Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Don't hold your breath

Bishop Leo Michael of the so-called Holy Catholic Church Anglican Rite (a name that was wrongly taken from the old ARSA without permission) has made a public comment suggesting that I am a liar. In order to understand his complaint you need to read the following stories here and here and here: In addition you can read the reports on Virtue OnLine, and The Christian Challenge. (Bishop Michael also makes bold claims to an understanding with the APCK simply on the basis of what a few of its members did at a service-revealing a very interesting need to grasp at straws). He writes:

The HCCAR is very active and well with bishops who are faithful to God and His flock and continue the work entrusted to their care. By the way, true to the Affirmation of St. Louis all of our churches are and always have been owned by the individual congregations, contrary to those false tabloid story on St. James in Kansas city, especially on VirtueOnline, the Anglican Continuum website and the UECNA website. All that one has to do is to check the local county or state records of incorporation or speak with the founding and long standing members who are very much present...

We hope and pray that those who have published falsehoods would consider undoing the damage they have done to the body of Christ and move forward in tending to the care and cure of their flock. Any talk about collaboration becomes a doublespeak, while actively engaging in slander against one of the legitimate bodies in the Chambers' Succession or remaining silent at such talks.

As the man who reported this story, I advise Bishop Leo Michael not to hold his breath. The actions taken in Kansas City by him and his colleagues were tyrannical and completely contrary to the principles of the Affirmation of St. Louis. They simply took church property away from the vestry and congregation, and sent their clergy packing; then Michael moved in and took possession of the real estate and other assets that include an endowment. The congregation was worn out and folded, and their capitulation was contrary to the advice of their lawyer, since the judge was leaning in their direction. It was the bishops, Leo Michael and James McNeley, who sued one of their own congregations, clearly imitating the worst behavior of the Episcopal Church; the congregation was the defendant. This action has a unique place in the history of all the jurisdictions (to what extent they may be considered a jurisdiction).

We have never provided a link to the HCC-AR on this blog.* Not every group that has broken off on its own can be recognized simply for maintaining the Chambers Succession, or paying lip service to the Affirmation. Claiming to hold to the Affirmation of St. Louis is shallow if the principles in it are cast aside for convenience.

We published no falsehoods, and we stand by our reports.
* Not a reflection on many priests and congregations-potential victims all- who have our sincere prayers.


poetreader said...

When I first heard of +Leo Michael, I must admit I tended to be impressed, but, alas, no longer. I've seen enough to be quite convinced that Fr. Hart's evaluation is far closer to the truth than +Michael's self-justification. The Continuum has been plagued with bishops and clergy with enormous egos and an inflated sense of their authority.

Bishop Leo, though I'm a layman, on the authority of God's word, I counsel you, for the sake of your soul and of those under your care, to seek the humility Our Lord demonstrated, and to prefer others to yourself as St. Paul counseled.

In Him
ed pacht

Ken said...

I seem to remember something about wolved in sheep's clothing seeking whom they may devour.

Ken said...

BTW is there any update on the Rev. John Cochran and the parish?

frron said...

You might also note that he claims to have been called by the parish of St James as their rector and lo and behold they bought a 2 story rectory for his use...wonder what happened to the old one that he threw Fr Cochcran out of ?
And finally I wonder if APB Provence is aware the APCK is in communion with the HCC ?

John A. Hollister said...

Leo Michael's "Episcoblog" states, in language that is quoted in Fr. Hart's article: "Any talk about collaboration becomes a doublespeak, while actively engaging in slander against one of the legitimate bodies in the Chambers' Succession or remaining silent at such talks."

This comment lacks both coherence and context.

"Any talk about collaboration becomes a doublespeak" is clearly directed at those of whom Leo Michael disapproves, which certainly would include those who, in their turns, disapprove of him. Yet nowhere in his self-laudatory "Episcoblog" editorial does even he state that anyone is proposing to collaborate with his HCC(WRTW). Where there was never any speaking, there can be no double speaking.

Likewise, he complains about "active... slander against one of the legitimate bodies in the Chambers' Succession or remaining silent at such talks".

Where there have been no talks by any recognized body with the HCC(WRTW), there has been no occasion for anyone to stand improperly silent.

The remainder of his comment assumes the truth of two propositions which remain to be proven. One is that he and his HCC(WRTW) have been slandered; it is a basic principle of law that there can be no slander when the statement to which exception is taken were true. The other is that his HCC(WRTW) is a legitimate body, a proposition that he appears bent on refuting all by himself.

