Monday, February 11, 2013

Who Is Louis Falk? -- IV

I started a series of posts on this question in December, and as I intimated in the first post, Falk is like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle that won't quite fit. Some of my correspondents have been rasing issues that go farther back in history -- as I've said here, the St Mary of the Angels story is one that goes back for generations, and when I go back, Louis Falk is still in the story. As I said in December, there's a great deal about this man that we don't know. On the other hand, the "continuing Anglican" movement would not have been what it became without Louis Falk, and I'm not at all sure that this speaks well of the movement.

As I reported in December, Falk was ordained an Episcopal priest in the 1960s. It's not clear whether he actually ever served in an Episcopal parish (there was no "continuing Anglican" movement at that time, and there was general consensus among main line Protestant denominations toward a centrist-to-liberal alignment, including dissent over the Viet Nam War), and he went into business until 1976. The biographical information we have on Falk and the history of "continuing Anglicanism" following the St Louis declaration is sketchy, and I get most of this from Wikipedia entries: the first Anglican Church of North America was formed sometime after the St Louis meeting in 1977, with four bishops (none Falk) consecrated in 1978. At some point soon after that meeting, though I can’t find a specific date or set of circumstances, the Anglican Catholic Church split from the first ACNA.

Of Falk’s role, his Wikipedia entry gives information that seems incomplete: “In the late 1970s Falk joined the Anglican Catholic Church. He became Rector of Saint Aidan's Parish in Des Moines. In 1981 he was elected first bishop of the Diocese of the Missouri Valley. On February 14, 1981, in Des Moines, he was consecrated a bishop. . . . In 1983 Falk was elected Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Catholic Church. In the late 1980s, under Falk's leadership, the Anglican Catholic Church entered into discussions with the American Episcopal Church to effect a union between the two bodies. The two bodies united in October 1991 to form the Anglican Church in America of which Falk became the first primate. Falk helped convene and create the Traditional Anglican Communion [also 1991 per Wikipedia], of which he also became the first primate.”

However, the Wikipedia entry on the ACA says, “Most ACC parishes declined to enter the new ACA, resulting in a continuing existence for the ACC, while the remainder of its parishes and some of its bishops joined the AEC in forming the new church.” But then we come to the Freedom for St Mary timeline and the “Second Lawsuit” between the ACC and the ACA over the St Mary’s property. It's worth pointing out that until 1987, St Mary of the Angels's preoccupation had been with becoming an Anglican Use parish. When now-disgraced Cardinal Roger Mahony made the final decision rejecting the parish's application to become Anglican Use, it went into the pre-1991 Anglican Catholic Church.

1987-02-27: Saint Mary of the Angels affiliated with ACC, received by ArchBishop Falk

1987-11-01: Salve Regina newsletter notes Saint Mary of the Angels designated pro-cathedral for ACC diocese

1988-01 30: Bishop Louis Falk consecrates two Bishop’s at Saint Mary of the Angels

1991-10-12: Vestry follows ArchBishop. Falk, re-affiliates with the TAC

1992-02-14-16: Ap Falk celebrates mass, including bi-lingual Spanish mass.

1992-04: Resolution establishing standing rules to govern actions and processes of the Vestry.

1992 CD: St Mary joined the ACA [Anglican Church in America]

1993-04-25: Special Saint Mary of the Angels Parish meeting, Parish votes to change of affiliation from ACC

Bishop Seeland “inhibits Fr Wilcox”

1993-05-03: ArchBishop Falk proclaims jurisdiction over Saint Mary of the Angels from TAC

1993-05-17: Fr Wilcox declines request to become considered for Rector in ACC Parish in Denver, as he already is Rector in ACA Saint Mary of the Angels Parish.

1993-11-11, Bishop Seeland ACC appoints alternate priests in charge of Saint Mary of the Angels

1994-02-16: Bishop Seeland and ACC sues Saint Mary of the Angels

I will greatly appreciate any additional background and information anyone can provide regarding these events and Louis Falk's role in bringing the parish into the pre-1991 ACC.

However, it's plain that from the start, "continuing Anglicanism" was an unstable element. Somehow I've got to ask whether Falk's personality was a factor here.