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Prince Charles Snubs Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison


Special Report

By David W. Virtue

PHILADELPHIA, PA--His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales and future titular head of the Church of England, the "Mother Church" of the Anglican Communion, chose to attend services at Arch Street Presbyterian Church, the "mother church" of Welsh-Americans in the Philadelphia area, rather than attending an Episcopal parish. The Prince of Wales also did not meet with revisionist Episcopal Bishop Charles E. Bennison.

According to newspaper reports, the Prince of Wales worshipped at the Presbyterian Church and not Christ Church in Old City, which is descended from the Church of England because the Episcopal Church was too small. Christ Church is intimate, and its members would have taken many available seats, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer's Julie Stoiber. The Presbyterian Church seats 1,100 but has far fewer members. It was also closer to the Four Seasons hotel where the royals stayed.

An Anglo-Catholic layman, who was invited to the official function with their Royal Highnesses, said it was interesting that no official representatives of the Episcopal Church were present at the reception honoring Prince Charles, while an official representative of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Pennsylvania was present.

Was this a snubbing of His Royal Highness by the Episcopal Church due to his refusal to see Charles E. Bennison, the revisionist Bishop of Pennsylvania, and to worship in an Episcopal Church?

The layman, who asked not to be named, said that he engaged Prince Charles in conversation and said to him, "I would have thought that as the head of the Church of England, the parent church of the Anglican Communion, Your Royal Highness would have attended services at the Episcopal Cathedral."

Said Charles: "You must be an Episcopalian. What is your parish?"

"I worship at the Church of the Good Shepherd," (Rosemont) responded the layman.

"Ah!" said the Prince, wagging his finger, in a scolding manner, at the layman. "You were asking me a trick question. You know very, very well why I cannot worship in an Episcopal Church."

As future head of the Church of England, he cannot really take sides at this time in internal fights between sister churches, and that Her Majesty the Queen, as Defender of the Faith, is not Defender of the Faithless, as well. Therefore, Prince Charles cannot take sides with us now, when, ultimately, he may be called upon to make decisions as the head of the Church of England that might decide the fate of churches in the Anglican Communion. As the future Defender of the Faith (or Defender of the Faiths, as he would prefer), he cannot be seen to be consorting with those who are faithless. He said that the persecuted churches in the US and Canada, and in particular Good Shepherd (Rosemont) by name, are in the prayers at daily services at all Royal Chapels and at Westminster Abbey, said the layman.

The ultra-liberal Bishop of Pennsylvania faces both civil and ecclesiastical charges. Recently, a Montgomery County Court judge said Bennison will face a civil court jury in a test of the First Amendment because the bishop denied an Anglo-Catholic cleric a church trial. Millions of dollars are at stake. Formal Presentment charges against Bennison are with the National church's Title IV Review Committee for misuse of funds and diocesan mismanagement.


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