John A. Hollister+

William Tighe said...

Some of the former members of this congregation have begun the formation of an Anglican Use Roman Catholic parish, "Our Lady of Hope:"


frron said...

Michael's ranting gives me the impression that he's the metropolitan of the HCC.

Ken said...

Long term this might work out to be a good thing, despite the heartache of the people of St. James (there have also been a couple of parishes that split in the UECNA to follow the bishop).

The bishop has shown himself to be a ravenous wolf. He'll probably be forever isolated from other Anglican groups. Image what could have happened in an alternate future if he stayed with the UECNA and the UECNA, APCK and the ACC united. Imagine the problems that could have been caused in such a scenario if he didn't get his way in some fashion.

Michael said...

Whatever else might be said about them, they have a really cool new website... http://www.holycatholicanglican.org/


Fr. Robert Hart said...

Tip top marketing-better than Coca Cola and Pepsi.

Anonymous said...

The slick new website is a feast to read! Here is a delighful tidbit, concerning their patriarch, Bp Kleppinger:
"Subsequently received Baptism through Consecration Sub-Conditionae in the Chambers' Succession, being perhaps the only person to make this claim."

Baptism through a sub-conditionae (sic) Consecration? I was dozing in my sacramental theology class when that concept was explained.
But then, he has a degree from "Geneva Theological College," a now defunct institution which was atually a diploma mill operated by Tony Clavier.

Canon Tallis said...

This is the sort of nonsense that has given and continues to give the Continuum a bad name. Out of some sort of sick curiosity I went to the HCC-AR website and was amazed to see them claiming to believe and teach the Catholic Faith of the first five centuries. But they are going to do it in modern Roman vesture and ceremonial, most of which goes back no farther than the last part of the 16th century and which even Rome in the last century has tried to shake itself free of.

They could use a great deal more honesty and humility. I feel for Bishop Reber and the UECNA who made the mistake of taking this fellow in and then electing and consecrating him bishop.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Wells quoted the HCC(WRTW) website as stating about Bishop Thomas Kleppinger: "Subsequently received Baptism through Consecration Sub-Conditionae in the Chambers' Succession, being perhaps the only person to make this claim."

The notion that episcopal consecration may carry another Sacrament with it, piggy-back fashion, sounds like the Sage of Quakertown confused "sub conditione" with "per saltum" (which is, in any event, not something to which Anglicans historically have been warm). If so, that would suggest he did, indeed, sleep through Sacramental Theology at Geneva (or failed to open that envelope?) because Baptism cannot be conferred "per saltum".

Baptism, he would have learned had he been awake (or gotten that piece of mail), is the Sacrament that confers the capacity to benefit from the graces conferred by the other Sacraments. Thus it cannot either be dispensed with or substituted for by some subsequent Sacrament.

John A. Hollister+

poetreader said...

Fr, Hollister,
I suppose we'd have to ask the right reverend gentleman for clarification, but I don't think things are qute as confuised as that. I read that sentence to say that he'd gone through all the requisite rites, in sequence, conditionally, from Baptism up through consecration. Presumably that would indicate some defect in his original baptism, which would have, if true, raised questions about his eligibility for confirmation and for ordiantion to each order. In such a case it would remove legitimate doubts to rectify it all conditionally in one complex service. That, at least, is how I read it.


D. Straw said...

Read the last paragraph on this page from the HCC-AR site:


poetreader said...


What naked arrogance, what presumption!

I've seldom, if ever, seen such an exhibition of spiritual pride as that. Where is humility? Where is the recognition that they are, like every part of God's Church, a community of sinners? I tremble at the judgment they are calling upon themselves. Lord have mercy!


Fr. Robert Hart said...

The last paragraph, which has been called to our attention says this:

It is no exaggeration, therefore, that the HCC-AR is faced with a task of supreme significance at this time. It is not because the HCC-AR has made a unique discovery - the truth about the Church has always been there - but because the background of failed Anglicanism, from which so many of our members come, faces us with special temptations and special insights into what is true and what is false concerning the nature of the Church. The HCC-AR has been called by God for a ministry to all the Churches; we must not fail through looking back over our shoulders to an Anglican past with no future at all. By the time you read this the Holy Catholic Church-Anglican Rite may be severely reduced in numbers, especially in America. Outsiders will say that the HCC-AR has split, but this is not an accurate way of looking at things. This Tract has been written to indicate the underlying situation. There will be those who remain true to the Catholic character of the HCC-AR, while those who have attempted to change its identity will have departed from its fellowship - whatever title they may continue to use. Such a separation is not a sign of weakness; it is a further necessary stage on the long spiritual journey undertaken by the Holy Catholic Church Anglican Rite.

