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Presiding Bishop unaware of Wikipedia edit; allegations discredited


A suggestion that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori ordered the removal of information from the Wikipedia website has been discredited, according to a report by Simon Sarmiento in the U.K.-based Church Times newspaper.

The story, which originated on an American conservative website in May, resurfaced last Saturday in The Independent newspaper, which reported that Barbara Alton, personal assistant to Bishop Charles Bennison of Pennsylvania, “deleted information concerning a cover-up of child sexual abuse [by the bishop’s brother], allegations that the bishop misappropriated $11.6 million in trust funds, and evidence of other scandals. When challenged about this, Alton claims she was ordered to delete the information by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.”

Alton confirmed this week that she was acting on her own initiative as the bishop’s personal assistant, the Church Times reported. She had edited the bishop’s biography on the website, because of changes that others had made which she described as “a frightening mess,” according to the newspaper. She did not have the time to follow the Wikipedia process for correcting misinformation, however, and so had simply replaced it with the standard official text. This had led to her being banned by Wikipedia.

She had never received an order from Jefferts Schori, however, nor from anyone else at the Episcopal Church Center in New York City, the Church Times article reports. “Church officials in New York confirmed that the Presiding Bishop had never spoken to Barbara Alton.”


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