CAPE TOWN: Anglo-Catholic Priest Defrocked Following Tribunal for Whistle Blowing Gay Activities
Anglican Priest Tells Story of Decades of Homosexual Abuse, Cover-Up at Highest Levels of the Church
A Virtueonline Exclusive
By David W. Virtue
February 18, 2011
A priest with the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has been defrocked by his bishop, Merwyn Castle, on the recommendation of an ecclesiastical tribunal because he brought "the church into scandal and disrepute". He did this by questioning the sexual standards of his church and bringing to light multiple cases of homosexual abuse by priests with young men going back to the 70s. Castle is the bishop of the Diocese of False Bay. The tribunal was chaired by Peter Lee, Bishop of the Diocese of Christ the King, near Johannesburg in Gauteng province.
The Rev. Clifford Felix, 55, an Anglo-Catholic, married with two children says there has been decades of sexual abuse in Anglican dioceses in Southern Africa. In 1975, a man whom he later learned was a priest abused him. "I wanted his name. I saw no future without forgiveness."
Fr. Felix said many of the young men who have been abused are now priests who have become champions of their abusers. They can now be found in the highest levels of the church.
Felix says the worst abuser was the Rev. David Daniels who was at the center of a ring of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Cape Town. He is now deceased. He said Daniels sodomized many young minors including a young man by the name of the Rev. Ron Phillips. This man is now Felix's accuser. Felix also accused another priest, the late Maurice Brunsdan of multiple sexual abuses. They were not able to blend in as discreet smooth operators like the others, said Felix. ""They were transferred and shunned because they caused scandal."
Fr. Felix says he wrote to Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba about a newspaper report in the Cape Town newspapers documenting a German priest's sexual abuse stretching back to April 23, 2010, He went on to accuse Makgoba of covering up similar sexual abuse cases in his own church.
He outlined the sexual abuse of the deceased Daniels saying that the criminal sexual abuse was done so "smoothly and effortlessly" that those abused became "masters/operators" of their own oppression. By their actions, they oriented them into homosexuality - a crime against humanity." Felix called them "lethal stealth-like bombers." He accused them of exercising their considerable "charm and having the gift of the gab."
Fr. Felix wrote to Makgoba pleading, "I respectfully call upon you to desist from countenancing homosexuality as a "diverse" way of life under the ploy/ruse of Indaba/listening/dialogue/debate. Any sexual intercourse (including homosexuality) outside of marriage is a violation of God's commandments. It equals sexual immorality."
Felix contends a report written some 30 years ago sits on the desk of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba detailing the abuse. He is concerned that it will be destroyed unless news of it is made public.
Felix said homosexuality was a "hidden tradition in Cape Town...one of many dioceses." He has publicly denounced the ordination of gay priests. Concerned that he might go public with his accusations, charges were brought against Fr. Felix by Bishop Castle for sowing dissension. A tribunal began in November of 2010. It ran till January 2011 when Felix walked out of the trial saying he wanted to read a letter detailing the sexual abuse and cover up going back more than 40 years that also included himself. This was denied him.
VOL obtained a copy of the letter, which Fr. Felix describes as "appalling prejudice". The evidence against him and his parishioners of St. Simon of Cyrene forced him to leave the trial where he said, "the outcome was already decided."
Felix accused the bishop and archdeacon of spreading dissension in his parish, bringing in false lay witnesses, and intimidating wardens and councilors. He also cited a "nameless threatening letter". He was ultimately suspended pending the trial. He said he, his wife, children and his parish became traumatized by the charges and the trial.
On January 28, 2011, the tribunal found Fr. Felix guilty and revoked his license. He is "no longer permitted to serve as a priest," said a statement issued by the diocese.
Felix's sacking has split the Church of Simon of Cyrene down the middle. When the announcement was made during Sunday's service, half the congregation walked out.
A displeased member of the congregation, who asked not to be named, said it was unacceptable that they had not been informed sooner.
She, too, has written a letter of complaint to Makgoba.
In desperation that the cover-up might continue, Felix wrote a letter to Archbishop Makgoba saying the trial failed to highlight evidence from observers about active homosexuals in the church "contrary to God's Word."
He cited suspended cleric Michael Worsnip who had divorced his wife and "married" a man who later committed suicide (a common phenomenon among homosexuals). "He was allowed to circulate an obscene, offensive photo of a naked white man and a naked black man in a compromising position in the form of a cross at an inter-diocesan bishop's chapter meeting at St. Nicholas in Matroosfontein, Cape Town.
"Dean-elect Michael Weeder alerted me to the sexual abuse of vulnerable minors by clerics in the secret closet and the disorientation of his young teenage friend Ron Phillips.
"I cannot be an accomplice to the cover-up of the crime of sexual abuse to the then minor Ron Philips. I am ashamed of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the clerics and Bishopscourt for the complicity."
Fr. Felix said Bishop Castle admitted to him that he was a homosexual, but Castle told him, that his lover Ivan Josiah Leukes was no longer part of his life.
The Anglo-Catholic priest charged Bishop Peter Lee saying he was a racist and accused him of prejudice and "deep-seated racism against me."
In an "Ad Clerum" letter, Bishop Castle said he invited Fr. Felix to hear the judgment against him which Felix refused to do. "Fr. Felix threatened to call a press conference at which he intended to implicate the Archbishop (Makgoba) and Bishop Tutu in a class action. We took precautions," said Castle.
In a statement issued by the Diocese of False Bay and sent to the Weekend Argus newspaper, the bishop said Felix was not charged for his personal beliefs and views.
"He has an inalienable right to those views, and like other clergy has been free to express them in synods and other forums," it read.
"It is for the disruptive and destructive way in which he has gone about raising issues that he was charged. He was bound to uphold and respect the structures of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, and to observe canonical obedience to those set in authority over him, and this he failed to do," the statement continued.
The three charges on which he was found guilty were:
* Causing scandal and offence by sending e-mails, the purpose of which was to bring the diocese, its bishop Mervyn Castle and its management into disrepute.
* Causing dissention and disunity in his parish and the diocese through "unruly, rude and abrasive conduct".
* Deliberately disobeying Bishop Castle's instructions and those of other senior ministers.
Felix fought back saying that none of the three charges addressed the real substantive issues of sexual abuse, homosexual behavior and an Anglican province living in denial about what is really going on.
Felix concluded his letter saying he was appealing to the Primate of Canterbury in accordance with canon 41(5) for justice to set aside the court's rulings.
Felix has written to Bishop Merwyn requesting that his evacuation from the rectory be delayed owing to the fact that he has not been able to find alternate accommodation. There has been no response from the bishop.
Scandal has dogged the ultra liberal Southern African Anglican province. In Sept. 2009, then Archbishop Njogonkulu Ndungane, a man who regularly cried justice for the oppressed and down-trodden with even louder cries for those who suffered with AIDS, abandoned his wife of 22 years on the eve of his retirement. He left her with insufficient money to support herself bought a home and disappeared. His wife sued him for maintenance.
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