St Mary of the Angels (TAC) Mass Excommunications

Mr John Bruce reports:

Dear [name],

I am advised that Bishop Stephen D. Strawn, Episcopal Visitor to the Diocese of the West (“DOW”) in the Anglican Church in America (“ACA”), has determined and informed you that as and from June 17, 2012, you ceased to be and are no longer a communicant in good standing in the Church, but have as of that date been removed as a communicant within the ACA, the DOW and all of its constituent parishes, specifically including St. Mary of the Angels Anglican Church (“St. Mary’s”), by virtue and as a result of your having abandoned comunion, from and including the aforesaid June 17, 2012 date, as stated and set forth in Bishop Strawn’s letter to you.

This letter is to inform you that consistent with your abandonment of communion and the determination thereof by Bishop Strawn in accord with the Rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer, the Constitution and Canons of the ACA and the DOW, and the Bylaws of St. Mary’s, effective as and from June 17, 2012 you have ceased to be a Comunicant of the Parish of St. Mary’s, a communicant in good standing or a member thereof, and your name has been removed and stricken from its Parish Register.


The Very Rev. Canon Anthony J. Morello, Ph.D. Rector and Priest in Charge St. Mary of the Angels Anglican


Mr Bruce goes on to deal with various canonical questions regarding the above letter.

I would just venture to add (mindful that I’m far removed from the situation on the ground) that the letter, in and of self, seems, at face value, to be rather uncharitable and pastorally thoughtless. Further there is not even a glimmer or hope of reconciliation offered. Simply throwing your interpretation of the rules and regulations at another is seldom helpful.

Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

– Eph 4:29

72 thoughts on “St Mary of the Angels (TAC) Mass Excommunications

  1. In light of the final outcome of the Patrimony of the Primate, the TAC/ACA determination about their relationship with the Ordinariate, and the moves of clergy and laity into the Ordinariate by the end of 2012…IF this is mostly tied to the issue of the Ordinariate and entry into the RC Church by now essentially ex-/former, or in-the-process-of-departing Anglicans, then wouldn’t it make sense? Can one simultaneously profess to be a member in good standing of both the RCC and the ACA/DOW? I would think even Rome would say your feet have to be firmly planted on one piece of ground or the other? And that RC Latin canon law prohibits full membership in non-RC Churches?

    And wouldn’t it still make sense IF these are people who have formally accepted the RC CCC but have yet to be fully joined to the Ordinariate? If their faith is now RC, not Anglican, why would they even want to remain in the ACA today?

    Seems almost like a formality that has to be done to bring closure to where individuals stand in relation to various jurisdictions? And in such cases dry, legal language tends to replace warm, pastoral words? (I’m assuming there is some process within ACA/DOW for ex-communicates or who have joined Ordinariate or any other non-Anglican jurisdiction to later return to communion with ACA/DOW.)

    1. From Mr. Bruce’s blog…”My wife and I haven’t received ours yet, although we expect to get one…In our case, since we’re in the process of becoming Catholics, it’s not important. … My own estimate of the seven people I know to have been excommunicated is that they were solid, regular parishioners who had no particular agenda other than to attend mass, volunteer as appropriate, pay their pledges, and eventually to go into the Ordinariate. … All, however, supported the entry of St Mary’s into the Ordinariate (as did 80% of all parishioners).”

      What is an Anglican/ACA Bishop supposed to do and for how long regarding people who no longer want to be Anglican nor are Anglican? And since they reportedly appear to fully accept the RCC and no longer accept Anglicanism, wouldn’t they, like Mr Bruce, essentially consider it “not important”? The By-Laws of my local ACA Church make it clear that “Members…have given clear indication by practice and appropriate statement…that they are and intend to be members of this Church [i.e., the ACA/DMV] and Parish and no other.”

      1. The point is, that just as St Mary of the Angels voted to join the ACA it has the right to vote to leave it. What has happened is that Bishop Strawn and Canon Morello are attempting to rig a vote by removing members from the parish. Please remember that it voted on (I think) three occasions to apply for membership of the Ordinariate, each time by large majorities.
        How is it acceptable to allow a parish to vote to join your denomination but not to allow it to vote to leave – based on the same rules?

      2. @CatholicLeft

        You have it firmly in sight, but it is even worse than that. They have excommunicated the pro-Ordinariate majority and removed them from the books of the parish. What is to prevent them from doing this to any group that wants to leave the ACA? How is this any different from the actions of TEC? At least TEC has the Dennis canon that allows them to seize the property of congregations that wish to leave. The policy of continuing Anglican groups – on paper at any rate – is that the congregation owns the property and can leave if it votes to. St. Mary’s church voted to do so, but the new ACA had the courts surrender the property to them and the dissident minority.

        By their deeds ye shall know them.

      3. Cath Left & Andrew, I thought the CA courts weighed in an found for the ACA. I’m assuming these courts and judges are in a much better position to analyze and apply CA law on incorporation & contract laws as specifc to this situation.

      4. I thought the courts in charge of the property issue were pro-Anglican in the first place! Hence why the pastor got kicked out!

  2. Seems like the living Jesus as Christ was also excommunicated as He wasn’t mentioned once …
    Again, where’s Christ’s love, care, share in all that? Perhaps the Recipient of that letter is in actual fact better off without their apparent hard hearted harshness? I’m happy to be your friend, even if they’re not. So schoolyard political I find it difficult to understand why there’s two types of adults, child like & childish …

    1. ‘Seems like the living Jesus as Christ was also excommunicated as He wasn’t mentioned once …’

      Yes! Exactly. And now you’ve got me so worked up Matthew that I’m going to go as far as to say, how dare these men (of God), Church leaders, write a communication without even bothering to evoke the Holy Name of Jesus Christ, the only one who gives us any standing as Christians?! This is unacceptable and frankly, pathetic. It just speaks volumes about the author(s), their intentions, and doctrine. Sorry.

