Episcopal Bishop Prince Singh resigns after ministry is restricted amid abuse investigation

Prince Singh resigned September 8 as bishop provisional of the Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan, the day after he was restricted in his ordained ministry amid a disciplinary investigation into domestic abuse allegations by his two sons and ex-wife.

Standing committees for the two dioceses, speaking jointly, announced Singh’s resignation in a message to the dioceses, saying they had “reached a mutual decision” with Singh to step down “allowing him to focus on the next phase of the Title IV process, his family, and his personal well-being, and allowing our dioceses to step ahead in forward-thinking mission together, focused on our collective ministry and ongoing discernment.”

Singh, in a message included with the announcement, asserted that his resignation “is not an admission of guilt but intends to remove the distraction from our discernment in these dioceses.”

“I am sorry for the impact this Title IV situation has had on our work and for any harm this situation may have raised out of past traumas of individuals and communities,” he continued.

The Episcopal Church’s Title IV disciplinary canons apply to all clergy, though they have drawn renewed scrutiny in recent weeks over concerns that the process for investigating complaints against bishops has not ensured equal accountability. Singh is one of at least three Episcopal bishops to face Title IV complaints this year. Confidentiality in the early stages of the Title IV review process makes it difficult to determine if other complaints have been made.

A potential Title IV inquiry has been pending against Florida Bishop John Howard since late last year based on allegations that the Diocese of Florida, under his leadership, engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination against LGBTQ+ clergy and those who disagreed with the bishop’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

And the Episcopal House of Deputies President Julia Ayala Harris revealed on August 30 that she had filed a complaint against an unnamed retired bishop alleging he sexually harassed her in July 2022 at the denomination’s general convention. That case ended in a “pastoral response” but no discipline for the bishop, who was later identified by others as former Oklahoma Bishop Ed Konieczny.

After Ayala Harris’ shared general details of her case, a group of female bishops from western United States dioceses drafted a letter asking that the issue of bishop discipline be added to the House of Bishops’ September 19-22 online meeting to address growing perceptions and concerns that “bishops get a free pass on behavioral issues.”

That letter did not identify a particular case, though its language echoes concerns raised by some making Title IV complaints against bishops, including Singh’s sons.

In June 2023, the two sons went public on social media with their allegations of physical, verbal, and psychological abuse dating back decades against them and their mother, Jebaroja Suganthy-Singh. At that time, Singh said he welcomed a Title IV investigation of the matter, and he was allowed to remain active as a bishop while the case proceeded.

Since then, the sons have intensified their calls for the church to respond to the allegations against their father, and they have accused Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of not adequately addressing the matter.

As is consistent with the private nature of Title IV cases, Curry and other churchwide leaders have said little publicly about the case, and it is unclear where the investigation is in the process outlined by the church’s Title IV canons.

In a email after Singh’s resignation, his sons and ex-wife said they “are grateful for this progress and look forward to the Title IV investigation bringing further justice,” though they expressed continued concern that the church would “sacrifice Bishop Singh in order to deflect attention from the system that both empowered him and allowed him to stay in power for over nine months after we disclosed abuse.”

“Until we are willing to hold those we love accountable for causing harm in positions of power, [the church] will not substantially change,” they said.

With Singh agreeing to resign, the Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan standing committees said in their September 8 statement they will seek an assisting bishop “to offer pastoral presence for our diocesan and parish leaders on a temporary basis,” and they are likely to launch a new search for a bishop provisional.

“We prayerfully recognize that this situation is complex and this news will be received in many ways within and beyond our dioceses,” the standing committees said. “We will address this new challenge with careful stewardship of our body, compassion for one another, and faith in the One who loves us infinitely more than we could ask or imagine.” —Episcopal News Service

David Paulsen

David Paulsen is a senior reporter and editor for Episcopal News Service.

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