Prayer to saints in the Book of Homilies

The Anglican Book of Homilies discusses the folly of prayer to saints in the Homily on Prayer. I have slightly cleaned up and modernized the language of a portion of this homily and offer it as follows:

Thus you see, that the authority both of the Scripture, and also of Augustine, does not permit, that we should pray unto them (John 5.44). O that all men would studiously read, and search the Scriptures, then should they not be drowned in ignorance, but should easily perceive the truth, as well of this point of doctrine, as of all the rest. For there does the Holy Ghost plainly teach us, that Christ is our only Mediator and Intercessor with God, and that we must not seek and run to another.

If any man sins, says Saint John, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2.1-2). Saint Paul also says, there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, even the man Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2.5). Whereunto agrees the testimony of our Savior himself, witnessing that no man comes to the Father, but only by him, who is the way, the truth, the life (John 14.6), yes and the only door whereby we must enter into the Kingdome of heaven (John 10.9), because God is pleased in no other but in him. For which cause also he cries, and calls unto us that we should come unto him, saying: Come unto me, all ye that labor and be heavy laden, and I shall refresh you (Matthew 11.28).

Would Christ have us so necessarily come unto him? And shall we most unthankfully leave him, and run unto other? This is even that which God so greatly complained of by his Prophet Jeremiah, saying, My people have committed two great offences, they have forsaken me the fountain of the waters of life, and have dug to themselves broken pits that can hold no water. Is not that man unwise that will run for water to a little brook, when he may as well go to the head spring? Even so may his wisdom be justly suspected, that will flee unto Saints in time of necessity, when he may boldly and without fear declare his grief, and direct his prayer unto the Lord himself.

If God were strange, or dangerous to be talked with, then might we justly draw back and seek to some other. But the Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him in faith and truth (Psalms 145.18), and the prayer of the humble and meek hath always pleased him (Apocrypha. Judith 9.11). What if we be sinners, shall we not therefore pray unto God? Or shall we despair to obtain anything at his hands? Why did Christ then teach us to ask forgiveness of our sins, saying, And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us? Shall we think that the Saints are more merciful in hearing sinners, then God? David says, that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger, and of great kindness (Psalms 103.8). Saint Paul says, that he is rich in mercy toward all them that call upon him (Ephesians 2.4). And he himself by the mouth of his Prophet Isaiah says, For a little while have I forsaken you, but with great compassion will I gather you: For a moment in my anger I have hid my face from you, but with everlasting mercy I have had compassion upon you (Isaiah 54.7-8). Therefore the sins of any man ought not to withhold him from praying unto the Lord his God But if he be truly penitent and steadfast in faith, let him assure himself that the Lord will be merciful unto him, and hear his prayers.

O but I dare not (will some man say) trouble God at all times with my prayers. We see that in King’s houses and Courts of Princes, men cannot be admitted, unless they first use the help and mean of some special Noble man, to come unto the speech of the King, and to obtain the thing that they would have. To this reason doth Saint Ambrose answer very well, writing upon the first Chapter to the Romans (Ambrose, `Super Cap. 1, Romans’). Therefore (says he) we use to go unto the King by officers and noble men, because the King is a mortal man, and knows not to whom he may commit the government of the commonwealth. But to have God our friend, from whom nothing is hid, we need not any helper, that should further us with his good word, but only a devout and Godly mind. And if it be so, that we need one to entreat for us: why may we not content ourselves with that one Mediator, which is at the right hand of God the Father, and there lives forever to make intercession for us? As the blood of Christ did redeem us on the cross, and cleanse us from our sins: even so it is now able to save all them that come unto God by it.

For Christ sitting in heaven, has an everlasting Priesthood, and always prays to his Father for them that be penitent, obtaining by virtue of his wounds, which are evermore in the sight of God, not only perfect remission of our sins, but also all other necessaries that we lack in this world (Matthew 6.33, James 5.15, Colossians 4.12), so that this only Mediator is sufficient in heaven (1 Timothy 2.5), and needs no others to help him (Hebrews 7.25).

Why then do we pray one for another in this life, some man perchance will here demand? In truth we are willed so to do, by the express commandment both of Christ and his disciples, to declare therein as well the faith that we have in Christ towards God, as also the mutual charity that we bear one towards another, in that pity our brother’s case, and make our humble petition to God for him.

