THE standing committee of a diocese in the United States is seeking to “divorce” the diocesan bishop after he confessed to an adulterous relationship that he had not revealed during the election process.
The Bishop of Lexington, the Rt Revd Douglas Hahn, has been suspended since March, when his previous affair with a former parishioner came to light. The diocesan standing committee has now asked the Presiding Bishop, the Most Revd Michael Curry, to “dissolve” the pastoral relationship between the Bishop and his diocese.
The request followed a seven-week-long “listening process” over the summer, in which clergy and laity came together for five sessions across the diocese.
In a letter to parishioners, the standing committee said: “The listening process revealed that most of the respondents have forgiven Bishop Hahn for his sexual misconduct. However, 80 per cent of those responding continue to struggle with his personal and professional deception and do not believe the integrity of the relationship with the Diocese can be restored.”
A resulting vote by the standing committee to dissolve the pastoral relationship was unanimous, but this has not been accepted by Bishop Hahn.
In March, the Bishop wrote to congregations about his year-long suspension, saying: “We have agreed that this should be a time of repentance, retreat and reflection. It will be a time of healing of hurts. I will spend this time doing whatever is possible to make this right with the Church.” He said that he and his wife, Kaye, had also “begun their work of healing”.
Archbishop Curry has now asked for mediation between the Bishop and the standing committee. If mediation fails, then a committee of three — one lay person, one priest, and one bishop — will be formed and charged with coming up with a resolution to be voted on by the House of Bishops. This is likely to be at their next scheduled meeting in March next year.