Fr James Barlow Correspondence

Fr James Barlow has sent in the following for publication on the blog, as a response to that which has recently been written of him on St Mary’s Hollywood: The Cold Case blog, where one-sided vitriol is frequently published without any opportunity for rebuttal.

This is done while bracing for a fresh onslaught of spewing hatred and insults from the blog mentioned above. But it seems more than right to give Fr Barlow the chance to provide full context and counteract that which has so meanly been put out there.

Read on below…

Dear Mr. Bruce,

   I am only writing to offer my apologies if in any way I may have offended you or in some other way been the cause of the peculiar outburst about me on your blog. Some of what you had written for public dissemination there not only if false, but outright slanderous. I want you to know that I forgive you for that (no restitution necessary!). I am a little perturbed that you did write/quote (albeit free of context) and attempt to paraphrase some of the things I had written you, after you had promised me to keep them confidential. I note this bercause of the keen interest I know you take in journalistic standards and credentials.

   Speaking of which: It isn’t surprising that you cannot find St. Dunstan’s on the internet, because it ceased to exist some time ago. Continuing Anglicanism has had and continues to have number of seminary programs/schools designed to prepare men for the ministry (e.g. St. Andrews, St. Joseph of Arimathea, Logos, Holyrood, etc.), and St. Dunstan’s merged itself into one of these. The place was not unknown to the bishops who vetted me for positions in the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada, and in any case you failed to mention my work at St. Paul’s in the Philippines or St. Herman’s Orthodox Seminary in Alaska. [Not to boast, but I felt hurt when you labeled me not only a quack and a fraud, but a man of small intelligence; for at the latter two institutions I garnered a 93 out of 100 and 4.0 out of 4.0, respectively. (If you like bible quizzes I will tell you a secret: my iq is equal to the number of fish hauled onto the beach by the apostles at the end of the Gospel of John.)]

   But let me ask you a couple of questions, if I may. I was being sincere when I wrote you that I had been out of touch with Fr.Tony for years, had heard he was in Modesto and then found out quite by accident he was with the ACA. In fact, I last saw him in 1995, and knew nothing of his troubles you say he had in the Episcopal Church, and so on. All I can say is that the draconian description you have given of his activities do not sound like the man I knew for two years back in the early ’90’s, and of his personal life I knew nothing at all. Do we not both pray that his soul finds peace with God?

When I initially wrote you asking what you felt the situation was at St. Mary’s you said:

 “It’s a very complex situation, because it’s not as though two dissenting groups of the same denomination can just bury the hatchet and go on. The 80% majority of the parish voted several times to leave the ACA and go into the Ordinariate. The ACA first said it would not oppose this, then changed its mind and seized the parish, using as its excuse the 20% of dissidents who claimed irregularities in the votes. As part of the process, the ACA deposed the rector on the basis of false witness from the 20%. It then initiated legal action accusing him of crimes like forgery, for ‘forging’ the signatures on legitimate checks by authorized signers. Morello and Strawn then excommunicated via letter the members of the elected vestry, as well as other members of the parish who had voted for the Ordinariate. “

My response to this was:

“I say that rarely, if ever, is one party in any dispute 100% in the wrong while the opposite side is 100% in the right, and vice-versa.”

To which you responded:

“That’s not just platitudinous, it verges on blaming the victim.”

Then I wrote:

“(Perhaps…and it even may sound platitudinous to some ears even if it is factual!) That depends on who the victim really is, and it certainly isn’t platitudinous to suggest that in some sense both camps are, albeit victimized by one another! From what I have read, both sides were persuaded God was on their side [!?] So, I am pretty sure there are persons on each side accusing persons on the other side of being ‘false witnesses’ [a sad fact discernible in all its glorious typicality on the likes of ‘Judge Judy, ‘The People’s Court’, etc. ] I can see which camp you are in, but I doubt the ACA would have brought up the concerns it had re. Fr. Kelly and the legality of the meetings without any legitimacy whatsoever, as if to think that in the last analysis they were willing to go to some civil court without a leg to stand on. (I am unclear about what you mean by ‘forgery’, how you define it, and what it does/does not mean. There is, I do not think, any definition of ‘forgery’ that does not include the idea of pretending through signature to be someone else even with said person’s permission.) From what you have discerned thus far it would appear that they had reasons for changing their mind on the Ordinariate and all that no doubt beyond any particular situation; that much is pretty clear. Some sort of betrayal or misunderstanding had taken place about ‘norms’ involving property on high ecclesiastical levels. And, what is nearly universally the case in these kinds of situations, what you say of the instability and propensity for violence among the ‘dissidents’ is exactly what the ‘dissidents’ have said about Fr. Kelly…. And it is ALWAYS possible for both sides to bury the hatchet and go on, especially if one side has already decided to become Roman Catholic and thus have left the denomination. Indeed, the “80%” have decided to become RC, as I guess so has Fr. Kelly, and my guess is that most if not all have become so already. Is this not so? Finally, I ought to say that I never meant to suggest that “a matter of just pretending the things that need to be forgiven didn’t happen” constitutes forgiveness.  [I am not familiar with the ACA’s canonical grounds for excommunication, so I could hardly speak to that, but…aren’t the “80%” in the RC, or about to become RC, or on the way to becoming RC people already? Or are they members in good standing in their own minds, wrongly excommunicated?]  -jb+“