But that we should pray unto Saints, neither have we any commandment in all the Scripture, nor yet example which we may safely follow. So that being done without authority of God’s word, it lacks the ground of faith, and therefore cannot be acceptable before God (Hebrews 11.6). For whatsoever is not of faith, is sin (Romans 14.23). And as the Apostle says, that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10.17). Yet you will object further, that the Saints in heaven do pray for us, and that their prayer proceeds of an earnest charity that they have towards their brethren on earth. Whereto it may be well answered. First, that no man knows whether they do pray for us, or no. And if any will go about to prove it by the nature of charity, concluding, that because they did pray for men on earth, therefore they do much more the same now in heaven: Then may it be said by the same reason, that as oft as we do weep on earth, they do also weep in heaven, because while they lived in this world, it is most certain and sure they did so. And for that place which is written in the Apocalypse, namely that the Angel did offer up the prayers of the Saints upon the golden Altar: it is properly meant, and ought properly to be understood of those Saints that are yet living on earth, and not of them that are dead, otherwise what need were it that the Angel should offer up their prayers, being now in heaven before the face of Almighty God? But admit the Saints do pray for us, yet do we not know how, whether especially for them which call upon them, or else generally for all men, wishing well to every man alike. If they pray specially for them which call upon them, then it is like they hear our prayers, and also know our hearts desire. Which thing to be false, it is already proved both by the Scriptures, and also by the authority of Augustine.

Let us not therefore put our trust or confidence in the Saints or Martyrs that be dead. Let us not call upon them, nor desire help at their hands: but let us always lift up our hearts to God, in the name of his dear Son Christ, for whose sake as God hath promised to hear our prayer, so he will truly perform it. Invocation is a thing proper unto God, which if we attribute unto the Saints, it sounds to their reproach, neither can they well bear it at our hands.

When Paul had healed a certain lame man, which was impotent in his feet, at Lystra, the people would have done sacrifice to him and Barnabas: who rending their clothes, refused it, and exhorted them to worship the true God (Acts 14.8-18). Likewise in the Revelation, when Saint John fell before the Angels feet to worship him, the Angel would not permit him to do it, but commanded him that he should worship God (Revelations 19.10, 22.8-9). Which examples declare unto us, that the Saints and Angels in heaven, will not have us to do any honor unto them that is due and proper unto God. He only is our Father, he only is omnipotent, he only knows and understands all things, he only can help us at all times, and in all places, he suffers the sun to shine upon the good and the bad, he feeds the young ravens that cry unto him, he saves both man and beast, he will not that any one hair of our head shall perish: but is always ready to help and preserve all them that put their trust in him, according as he has promised, saying, Before they call, I will answer, and while they speak, I will hear (Isaiah 65.24).

Let us not therefore anything mistrust his goodness, let us not fear to come before the throne of his mercy, let us not seek the aid and help of Saints, but let us come boldly ourselves, nothing doubting but God for Christs sake, in whom he is well pleased, will hear us without a spokesman, and accomplish our desire in all such things as shall be agreeable to his most holy will. So says Chrysostom, an ancient Doctor of the Church (Chrysostom, `6 Hom. de Profectu. Evang.’), and so must we steadfastly believe, not because he says it, but much more because it is the doctrine of our Savior Christ himself, who has promised that if we pray to the Father in his name, we shall certainly be heard, both to the relief of our necessities, and also to the salvation of our souls, which he hath purchased unto us, not with gold or silver, but with his precious blood, shed once for all upon the Cross.

ACNA’s March Conclave

Anglican Unscripted filled in the details on the forthcoming ACNA conclave. George Conger reports here that the conclave will happen after the March 12th consecration of Chip Edgar as bishop.

  • The conclave is scheduled to take place at the St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center on Seabrook Island.
  • Archbishop Beach wants 90 percent of the bishops there or the conclave is off.
  • The purpose of the conclave is to get rid of misconceptions and grievances and have people talk to each other rather than through others online. It is not a meeting “to slam C4SO.”

Calling this a conclave probably means it will follow the rules of the conclave that elected Archbishop Beach in 2014, which you can read about here. That included a vow of silence probably based on Roman Catholic practice, which means you probably won’t see press releases that say much beyond vague phrases.

UPDATE: The conclave had been delayed according to Conger and Kallsen. No word yet on a future date.

