of the church due to Bob’s claims of being threatened by terrorists, his decision to take a former parishioner to court, and his decision to try to drag an elderly dying woman into court.
  4. Multiple Title IV Disciplinary cases pending against Bishop Shannon, including one in which it is alleged that he acted to cover up repeated instances of sexual harassment by clergy under his supervision. (The office of the presiding bishop has refused on multiple occasions to update complainants on the status of their cases, raising the possibility of additional attempts at cover-up.)
  5. Signs of major conflict between the executive committee and the trustees of the funds. Not uncommon following litigation, such kerfuffles invariably end badly, and must be addressed immediately if they are to avoid snowballing.
  6. A bishop who, like many clergy, is conflict avoidant and tends to tell people what they want to hear. I have experienced this firsthand.
Of course, the handling of the search for a bishop provisional also is telling. The standing committee has been working on the matter since August 3, 2018, and no doubt knew it had a hot potato on its hands. Moreover, it was likely obvious from the get-go that the pool of applicants would be very limited, given that this is intended to be a three-year gig, the candidate must have previously served as a bishop, and must be under age 69 in order to comply with the canonically mandated retirement age of 72. All of this, at a time when a large number of bishop positions are open. Thus, it surely made sense to have both a Plan B and a Plan C in place, such that the diocese would not again have egg on its face if the search process ran into problems. Yet, here we sit, with the diocese now thoroughly covered in egg.

So, the more things change the more they stay the same. The diocese remains a hot mess, governance is in a shambles, and it’s the Wild, Wild West when it comes to clergy discipline within the diocese. And now, matters are compounded by a power vacuum at the top, for if there’s anything worse than an incompetent bishop, it’s governance via committee.

But the most telling sign of serious trouble in the diocese comes via the wry observation of a friend of mine, a Episcopal priest for more than 50 years. Many years ago, he said, “As a priest, you know you’re in trouble when the bishop starts saying nice things about you in public.” And so it is with Bishop Shannon, on whom the presiding bishop heaped fulsome praise following the announcement of his retirement.

Things surely are a hot mess in The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.






Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Next Week: Protests at Mayo House

I’m not sure yet what day it will be, but next week I hope to get in an afternoon of protests outside of Episcopal Diocese of Virginia headquarters at Mayo House in Richmond. Sunshine, fresh air, mild temps—what could be better?

Details as soon as possible.