      1. Rock on Fr. S! Note how “they” word this, “that consistent with your abandonment of communion”, they are kicking them out because they have gone to another, or in the process of going to another communion. This has never been the position of historical Anglicanism, but “Open Communion” toward other Christians! Whatever this is? It is NOT in the true spirit and person of Christ!

      2. “But let a man/person examine himself and so of the bread let him eat and of the cup let him drink. For the one eating and drinking, judgment to himself eats and drinks (such) [when] not discerning the Body.” (1 Cor. 11:28-29, literal trans.) The whole resposibility is with “ourselves” before the Lord, and this is most existential itself! Here is that I/Thou relationship!

      3. Fr. Robert, Just 3 thoughts. First, I didn’t think historical Anglicanism accepted open communion. Which is why they spend so much time discussing intercommunion agreements with groups like PNCC, Old Catholics, confessing Lutherans, etc. Or tolerate official doctrinal dissent, which is why groups like Non-jurors, Weslyans, Puritans, and other non-Anglican Protestants had such difficulties in England for so long. (Wasn’t RC emancipation in 1833?) Second, what does RC canon law say about RCs who reject RC doctrine and intend to become non-RC? Are they subject to excommunication for such acts? Being apostate? What would an RC bishop have to do if at one of his parishes the members voted to maintain acceptance of the RC CCC but only as interpreted thru the definitive, controlling lens of say the 39 Articles or Augsburg Confession? Third, what is excommunication, esp. for RCs and Anglo-Catholics? I thought it is part of an overall process of admonishing members to correct inappropriate beliefs or action and help them remain within the faith, not leave. While in the state of excommunication they can’t conduct any ministerial office or receive communion, at least until they repent? So isn’t it really non-punitive and corrective? (But I’d have to ask an RC canon lawyer for sure.)

      4. From some time ago, I’ve read this:

        ” In April of this year (2011), the Catholic Church modified the Code of Canon Law to remove all references to the act of formal defection, the process used by those who wish to formally renounce their membership of the Church. ”

        So you’re Catholic once baptized, Catholic still even if you lapsed, Catholic if you’re gay, Catholic if you hate the Church, Catholic if you believe in priestettes/bishopettes/deaconettes, Catholic if you frequently go to Satanic Mass or Protestant services or Eastern Orthodox services, or whatever.

        It makes sense: being baptized is like being born- you can’t be “unborn” because it’s impossible. So you can’t be “Un-Catholicized” no matter what.

        But “formal defections” are now like defacto excommunicable acts, such committing a mortal sin, (Because heresy and schism are sins against Truth) that can be remedied through confession. Supposing they know their sin, and are repentant.

        As for St. Mary’s… I don’t see why it’d be an issue that the (former) parishioners are excommunicated by the ACA, when it is the ACA who are the ones excommunicated from the Catholic Church! That’s the case for every Protestant churches- they left first, and because they left, they excommunicate themselves and the Pope merely states the obvious.

        Now, for the Orthodox and the mutual lifting of excommunications…. That’s a different story. That’s like a huge statue being broken and over 1,000 years the pieces got pulverized into powder and now we have to glue it all back together. Maybe that’s Christianity in general.

      5. @Michael: I am of course thinking/speaking as an “Evangelical” Anglican, but Anglicanism has generally allowed “open” communion towards other Baptized Christians, at least in so-called modern times. And sorry, but I sure don’t really care what Roman Catholicism has to say here, as I am also speaking from a Reformational and Reformed position. And yes, I know Calvin denied communion to those he considered apostate, but again, that was “his” call personally as a presbyter, that can be acceptable in certain cases. (1 Tim. 5: 24-25)

        Here, I am seeking to speak biblically, theologically and within general Evangelical aspects. Again, the liturgical rubrics of Rome, simply have no authority here for the Evangelical Christian. And as an Anglican here I would press something of the Anglican Article XXXI, Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross!

      6. @Ioannes: The Vatican II Council towards Protestants puts “your” personal position at odds here! But then I know you know this! But the problem persists! 🙂

        And yes, “we” are divided! But let us learn to somewhat respect that division! As you have said yourself, were never going to change this, not in this life, only at the Eschaton, and Christ!

      7. Fr. Robert, Given the hell Melanchthon encountered from all sides about the Eucharist and the real presence, open communion wasn’t practiced by many confessing Protestants in 16th Century. Luther vs. Zwingly. Luther vs Bucer. Anglicans vs Lutherans. Anglicans vs Methodists. The evangelical “war” over the real presence, which often was a literal war, raged a long time and isn’t fully over. Today, LC-Missouri Synod still closed communion. Same for EOs. RCs (like most Anglo-Catholics) will allow EOs and PNCC, so I guess they are semi-closed?

      8. Irishanglican:

        There can only be one Church, as there is One Lord Jesus Christ, the ONLY begotten son of God, (No such thing as another “nice hippie Jesus” or some made-up “tolerant, agreeable Jesus”) and so, we cannot respect any division in Christ and those who profess to follow Him. Hence, we must push towards Unity, and it is the inevitable destiny of all Christians, both living and in Heaven. We cannot settle for less- we cannot settle for what is agreeable in Earth terms, when Heaven demands perfection! God wills it!

      9. To begin to appreciate that sort of end times, eternal unity one should spend some time worshipping with others. Good liturgy done well. And that includes Anglicans, Lutherans, PNCC, and others. Now if only I could find some High Church Methodists!

