Someone recently asked me why the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia continues to defend Bob Malm, his perjury, and Grace Episcopal’s attempts to game the legal system. Of course, only the diocese knows for sure, but I believe I know why.
In large measure, it’s the same paradigm, I believe, as led diocesan officials to support Bishop Bruno, despite clear evidence he’d behaved badly on multiple occasions. Specifically, trust in people known to the diocese, combined with arrogance, complacency, and a psychological paradigm in which questioning one’s preconceived notions intertwines with fear of questioning one’s faith. On top of that, there’s evidence to suggest that diocesan chancellor, JP Causey, gives folks bad legal advice, in which he urges diocesan officials to take a hands-off approach in order to minimize potential liability, despite canonical requirements to the contrary and larger ethical issues. And there’s the gut instinct to protect the institution at all costs, even when doing so actually results in lasting damage.
Of course, it is this same confluence of factors that leads churches to ignore sexual abuse. The Catholic church has been handling issues this way for decades, with predictably disastrous results. And the church adheres to a Madmen-era definition of abuse: Unless it involves children or sex, it doesn’t count.
At the same time, the one thing that can be said for the vestry at Grace church and the diocese is that Christianity has nothing to do with their conduct. Even a rudimentary review of the evidence would make clear that Bob Malm misused the legal system, lied to the courts, and committed perjury during discovery. But the diocese doesn’t want to go there, as doing so would uncover these inconvenient truths. And parishioners continue with their laughable, “Bob Malm wouldn’t do that,” routine.
In short, no matter how things play out in court, it’s important to realize that this situation illustrates a larger truth, which is that there is simply nothing Christian about the diocese of Virginia or its officials. Yes, there are churches in the diocese that do hold to a real faith, but they face profound challenges when they send money to an utterly broken and corrupt diocese.
So, if you are looking for real Christian faith, my advice is to look elsewhere. Otherwise, you may wind up wasting a lot of time, money and energy on an utterly illusory situation.