Cases alleging inappropriate statements, behavior by Easton bishop head to conciliation

By David Paulsen
Posted May 30, 2024

[Episcopal News Service] Easton Bishop Santosh Marray, whose diocese serves communities on the eastern end of Maryland, was the subject of two disciplinary complaints alleging inappropriate behavior, according to information posted May 30 to The Episcopal Church’s website.

Few details have been released publicly about the allegations, which date back to July 2023. That month, “multiple complainants” made allegations of “inappropriate public statements and behavior” by Marray, according to information posted on the website. A separate complaint was filed in February 2024 by a single complainant alleging “inappropriate public statements and misrepresentations.”

Under the church’s Title IV disciplinary canons, a three-member reference panel has referred the matters to a canonical process known as conciliation, in which Marray and the complainants will work with an appointed conciliator to reconcile their differences.

Episcopal News Service contacted Marray and other diocesan officials by email seeking comment for this story, which will be updated when responses are received.

Marray is one of seven Episcopal bishops with disciplinary matters listed under the heading “current cases” on a church’s webpage that was launched in February on Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s direction to improve transparency in cases involving bishops. All clergy are subject to the church’s Title IV canons, though cases involving bishops have received renewed scrutiny in the past year over concerns that bishops are not always held to the same standards as other clergy.

The church’s release of information about the cases involving Marray comes two days after a priest alluded to the cases May 28 in an online hearing held by General Convention’s Title IV legislative committees. In his testimony, the Rev. Nathaniel Pierce, an alternate deputy from the Diocese of Easton, identified himself as one of 14 complainants who initiated a Title IV case involving a bishop.

“There has been no pastoral care for any of the 14 complainants, and indeed our adviser called us to the attention of the reference panel about two weeks ago, and there’s still been no response,” Pierce said in his testimony supporting a memorial statement, M004, proposed by the Young Adult Caucus. “I’m not sure what the answer is, but I simply want to flag this issue for the benefit of the joint committee and encourage you to perhaps explore ways in which the importance of pastoral care can be emphasized.”

The reference panel is the first body that determines next steps after receiving an intake officer’s report in Title IV cases. The canons also call on church leaders to offer pastoral care to all those affected by an alleged offense while cases are pending.

In cases involving a bishop, the presiding bishop serves as one member of the reference panel. In both cases against Marray, Curry recused himself, and the Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves, House of Bishops vice president, took his place, according to information on the church’s website.

On May 2, the reference panel made its referral for conciliation, and Gray-Reeves issued a pastoral direction to Marray.

The conciliation process, as outlined in Canon IV.10, “shall seek a resolution which promotes healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation among the complainant, respondent, affected community, other persons and the church.” The canons also mandate an appointed conciliator to assist in that process.

– David Paulsen is a senior reporter and editor for Episcopal News Service based in Wisconsin. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.


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