His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI
00120 Vatican City
Most Holy Father:
This letter is written on behalf of a small, but historic parish in Hollywood, California, USA, St. Mary of the Angels. For well over a year we have accepted your most kind offer to enter the Catholic Church as a traditional Anglo-Catholic use parish. We have had formal votes by the parish on two occasions. In both cases there was a super majority of those wishing to do so by over 80%.
During 2011, our clergy provided a number of months of instruction from the excellent, Evangelium Catechetical course. This was eagerly attended by parishioners ready for unity with Rome.
Msgr. William Stetson was our contact with Archbishop Jose Gomez. He came and spoke to us of the steps necessary for our journey.
We eagerly awaited our early reception in January of 2012, as soon as an Ordinary was named.
You may imagine our puzzlement and disbelief when everything came to a halt. There had been a small group in opposition to our entry in the Catholic Church. They had managed to mail a packet to Cardinal Wuerl in Washington D.C. falsely accusing our priest, Father Christopher Kelley, of multiple counts of serious wrong doing.
Your Holiness, Father Kelley is a priest of deepest Christian faith and practice. In the five years as our priest he has displayed the virtues that should be found in all priests, a complete and total dedication in his love of God, his parish and preserving the beauty of our Anglican traditions and liturgy.
Although we had placed our parish under the Patrimony of the Primate (organized for parishes wishing to join the Ordinariate) we found ourselves threatened with a hostile take-over by a denomination we had withdrawn from (The Anglican Church in America). We found ourselves in need of legal representation. The legal action was initiated by this same ACA who now claimed St. Mary’s parish as their own. We are a freestanding California Corporation with a legally elected governing board yet we have been barred from the property.
Our gates have been locked since mid-June of 2012. Masses were begun on December 2, 2012 but only by invitation. They have claimed to excommunicate all of the duly elected board members and most of those whose hearts were set on the Ordinariate. No homeless are being given aid and no community groups have been allowed to meet.
Many parishioners have become discouraged and left, some have joined Catholic parishes, but there is a small remnant that has continued to celebrate Mass in the park and now in a private home.
Ultimately we believe in the power of God to intervene on our behalf.
Our plea to you, Holy Father, is for your help and prayers on our behalf in order to bring us to the chair of St. Peter. Our hearts long to bring our precious, historical, beautiful church, St. Mary of the Angels into full communion with the Holy See of Rome.
We remember you in our prayers and pray for the unity of the church Jesus came to establish.
We sign below with deepest humility and gratitude for your joining your intentions with ours.
I don’t know if this letter will do any good, but having only followed this from afar and not knowing any of the people involved, this is what it looks like to me:
This parish hoped to be an Anglican Use parish decades ago under the Pastoral Provision.
Not sure what the reasons why this did not happen. Was it that the then archbishop rejected the idea?
Then it did vote twice to enter the Ordinariate. It even went into the Patrimony of the Primate in preparation for entry.
Legal battles ensued. The Anglican Church in America (ACA) has taken over the property and excommunicated several of the members who I imagine are among the redacted names.
I hope that justice is served and that this majority is successful—-though it looks like it will take a miracle—in becoming an Ordinariate parish.