ACNA College of Bishops and C4SO

It turns out that my suspicions about the lack of a press release from the College of Bishops meeting were correct. Anglican Unscripted reported on this over the weekend. Among other things, they said:

  • There are rumors that some churches within C4SO no longer want to be associated with ACNA.
  • Ten to twelve C4SO churches have dropped ACNA from their websites.
  • At the November diocesan convention of C4SO there was an attempt to update their constitution to remove ACNA and replace it with the Anglican Communion. This did not in fact happen.
  • There is a College of Bishops meeting coming in March (possibly) about the issues with C4SO. The REC seems to be driving this meeting due to C4SO clergy and leadership pushing Critical Race Theory and dissenting from ACNA’s views on sexuality.
  • The recent meeting in Melbourne Florida was heavily about the Diocese of the Upper Midwest and its problems, as well as the Via Apostolica investigation.
  • There is a difference in views between Bishop Todd Hunter and other bishops about the weight and authority of their public statements. Does the ACNA statement on sexuality have some binding authority, or is it just the opinion of the bishops?

ACNA College of Bishops Meeting – January 2022

As I write this post, there has been no press release from ACNA regarding the meeting last week. I find this odd, particularly in light of all the problems that exist right now. Canon Phil Ashey wrote an email summary of the meeting for the American Anglican Council, and I will paste that in here in lieu of more information:

I was privileged to spend last week with the bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) at one of their annual meetings. I did so as Chair of the ACNA Governance Task Force which reports to them on changes needed in our canons (laws of the church) and to receive recommendations from them on canonical adjustments needed to meet the challenges of ministry today. Among Anglicans, bishops walk in the footsteps of Peter and his confession which we celebrate today: “You [Jesus] are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:17). Jesus replied to this confession with the blessing in Matthew 16:18.
You see it’s not the office of bishop nor the doctrine of apostolic succession that enables the church to prevail against the gates and powers of hell itself. It is the confession, and the unity around that confession, that is the very rock upon which the church stands and prevails. After noting the irresistible word play between Peter (Petros in Greek) and “rock” (petra in Greek), Canon Michael Green observes in his commentary on Matthew:
The rock is not just Peter, however, but Peter in his confessional capacity. Peter, full of trust in the Son of God, is the one who will become the rock-man for the early church. He did become just that, as the early chapters of Acts reveal…The point is this: Jesus had found in Peter a real believer, and on that foundation he could build his church. (Green, Michael, The Message of Matthew in The Bible Speaks Today New Testament Series, John R.W. Stott, ed. [Downers Grove IL:IVP,2000] pp.179-180)
Our ACNA bishops walk in the footsteps of Peter and those after him as successors to that apostolic confession. Yes, they are bishops by apostolic succession and the laying on of hands at their consecration but, time and again, I have observed our bishops face challenges and decisions in the same spirit of Peter with a unity in their confession of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Son of the living God
This confession was consistent this week in their preaching during daily Holy Eucharist and Evening Prayer. This confession shaped their approval of two new bishops for the whole church (ACNA), bishops-elect Dan Gifford of ANiC and Chip Edgar of South Carolina [https://anglicanchurch.net/south-carolina-and-anic-elections-consented-to-by-college-of-bishops/]. This apostolic confession shaped their deliberations on theological standards for ordained ministry, the search for a new Dean of Trinity School for Ministry, and the new traditional language BCP 2019 among many others on their agenda. Lest the gates of hell invade the Church through clergy sexual misconduct and abuse, their commitment to the confession of Peter and their stewardship of that confessional role shaped their response to our Governance Task Force recommendations for clearer and more immediate disciplinary processes.
But the best part of the week was an additional day of listening to the stories of our senior leaders, now bishops of ACNA, who bravely embraced Peter’s confession in their departure from the Episcopal Church (TEC) by forming one, united, biblical, and Anglican missional church in North America. The American Anglican Council asked these five senior bishops who helped form the Common Cause Partnership, then the Anglican Communion Network, then GAFCON, and then the Anglican Church in North America to share their recollections. We are endeavoring to capture this history of our Anglican realignment so that we can share these historical facts and events with you. In addition, this history explains why we identify “seven elements as characteristic of the Anglican Way that are essential for membership” in the ACNA. (See Article I Fundamental Declarations of the Province [The Constitution and canons of the ACNA online]). At stake is what we believe defines Anglicanism in North America.
For eight hours, I was humbled and blessed to hear their stories. They described 30 years of following Jesus Christ as Messiah and the Son of the living God apart from whom there is no salvation. In so doing, they described the fierce opposition they faced within the Episcopal Church they loved, then from the halls of Canterbury itself, and finally in lawsuits and TEC depositions that sought to deprive them of their Holy Orders and spiritual authority. They faced real persecution within the Church itself for standing up for that apostolic confession, the faith once delivered to the saints. They suffered the confiscation of churches through relentless litigation

