St. Mary of the Angels: The Rest of the Hollywood Story
By Martha Eischen
June 25, 2012
"For God is not a God of confusion, but a God of peace." I Corinthians 14:33
Many wild accusations and pronouncements have been swirling around about St. Mary of the Angels, Hollywood, CA, and especially its rector, Fr Christopher Kelley. It has been anything but peaceful in Hollywood. The following sentence from "An Open Appeal to Bishop Marsh," by the Rev Lawrence B. Wheeler, Holy Cross, Honolulu, sums it up rather accurately:
"The people of St. Mary's, Hollywood are now suffering greatly from the wounds of division. The congregation has been polarized over the issue of their transition into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter and Fr. Kelley's leadership in that direction."
An attorney involved in the case said, "It is a complicated legal situation."
Actually it's not at all complicated. Two very opposing parties actually came together for two very different reasons to support the chaotic upheaval of this well-heeled parish of true believers, led by a very humble, godly priest, to advance their disparate, but parallel, agendas. Each of the parties sought, by any means, to upset both the course of the parish into the Ordinariate and the path to ordination and continued leadership of the rector. Strange bedfellows they were. Personal ambition and the lust for possession of the good land.
The end, which is still unfolding, voices have spoken above the din of the claims. In the end, who has the authority to restore the flock, with its shepherd, thatshepherd that it may safely graze? In the end, does the continued existence of the Patrimony of the Primate, to which St Mary's clearly belonged, even matter? Did it affect the status of St Mary's today?
Hoping to capitalize on the court order of June 13, 2012, in which the judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, made a statement that judicial interference in a dispute within a hierarchical religious organization was unconstitutional, Bishop Brian Marsh, as presiding bishop of the Anglican Church in America (ACA), seized the opportunity to make his categorical claim that "as the highest liturgical and religious authority in the ACA" he was advising the Los Angeles Police Department that "Fr Kelley is not the rector at St Mary's and he has had no authority under the ACA to perform or act in any way as a priest there or to be on the premises since April 2, 2012."
But the judge's statement gave Bishop Marsh no such permission. In fact, she simply turns back the questions to the two equal parties in the dispute. Judge Ann I. Jones, concluded the following:
This case clearly presents a dispute within a hierarchical religious organization as to whether the Church has followed its own procedures, i.e., whether the Patrimony of the Primate was properly dissolved or continues to exist. This court would be acting unconstitutionally were it to interject itself into that controversy... Moreover, even if it were not to decide that judicial interference in this matter is unconstitutional, the Court would still deny the Preliminary Injunction on equitable grounds. ACA's own personnel have repeatedly represented to parishes - after January 1, 2012 (the date on which Plaintiffs claim that the Patrimony dissolved),that, that they simply need to make a decision regarding their future jurisdiction, and that those parishes that wished to enter the Ordinariate would simply need to apply and that the parish's acceptance would be "no big deal." Sometime thereafter, as evidenced by this lawsuit, leaving the ACA became a very big deal and defendant's reasonable reliance to its detriment to proceed under the ACA's own stated processes estops the Plaintiffs from changing the rules at this juncture. He who seeks equity must do equity. That has not happened in this case.
From the trail of minutes and documents of the ACA itself, it is very clear, not at all complicated, that the ACA has no authority, jurisdiction or oversight in the ministry, fellowship, and decision-making of the Church of St Mary of the Angels, Hollywood...
There is much more, and I urge those who have an interest in this to read the full post at VOL and to keep the people of St. Mary's in prayer -- they have suffered too many times at the hands of career ecclesiastics.
Hat tip to Fr. Stephen Smuts.