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PUERTO RICO: Persecution of orthodox priests heats up in Puerto Rico


By David W. Virtue

The Bishop of the Diocese of Puerto Rico of the Episcopal Church, David A. Alvarez, has escalated his persecution of two orthodox priests, by submitting formal accusations against them to the Standing Committee.

The Rev. Dr. Dennis Paris told Virtuosity that the Rev. Dr. Manuel A. Rivera and he had received letters from the president of the Standing Committee summoning them to appear before the committee on February 19, to defend themselves against the bishop’s accusations.

Dr. Paris wrote a book against the arguments given to favor the consent for Gene Robinson and presented it at the University of Puerto Rico, where he is a full time graduate professor, teaching Counseling and Human Sexuality courses. A day before the local Diocesan Convention, which was held last October 25, Bishop Alvarez sent Dr. Paris a letter inhibiting him in the diocese, for writing and presenting the book. The Rev. Dr. Rivera and another priest, the Rev. Pedro Balleste, were also inhibited on the same day, for participating in a panel discussion of the book, at the University of Puerto Rico.

Dr. Paris shared with us that “the Rev. Balleste, a senior cleric, submitted his resignation a few months ago and now Bishop Alvarez is looking to depose Dr. Rivera and me, to use us as examples to intimidate any other dissenters amongst the priests in the diocese,” he told Virtuosity.

At this point in time, deposing the two priests is a strategy used by the Bishop to send a message to other dissenters and serves no other purpose, since Dr. Paris and Dr. Rivera are not participating in any way with the Diocese of Puerto Rico.

Bishop Alvarez waited three months to submit the charges, so the new Standing Committee would deal with the accusations. Most of the new members on the committee are more favorable to his views than previous members. This is just another example of the “killing time strategy” used by ECUSA revisionists, to wait for a favorable tide.

Dr. Paris is currently translating his book from Spanish into English and hopes to make it available this year. He has also made arrangements with a local Evangelical Church, to use their facilities to start the Anglican Mission of the Resurrection, in San Juan, under the oversight of the Anglican Mission in America. Dr. Paris sent a letter to the Standing Committee with the following reply:


February 9, 2004

To The Standing Committee Diocese of Puerto Rico
Episcopal Church of the United States of America

Dear members of the Standing Committee:

I have received a letter from your president, the Rev. Fernández-Pola, summoning me to appear before the committee on the 19th of February, to defend myself against the charges brought upon me by your bishop, David A. Alvarez. I have read the account given by Mr. Alvarez, in support of the charges, with great sadness.

The inclination to meet with you and offer proof of how the truth has been distorted, is one that, I must confess, has made me think considerably. Even so, I have come to the conclusion that our encounter would be of little use, considering our respective situations.

In your case, the committee, by itself, is perfectly capable of establishing the lack of truthfulness in the arguments presented by Mr. Alvarez to fabricate his case. The accusations against the Rev. Dr. Manuel A. Rivera and me rest on the violation of a supposed agreement to limit the discussion of the consent for Gene Robinson, to internal meetings, where the matters discussed would be kept secret. Members of the Standing Committee who were not present at that meeting, where Mr. Alvarez claims such an agreement took place, can consult any of the more than two dozen clergy that were present. Unless they subscribe to the notion that truth is relative, they will have to admit that the oath to secrecy never took place. Mr. Alvarez himself was the first to speak to the press, on the radio and to write in the Church magazine, defending his position. He also distributed, free of charge, a pamphlet justifying his position, which was published with funds from the diocese. Most of these things happened after the imaginary agreement to have closed doors discussions on the matter.

On the other hand, it seems to me that the committee will definitely have a hard time believing that the Rev. Rivera agreed to the secret conversations in that first meeting, since he was not present, despite Mr. Alvarez’ claims to the contrary. How can a person agree to something at a meeting where he was not present? I am sure the Standing Committee can answer that, without my help. To determine what is true and what is false in Mr. Alvarez’ arguments, you do not need my help either; and if, by any chance, you do not want to arrive at the truth, then you definitely do not need my help.

As to my current situation, I will be clear and honest. I will not belong to a Church that has abandoned the faith. This is what your bishop did, abandon the Christian faith, when he disregarded the witness of Scripture, twenty centuries of Christian tradition, the consensus of present day Christendom and the clear and direct teaching of the vast majority of the Bishops at the Lambeth Conference of 1998 and the Primates of the Anglican Communion. By commission or omission you have all followed your pastoral leader on this road to schism and apostasy. Some of you believed the situation would end with Gene Robinson’s consecration. It has not; three months after, there are, already, more than 38 million Anglicans in impaired or broken communion with you. Ecumenical dialogues between you (ECUSA) and the Russian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox Churches have been suspended. The ecumenical dialogue between Anglicans and Roman Catholics has been postponed. Many have left ECUSA and a good number of those who have stayed are torn by the doctrinal deviations of a denomination that has decided to follow the world, instead of the Lord. All this has occurred because of the position taken by men like your bishop. Even so, I am afraid that the worse is yet to come. In your case, people in Puerto Rico are now waiting to see when your diocese will officially bless same sex unions. Impossible? I’m afraid not.

In conclusion, I will not stay or follow the way you have chosen. As of January 22, 2004, I have been licensed by the Anglican Mission in America, to work as an Anglican missionary in Puerto Rico. I am soon to be received in the Province of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda, of the Anglican Communion, which is under the leadership of Archbishop Emmanuel Mbona Kolini. The Province of Rwanda has broken communion with the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.

With all respect and charity, I must inform your Standing Committee that I am no longer under the authority of your bishop or of any other organism of your Church. I will not attend your meeting on the 19th of February.

Know that you are all in my prayers.

Sincerely in Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Dennis Paris Anglican Priest

Cc The Right Rev. Alexander Greene
The Bishops of the Anglican Mission in America
The Rev. Dr. Manuel A. Rivera
All interested parties

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