Moby Dick as an anti-Leviticus

My book club just read through Moby Dick, a fascinating novel that operates on many levels below the surface narrative of the hunt for a whale. James Jordan offers a unique take on the book which I wish someone would expand on and dig into further in an old newsletter. He writes:

Ishmael is the narrator of Melville’s fantasy-romance Moby Dick. Melville takes up the traditional view of Ishmael as a wayward son of Abraham, driven out solely because of the Divine “caprice” of election, an angry man with his hand raised against all other men. He is a fitting “anti-hero,” or at least “anti-character,” in a book full of inversions.

Melville objected to calling Moby Dick a novel. He knew that the persons on board the Pequod are anything but real people — they are symbols much more than characters — and that the situation he describes is fantastic. Moby Dick is a fantasy-narrative like Homer’s Odyssey and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

Ahab, carrying the name of Israel’s wicked king, is an anti-Christ. Like Jacob (Israel), Ahab has the messianic foot-wound, but he has no interest in submitting to God. Rather, he wants to kill God, the “vengeful,” “predestinating,” and capitalized White Whale. The whiteness of the whale is both the whiteness of God’s holy throne and the whiteness of leprosy. The long exposition of how to kill a whale in the many chapters on whaling is a kind of anti-Leviticus: Instead of rituals showing us how to kill ourselves and submit to God, Melville gives us a long survey of the rites by which to act titanically and kill “god.” The White Whale wins in the end, but only because He is all-powerful, not because He is good or fair. Ahab, his “Satan”-like ship, and his crew of pagans and estranged New Englanders is drowned in the ancient flood.

Ahab rages against New England’s Calvinistic God, the God of Melville’s rejected Dutch Reformed upbringing. The Antichrist Ahab had lain “like dead for three days and nights” in his great crisis, and now “resurrected” he gathers his anti-church with anti-rituals and leads them in an attempt to kill the “god” who put him through his “crucifixion.” Ishmael is part of this anti-church.

This would be a great project to take on as an investigation: the Levitical themes of the book.

The End this Isn’t

Events like last Covid and reactions to it often spur on premillenial believers who think that things have never been this bad before and that the end is in sight. This is not new. James Moorhead mentions an encounter that Robert Willett had back in World War I:

…he encountered an energetic man who explained that Kaiser Wilhelm was the beast described in the thirteenth chapter of Revelation and that Jesus would appear within months to “rapture” the saints.

As George Marsden points out in Fundamentalism and American Culture, World War I touched off a frenzy of speculation about Germany and “the Huns” being a possible candidate for the Antichrist and his Empire. One can imagine how a world war would lead people to speculate on such matters. And I am sure that this speculation reached another level when Hitler was around. And yet, the end did not come.

This did not stop speculation. The emphasis shifted from shattered Germany to the Red Menace and the Soviet Union which would surely invade Israel and fulfill Ezekiel 38. The bad interpretation of premillenialism said that “this generation” applied to 1948 and Israel (we are now 63 years later, when does a generation end?). Chuck Smith said the end was probably going to be in 1981…or maybe 1986.

After the Cold War ended with no Russian invasion in sight, there was a bit of a lull as some looked to China as the new possible beast from the East. Then we had 9/11 and the premillenial world went crazy over Islam. Surely Islam would usher in the end by invading Israel.

In some ways, premillenialism cannot ever be proven wrong. You can show people all of these past wrong predictions and they will blow it off as men’s opinions. Dates change, the Antichrist changes, new events are constantly discovered within the same old passages, and the end still does not come. But people love to think that our generation is the most important one, and that things like this have never occurred before. Well, they have. Many of the Biblical texts point to AD 70 and the destruction of the old world. No more Temple, no more Law, no more Jews (their religion was ended at the Cross and there is no more Temple worship that wouldn’t be an insult to God). Read this book and learn a thing or two. God’s kingdom will continue to spread from the River to the ends of the earth, like a mustard seed that grows into a great tree.

Against the invocation of angels

The Synod Of Laodicea In Phrygia Pacatiana

Canon XXXV – Notes

Christians must not forsake the Church of God, and go away and invoke angels and gather assemblies, which things are forbidden. If, therefore, any one shall be found engaged in this covert idolatry, let him be anathema; for he has forsaken our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and has gone over to idolatry.

