Skip to comments.Bishop John W. Howe Retracts Opposition to Deposition of E. Michigan Priest
Posted on 08/07/2005 3:18:10 PM PDT by sionnsar
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[Source: Diocese of Eastern Michigan] The right to function as a priest in the Episcopal Church was formally removed from the Rev. Gene Geromel of Swartz Creek, Michigan on August 4, 2005.
The Rt. Rev. Edwin M. Leidel, responding to a formal determination of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan that Geromel had "abandoned the Communion of this Church," pronounce the deposition at 10:30 AM on Thursday, August 4, 2005.
"Nothing like this is ever done in haste or without much prayer," said Dean Bedford, the president of the Standing Committee. "Due process is provided by our national canon law and allows the accused at least six months to respond. During that time Geromel was given every opportunity to demonstrate that he had not in fact 'abandoned' the Episcopal Church." More than five years ago Geromel led his congregation out of the Episcopal Church. No action was taken at that time in the hope that reconciliation could one day be achieved or that Geromel might receive a call in another diocese of the Episcopal Church and could canonically be transferred there. After five years and when neither of these hopes was realized, the bishop had no alternative but to enforce the canons of the Church.
The Standing Committee's determination was based on the follow grounds:
1. Geromel had led his congregation out of the Diocese and the Episcopal Church.
2. He has acknowledged that he is out of communion with his bishop.
3. He has shown no sign of wanting to return to the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Eastern Michigan as a priest in good standing.
4. He has not participated in the Councils of the Church in the Diocese of Michigan for over five years. "I take no satisfaction in doing this," said Leidel. "It is a sad day for Gene, for me, for the Diocese of Eastern Michigan, and in fact for the whole Church. We exercised all avenues available to us in hopes of avoiding this conclusion."
August 4, 2005
Statement prior to reading the deposition of Gene Geromel as a priest in the Episcopal Church
On February 6, 2000, The Rev. Gene Geromel and the congregation of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church voted with a vote exceeding two Thirds of their communicant population to leave the Episcopal Church. The occasion for the vote was preceded by a one-year dialogue between members of St. Bart's vestry and members of the Diocese's Standing Committee. The prearranged understanding was that if the adult members were to cast a vote in excess of two thirds of their communicant population, the Diocese would sell the Church buildings and Rectory to the congregation at market value.
A year prior to the vote, members of the congregation formed a legal entity, PECUSA, INC. without informing the diocese. In the year prior to the 2/6/00 vote, the congregation defaulted completely in giving their diocesan tithe, in violation of diocesan canons. The Rev. Geromel also publicly refused to receive the Bread and Wine of Holy Communion from the bishop of Eastern Michigan for more then a year up to the time of the vote stating that that he was not in communion with his bishop
The St. Bart's buildings, owned by the diocese, were sold to St. Bart's in due course, and St. Bart's became a church not recognized by the Episcopal Church.
In an act of generosity the bishop offered Gene the opportunity to remain a priest in the diocese as a licensed clergyman serving an ecumenical Church. In order for The Rev. Geromel to be licensed he had to agree to abide by the Constitution and Canons of the church and his ordination vows in which he pledged obedience to, and remain in communion with his bishop. The Rev. Geromel said he could not do this in due conscience: hence the license was never granted.
Consequently, in another act of generosity the bishop withheld a deposition process for a five year period with the clearly stated hope that the Rev. Geromel might someday "return" to the Episcopal Church, or to a day when there might be a canonically appropriate way for Geromel to transfer to another duly recognized Anglican jurisdiction that was recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has upheld a long standing principle that a priest can only be transferred to another Diocese if they are called to physically work and live in that Diocese. A Priest may not function in a diocese other than their own without the other diocese's bishop's permission.
During these past five years, Geromel has filed three annual reports to the bishop of Eastern Michigan where he has the fragile standing of a 'priest-not-in-good- standing' who may not function sacramentally in any Episcopal Church in Eastern Michigan. Also during this period of time the bishop has once given permission to the Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, to visit St. Bartholomew's. Bishop Ackerman and the Bishop of Eastern Michigan have a standing agreement (which is know to Geromel) that he is welcome in Eastern Michigan as long as he sought prior permission and reported his activities to the bishop of Eastern Michigan.
In January 2005, five years after St. Bartholomew's separation from the Episcopal Church, the Standing Committee of the diocese has asked the bishop to finalize its relations with Geromel by issuing a six-month inhibition, during which time if Geromel did not reaffirm his communal status with the bishop, a letter of deposition would be served. The charge for the inhibition is that Geromel has abandoned the Communion of the Episcopal Church.
Ok, the priest left the ECUSA and took his congregation with him. NOW, the bishop wants to depose him as an Episcopal priest? What on earth does that accomplish?
Can't help but wonder if the day comes when Bp. John W. Howe himself leaves ECUSA?
I remember going to the ESA meeting in Ft. Worth in the late 80's. All of 5 diocesan bishops attended, as I recall. While at the meeting, one of these diocesan's told the ecclesiastical press that he opposed allowing the use of the 1928 Prayer Book (a big issue for most of the attendees), and another bishop essentially repudiated the Synod shortly after going home.
Typical ECUSA bishop behavior -- act tough first, then back off later.
I recall a Continuing Anglican priest chatting with one of the ESA heavyweights, who said to him, "Isn't this meeting great!"
The CA priest retorted, "No, it's terrible."
The ESA priest was visibly shocked, and the CA priest continued by saying "You guys get people together, get all their hopes up, and then dash those hopes... over and over. It is a formula for destroying what little we have left in Anglicanism."
Ugh. I'd been too far away from ECUSA bishops to know this, but it fits what we're seeing.
(Not clear on the pro-/anti- 1928 BCP positions of that Synod, however.)
In the late 1980's, a major point of contention was that there were still ECUSA parishes wanting to use the 1928 Prayer Book, but the practice was being ruthlessly stamped out, sort of like the Latin Mass.
That Synod (which was the first formal gathering of "traditionalist" ECUSA bishops to date with the intention of holding some sort of line), was convened with two major rallying cries: opposition to female ordination (particularly the consecration of Barbara Harris to the episcopacy), and tolerance of the "old Prayer Book."
This all seems rather quaint in retrospect, with the line in the sand now being whether open buggery should be allowed in the rectory...
As ever do the previous steps taken down a slippery slope...
Thanks for the explanations.
The slippery slope was done sliding a long time ago, as you of course know.
What is left in ECUSA are a bunch of priests and bishops (and laymen) who have made their peace with a whole lot of things fully contrary to Christian tradition.
If one can make ones peace with the ordination of women to the diaconate (the ancient order of deaconesses was never the same as that of the deacon) and the priesthood, let alone to the episcopacy, then one has decided that Christian tradition can be dispensed with and that the Scriptures can be treated as a "living document" cut free from the clear evidence from Christian tradition on how the Scriptures are to be interpreted.
If one can make ones peace with a church that accepts as acceptable abortion and homosexual activity on the part of the laity, ditto.
It is not that I don't have sympathy for the remaining strugglers in ECUSA, but they have long ago given away the ground needed in order to make credible defenses for the positions they want to try to hold the line on.
I personally do not see how arguments can be effectively and irrefutably made "Sola Scriptura" against any of these ills. Only by treating Tradition as authoritative can one render all of the liberal arguments moot. This is why we aren't having any of these arguments in Orthodoxy.