Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Why No Report On The 2015 ACA DEUS Synod?

The home page for the ACA Diocese of the Eastern US still contains a reference to its May 7, 2014 diocesan synod. However. although I'm told that a 2015 diocesan synod occurred this past June, there's no equivalent reference to it on the DEUS home page.

As we've seen, the ACA bishops announce only what they choose to make public, and when they choose not to make something public that they've made public in the past, there may be good reason. The only reference I've been able to find to the 2015 DEUS Synod is contained in the Rector's Report 2014/2015 of St Stephen's Anglican, Timonium, MD. Included in this report is the following joyous news:

What’s more, this June the parish will host the Annual Diocesan Synod. And during the course of it, The Rt Rev. John Vaughan, our Bishop Ordinary, will, God willing, ordain two deacons, Dan Bursi and Mark Newsome, and confer Anglican Orders on Episcopal priest, Robert Ludwig.
A knowledgeable party contacted me not long ago to say that although Fr Hawtin and Bishop Vaughan appeared to be under the impression that Robert Ludwig had been an Episcopal priest, this was never the case, and in fact, Mr Ludwig had dropped out of high school, though he later obtained a GED in an abbreviated career with the US armed forces. He does not have a degree from any undergraduate institution, much less a degree from an accredited seminary.

As a result, my informant reasoned that there was no way Mr Ludwig could ever have been an Episcopal priest. Concerned about this, I contacted Fr Hawtin of St Stephen's Anglican, as well as Bishop Vaughan of the ACA DEUS, with a copy to Presiding Bishop Marsh, in the following e-mail, asking what I feel was a reasonable question:

Bishop Vaughan and Fr Hawtin, I received an e-mail regarding the conferral of Anglican orders at the June 2015 DEUS synod on Robert Ludwig[.] [Material regarding the identity of my informant redacted.]

Can you explain what type of background check, reference check, criminal record check, or psychological evaluation was conducted on Robert Ludwig prior to conferring ACA orders?

Eventually I received the following e-mail from Fr Hawtin, with slanderous references to a third party redacted:

Dear Mr. Bruce,
It is not generally my habit to answer ugly e-mails of this nature from people I do not know. Moreover, I find uncharitable e-mails particularly distasteful. [redacted]

Robert+ was accepted as aspirant and postulant at this church in 2001 by our then Bishop Ordinary. Whether or not he was a “priest” in the TEC played no role in the decision to ordain him as we do not regard TEC orders as valid. Robert+ was ordained because he was accepted as a candidate for Holy Orders by our Standing Committee after passing our extremely demanding and comprehensive diocesan canonical examinations with a straight A grade. Naturally, he was required to submit to a psychological evaluation. Moreover, he was not presented for ordination by me but by the diocesan archdeacon.

However, one thing seems clear to me: We believe in redemption. You and [redacted] do not. This correspondence is now closed.
In Christ
Canon Guy Hawtin

Well, redemption doesn't come into it. Protection of innocent parties, of course, does. It appears that at some point, at least as reflected in the Rector's Report, Fr Hawtin, Bishop Vaughan, and the "diocesan archdeacon" apparently saw fit to represent Mr Ludwig as an Episcopal priest, whatever the truth of this may have been, and in fact seem to have relied on the prestige of TEC in their annoucment. As of now, they've clearly backed off that assertion and have angrily put out a different version.

Considering the record of the ACA in licensing Robert W Bowman, the REC priest who had a child pornography arrest, or the assortment of other priests and bishops without seminary degrees and dodgy histories, Mr Ludwig is nothing new. I wouldn't advise anyone to go anywhere near an ACA parish.