NOTES.

Ancient Epitome Of Canon XXXV.

Whoso calls assemblies in opposition to those of the Church and names angels, is near to idolatry and let him be anathema.

Van Espen.

Whatever the worship of angels condemned by this canon may have been, one thing is manifest, that it was a species of idolatry, and detracted from the worship due to Christ.

Theodoret makes mention of this superstitious cult in his exposition of the Text of St. Paul, Col. ii., 18, and when writing of its condemnation by this synod he says, “they were leading to worship angels such as were defending the Law; for, said they, the Law was given through angels. And this vice lasted for a long time in Phrygia and Pisidia. Therefore it was that the synod which met at Laodicea in Phrygia, prohibited by a canon, that prayer should be offered to angels, and even to-day an oratory of St. Michael can be seen among them, and their neighbors.”

In the Capitular of Charlemagne, A.D 789 (cap. xvi.), it is said, “In that same council (Laodicea) it was ordered that angels should not be given unknown names, and that such should not be affixed to them, but that only they should be named by the names which we have by authority. These are Michael, Gabriel, Raphael.” And then is subjoined the present canon. The canon forbids “to name” (<greek>onomazein</greek>) angels, and this was understood as meaning to give them names instead of to call upon them by name.

Another case of sexual misconduct in ACNA

Antonio Castañeda

While talking to Bart Gingerich about sexual misconduct cases in ACNA he mentioned another case from the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. A priest named Jesus Antonio Castañeda-Serna was accused of sexual misconduct and arrested on February 24th 2019. The Fresno chief of police said:

…the victims…would seek out Serna for counseling and healing from heartbreak to drug addiction. An arrest warrant says Serna would tell them they were cursed, and needed a healing massage and prayer with a special oil. Dyer said he would have the men disrobe and then carried out sexual acts.

The Diocese put out a statement that said:

Castañeda (commonly known as Father Antonio Castañeda) joined the diocese in 2008 as the vicar of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Fresno, California. On the evening of October 29, 2017, Bishop Eric Menees received credible accusations that Castañeda had committed sexual misconduct against adults in the diocese. The following morning, Bishop Menees suspended Castañeda from all pastoral and priestly ministry and reported the accusations to the police.
The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin hired an independent third party to conduct an internal investigation. Pursuant to diocesan policy, Castañeda was notified of his right to representation at an ecclesiastical trial convened to hear the accusations. On November 24, 2017, Castañeda informed the bishop he would not contest the accusations, and he consented to be deposed from priestly ministry in the Anglican Church. Castañeda was then stripped of all priestly roles, privileges, and standing, and Bishop Menees began lending day-to-day pastoral care and oversight to Castañeda’s former congregation.

Disturbingly, Castañeda had previously withdrawn from the Roman Catholic priesthood before coming to the Diocese of San Joaquin and apparently the diocese was warned about his sexual misconduct with an adult and yet took him in! Donald W. Meyers wrote in the Yakima Herald:

Serna was a priest in the Yakima Diocese in 1997, but was suspended in 2005 amid allegations that he had revealed information he received in the confessional, said Monsignor Robert Siler, spokesman for the diocese.

While the diocese was investigating that and seeking direction from the Vatican, Castañeda Serna asked to withdraw from the priesthood, Siler said — a request granted in 2007. The diocese notified regional parishes that Castañeda Serna might attempt to pass himself off as a priest, Siler said.

A year later, the diocese attempted to look into an allegation that Castañeda Serna had engaged in sexual misconduct with an adult while a priest, but Siler said Serna did not cooperate with the diocese’s investigator. That allegation was passed on to Castañeda Serna’s Anglican diocese, Siler said. Siler said the Yakima Diocese has put Fresno investigators in touch with the man who made the allegation.

If the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin knew about the allegations against Castañeda in 2008 and did not remove him at that time, allowing him to assault more victims, that is a sickening failure. ACNA did not exist at this time so he would have come in under The Episcopal Church, which means it is more of a problem with San Joaquin than with the broader church. How on earth was he cleared to be a priest in TEC with his history? This is a clear failure and does show a problem in at least one ACNA diocese.

ACNA and sexual misconduct

Yesterday the ACNA posted this press release:

Earlier this year, the Board of Inquiry, a panel required by the Anglican Church in North America’s Constitution and Canons, found cause for ecclesiastical charges to be brought against The Right Reverend Ron Jackson. These charges were brought forward after private, earlier efforts by the Archbishop and fellow bishops to facilitate restoration proved unfruitful.

