Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pressure continues on 815 to disclose amount spent on lawsuits

An Open Letter to the Members of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church

12 February 2008

From: The Right Reverend William C. Wantland, Bishop Retired of Eau Claire
And The Right Reverend Maurice M. Benitez , Bishop Retired of Texas

This letter constitutes our final effort to obtain information from you as representing the leadership of the Episcopal Church about the amount currently being expended in the extensive litigation in which the Episcopal Church is engaged.

We directed our last letter to the Executive Council. We received our answer in a letter from two attorneys, who are members of the Council, writing on behalf of the full Council. Conveyed in a three page letter, their answer to us is:


We then wrote to the two lawyer members of the Executive Council to get a specific response to our questions about the funding of the litigation. In late January, they replied, stating that no funds for litigation have come from either the Pension Fund or Trust Funds. However, they refused to disclose the amounts being expended on litigation.

We now ask you, the Executive Council, why do you feel the necessity for refusing to furnish information on the cost of litigation? You have lawyers. You clearly know that there is NO provision in Federal, State or Canon law for the Executive Council to withhold from members and officials of the Church, information on money being spent on behalf of the Church and presumably for the benefit of the Church. You cannot point to a single legal basis for concealing such information. Your answer is simply, "IT'S A SECRET".

Such an answer is not acceptable. If there is nothing wrong with these expenditures, then why do you refuse to reveal the amount? It should not be a secret, and you owe the Church and its membership the courtesy of an honest answer.

+William C. Wantland
+ Maurice M. Benitez


ettu said...

Jeeezze - These guy scome across as whining and intrusive- who really cares? What are they really asking here? Isn't it probably only an indirect way of saying they are angry about the lawsuits and if that is their attitude let them just say it outright. As a corollary has the "other side" released their figures and , if so, have the figures been audited? Personally I would tell anyone who was such a busybody to "buzz off" and go out and get a real life.

Anonymous said...

Why? Amazed you even have to ask. Does this mean you don't care about how your tax dollars are spent by Congress? The SPCA? United Way? Any organization in which you give money? How about a shareholders'meeting? Do you not want to make sure that your organization is being run properly and....legally? That your stock is earning the proper and most valued dividend?

Accountability in any organization is a requirement.

These bishops have a vested interest on multiple levels. Besides the charge given to them as Christians and leaders in Christianity, they also are members of the organization they are asking questions of. The one that will fund their retirement.

Wouldn't you be asking what's happening in the company you work for?

Because this is a

1. (Supposedly) Christian organization and as such is to be accountable and transparent.

2. 503(c) organization - they have to show where the money is going.

3. And if you don't think so, just look at what Congress is asking of the prosperity-preaching ministries such as Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, etc.

The Lakeland Two

Roger said...

Bishop Allison (South Carolina, retired) and Bishop Dickson (West Tennessee, retired) were signatories to the original letter demanding an accounting. I don't see their signatures on this letter.

Are they no longer part of this effort?

ettu said...

Lakelad Two - where are the audited figures on the "other side"? I would appreciate a link - you raise many interesting but specious issues - we will have different opinions but I will keep you and all others on this blog in my prayers

robroy said...

I have created a online petition for those who want to stand with the bishops in demanding that the TEc be transparent in their finances and open with regards to the amounts and sources for the litigation costs. May be found here:

I have discussion over at Titus with a sample email to send to fellow Episcopalians (even if they won't sign the petition, it is good for them to know of the controversy). See comments #6,17 and 20 here:

ettu said...

Robroy, Do you have a link to audited figures for the amount the non-TEC side has spent -in toto- on their legal affairs. Providing this would be occupying the moral high ground while not providing it makes the demand look ridiculous and weak.

Kevin said...

Ettu -- Why in the world would Robroy want to do your research for you? It you want to put the same effort into actually doing something, feel free, but merely scoffing is making you look ridiculous and weak.

ettu said...

No one has to do my research but my research-to date- has failed to support the "otherside" and I was giving Robroy an opening to make TEC look silly by not being symmetrical with the "reasserters" Therefore, I assume my research is accurate unless anyone can provide such links to audited financial statements to the non-TEC side.

Kevin said...

Great, wonderful - so now you need to not merely claim to have done this research but compile it, make appropriate analysis based on the data and publish with someone who cares, at that point is when you could expect a rebuttal, not before anything is presented for review.

It appears Robroy is in data collection phase currently and probably not interested in debating your ethereal research until he has processed his research and you produced something above a claim in a blog comment.

ettu said...

