By |

One of the sad things about the current situation is that neither Grace Church, nor the vestry, nor the diocese/bishops, nor the Canon to the Ordinary, understand the long-term problems that are being caused for Grace Church or the diocese by their failure to disclose Bob Malm’s misconduct. And leadership at all levels is so wedded to their approach of deny, obfuscate, cover-up, litigate, and sit in splendid silence that I don’t see any possibility that they will ever have the introspection to understand that they are destroying both Grace Church and the diocese.

Why does silence have this effect?
The answer has myriad components, but it can readily be summed up by saying that failing to disclose erodes confidence in the church at every level.
True to form, folks at Grace Church want to believe Bob Malm and his fabricated version of events. As a result, we see comments like Jean Reed’s clueless bit about how my disclosure defames Bob and the other “servants of Christ” at Grace. But true servants of Christ don’t commit perjury. They don’t try to drag dying women into court in violation of state law. They don’t lie repeatedly to their bishop. They don’t engage in personal vendettas in court against people who criticize them. They don’t urge others to commit suicide.
Even more importantly, real Christians bring light to the darkness. They resist injustice and oppression. They tell the truth, even when it’s not easy to do so. Unlike Bob Malm, they don’t respond to concerns with, “Why should I give a fuck?!” (Yes, there were witnesses.)

What makes the situation even more sad is that there are leaders at Grace Church who know enough about change management to understand they dilemma they face, but they simply are not taking action. These include Elizabeth Legere and Tracy Enger. Similarly, assistant Bishop Jennifer Brooke-Davidson and Canon Mary Thorpe both should know better, based on their training and professional experiences.

I’d also be prepared to bet that, if we discuss an out of court settlement, the first thing the diocese will insist on will be NOT admitting liability. The second will be confidentiality. Thus, true to form, the diocese will not follow a Christian model of healing, but a corporate model. (For the record, the latter is not going to fly with me. For once, the diocese is either going to conduct itself as a group of Christians, or I will hold it fully accountable at law. And if the church manages to win in court, that will be just that much more evidence that there is nothing Christian about Grace Church or the diocese, and I will share that with the world. The evidence is already there for the diocese and all the world to see: Bob Malm is a perjurer. Pure and simple. He committed his perjury as rector of Grace Church, and with the full knowledge and express approval of Bishop Susan Goff.

The screen caps below are from the Rev. Robin Hammeal-Urban’s excellent book, “Wholeness After Betrayal: Restoring Trust In the Wake of Misconduct.” Robin serves as canon for mission integrity in the Diocese of Connecticut, and is considered possibly TEC’s leading authority on dealing with clergy misconduct. Her book, referenced elsewhere on this blog, is excellent; so much so that I sent copies to Shannon Johnston, Pat Wingo, and Caroline Parkinson.
Ironically, the diocese’s response to perjuring priest Bob Malm’s misconduct has been a virtual how-not-to, when compared to the best practices Robin details in her book. Regrettably, it is doubtful that any diocesan officials have read the book, for they have made no changes or improvements in their handling of disciplinary complaints, and continue to this day to make a hash out of things. Indeed, one former canon to the ordinary from EDOW noted the profound lack of training evinced by diocesan staff on handling misconduct and urged that they get additional training. Her recommendations were ignored. But you cannot truthfully claim to seek and serve Christ in all persons when you ignore clergy misconduct.

Clearly, DioVA does not take clergy misconduct seriously, or treat those who have experienced misconduct with respect. It would rather engage in cover-up than tell the truth. And it has done so, even in cases involving egregious sexual harassment of female church employees. (In one particularly ugly case, Bishop Shannon Johnston swept the whole thing under the rug without telling the victim, then claimed that he couldn’t discuss the matter with her as it was confidential. Very typical of my experiences with the diocese, and it is shocking and appalling that any bishop would think this is an acceptable way to handle sexual harassment of women. Or any other human being. Feel free to quote me.)

Below are screen caps from Robin’s book speaking to the problems that arise when misconduct is not disclosed, and the tendency of those in power to dismiss or write off those who bring these issues to light. Particularly relevant is the discussion about the long-term problems that arise when misconduct is not disclosed.

See for yourself.