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SAN DIEGO'S Totalitarian Bishop...Oppression is new ECUSA mantra...Diocesan news

"While homosexuals are definitely to be included in the community of faith, anyone who joins such a community should know that it is a place of transformation, discipline, and learning - not a place to be comforted or indulged." Dr Edith Humphrey, William F. Orr associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This past week in the DIOCESE OF SAN DIEGO orthodox Episcopalians witnessed the heavy totalitarian hand of a revisionist bishop against his flock. The language of a directive issued by Bishop James Mathes is reminiscent of other historical directives issued by dictators and despots of a not so bygone era.

Consider what he wrote: "You (the clergy) will deliver to my office by May 20, 2006 copies of:

A. Articles of Incorporation
B. Parish By-laws
C. Any operable letters of agreement of employment agreements between clergy and the wardens and vestry of the parish or any other representative body however named.
D. Title (including Deeds and other documents which affect title) to all real property.
E. Balance sheet for fiscal year 2004, 2005, and a balance sheet as of March 31, 2006.
F. Evidence of appropriate Surety Bond as required by canons.

Then he said this: "You are my representatives in the sacramental and teaching life of the church. The act of participating in or benignly tolerating a vestry denying my ecclesiastical and apostolic authority by changing any of these aforementioned documents represents a failure of your vow of obedience...I now direct specifically that you shall not participate in changing these documents in any way to disaffiliate your parish from the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, the Episcopal Church, and/or my ecclesiastical authority as your bishop. You are further directed to take no actions which would have the effect of removing or purporting to remove yourself from my ecclesiastical authority. If you and your congregation pursue an effort at secession, you will at that moment be in violation of your ordination vows...by this pastoral direction, you will be, by that very act or by your participation, an inhibited priest and deprived of standing or canonical or legal authority to do the very action you purport to effect...."

What we are now witnessing and will continue to witness is the heavy fascist hand of revisionist bishops working their will on their diocesan priests, as many of these priests take flight and seek spiritual refuge with orthodox overseas archbishops, bishops and the AMIA. Bishop Mathes heavy hand will only increase flight not diminish it.

Note, this has nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ, it has nothing to do with the proclamation of Good News; it is about power, the raw, naked abuse of ecclesiastical power in the name of a Church that long ago lost its spiritual way.

This three page "directive" by Bishop Mathes would delight a secular dictator; it is in perfect keeping with men who have no redemptive news to proclaim and who believe that holding onto the reins of power and property ownership is all that matters. Consider what is happening in dioceses like Los Angeles, Florida, Pennsylvania, Central New York, Connecticut and more. Is it any wonder that movements like LEAC - Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion rise up overnight to fight these horrible power-hungry men. You can read the full story in today's digest.

The truth is these are nothing more than power grabs by third rate mitered men wearing purple shirts thinking they have divine authority for what they do. The distinguished Lincoln scholar, historian and Episcopal priest, Dr. Allen Guelzo observed in a recent article, The Bonfire of the Sacristes, that a great deal of what we have seen in the way of inhibitions and canonical proceedings reflects either irritated bureaucrats for whom my-way-or-the-highway is the operating principle, or (worse) of inexperienced bureaucrats who are afraid to be seen as weak in front of the long-service office-holders in diocesan headquarters.

Bishop Mathes revisionism has a built in death wish, and just as Episcopal gays and lesbians have no sons and heirs; they too, will one day die, unable to bring forth spiritual fruit, for there is none to bring forth. God will not be mocked, we reap what we sow.

But someone who knows Mathes says that he is in, way over his head. He is more bewildered than aggressive, said a source to VOL. "If my assessment of him is right this strategy did not come from him, it came from someone like David Booth Beers, Griswold's chancellor who is deeply involved in legally protecting the infrastructure of Griswold's (disintegrating) empire. Beers was a classmate at Trinity College in Hartford. We graduated in 1957. I suspect that the powers that be want to make an example of San Diego before things get further out of hand."

The unorthodox have no word from God so they use the word of canon law (suitably misinterpreted) as their infallible text.

THE TRUTH is that oppression has become the new mantra and buzzword for liberals and revisionists in their attacks on the orthodox in The Episcopal Church. Whenever they want to blast orthodox Episcopalians for their "fundamentalism" or "homophobia" or their stance on women's ordination, the cries of anguish from liberals and revisionists nearly always concludes with the heartfelt whine that they are being oppressed.

This was aptly articulated recently by the Rev. Jayne Oasin, a social justice officer for the Episcopal Church, USA when she said that "to consider there to be only one truth is to me a form of oppression." You can read a Commentary piece on this in today's digest.

PRESIDING BISHOP FRANK GRISWOLD told the Guardian newspaper last week that it would sadden him greatly if there was a real break in the Anglican Communion, because, he says, we are members one of another and share a common baptism. All of us would be diminished if any part of the communion was expelled.

Then he made this extraordinary statement: "I am very aware that issues of poverty, disease and civil war are life and death issues of the sort we should be concentrating on, not our preoccupation with a particular manifestation of sexuality. I think it is possibly the work of the Evil One, making us fixate on sexuality rather than the more urgent things of the world."

