HOLLYWOOD, CA: St. Mary of the Angels Priest Faces Ecclesiastical Trial brought by ACA Diocese of the West
July 28, 2012
Dear Friends in Christ,
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Due to the most difficult situation at St. Mary of the Angels, I thought it important to write and share with you what we are trying to do to resolve the difficulties and return to normal parish life.
As you may know, on April 2nd, Bishop Strawn issued an Inhibition on Fr. Kelley because of many serious allegations made by members of St. Mary's. An Inhibition means that a Priest may not function in a priestly manner until the matter is investigated and resolved. Resolution can come in several ways. First, after the investigation is complete the board of inquiry can recommend to the Bishop for all charges to be dropped. Second, they can determine there are sufficient charges and offer a Presentment. A presentment is much like an Indictment in Criminal Court. At that point the Bishop can accept or reject the board's recommendation. In Fr. Kelley's case the Bishop accepted the advice and issued a Presentment against Father Kelley.
The Presentment spells out the specific charges against Fr. Kelley, and an Ecclesiastical Trial has been set for October 11, 2012 to continue as long as necessary. At the trial Fr. Kelley, along with his attorney, may examine his accusers and offer evidence of his innocence. There is also a prosecutor to present the case against Fr. Kelley. On the court are three members of the clergy, one lay person and the Chancellor of our Diocese, David Smith, who will offer legal advice to the members of the court. The court will determine his guilt or innocence and pass judgment. The Bishop can then accept the ruling or reject it.
The Bishop then can offer one of three sentences. He can give a Godly admonition, basically a warning not to do it again, he can suspend Fr. Kelley for a period of time, or he can remove him from the clerical state so he could no longer function as a priest of the church.
Now Fr. Kelley claims the Diocese of the West has no jurisdiction over him. That is not true. We do have jurisdiction over him as his own Vestry signed a resolution to remain in the ACA. Now that the Patrimony of the Primate has been dissolved, St. Mary's reverted back to the Diocese under Bishop Strawn. The By-laws of St. Mary's state you are in the ACA so there is not much wiggle room for him to change that fact.
One important fact not to be overlooked is that a majority of the duly elected Vestry of St. Mary's voted to request the resignation of Fr. Kelley last December and presented the letter to Fr. Kelley on December 11, 2011. This letter contained several severe pastoral and administrative concerns which resulted in that action. Fr. Kelley has never addressed these issues.
It is my understanding that Fr. Kelley is trying change the By-laws to claim you are now in the Roman Catholic Church. Legally that just can't happen. Another fact according to Fr. Scott Hurd, Vicar General, is that the Roman Catholic Church will not consider Fr. Kelley's application until he answers the charges against him. Additionally, St. Mary of the Angels is not under Archbishop Gomez, an inaccurate claim floated by Fr. Kelley and others.
I have been contact with the Internal Revenue Service about alleged tax fraud and they have indicated they were assigning a criminal investigator to the case for further investigation. This investigation will bring to light some serious wrongdoing and potentially bring criminal charges.
Fr. Kelley has been banned from the local U.S. Post Office as a result of attempting to present a fraudulent deed as owner of the cottage property in which he has lived as Rector of St. Mary's. The Post Office personnel recognized the document as being fake causing Fr. Kelley and Allan Trimpi to erupt into such actions as to be ordered out of the Post Office by Postal Police. This is not the type of conduct expected from a Priest and his supposed Senior Warden.
Realizing there is much to digest I'll close here but will continue to address the issues as may seem appropriate.
My continued prayers and Blessings to all of you.
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Canon Anthony J. Morello,
Priest in Charge Canon to the Ordinary, DOW
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