I have been spending time, in recent weeks, on Bishop Bruno again, helping to write the brief on appeal in the Bruno case. I realize, looking back at this blog, that I have not posted on some key developments in the case and in the life of our church.
First, most important, we are back in our church, St. James in Newport Beach. We had our first services there on April 8, 2018, not quite three years after Bishop Bruno locked the doors on June 29, 2015. The first services were not as pleasant as they might have been, because Bishop Taylor presided, the bishop who was responsible for keeping us locked out from the time he received authority over us and the church (in August 2017) through April 2018. But we are now back in a more or less “normal” church life, indeed church is coming up here in a few hours.
Second, almost as important, the Hearing Panel found Bishop Bruno guilty on all three charges. A copy of its order is at the end of the message. The hearing panel (composed of three bishops, one priest, one lay leader) was clear that locking the doors and keeping them locked violated the canons. The hearing panel agreed with us that Bishop Bruno had violated the canons by signing a binding legal agreement without first seeking and obtaining standing committee approval. The hearing panel agreed with us that Bishop Bruno, over and over, misrepresented the facts. The hearing panel was especially incensed that Bishop Bruno, while the panel was considering the case, signed a second secret sale agreement to sell the church property again–and then refused to provide any information about this agreement to the hearing panel.
Bishop Bruno did not just accept the hearing panel’s decision and retire quietly. No: he filed a notice of appeal and then filed a brief in which he contended that the hearing panel made many mistakes. He especially attacked the way in which the hearing panel handled the second secret sale, claiming that the hearing panel could not consider anything that happened after the hearing. The church attorney, Jerry Coughlan, has just filed his brief responding to these arguments, and at some point the Court of Appeal for Bishops will hear oral argument and render its decision.
Why am I still working on this? For history. I want history to view Bishop Bruno more or less as the hearing panel viewed him; as a man who violated the rules and who was suspended for three years; a man who disgraced his high and holy office I do not agree, on this point, with Bishop Taylor. On the day that the hearing panel’s order came out, Bishop Taylor put out a press release saying that history would view Bishop Bruno as a good bishop, that the good work Bishop Bruno had done would outweigh his faults. I am not sure exactly what Bishop Bruno’s “good works” were; what I have seen is a dishonest dictator, of which the St. James saga was an example, not an aberration. I cannot write the whole history of Bruno’s years as bishop, but I can do my part to see that the hearing panel’s decision is upheld on appeal.
Read the hearing panel’s decision for yourself and ask; was this a good bishop?