Friday, January 12, 2018

Fr Lewis Is Asserting Control At Our Lady Of The Atonement

One of the consistent issues that parents of Atonement Academy children and others have raised with me is the constant churning of headmasters. Clearly the parents would prefer to have a qualified and competent headmaster who is empowered to do his job, but especially when the headmaster reported to Dcn Orr -- who also taught at the school -- this didn't happen. Dcn Orr's retirement doesn't seem to have improved the situation, however.

I'm told by multiple sources that earlier this month, an e-mail from Fr Lewis went out that said the current headmaster was being asked (or had asked himself, it wasn't clear) to step down and resume a teaching only role, with the search on for a new headmaster. This time it would not be a crisis pick, with the position staying open as long as it takes to find the right person for the job.

Apparently another e-mail went out to school parents the gist of which was that from now on, Fr. Phillips was not to be included, consulted or cc’d on any official meetings or decisions regarding the school and parish, because he is retired. A visitor said he hadn't seen the e-mail, but its effect is clear, and such a policy now appears to be in place.

I've heard as well from several visitors giving what amounts to a consensus theory of why the news of the Poor Clare sisters' departure was taken down so quickly from both the Atonement Online blog and the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog. One e-mail expresses what others have said:

After reading your blog today it reminded me of something else that had occurred to me during this fast-paced, lurid, nuns-being-ejected scandal. . . why did Fr. Phillips retract his blog entry so quickly? It is curious. I doubt very seriously Fr. Phillips will come forward with an explanation. If I were the gambling sort, my money would be on Fr. Mark Lewis, Pastor of OLA, acting swiftly and decisively before Bishop Lopes even got wind of this. Or maybe Bishop Lopes was paying attention but doesn’t want to tip his hand quite yet. Who knows, but again, it is very interesting to watch, kind of like a train wreck in slo mo on an IMAX screen, but with a laugh track.

So many things in the Catholic world are needed by the faithful and this is the best we got? I predict 2018 is gonna be a banner year!

I certainly get a feeling that Fr Lewis is working carefully and capably to put adult supervision over the parish and school, but recognizing that any premature move could provoke Fr Phillips into inciting a factional rebellion. I would say that by trying to create a Phillips-centered crisis over the Poor Clare sisters' departure, he may have attempted just that. But at the same time, by going to Church Militant with the story, almost certainly without Houston's approval, he committed what in the secular world would be a terminable offense.

Even if he's "retired", by living next to the parish, he's in a highly ambiguous situation and pretty clearly has his own interests in mind, over and above those of the parish and the OCSP. Bp Lopes has additional disciplinary options available to him, as far as I can see, which could include forbidding him to exercise any public role, and potentially forbidding him from the parish property.