Scandal Adds to Episcopal Woes as Defections Rise
In Albuquerque the Cathedral Church of St. John was seen headed toward eventual bankruptcy as its members deserted to other less-ornate, smaller Episcopal churches. Then the cathedral accountant sounded an alarm. In effect, he accused the church leadership of complacency in the sloppy way the cathedral was run. Immediately the area’s bishop rushed to quash the bad mouthing with an apparent cover-up.
Bishop Michael L. Vono has spent months digging into allegations that the dean of his territorial cathedral misused Sunday collection money from parishioners for his personal enjoyment, including lots of expensive wine, which he was accused of imbibing to the extreme.
His Vestry, or board of directors, was accused of trashing the cathedral’s endowment by $2 million through complacency, and of not disciplining the dean. The Vestry includes some of Albuquerque’s leading citizens.
The explosive stream of allegations had been unleashed by the cathedral’s accountant who resigned in early February. Some parishioners encouraged the outburst, and the accountant took his charges to the bishop in a private audience. Vono dispatched his aides to the cathedral where an unpaid volunteer was summarily dismissed at the request of the accused dean, according to church workers who witnessed the expulsion. “It felt like a quiet version of the Spanish Inquisition,” one said.
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