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ACNA Bishop Stewart Ruch to face Church Trial for Violating Provincial Canons

ACNA Bishop Stewart Ruch to face Church Trial for Violating Provincial Canons
A 10-person board of inquiry found probable cause
A previously submitted Presentment brought by three bishops of the ACNA was challenged by Bishop Ruch
Mark Rivera, a lay minister in Ruch's diocese was convicted of felony sexual assault and felony child sexual assault.

By David W. Virtue, DD
August 16, 2023

ACNA Bishop Stewart Ruch, will face a church court trial which will be conducted by an elected body of Bishops, Priests, and Laity elected by the Provincial Council called "The Court for the Trial of a Bishop" for violating ACNA Provincial Canons.

A press release from the ACNA said this: "A Board of Inquiry empaneled to consider a Presentment filed in June of 2023, submitted by priests and lay persons predominantly from within the Diocese of the Upper Midwest, against Bishop Stewart Ruch III has determined that there are reasonable grounds to put the accused to trial. By canon such a determination from a Board of Inquiry shall be made public (Title IV, Canon 4, Section 6)."

A different, previously submitted Presentment brought by three bishops of the Anglican Church in North America, was challenged by Bishop Ruch before the Provincial Tribunal, which was the impetus for a canonical amendment passed by the College of Bishops and Provincial Council in June of 2023. The status of that Presentment remains a question being considered by the Provincial Tribunal.

The board submitted a public declaration on Friday that said at least two-thirds of the board found there was probable cause to present Ruch for trial. They found grounds to try Ruch for violation of his ordination vows, for "conduct giving just cause for scandal or offense, including the abuse of ecclesiastical power" and for "disobedience, or willful contravention" of the denominational or diocesan bylaws.

The announcement did not include details about the presentment in question. VOL has learned that as many as 14 girls were allegedly abused by Mark Rivera, a lay minister. There are also accusations surrounding his apparent delay in dealing with the allegations of abuse by Rivera. Bishop Ruch was also accused of creating an authoritarian subculture.

Ruch admitted making "regrettable errors" in how he handled allegations of sexual abuse by Rivera and took a leave of absence but returned in October 2022, despite an ongoing investigation into spiritual abuse allegations against him.

According to ACNAtoo, a grassroots movement of advocates seeking justice for sexual abuse survivors in the Anglican Church of North America, there are 14 girls who were abused by Mark Rivera. He's in jail awaiting another trial. ACNAtoo revealed the personal accounts on their website from victims. A source told VOL that, "I am 100% sure Ruch and the clergy/diocese revictimized these girls who were not believed, were not supported or offered counseling, while the bishop went to Rivera's arraignment to support him, gave money from his discretionary fund for his legal fees, and tried his hardest to cover all this up. Ruch allowed Rivera to continue to attend churches while neglecting to let the churches know about the charges. They have shown no care for the young abused victims."

Earlier this year, Ruch attempted to block a different, previous presentment brought against him by three ACNA bishops. According to a June 7 statement released by Beach, Ruch made a "secret appeal" to ACNA's seven-member Provincial Tribunal to call off the investigation. After the tribunal issued a stay order, Beach and other denominational leaders questioned the impartiality of four tribunal members. He also asserted that the denomination's bylaws don't give the tribunal authority to issue a stay order.

Ruch will now have to face his accusers. This is the fourth ACNA bishop that has faced charges of this gravity, with one going to full trial.

You can read Bishop Ruch's response here: https://virtueonline.org/letter-bishop-stewart-ruch


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