      10. @Ioannes: YOU still have a very real problem with Vatican II! And it is itself (The Council Itself) very “problematic”! Especially its pastoral sections! And no “Hippie” Jesus for me either! Note Luther stood solid on the Nicene “homoousios”! And Luther can speak of the divinity of Christ as ‘hidden’ (abscondita) in the humanity. The theologian of the Cross, he says, is one who speaks of God crucified and hidden! Again, the “theologia crucis”! The Cross of Christ, and always the Cross of HIM!

        Btw, we are theologically close, in places, but also theologically very far, too! And my idea of priesthood will never be Roman, or “Sacerdotes”, but “Presbyteri”! I am a pastor-teacher! 😉

      11. I have seen some High Church or Liturgical Methodists, but of course they are rare, but note here the work of Thomas Oden! Again, the Norwegian Ole Borgen’s book: John Wesley on the Sacraments, A Theological Study, is a grand! See also some of John Tyson’s books on the Wesley’s, theology, life, etc. I have his book: Charles Wesley, A Reader, (Oxford, 1989).

      12. Fr. Robert, Yes, Oden quite good. Though I do love to read Wesley straight up. My favorite reformer. Reformer to the Reformers! His own counter-reformation. Justification and santification. Personal devotions. Prayer. Fasting. Liturgy! And Charles’ hymns. Why’d they lose their love of good liturgics? John & Charles would be so disappointed. How come me thinketh you prefer Whitfield? But then I’m “Arminian” like John!

      13. Yes, Michael I really love the Wesley brothers myself! But just myself, I see them both closer to both Luther and Calvin, than at least Wesleyan Arminian’s. Would that we all read more of Jacob Arminius, himself! Btw, Charles is much closer on biblical sanctification, than John in my opinion! They did not always agree on this subject! Charles did find that sanctification could not be instantaneous!

        Yes, I like Whitefield very much too, but he is no John Wesley for sure!

    2. @Micahel: Yes, I am well aware historically about the fights, in-fights, etc. over the Eucharist, and 16th century practice therein. I am somewhat near the spirit of Melanchthon here, though on the doctrine of the Eucharist itself I tend somewhat toward Luther, and yet also close to Augustine. But I do like much of what Calvin has to say here also. For Calvin, the stress is upon the risen humanity of Christ, and he takes very seriously the reality of Christ as always prophet, priest & king. And always profoundly the One and Only Mediator on the Throne of Glory! – Again my old eclecticism! And I know that generally Open Communion is rather modern, again I am aware of Calvin’s views toward the Libertines, etc. But, with St. Paul, I see the essence of Holy Communion and the Eucharist as indeed central in the life of the Church and the Christian, but not in any way something the Church, even as the Catholic Body of Christ maintains in much if any sense in Law or strict Rubrics. The action and simplicty of the so-called Words of Institution are themselves: “spirit and truth”, and the means of the presence of Christ, “in, above & around”, the Elements. But, I don’t see the presbyter myself as a priest in any literal sacrifical manner. We are called to pastor/shepherd & teach, as did Christ Himself. Here is the Apostles Doctrine, etc., (Acts 2:42).

      *Here btw, see some of the books and teaching of the Rev’d John Baillie on this subject. Olive Wyon has a classic nice little book about the Eucharist, called: The Altar Fire, etc. Not sure if its been reprinted? I have two copies myself, both hardback, the S.C.M. Press, 1954 (Great Britain), and the American edition: The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1954). And yes, I have many of my books (listed at least) on my computer.

      1. If only we’d all realize what a truly wonderful mystery is the Eucharist and Real Presence. Not something we can ever fully comprehend or truly appreciate in the present. Not something to be looked at scientifically or by mere reason. All we can do is do what Christ commanded us to do keeping in mind what He said about the sacrament He instituted. And what Paul and others said about it afterward. I agree that Luther doesn’t get his due for his very high eucharistic theology. Part RC reaction because he rejects their mechanistic transubstantiation formula. Part controversies with Zwingly & Bucer. Most sadly, he, like Wesley, let down by his followers who failed to preserve the original teaching and practice. Lutheran liturgics really declined in 17th and 18th centuries. They were doing so much better until the RCs let us all down with their dumbed-down post-Vatican II Latin Rite liturics. Which PNCC, Lutherans, Anglicans, and so many others then followed. I think the 1958 joint Lutheran liturgy (USA) the zenith of English-language liturgy.

      2. Problem is, most people think Vatican II is the final council, or the only council, as if Vatican II did not have Vatican I or the Council of Trent or the Council of Nicea before!

        Nevermind the fact that many of the participants were experiencing some sort of post-war shock, the sort that encourages moral cowardice in the same vein as Neville Chamberlain. Hence, we have the sort of changes that occurred after Vatican II. I am not against it, nor am I against what this Pope teaches- I have never renounced Benedict XVI, nor have I renounced Vatican II, but I renounce all the scummy heretics that derive things such as indifferentism from Vatican II. Those evil persons who state that Latin was done away with, that Gregorian chant was done away with- despite Vatican II never having said such things!

      3. Good news is, those people (homosexual Jesuit priests, lesbian nuns who think they can be priests, etc.) are all dying out.

        And the young Catholics who love tradition are increasing, slowly but surely.

      4. Strange, but now my own most profound sense of Christ’s Eucharist Presence is when I do and celebrate Low Church Holy Communion! Though always with the mystery of the Words of Institution! Perhaps the last ten years or so? But here for me, Christ’s Risen humanity is still before me, as I know He is somehow still at the Right-Hand-Of-God, and yet somehow also “present” in bread & wine!