To this you said:

“OK, let’s back up – but it does sound to me as though you’ve been writing to me under false pretenses, in that from your remarks below suggesting that charges against Kelley (promoted by your colleague Morello) have validity, you seem to be taking the dissidents’ view on these matters.  1. Hepworth, then primate of the TAC, endorsed the Portsmouth Petition, with the aim of taking the entire TAC into the Catholic Church. The TAC bishops initially agree. 2. The bishops reneged and began taking adverse actions against parishes that had taken Hepworth on his word. 3. Hepworth set up the Patrimony of the Primate to protect these parishes, including St Mary of the Angels. 4. St Mary’s voted in 2011 to enter the Patrimony  5. The ACA in 2011, following a dispute, settled on an agreement to allow the Patrimony to continue and those parishes in it to enter the Ordinariate. 6. St Mary’s voted in May 2011 by 80% to enter the Ordinariate. 7. The dissidents forwarded a 40 page complaint about Kelley to Cardinal Wuerl via Louis Falk, which no one not connected with the dissidents has seen.  8. As a result, the parish voted again in January 2012 80% in favor of the Ordinariate. 9. The ACA House of Bishops resolved in January 2012 that the Patrimony was dissolved, and the parishes in the Patrimony were no longer in the ACA. A judge interpreted this statement this way in June 2012. 10. In March 2012 Bishop Strawn and Anthony Morello seized the parish, in contradiction to the ACA’s own resolution and in violation of ACA canons. 11. They then began the process of uncanonically replacing elected vestry and excommunicating members in favor of the Ordinariate. Frankly, it sounds to me as though you’re unwilling to see the written record for what it is. According to ACA canons, the parish was free to leave the ACA with its property. The members took seriously the promise that it could move in a body into the Ordinariate, which is the point of Anglicanorum coetibus. You seem to think that the members who did want to do this, 80%, were somehow disloyal. Of course they were leaving the ACA. By the ACA’s own reckoning, they’d left, but it changed its mind. Individuals can always become Catholic, but Anglicanorum coetibus provides for parishes to move in a group. I think you don’t understand that. The parish had elected to do this, following all the rules; the ACA reneged… My sense, frankly, is that you’re a poor judge of character. Your view of reconciliation is shallow and frivolous.”

Without getting into what I actually do or do not understand, believe, hope or wish were so, let me ask you my next questions. Is this chronology one which the ACA would agree with?  Is it leaving something out? Would the ACA agree it ‘had seized the parish in contradiction to the ACA’s own resolution and in violation of ACA canons’? And if not, why not?  (And you are right about me being a poor judge of character: I am breathtakingly naïve.) But I do know that there were people who objected to the fairness of at least one of the voting meetings. Do you know what that objection was? What is your view of the validity of the meeting(s) vs. the validity of the objections to them?

In any case, I closed off with:

“well, okay, now I see….I think.  The only allowable view/interpretation of reality is thine own [!?] I don’t know if the charges ‘have validity’ or not…was that ever established? Do I understand the whole chronology of all this?  No…I think I’ve read maybe 25-40% of all the blogs/articles/opinions/comments. I don’t have an opinion of my own, sorry.  As of this moment I do not know if you are Roman Catholic, one of the excommunicated ACA folk, a concerned bystander in some sense, a kind of blogger-sleuth, or what…because you never have said.  But in closing I would like to thank you for all the interesting insights you have provided and I do wish you all the best!”

…I am not sure how this exchange justified the apparent onset of wrath that followed, but all is forgiven. (Anyone reading the above, indeed all the 37 emails betwixt us, can see I am not ‘angry’ about anything. Were you?

   My final question I ask, as I have asked all the others, not as an ACA person or Catholic person or priest or advocate or victim but just from one human being to another: If all of what you have said is undeniably true, why and how were the occupants of St. Mary’s banished from the premises by legal authority?

A Friend in Christ,


(p.s.  I apologize for the misspelling of that noble Indiana burg. At the time I had my secretary retype some of my biodata to give her some work to do, and she made a kind of mess of it.)


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