Deposition Proceedings Started Against Two Priests

Episcopal News Service. April 14, 1977 [77130]

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Two priests a continent apart have been inhibited by their bishops from exercising their priestly ministries and are likely to be deposed from the ministry in the Episcopal Church within six months.

The Rev. Canon Albert J. duBois of Long Island and the Rev. Robert Morse of California have been inhibited from officiating in those dioceses on the grounds that they have voluntarily abandoned the ministry of the Episcopal Church. Canons of the Church provide that unless the disciplined priests take steps themselves to change the situation, they will be deposed six months after the suspension is put into effect.

In announcing the inhibition of Fr. Morse, rector of St. Peter's Church in Oakland and a former officer of the American Church Union, the Rt. Rev. C. Kilmer Myers, Bishop of California, said that he "acted today with great personal pain and anguish. No loyal Episcopalian or Anglican may receive the sacraments from the Rev. Robert Morse until the suspension is lifted. By his own initiative, he now has no bishop. No priest can function in our tradition without a bishop. At the same time I fully respect his conscience with respect to the actions of the General Convention and I honor his right to leave the Church which made him a priest. The door is always open for Robert Morse to return."

Fr. Morse has declared that Bishop Myers "has no canonical, ecclesiastical, moral or spiritual authority" in his parish and has gone on record as saying that that parish can no longer maintain communion with the Bishop of California.

In responding to the finding handed down in the Diocese of Long Island, the Rev. Canon duBois issued a statement in which he rejected the charges and the admonition of Bishop Jonathan G. Sherman. Canon duBois, who for 24 years was executive director of the American Church Union, stated that the 1976 meeting of the General Convention of the Church "acted unconstitutionally in attempting to give permission for the ordination of women to the Priesthood. "

One of the charges upon which the bishop and standing committee took the action is that Canon duBois has formed a new church, a charge which he denies, contending that the action of the General Convention has placed the Episcopal Church outside the traditional doctrine, discipline, and worship of Anglicanism.

Canon duBois has become international president of Anglicans United, a group which has broken with the American Church Union and he asserts that the "threatened deposition was simply an effort to single him out.. in order to crush any organized opposition to the Minneapolis actions."

Claiming that the basic tenets of Anglicanism have been betrayed, Canon duBois says that "attorneys are presently studying to determine whether there is any judicial avenue within the Church to deal with this issue, or whether only recourse to secular courts will provide a way to bring these basic matters out in the open."