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Priestly plagiarism leads to suspension: The Church of England Newspaper, May 26, 2013 p 7. May 30, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Massachusetts, The Episcopal Church.
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The Diocese of Massachusetts has suspended a parish priest for allegedly plagiarizing sermons, taking them from the internet and then passing them off to his congregation as his own work.

In a 9 May 2013 letter to the members of St John’s Episcopal Church in Sandwich, Mass., Bishop Thomas Shaw stated he had placed the Rev John McGinn on administrative leave.

The Bishop reported that he had been alerted to the alleged plagiarism last year but had accepted Mr McGinn’s apology that this had been an isolated incident.

However: “We investigated further and have documentation that not only did he continue to copy sermons and preach and publish them verbatim, in print and online, as his own, but he had been doing so for many years,” the bishop said.

Mr McGinn has been accused of publishing 15 sermons taken from a book called “Dynamic Preaching” on the parish website, but identified as his own work.

“He admits to having done so,” the bishop said, noting: “This is a serious breach of the pastoral relationship between John and each of you, the congregation of St John’s.

“I am sorry that this matter has caused pain and will likely cause further pain in the parish. As difficult as this situation is, we know that truth-telling helps to bring about healing, and our renewal follows repentance.”

Claiming credit for others’ work is not confined to American clergy. In February the South China Morning Post four priests on the staff of St John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong were accused of taking their sermons from the Internet and offering them to the congregation as their own work. Dean Matthias Der told the Post he was surprised to learn of the plagiarism.

“I had heard of it before, but I had never met anyone who had done it,” he said, noting it called into question a priest’s honesty.

“If we borrow, we need to attribute and that is the part they didn’t do,” he said. “It’s an unfortunate issue and it’s not something I condone or support.

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