      5. Fr. Robert, Amen concerning the low liturgy! Yet, sadly I think we’re in the minority. People expect high liturgy with all the bells and whistles. Low liturgy is one of the great gifts of the West. It has a beauty, simplicity, dignity, and reverence that is unmatched. It isn’t dependent upon the preaching, the right hymn, or outstanding music & singing. It just relies on a lowly priest and his lowly congregation gathering humbly, in godly fear & awe, to worship God and celebrate Christ’s sacrament. Yet, low liturgy should never be turned into private liturgy or paid-for liturgy. It must always be an action of the worshipping community, priest and laity.

      6. @Michael: Indeed Low Church spirituality is always in the minority, if not even just negative with the High Church people. But surely the reality is always Christ! I tend to like simplicity, some of my most profound times of corporate worship were among the so-called “Open” Brethren! Yes, I am friendly with some so-called Plymouth Brethren as an Anglican. Note F.F. Bruce was here! I know this is almost antithetical to any sacramental ideas and worship, but again I have worshipped here, and the “spiritual” presence of Christ has been sweet at times! Yes, I am certainly much more “sacramental” myself, but hopefully you get my point.

        Btw, I am one of those that sees Word & Sacrament together, so reading the Word & Preaching are always connected! Sadly preaching and certainly kerygmatic preaching have fallen on hard times in the whole church in general. I have seen so-called “priests”, both Roman and Anglican that have admitted they have personally never read thru the whole Bible completely. This is simply a shame! Myself, I am and will always be simply something of a “Biblicist”. I consider this to be part of God’s gift as a “presbyter”!

        Also, I simply love “Hymnology” btw, and this is also one of the lost arts in the church today. From Bernard of Clairvaux, to Martin Luther’s great hymn and love for hymns, to the Bohemian Brethren, who sang in their native Bohemian tongue, to the Moravian Brethren and hymns. I love the Bohemian-German Hymns! Most especially the hymns of Paul Gerhardt. And of course the great affect theses Brethren were to have on the Wesley’s, especially Charles is just history now! I like too the hymns of Issac Watts, but they are slow and more plodding rhythms, but often most biblical and theological, as his great, ‘When I survey the wondrous cross.’ Again here is rhymed “Calvinist” theology. I also like Watt’s hymn: ‘Before Jehovah’s awful throne’. I think too with Watts, we can see Milton’s ideas that poetry should be “simple, sensuous, and passionate.” “Senuous” meaning appealing to the senses. Btw, here his Calvinism catches fire! 😉 Note Watts knowledge of “philosophy”, from here he wrote his “Logic”, which became a textbook by the then universities. Anyway, yes, I liked the little “non-conformist”, Isaac Watts! (Sorry, I got a bit long winded! 😉

      7. Fr Robert, I’ve always enjoyed F.F. Bruce. Both his exegetical works and his theological works. His book on the Canon of Scripture is one of my favorite. Sadly, I’ve never gone to a Plymouth Brethren Church. A low church Protestant pastor, a good friend for years, used to speak highly of them, and we talked about going to worship with them, but he couldn’t go to worship on Sunday due to his own pastorship. Don’t misunderstand me about low liturgy. As I’m sure you’re aware, I’m not talking about some quick service that skips most things. I’m talking about a full liturgy, with all the necessary “parts” in the right order done with dignity and reverence. The properly spoken word can be more powerful than singing. And a well-spoken Creed seems so much more natural (Could you imagine someone singing the Augsburg Confession? 🙂 )

      8. @Michael: Yes, I know you were talking about a/the liturgical Low Church, as I am a Low Church Anglican, but with liturgy and Word & Sacrament. But, my greatgram was a PB, and she and they were an affect on me, even as a Catholic boy in Dublin in the 50’s. Mostly of course just their love for the Bible! My g/gram could quote whole chapters of verse from the KJV! She was such an affect on me! (More than I can put in words!)

        Btw, I got to meet and talk with F.F. Bruce a few times when he first retired from Manchester. He used to come into the great theological library there. And we would chat quietly, mostly as I remember about ‘the Brethren’, since I told him my g/gram was with the so-called ‘Kelly Brethren’, at one time. She too later went with the Open Brethren before she died. But, what a grand Christian Bruce was! (RIP) I too have many of his books! Perhaps his simple but nice book: Paul Apostle of the Heart Set Free is one of my just reading favorites!

  3. St. Mary’s went through something similar 30 years ago with the TEC Diocese and St. Mary’s won against a large denomination. The building and property were left by Fr. Dodd to the parishioners, not to TEC, nor any other so called denomination.

    If all the L.A. Diocese had to do was excommunicate all the parishioners then why didn’t they and win the property?

    This doesn’t seem legitmate or legal. If the ACA gets the property I would say they are worst than TEC. Thank God those who see the truth have left ACA.

    I haven’t been following this as I left St. Mary’s many years ago and became a member of Christ’s One Holy, Apostolic Church where I found peace.

    1. I’ve read the 1970’s episode, and that was really sad.

      So this was sort of suspiciously similar.

      You might want to get a Catholic priest to exorcize that accursed land.

  4. I formerly attended St. Mary’s with my Anglican family. Fr. Morello made assurances to many, including the parish’s former unpaid clergy, that he would do nothing to stop the parish from becoming Catholic and made much of his being on a first name basis with the Ordinary. He also made promises to retain clergy intending to become Catholic as the pastoral presence at the parish until St. Mary’s entered the Ordinariate.

    Once he had the keys all those promises were out the window. That so many of the parishioners who supported our parish becoming Catholic left almost immediately is due to his brutish treatment of all except his appointed vestry. We Catholic-minded St. Mary parishioners who trusted Morello to simply be trying to straighten out the parish out of good will towards the Ordinariate found out quickly how little we were now needed.

