The Living Church

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The Living ChurchAugust 4, 1996Diocese of Hawaii Decides Not to Take Action Against Bishop Hart by John Paul Engelcke213(5) p. 7

The Diocese of Hawaii's Special Committee on Episcopal Homes of Hawaii, Inc. (EHH), has recommended and the diocesan council agreed to take no further action against the Rt. Rev. Donald P. Hart, resigned Bishop of Hawaii, and the Rev. Peter Van Horne, former executive officer of the diocese.

The special committee and the council agreed that the committee take appropriate action against Michael Porter, former diocesan chancellor, and Cades, Shutte, Fleming and Wright, the law firm for which Mr. Porter formerly was employed.

The action stems from the collapse of a $150 million retirement-home project which never broke ground, even though more than $12 million was spent in planning and marketing. The diocese had guaranteed a $4 million loan for the project.

Bishop Hart resigned in 1994 after serving the diocese for more than seven years. He remains a defendant in two lawsuits filed concerning the EHH project, but not yet served, by the Teruya family [TLC, May 19] for about $1.12 million and by Cheryl Vieria for $50,000.

"I am relieved that the diocesan council has finally acknowledged, by dropping its claim, that its case against me was baseless," Bishop Hart said in a 2 1/2-page statement dated July 11 from Cheshire, England, where he was vacationing.

"My resignation as bishop was not an admission of guilt. It was rather my attempt to help the diocese focus on the financial problem at hand, and stop spending its energy on finger pointing and scapegoating. It was certainly the most difficult and painful decision of my 33 years of ministry to the church."

In response to Bishop Hart, Bob Husselrath, chair of the special committee, said in a statement to the Honolulu Advertiser, "I am sorry Bishop Hart has decided to reopen this issue with a detailed statement of his side of the story.

"The desire of the church to avoid public discussion of our differences was a major factor in the decision to withdraw the filing of the suit.

"The decision not to sue should not be construed as meaning the church does not hold Bishop Hart partially responsible for our huge debt."

(The Rev. Canon) John Paul Engelcke