TRANSLATION: To "fixate" on sexuality (ECUSA's homosexuals have, for the past 40 years, done nothing but fixate on their behavior) is aimed not at them but the orthodox who want only to maintain biblical standards. This qualifies as the "work of the Evil One"!!! This is to turn truth entirely on its head. Dr. Bill Atwood of Ekklesia got exercised about this when he saw it and wrote a blistering response to Griswold.

Here is what he said: "What the historic church has understood for centuries is that belief and behavior tremendously impact eternal life. That is the problem with same-sex blessings and ordinations/consecrations of those sexually active outside marriage as deacons, priests, or bishops. The Bible is clear that such belief and practice is leading people away from Jesus rather than to Him. It is not hatred or fear that motivates opposition to those things, it is genuine concern for the spiritual state of the people involved. The Presiding Bishop is focusing on the "things of the world." You can read his full statement in today's digest.

THE PRESIDING BISHOP preached at the ultra-liberal Anglican cathedral in the Diocese of Southwark, London last week and had this to say in an Easter sermon: "Here we need to be mindful of the fact that the One who used mud and spittle, bread and wine, word and touch can use anyone or anything or any circumstance to grasp us by the wrist and draw us out of ourselves into the realm of resurrection. This at times is neither easy nor pleasant, and there are moments when we would rather remain in the safety and security of our tombs or behind locked doors....Christ's peace is not always gentle and consoling. It can seem more like a threat. It can unsettle us and make demands of us that stretch us to the breaking point. It calls all of our certitudes and pieties into question. It may oblige us - not once but over and over again - to lose ourselves in order to find ourselves. It may force us to die to old patterns and perceptions in order to enter in upon what is new, what is unbounded and what may appear, in the words of St. John of the Cross, as "strange islands" where we have never been before."

SUB TEXT: The Anglican Communion needs to change its thinking and theology about pansexuality and "die to old patterns and certitudes" about sexual behavior. It needs to come into the 21st century and grow up. Griswold will help you. The trouble is no one but a handful of American and Canadian and a few European Anglicans are buying this nonsense, the vast majority of the Anglican Communion is not, and might well tell Griswold and his revisionist bishops that they are no longer welcome at the Anglican table of the Lord. We shall see.

AMONG numerous reports coming out of ECUSA's national headquarters as we head toward Columbus in June is one on a revision of the canons on ministry enforcing discipline with its leaders. This is being proposed by the Task Force on Disciplinary Policy and Procedures. The present adversarial system, under which presentment charges are filed, would be replaced by a system that utilizes mediation and fact finding and seeks "restorative justice - reconciliation," said Stephen Hutchinson. He is chancellor for the Diocese of Utah and was active in writing the task force's proposal. But an Anglo-Catholic attorney noted that under the present system, the accused priest has the right to a church trial-something the revisionists want to avoid-by using Canon 10. The idea of using the canons to attack the laity surfaced about a year or two ago. One reason for it was to punish lawyers who represent priests in lawsuits against evil bishops.

In the DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA, the Standing Committee has once again called for Bishop Charles E. Bennison to resign citing a draw down of $350,000 of Unrestricted Net Assets on March 31st just prior to the Special Convention. In the meantime staff have been laid off and there will be no May issue of the Pennsylvania Episcopalian. You can read the full story in today's digest.

In the DIOCESE OF NEW YORK a former Episcopal priest and school official was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a former student, the police said. According to a report in the New York Times, Bruce Jacques, 57, the former fund-raiser at a private school on the Upper West Side, the charges came eight years after a similar accusation led to his defrocking as an Episcopal priest in the DIOCESE OF CONNECTICUT. Jacques was accused of molesting the student, who was 16 at the time, both at the Robert Louis Stevenson School, on West 74th Street, and in nearby Central Park last October. Prosecutors said Mr. Jacques fled to Malaysia and was arrested as he tried to re-enter the United States through British Columbia. In 1998, he was defrocked by the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut for conduct unbecoming a priest after a 13-year-old boy accused him of propositioning him.

NOW IF YOU WANT to know what Episcopal teenagers really believe and how they compare with other Protestant teenagers, read what the AAC found out: Did you know:

* Only 72% of Episcopal teens believe in God compared with 92% of Protestant teens?
* Only 40% of Episcopal teens say Faith is important in their life compared with 60% of Protestant teens?
* 54% of Episcopal teens believe Morality is Relative compared to 41% of the Protestant teens?
* Only 35% of Episcopal teens believe in Life After Death compared with 55% of Protestant teens?
* Only 8% of Episcopal teens read the Bible compared to 32% of Protestant teens?
* Only 32% of Episcopal teens have made a commitment to Live For God as compared to 69% of Protestant teens?
* 35% of Episcopal teens consider all adults to be hypocrites compared with only 7% of Protestant teens?