On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, Bishop Jackson admitted to the use of pornography over many years and pleaded guilty to the charges of sexual immorality (Canon IV.2(6)) and conduct giving just cause for scandal or offense (Canon IV.2(4)).

According to Canon IV.8(2) it is the responsibility of the College of Bishops to impose a sentence when a bishop is guilty of an ecclesiastical charge. Meeting on June 2, 2020, the College voted to impose the sentence of deposition from the sacred ministry on Bishop Jackson. His holy orders have been removed, and he is no longer permitted to engage in ordained ministry in the Anglican Church in North America.

In making this decision, the College of Bishops grieved the victimization of those caught up in the pornography industry and lamented the impact that moral failure in leadership has upon the whole Church and its witness. They also expressed their love and concern for Ron and Patty Jackson and their whole family, and assured them of the College’s unqualified desire to see Ron continue in the process of repentance and healing.

Please continue to pray for all those involved in or affected by this situation.

Although grievous, this is a good thing. It is good that the man was exposed and removed, although it was so late in life that it worries me to think that he was in the clergy and in leadership for many, many years while engaged in a massively sinful double-life.

I hope that ACNA and the various sub-jurisdictions are doing a good job of screening leaders and guarding the flock. I know some problems are hard to detect and that wolves are good at hiding, but the veneration that many lend to bishops and clergy can make ACNA a very dangerous place if there are sexual crimes or patterns of sin taking root.

On June 10, 2012 Bishop Julian Dobbs ordained the Rev. Kent Hinkson to the diaconate. Hinkson was a volunteer minister at All Saints Church in Durham and had been a pastor at Presbyterian churches in Texas, California and Florida before joining the ACNA. In 2014 Hinkson met a man named Matthew John Reed on a gay website. On August 4 2014 Hinkson left his home and told his family he was going to visit a pharmacy and make a deposit at a Durham bank. Instead he met Reed at a restaurant, then proceeded to the Eno River State Park where there was a sexual encounter. Reed then threatened to reveal the rendezvous and asked for hush money. He became angry and killed Hinkson.

In 2019 Father Eric Dudley of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Tallahassee was found to have “…engaged in sexual misconduct against certain adult staff members and one other non-staff adult, abused his authority as an employer and priest and emotionally harmed those in his charge.”[1] This included things like:

With each of these reported victims, the relationships with Father Eric not only grew much more personal, but they eventually crossed physical boundaries. This usually occurred when the men were alone, and Father Eric engaged them in a personal conversation about previously known vulnerabilities. Almost inevitably, this resulted in someone crying and Father Eric engaging in some form of physical contact, such as putting his head in the reported victim’s lap, holding the reported victim’s hands, touching the reported victim’s feet, or otherwise caressing the reported victim. In many cases, the physical contact escalated to the point that Father Eric was arranging to sleep in the same bed as the reported victim; he even kissed a reported victim on the mouth. If the respective person expressed any uneasiness with the touching, Father Eric would either normalize the behavior (such as by explaining that he was just an affectionate person or talking about men holding hands or kissing in other cultures) or reassure the victim that he was not sexually attracted to men.

Eventually this escalated:

As the communications, meetings, and personal activities that Father Eric demanded from these young men grew in frequency and intensity, the reported victims and their spouses became increasingly annoyed and troubled. Attempts by the reported victims to reduce communications and contact with Father Eric, however, were often met with guilt trips, anger, and sometimes rage. Father Eric’s escalation of misconduct over time led each victim to disclose their experiences.

Were there clues in the past of these clergy that might have revealed the problems before they were brought into ACNA? How thorough is the vetting process for established clergy coming in from elsewhere? I know in AMiA before 2010 it was broken and allowed divorced priests in that should never have been allowed in.

ACNA had made a great deal of having a “startup culture” and has valued an “entrepreneurial” mindset in its clergy or aspiring clergy. I would say that we have been “hasty in the laying on of hands” and we are stuck with clergy who should not be ordained. I don’t mean those in sexual sin but unorthodox and unsound, spineless and clueless. But the case of Bishop Jackson shows that there may also be issues of sexual sin. Given the correct conduct of the Council of Bishops we can be grateful, but it is something that bears watching. Let’s hope that there isn’t fire where there is smoke and that we haven’t got a larger problem on our hands.

Report on Father Dudley: Download