Skip to comments.Responses [The CT 6]
Posted on 07/19/2005 9:43:51 PM PDT by sionnsar
More strong words on Andrew Smith's rape of St. John's Episcopal Church of Bristol, Connecticut. These are from Albany's Suffragan Bishop David Bena:
I sit here in shock!!! On the web is news of Bishop Andrew Smith "invading" one of his parishes on a weekday morning this week. I may not have all the facts at hand, but what I can discern is this:
1) The rector and parish in Connecticut are among a group of six parishes who objected to Bishop Smiths consent to the election of Mr. Robinson in New Hampshire, as well as Bishop Smiths positive participation in the ordination of Mr. Robinson.
2) Eventually, all six parish vestries and their clergy asked Bishop Smith for Alternative Episcopal Oversight. He responded that once they paid their assessments in full, he would be willing to talk about DEPO (in my opinion, a flawed document) to the parishes one at a time. This went nowhere.
3) Several months ago, Bishop Smiths Standing Committee gave Bishop Smith encouragement to inhibit the six priests due to his belief that they were "abandoning the Communion" by their refusal to be loyal to his views (?) - I cant quite figure out what exactly he was insisting they be "loyal" to). What I DO know is that the Canon he cites is one to be used if a priest actually goes over to another denomination - that would be abandoning the Anglican Communion. To my knowledge, none of the priests stated that they were leaving for another denomination. At any rate, after a lot of hullabaloo, Bishop Smith decided to wait before inhibiting any of them. When the bishop inhibits a priest, it means that the priest cannot function as a priest for a specified period of time. Using this Canon, the inhibition would be for six months, after which if the priest does not return to the Episcopal Church, he can be deposed (permanently barred from the Priesthood). But since the priests have not left the Episcopal Church, this whole thing looks very strange indeed.
4) The rector in question evidently went on Sabbatical a few weeks ago, and did discuss his Sabbatical with one of the Suffagan Bishops. So the Sabbatical was not a surprise to Diocesan Headquarters. The rector was able to obtain the services of another duly recognized priest to lead services in his absence, and the rector provided for emergency pastoral support, should it be needed. The rector also continued to attend vestry meetings while he was on Sabbatical.
5) Now the plot thickens. One day this week, Bishop Smith and a number of diocesan employees went to the church, knowing the priest was not there, and "took over." They broke into the rectors office, hacked into his computer and removed files, and changed all the locks on the church. Bishop Smith stated that because the priest had not provided adequate pastoral support for the parish, the bishop had no alternative than to inhibit the priest and place another priest there as "priest in charge." When the senior warden arrived to challenge the bishops action, he was told that the bishop was acting within his authority. The priest placed as "priest in charge," by the way, is one whose theology and practice appear to me to be way to the left of that parish, and will undoubtedly cause parishioners without the stomach for a fight to flee that parish. "You get the picture???"
Ladies and Gentlemen, what is becoming of our Episcopal Church? It is quite obvious that this invasion was uncalled for. MANY other options could have been initiated, including the bishop calling a meeting of the vestry beforehand to discuss the situation, the bishop meeting with the rector and wardens, the bishop consulting the Standing Committee, etc, etc. I am shocked at the brutality of the actions by Bishop Smith. I once served as a Marine Line Officer, and never did I see such brutality even in war!
Now the lawyers will get involved, and much time and money will be expended, as well as much embarrassment for all of this as it is continually written up in the media. This whole episode sickens me. There was absolutely no need for this to happen. But since legal proceedings will now begin, my prayer is that justice will be served.
I can only say that I cannot recognize this inhibition. It is WRONG. My heart goes out to the members of that parish, and to the members of the other five parishes who are trying to stand for the Anglican Faith. My prayers rise as incense for all involved. I ask all in the Diocese of Albany to join Bishop Dan and me as we pray for transformation in the hearts of all, so that we may SHARE in proclaiming the Gospel and Truth of Jesus Christ, and stop "bumping each other off like gang members."
And these are from William Wantland, the retired Bishop of Eau Claire:
I am in receipt of your Notice of Inhibition of Fr. Mark Hansen, and am aware of your seizure of his parish. Needless to say, your actions are not only illicit and contrary to the canons of this Church, they are not worthy of anyone claiming the responsibility of the apostolic office. You have caused great harm to the Church here and abroad, and have, unfortunately, demonstrated a mind-set more in keeping with the Prince of this world than the Prince of Peace.
Any canonist worthy of the name knows that you have deliberately misused Canon IV.10 in order to attack someone who upholds the Catholic Faith in a manner deliberately designed to deny him any hearing or trial. You grieve the heart of Our Blessed Lord. However, I fear your own actions demonstrate any inability to see what you have done wrong, or to bring you to the repentance your soul so desperately needs to save you from spiritual death. I pray for you with great sadness.
No strong actions as of yet. Nobody's yet declared that communion between their diocese and Connecticut is broken because of what Smith has done and will remain broken until Smith either backs down or resigns. Nobody's yet stated that priests licensed in Connecticut are persona non grata until Smith lifts his inhibition and gives St. John's back its parish. But lots of fine, strong denunciations, though.
And it's interesting to note that as of the time and date of this post, the Connecticut story, which has been all over the news media, has not yet been deemed worthy of mention by Episcopal Press Release News Service. EPRNS does have a story
about how Frank Griswold wants us to pray for the Evangelical Lutherans and their upcoming meeting, though. Frank wrote a special prayer for the occasion and everything.
UPDATE: Here's something about Frank's recent trip to Armenia. Nothing about Connecticut.
UPDATE: Found it. They buried it in the Diocesan Digest. Thanks to Bernie for the heads-up.
I wonder how many lay supporters Smith has, and how many of those suffer from SSAD.
He is right, he doesn't have all the facts. The rector resigned and the parish was avoiding the calling process.
see this letter at the dicosese
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