    I hope for the good of St. Mary’s that Citibank’s financial woes leave the bank building/cash cow empty. Without the money maybe Morello will go back to TEC , the Phillipine Independent Churh or whatever vagante crew he was first ordained in. Buggiardo e ladro

      1. I think they have armed guards patrolling the grounds, preventing entry to anyone.

        From this video, on the 1:12 mark :

      2. Guess this whole issue just has me so confused. Can’t any currrent Anglican or ECUSA member (clergy or laity) who wants to leave his Church and join the Ordinariates so do without any interference from anyone? I didn’t realize that any Anglican bishop, priest, or canon could stop them from leaving Canterbury and going to Rome. So if they truly believe Rome has all the truth, why wait even another day?

        And, I thought that in both the RC and Anglican communions it was bishops, not priests or canons, who are “in charge” so to speak over diocesan property, clergy in their diocese, and communicants in their local churches. No priest or canon could canonically dispose of a bishop’s property.

        In addition, the secular CA courts, applying CA property, incorporation, and contract laws, have ruled in favor of ACA Bishop Strawn. If some believe the court is wrong, then file the appeal and appeal all the way to the CA Supreme Court.

        Seems odd that RCs and soon-to-be RCs, who reject Anglicanism, want the ACA to just give their church to RCs. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I don’t see any religious communion just “giving away” their local churches if enough parishioners or members vote to go to another faith group. The members can leave, but they can’t take someone else’s property with them. And ultimately, it is up to courts, not members, to determine who owns what.

      3. Similar to the situation would be the forcible removal of Ukrainian Greek Catholic churches from their parishioners and giving those churches to the Orthodox lackeys of the communist regime. Because secular authority should aaaaalways be respected!

      4. (Note, that wasn’t a hit on the Orthodox, because I acknowledge many, many, many “Catholic” lackeys of godless regimes, from Obama to the Chinese Communist Party.)

        I was just stating the similarities.

      5. Ioannes, Comparing today’s CA courts, in our American Republic, to Stalin’s or Mao’s, is irresponsible and completely unfair. I’m sure most (nearly all?) Americans would much prefer secular courts to apply property, incorporation, and contract laws passed by their representative state legislatures to having religious bodies fight it out like during the 30 Years War? As we all can read from history, when any one group was in control, they misused their political-religious power at the expense of others with whom they disagreed. RCs persecuting Hus. Cromwell’s Puritans persecuting Anglicans. The see-saw battles during the English Revolution between RCs and Anglicans. Reformed vs. Lutheran. RC vs EO. Not unlike the complete hash made out of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem by continuously warring (pacifistic) “monks”!

      6. Armed conflict is much more direct and honest than twisting of words. It’s probably inevitable. If you have people with many differences, it doesn’t take long before a brawl or gunfight breaks out. It’s true for the monks at the Holy Sepulchre, it’s true for St. Mary’s. Actually, there WAS some physical confrontation at some point when Fr. Kelley was still at St. Mary’s… They were the minority in the vote for the Parish decision on joining the Ordinariates, some “Pro-Ordinariates” (Which probably means, they don’t mind if others leave, but they themselves do not support it.)

      7. Ioannes, Your words–“Armed conflict is much more direct and honest than twisting of words. It’s probably inevitable.”–are nasty, brutish, and ugly, and way out of bounds for the issue of St. Mary’s! We are Christians talking about Christians. I’m sure your Patriarch Benedict and Msgr. Steenson would abhor them, renounce them, and reject them. In toto and without hesitation or reservation. And what you say isn’t supported by RC CCC. Or the Gospel.

      8. I know, it’s hard to accept, but that’s the reality in our short lives. It’s ugly, nasty, and brutish. It’s not pretty, it’s messy, and someone has to undertake things of that nature, right? We can’t always expect disagreements to be resolved in tea parties and polite conversation, right?

        Maybe some gifted diplomat can persuade people, but I don’t see that happening with St. Mary’s.

        I mean, just the events of this year shows that being a “Christian” accounts for little, when we’re talking about property. Just who is being anti-Christ in that issue, I don’t know, but I suspect it’s the party that kicked out a family and barred 80% of the parishioners from using the Church. Ugly, nasty, and brutish. We can’t pretend it’s anything but.

        Yes, I’m sure Pope Benedict and Msgr. Steenson dislikes my views, but that’s because it’s their job to give hope to people, rather than saying to them the fact that to live is to suffer profoundly, and that life has to be hard. I merely state what is the probable inevitability- conflict, and maybe consequences that are more serious than hurt feelings.

  5. I have it from a reliable source that seven members of St. Mary’s, Hollywood have received Morello’s letter of excommunication dated December 3. Three of them are vestrywomen.

    The same source says that three other vestrymen/-women had already been removed earlier this year. That comes to ten total removed from the parish by rector’s fiat, six of whom were on the vestry.

    The reasons for the execution of the letters were “abandonment of communion” or “disobedience to the rector”, etc.

    I have all of their names. All of these lay members of the parish were pro ordinariate. None of them has been invited to the grand Advent reopening of St. Mary’s.

    1. So… I wonder what excommunicated former parishioners can do to make St. Mary’s join the Ordinariates?

      “Parishioners give you problems? Excommunicate them all, and get new Parishioners! They’re all expendable sources of income, after all!”

      1. Ioannes, You mean these RCs and soon-to-be RCs can’t worship with their own communicants? By walking or driving to the nearest RC Church? Sounds like you want to re-fight the Wars of the Reformation?

        You might study the history of the RCC and PNCC in USA to get a sense for what some Poles went thru, what they ended up doing, and how RC bishops in USA treated them. I don’t think the RC bishops just handed over their churches because excommunicated former parishioners wanted to join the PNCC! So when those parishioners gave the RC bishops problems, they just excommunicated them and got new parishioners, whether Irish, Italian, German, etc.?