In the DIOCESE OF FLORIDA, the Right Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard has one resolution upcoming for the 163rd Annual Convention to be held Saturday, April 29 at Camp Weed. The sole resolution filed this year is to restore parish contributions to the diocesan budget to the historic level of 15% over a multi-year period. The proponents, St. Peter's (Fernandina) and St. John's (Jacksonville) will make a presentation and answer any questions about this resolution. Wrote an orthodox priest; "Isn't it interesting that the only proposed resolution for the Diocese of Florida is about needing more money. It's submitted by two of the most liberal priests in the diocese, Ed Harrison, Dean of the Cathedral and President of the Standing Committee, and by George Young, III, of St. Peter's." Indeed it is.

I guess the loss of some 25 percent of the entire lay population of the diocese is hurting funds coming into the diocese, so clearly to keep pace with the departures one has to up the ante on those who stay by putting pressure on parishes to give more.

Recently Bishop Howard held a meeting at Camp Weed to dedicate the new Youth Pavilion. The Cost was $1,200,000. The Florida Diocese may have as much as $5,000,000 invested in Camp Weed, a source said. Perhaps Howard will have to do to camp Weed what the Standing Committee will have to do with Camp Wapiti in the Diocese of Pennsylvania - mothball it. In the Diocese of Central New York they simply sent the bulldozers in and leveled the Thornfield Conference Center because it was too costly to keep open.

Also in the diocese this past week the diocese sent a man named Bronson Lamb, a parishioner at a local episcopal church, to take the keys of Grace Church away from Fr. Sam Pascoe. Apparently Lamb is not on the diocesan staff, but he's rich and his family owns a yacht company and marina. "He is Howard's sort of fellow--rich and rather placid when it comes to theology," said a VOL source.

In their last Sunday at the Grace Church campus in Jacksonville, the Rev. Sam Pascoe reported that he had 1,156 people and did 17 baptisms. When they met for the first time in a high school cafetorium (part cafeteria part auditorium) they had a total of over 600 people (well above our Sunday average of 520 to date). "We have had over 850 people sign up for the new church (Grace Church--Anglican).We are stepping out," he told VOL.

As to the old Grace Church campus, (where this writer once spoke), average Sunday attendance was 520. The new parish drew over 600 last Sunday, that doesn't leave a lot of people to populate old Grace.

In the DIOCESE OF CONNECTICUT things which were cast down are being lifted up, according to VOL lay reader in the diocese. On 7/13/05 the leadership and the majority of the congregation of St. John's Episcopal Church in Bristol was virtually left homeless and without a place to worship, by the actions of the Diocesan Bishop. The "exiled" congregation from St. John's has been worshipping at Trinity Church and the Rev. Don Helmendollar in Bristol, CT since that eventful day. The congregation of Trinity opened their arms in welcome and the healing began. Because of the faithfulness of these two congregations, the orthodox Anglican presence in Bristol is alive and well. And in fact it is growing! Now its time to celebrate and witness what God is doing in His Church in Bristol, and indeed across the country! Please join us in the singing of songs and witness God's wonderful works! WHEN? 4:00pm Saturday, 29 April 2006 WHERE? Trinity Church, 173 Summer St. Bristol, CT (860-582-3159).

And in the DIOCESE OF PITTBURGH, the Standing Committee voted to disassociate itself from the national church's pro-abortion stand. On April 17 they voted to disassociate from a decision made on January 9 by the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church to reaffirm its membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a group that advocates unrestricted abortion. Here is the full text of the Standing Committee's resolution follows:

WHEREAS, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church USA meeting in Des Moines Iowa, January 9-12, 2006 and acting on behalf of the Episcopal Church, by resolution, joined the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a group that advocates unrestricted abortion, a position that is contrary to the clear meaning of Holy Scripture, the received teaching of the Church throughout the ages, and the stated position of several General Conventions of the Episcopal Church,

AND WHEREAS, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in its Constitution and Canons is under no warrant to support or obey any resolution, canon or constitutional provision which is contrary to the historic Faith and Order of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Bishops and the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh do disassociate themselves from this action of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, do encourage all other diocese of the Episcopal Church to do likewise and request the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting June 10-21, 2006 in Columbus Ohio to repudiate and overturn this action of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church.

And Primate Peter Akinola of the Province of Nigeria wants justice and warned his government and Muslims about the ongoing violence in his country. He also fired back at the Western press while being interviewed by Christianity Today associate editor Collin Hansen. You can read that story and the link to CT in today's digest.

And in PAPUA NEW GUINEA Anglican Bishop David Hand who dedicated his life to Papua New Guinea died in Port Moresby at the aged 87. The Bishop was loaded with every honor his adopted country could offer, including a knighthood, and the title "Grand Chief", the highest award under PNG's own new honors system. He was also made a chief of the Orokaiva tribe in Oro province, and the clan chief, his old friend David Ivahupa, was at his bedside when he died. Bishop Hand had come to the country 60 years earlier, compelled by the story of another young English priest, Vivian Redlich, who had remained at his parish in PNG when the Japanese landed in 1942. Redlich was killed during the Japanese advance towards the Kokoda Track, after writing a touching last letter to his father (now in London's St Paul's Cathedral) addressed "From somewhere in the Papuan jungle".

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All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

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