Kevin - please do not criticize my on-line research - I have done my homework thank you and do not need to hear a teacher who has not seen my oeuvre regards and prayers

Kevin said...

Ettu - that's great, I can not compliment or criticize what you have not "seen my oeuvre," however you have now you are challenging Robroy without presenting yours, that I can easily make a critique.

ettu said...

I am not challenging anyone - I pointed out the one-sidedness of the original request and the fact that reasserters had a clear opportunity here to seize the high ground by opening up their financial records. Doing so would draw a stark line in the sand between the two sides and would buttress their clatm against TEC's alleged opaqueness.. To date I have been unable to find such a link and I WAS suggesting/requesting such a link. If it exists - if the info is available - please let me know for I have not yet found it. if not, then realize the symmetry between the two sides in safeguarding their internal financial data. Release of such numbers could aid the other side .

Kevin said...

"I am not challenging anyone"

Hmmm ...

"while not providing it makes the demand look ridiculous and weak."

Talk about moral high ground ??????

As to Robroy efforts, well, it's a petition, that's all, you can form a petition as well for CANA or whoever. I'm not sure either will be as effective as the recipient would need to feel the need to respond to it.

As for financial records, you were requesting others do your research, why? It seems to me in order to obtain the moral high ground as judge by you. This could be taken as offensive, but in reality it applies to most of us, "WHO CARES!"

These bishops were leaders in this organization, thus their interest has a different context than you or I. I'd suspect TEc will blow off Robroy's petition as can non-TEc people would blow off any you produced. Ironically, I could see the exact same reasoning used by each.

As for your research abilities. Sorry you not found anything and looking to us to give you on a silver plater what you seek. I'm not really interested, but much of what you seek in the Virginia cases has been published in the Washington Times, some direct quotes other inferred. No , I'm not interested in giving you the dates, that more effort than I desire to expend on your behave and believe I very generous giving you the source, but all articles are off-line, so you'll need to head to the local library and do this the old fashion way.

Kevin said...

Ettu -- I'm off to lunch and I really hope those I'm waiting on return in shortly after than in which case I may be off line till Monday (sad, I'm busier "off the clock" then on -- actually I'm salary, or why I I'm expected to sit here). Until then, it's been an interesting chat, thanks, I hope you have a good weekend.


Anonymous said...

RE: "I pointed out the one-sidedness of the original request and the fact that reasserters had a clear opportunity here to seize the high ground by opening up their financial records."

Well, of course it's not "one-sided" . . . neither I, RobRoy, Bishop Benitez, or Bishop Wantland are members of CANA or the AMiA or any other Angican entity save TEC. As such . . . as members of TEC, we'd like an accounting of the money.

Why any of us would wish for an accounting of money of organizations of which we are not a part, I woudn't know.

I'm an Episcopalian. I'd like to know how the national church is spending the money that dioceses send it which comes from laypeople.

Sarah, a member of the organization called TEC, for which some other members --two bishops -- would like an accounting of the money spent . . . and so would a whole bunch of other members of said organization too

Anonymous said...

PS: I'm sure if some members of the AMiA or CANA become suspicious about how their money is spent they'll write some open letters and start an online petition too.

But so far . . . they seem to be okay with how the money is spent over there.

Funny that.


Anonymous said...


Can't add much to what's already been said. Agree with all that if you have questions, you go ask.

Dio of Cent. FL posted its budget on-line last year, but hasn't this year. But that doesn't mean you can't call the bishop's office and ask for a copy yourself. YOU can get the number to call on-line. Feel free. Don't complain if you haven't done the work.

These leading members of this organization have and were stonewalled. And they ARE entitled to the information. As is every member of the Episcopal Church. While Robroy has this petition going, the American Anglican Council has one that as of November 2007 had 5,752 members of an organization asking the same question.

"Thousands of concerned Christians signed an American Anglican Council (AAC) petition calling for financial transparency from the top leadership of The Episcopal Church (TEC). 5,752 people signed the online petition that called for “The Episcopal Church to state how much money [it] has spent since 2004 on litigation against individuals and parishes and to make public the source of the money for said litigation.”

Silence. A lack of accountability. Almost 6,000 people have. TEC, as a Christian organization, has an obligation to answer to its members - whether it disagrees with them or not.

The Lakeland Two

Anonymous said...


Should read "These leading members of this organization were stonewalled."

Off for coffee.

The Lakeland Two

Rick Arllen said...

815 will come clean on the numbers right after Hillary releases her tax returns. Don't hold your breath waiting for either. Too much nasty fall out will ensue (for both Hillary and 815) should truth be told.

Anonymous said...