        I would suspect a similar situation happened in Germany and Europe with the Old Catholics. Rome excommunicated and didn’t hand over any church just because excommunicates wanted a particular church and voted to take or keep it.

      2. These Roman Catholics rightfully own St. Mary’s of the Angels, and any churches that the Roman Catholic Church owns; so entire congregations who want to leave the Roman Catholic Church and take the property of the Roman Catholic Church with them take what rightfully belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church is right in retaining its property; it is not equal or commensurate with the groups that leave and separate from it.

        I cannot see any real peaceful way of resolving these sort of matters, to be honest.

      3. Ioannes, People, both secular and religious, delude themselves all the time about owning property. You are just plain wrong. This is an issue for the parties in front of the CA courts, which apply the relevant property, incorporation, and ocntract laws. So far, ACA and Bishop Strawn have been determined to be the legal, lawful owners. What has Msgr. Steenson said about the RC Church and his Ordinariate “owning” St. Mary’s? Probably nothing or that they don’t? Is the RCC or he even a party to the litigation? I think not. [The “resolution” is so simple. It comes thru the secular courts, prayer, and the acceptance of the religious leaders and members of what the courts decide.]

      4. I don’t know if you are particularly pacifistic, but I do not believe pacifism is central to Christianity.

        You ask if I want to re-fight the Wars of the Reformation/Religion/Crusades?

        I merely state that there is no real end to any fights of such nature; you might quote Scripture, Patristics, and so forth, but more or less, they state things that ought to be rather than how they are- yes, His Kingdom is not of this Earth, but we are on this Earth. We ought to be saints, but we are not saints.

        Non-action brings about nothing, and action brings about something, action brings about consequences, and we see this in history; this was true in 1204 in the sacking of Constantinople, this was true in the conquest of Jerusalem, in the conquest of the Aztecs, in the victory at Lepanto, in the victory at Austria, the Wars of Religion, in the various treaties that were made and broken.

        So what exactly is happening with this issue of church property? If there is non-action, then nothing will happen, if there is action, it has to be effective or it’s useless waste of time and energy. Certainly, someone has been active in this story, and those affected can either do nothing or do something about it.

        By telling the former parishioners of St. Mary’s to just go to their local Catholic Church, you’re telling them to do nothing about it, meaning they concede defeat at the hands of a pseudo-bishop of a pseudo-church over actual, concrete property that 80% of the Parish had invested their time and money in. You bet that some people want to do something! But what are they going to do when the only thing left is physical force? You can’t talk to the enemy, you can’t sue the enemy, what else is left but to do nothing? Maybe file an appeal to the Supreme Court, pray, and fight. Then it would depend on the will of these people- do they have the will to do what they have to do and attain what they want?

        That, I don’t know. But whatever they do, it better be more than nothing.

  6. Sorry, Ioannes. The ownership of buildings is determined by the law of the place where they are situated. There is no escaping that fact. Therefore, the law of the State of California determines the ownership of land and buildings in California.

    Those who wish land or a building on it to be dedicated for reglious purposes have therefore to find a way of reflecting that in the title deeds of the land. The title can be vested in a corporation sole. That is perhaps the most common process in the US Catholic Church – the bishop of each diocese is a corporation sole and in such capacity title to churches in the diocese is vested in him and his successors in office. So if the membership of a particular Catholic Church wanted to switch allegiance to, say, the Methodists and retain the church they were using, they would get pretty short shrift from the bishop – or the courts.

    An alternative is a trust: That is the model most frequenty chosen in England for Catholc Churches. Church property is vested in trustees who hold it on trust for the diocese. Whatever the device, the secular court will give effect to the dediication or purpose expressed in the original legal instruments. If a church building is held on trust for the purposes of, say, the Methodist Church, then the trustees cannot agree or permit it to contiinue to be used by parishioners who have decided that they no longer wish to be Methodists but to become, say, a happy clappy pentecostal church.

    Now as I understand it, the Parish and Vestry of the Church in issue thought that they could take “their” church and its property out of whatever ecclesial structure they were in and into a new denominational allegiance. Apparently, thus far, the Courts of California have not agreed with them. Whatever the parties might have contended, unless the documents of title and trust instruments were very deficiently written the idea of a congregation for the time being taking church property with them when changing denominational allegiance is not a usual outcome. Perhaps the incumbent and the vestry thought otherwise. But it would seem that the California Courts have not thus far agreed with them.

    1. That’s because California is a godless and silly place. To quote supporters of illegal immigrants (who quote from Augustine) “An unjust law is not a law at all!”

  7. O.K., boys. Here’s the fact of the matter: In the ACA, the temporalities of any given parish are the property of that parish. The persons who control that property are the members of the vestry. The vestry make decisions regarding control of the property by majority rule. Depending on the by-laws of a certain parish, or in deference to the will of the entire membership of active communicants, some concerns may be referred to the rule of a plenary session of a special meeting of the parish.

    In the case of St. Mary’s, Hollywood, both the majority of the duly-elected vestry and the majority of the wider membership have made it perfectly clear over and over again that they have been and continue to be in favor of the entire parish’s entrance into the ordinariate, with their property in tact. Period.

    It is a small gang of spoilers in the laity who have thrown a monkey wrench into the peaceful transition of the parish into the ordinariate. They have persuaded the bungling bishops of the ACA: Strawn, Marsh and their vicious lieutenant, newly-knighted Vicar General Tony Morello to thwart the will of the parish and, I dare say, the will of God.

    Enough of this theorizing about this and sundry topics! Enough discussion of what individual members are free to do on their own. These are the cold facts in the not-so-cold case of the parish of St. Mary’s, Hollywood. Let’s get on the same page, shall we?

      1. What would Christ do, dare I ask?
        Also what do the Bible, Canon & any other laws, protocols, policies & procedures say specifically?

      2. [embed][/embed]


      3. Rather, Jesus would drive out the money changers from His Father’s House. That’s what he’d do.

      4. There, I’ve donated some secret amount. It was done in good faith, that it won’t be pocketed. If it turns out, people don’t care about the church anymore, and people pocketed the money instead, God will know who committed what sins.

        Ordinariate members are Catholics too!

    1. Fr. Wheeler, Isn’t the most important “fact of the matter” what CA courts have said? They don’t appear to be agreeing with your interpretation about the ownership and control of St. Mary’s. Just because a group of people claim to own or control something, doesn’t mean that group actually does. That is why courts exist to distinguish who owns and controls a contested piece of property. What seems a bit odd to me is that joining the Ordinariate appears to be almost of lesser importance than gaining control of the church, as if they only realy want to go into the Ordinariate if they can take a church building with them. No one is stopping anyone from joining the Ordinariate. Just that they can’t take buildings and property that don’t belong to them.

      I see this playing out in Omaha. ECUSA parish, St. Barnabas, votes to join Ordinariate. They want to “keep” their church but ECUSA takes them to court and wins. Interestingly, per their FB page, St. Barnabas had a recent meeting with the ECUSA bishop and Msgr. Steenson was reportedly going to assist them with their property negotiations. Will be interesting to see the outcome.

      1. (i) As to general principles guiding property matters in case of change of affiliation, you are right. Yet St. Mary’s case is quite unique, as has been repeatedly explained here.
        Unlike the situation in CC dioceses, different EO national churches, or even TEC, St. Mary’s property has not been denomination-owned but rather community-owned. And this has been confirmed by state courts in the past. The parish joined ACA on this assumption and then moved to the ACA’s structure aiming to restore unity with the Catholic Church. Moreover, ACA themselves seem to be quite aware that they have no direct rights to the property. This is why they put in motion a “cunning plan” to do it indirectly. First, they questioned whether the parish expressed its will clearly enough (and claimed that St Mary’s impliciltly decided to return to non-Ordinariate-bound part of ACA after 1 Jan 2012); then, they decided to attack the pastor (and in fact this action rather than ACA’s direct title to the property has been upheld by the court); now, they are excomunicating vestry, so that they can control the property through those who remain. Look, if ACA really held direct property rights which could be easily enforceable, they would not have bothered will all that.
        (ii) As for Omaha, you’ve distorted facts a little. The property dispute with TEC predates any decision to join the Ordinariate, as the parish left long before the Ordinariate was even established. Generally, in case of parishes leaving TEC for the Ordinariate, the Ordinariate has promoted a leasing scheme with a purchase option upon the end of the lease period as the standard form of property settlement with TEC.

      2. Mourad, who is the lawyer here, seems to have this information correct, as too Michael states.

        @Michael: I have too a certain treasured book by Bruce: The Spreading Flame, The Rise and Progress of Christianity from John the Baptist to the Conversion of the English, (432 pages with Index. Actually three books in one, from earlier.) Here is his history with the idea of the Spirit of Christ, following or therein. Again Grand stuff here! No one was quite like Bruce in ways…history, theology and always Scripture! What an Evangelical!

      3. Michael Frost,

        Your comments about people being free to leave the Anglican Church in America and become Catholics at any time but don’t take the property are nearly identical to those of The Episcopal Church partisans. (next time give proper attribution to The Most Reverend Katharine Jefforts-Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate) The people of St. Mary’s heard the same a generation ago when they chose their Catholic identity over their Episcopalian identity.

        Saint Mary’s became part of “Anglican Church in America” some time after it successfully battled to leave the Episcopal Church. The congregation’s joining this ecclesial community/conference/association/legal entity and its legal precursors was intended to be only a provisional step in a movement toward becoming truly Catholic. Certainly, in our worship using the Anglican Missal we never thought of the “Anglican Church in North America, Inc.”, the “Anglican Catholic Church, Inc., or the “Anglican Church in America, Inc.” to be the One, Holy Catholic Church. As serious Anglo-Catholics we were aware of our deficiencies and looked toward, longed for, being reunited with the Catholic Church. (you know, the Catholic Church everyone recognizes whenever you say “Catholic”; the Catholic Church which England was forcibly ripped from by the adulterous, murderous, theiving Henry VIII)

        The Anglican Church in America bishops recognizing their deficiencies of ecclesiology petitioned the Catholic Church to be reunited and they signed their names to the Catholic Church’s Catechism declaring it the doctrinal expression of the Faith held by the bishops and laity of the Anglican Church in America/Traditional Anglican Communion. They signed it and the faithful collectively said “Amen!” Trusting in the Anglican Church in America’s own rules and the bishops’ promises implicit in their signatures on that altar in Portsmouth, St. Mary’s congregation voted to leave the ACA and become part of what the ACA recognized as a legitimate successor to itself: the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

        Those who chose this route for the parish are not the interlopers in this case, rather it is those who chose to elevate this provisional entity, the rump ACA, to something worthy of ultimate allegiance and obedience. They have chosen to erect a set and call it the Church. They have exploited problems in a parish to come in and steal, yes steal, a congregation’s church building and its financial assets. They have stolen a place that is beloved by many Catholics in Los Angeles, a place where the Catholic faith formed generations. Note, it was the Catholic Faith that was proclaimed at St. Mary’s not the Episcopal faith, the Anglican Church in North America faith, the Anglican Catholic Church faith, the Traditional Anglican Communion faith, the Diocese of the West faith, or the Anglican Church in America faith.

        They now have the church building and the sacramentals. Great. What are sacred to Catholics are ultimately but props to Protestants. Still, I trust that these things will be cared for if only as valuable museum pieces. I have even greater trust that they will care for the Temple on the lot to east of the parish church. I have no doubt that the cash flow is safeguarded and have noted that while the church doors were locked Citibank never ceased business on parish property.

        I pray for the day St. Mary of the Angels finally becomes Catholic.

      4. I would not call the “Sacraments” as “props”, but of course for evangelical Anglicans there are but two Sacraments. Btw, sadly perhaps it is something of the High Church that has become the “museum pieces”? For the “Sacraments” mean nothing if they are not Christological ‘In Christ’, and “proclaim” the Lord’s death until He comes”, (1 Cor. 11:26). Here even Augustine sees the Sacraments as “sign & seal”! The Greek word here for “death”, our Lord’s.. is Thanatos, and “Death, in whichever…senses it is used, is always in Scripture, viewed as the penal consequence of sin, and since sinners alone are subject to death, Rom. 5: 12, it is the Bearer of sin that the Lord Jesus submitted thereto on the Cross, 1 Peter 2:24. And while the physical death of the Lord Jesus was of the essence of His sacrifice, it was not the whole. The darkness symbolised, and His cry expressed, the fact that He was left alone in the Universe, He was forsaken; compare Matt. 27:45-46.” (Notes.. Hogg and Vine, p. 134)

        My point here is of course looking to see and understand, that the Death of Christ has settled the question of sin and death forever, and has “sanctified” the believing sinner forever! (Heb. 10: 10)…see too Heb. 10:14)

        “For by one offering He has perfected forever the ones being sanctified.” (Heb. 10: 14, lit.) Both past & present, in the Greek tenses!

      5. Mr. the Former Parishioner, I found your following comment interesting: “The Anglican Church in America bishops recognizing their deficiencies of ecclesiology petitioned the Catholic Church to be reunited and they signed their names to the Catholic Church’s Catechism declaring it the doctrinal expression of the Faith held by the bishops and laity of the Anglican Church in America/Traditional Anglican Communion.”

        Being EO, it made me think of St. Athanasius being a rather lone orthodox bishop in the 4th century battling a sea of Arianism that seemed to be winning. And esp. St. Mark of Ephesus and his reaction against the reunion “councils” of the middle ages. Yes, there was an emperor and many bishops who were willing to sign off, but the laity (guided by the Holy Ghost) rejected the action, as did most of the bishops.

        Based on what I’ve seen so far, doesn’t appear the laity consistently or fully agree with those bishops who left the TAC/ACA and went Roman. In addition, I don’t think the evidence shows that even all of those who signed off concur with your thoughts about their motives. Seems like they really thought there would some form of corporate reunion/incorporation, and some recognition by Rome of their ministry and sacraments. But such was not to be and now we see the ongoing reactions. (Guess possibly not unlike those RCs who “interpret” the 39 Articles or Augsburg Confession in a way that makes them fully congruent with RC dogma? Possibly here at least some Anglicans were “interpreting” the RC CCC to fit their own backgrounds and beliefs?)

        The past is the past. And we all make mistakes. IF St. Mary’s had done what it “should’ve done” regarding its property, ownership, and jurisdictional affiliation, I’m assuming the CA courts would’ve found for “them” in no time. But it appears that whatever St. Mary’s did, it didn’t make it clear to the courts that one special, select group had exclusive ownership and control of the property?

        (Just a thought, discourse might be facilitated here and on other blogs if individuals didn’t use pseudonyms? Then I could be polite and address my thoughts to a real name. Like I said, just a thought.)

      6. Mr. the Former Parishioner, I second Fr. Robert’s comment regarding your following statement, “They now have the church building and the sacramentals. Great. What are sacred to Catholics are ultimately but props to Protestants.”

        I’d only add that you do a great disservice to both the Baptismal and Eucharistic theology of the confessional Protestants, esp. Lutherans, Reformed, and Anglican (a mix of L-R?)), as well as Wesley. For example, you’d see this if you’d read the Augsburg Confession and its Apology. Or read how clear Wesley is.

        Might be more proper to say the Reformers didn’t view either Baptism or the Eucharist as “magic” or something that was merely “done”; rather they are ultimately tied to the unmerited Grace of God and our individual Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ? See Luther on the baptism of infants. Or Melanchthon on the Eucharist. (And the Augsburg Confession also mentions confession.)

  8. BY THE WAY, To any St. Mary’s Parishioners or interested parties:

    In the event that there is absolutely NO way to get back your church building, if you’re all members of the Ordinariates or would soon become Catholics, there may be other church buildings out there.

    For example, at Nearby Franklin Avenue, there’s a church building for sale. Another one at Lake Street in Glendale.

    Just in case the parishioners are interested. I don’t know if your legal fees to get your church building is greater than the amount needed to buy other church buildings- but any sane person would rather something happen if something is possible. I don’t know what you all want to do, but I’m just throwing ideas out there.

    1. How so? I mean, you can theoretically renovate that- at least that’s what they did with the “Crystal Cathedral”

      Does it have to be a former Anglican church with proper Anglican Architecture?

      I would have suggested a certain “Wilshire Christian Church” in Koreatown, but it would have seemed more expensive and too far away from your original location- also, some group called the “Oasis Church” already bought it.

      I’m not really sure what is “appropriate” as how you use it in the case of St. Mary’s – mind you, I’m all up for supporting St. Mary’s acquisition of their rightful property, but I’m not sure if there’s any central leadership or authority or a spokesperson for the group who wants to take back St. Mary’s from ACA. And if there is, or actually, regardless, I’d like to know what would happen (What would you folks do) if you really can’t take back St. Mary’s church?

      I’d imagine you’d retain the name of your community as “St. Mary of the Angels” but in some other location?

      Or just be on the down-low as you become Ordinariate members without a building?

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