This is worse than mere arrogance; this is the first time any group claiming to be Anglican has ever described itself in terms of the "One True Church" mentality. This is cultish in nature, worse than merely sectarian. Only a very strong delusion bordering on insanity could induce such a bold claim. Time for the straitjackets at least, exorcism most likely.

Anonymous said...

As Brian G. remarked on aanother thread regarding TEC, perhaps we are giving them too much credit. HCC-AR
is a tiny body with many manifest internal problems. Their new website (not badly done, all in all, apart from some shocking exaggerations noted already) indicates that I has approximately 20 to 25 "parishes," many of which appear to exist only on paper. I would estimate the total number of adherents, scattered from PA to CA to be fewer than 500 people. I see no staying power there. Why lose sleep? There are dozens of these nonentitious bodies around the country, being of interest only to the diligent webmasters of Anglicans Online. Who cares?

frron said...

I think that Leo already sees himself as the head of the HCC and has and will continue to make it in the image that he sees for it.
His claims of intercommunion are bogus.
Should we be concerned ?? I think so as many of us have felt his displeasure and the consequences of disagreeing with him.

poetreader said...

Unfortunately, they seem to be embroiling themselves in the affairs of more reputable jurisdictions, and thus to be capable of more mischief than their size seems to indicate. Thus I think we do have to be watchful.


The Parsoun said...

Many have left the ACC(OP) over the years, feeling that body to have begun the "one true church" syndrome. I don't think it wise to blame the HCC-AR for an attitude they probably inherited from the other one true church.

poetreader said...

I just rejected a comment from an anonymous poster refering to +Michael that began "I heard a rumor", and ending with a questions as to whether we know anything about this man.

I don't know who posted it, nor where his information came from, but I don't treat rumors as fcat, not do I believe the specific charges necessarily represent anything other than an attempt to besmear. +Michael's exploits have been covered pretty accurately here, and I believe they speak for themselves. I do not consider him a person who should be followed, but neither am I willing to hunt up information of doubtful accuracy with which to hang him.

"Anonymous", you are welcome to raise questions with more than rumor behind them, but I regret that I'm unable to deal with your comment as it appeared.


John A. Hollister said...

Father Hart remarked about the final paragraph on the HCC(WRTW) website:

"This is worse than mere arrogance; this is the first time any group claiming to be Anglican has ever described itself in terms of the 'One True Church' mentality. This is cultish in nature, worse than merely sectarian. Only a very strong delusion bordering on insanity could induce such a bold claim."

"Delusion" is le mot juste. Delusion has marked the HCC(WRW)'s existence since before its actual formation in August, 1997, when it was yet but a gleam in its creators' eyes.

The whole operation began with Thomas Kleppinger's delusion that his 1970s "consecration" at the hands of a notorious "episcopus vagans" made him the senior Bishop Ordinary, by date of consecration, among the then-members of the ACC's College of Bishops.

This self-promoting fantasy, planted in vanity, fertilized by ambition, and cultivated in arrogance, set the tone for the entire HCC(WRTW) ever since.

And what a wonderful name! Just think, to choose a moniker that not-so-subtly suggests this tiny fragment IS the entirety of that portion of "The Holy Catholic Church: The Communion of Saints" to which we give allegiance in the Creeds that uses an Anglican form of service.

What chutzpah! In 1992, when the Chancery Court of New Jersey (in a lawsuit filed by the HCC(WRTW) bishops, mind you) ordered what would later be named the HCC(WRTW) to stop usurping the name of The Anglican Catholic Church, the new body proposed to call itself "The Anglican Rite Catholic Church".

The ACC objected, pointing out to the Court that this name still had too much potential for being confused with The Anglican Catholic Church, especially given the new group's track record of deliberately but fraudulently representing itself to BE The Anglican Catholic Church.

The Court agreed and told the new body to try again. It came back with the proposal that it call itself "The Holy Catholic Church (Anglican Rite)". The ACC made no objection at all to that and, in fact, rather hoped that the mind-numbing hubris of it would help everyone who ever saw it to understand something fundamental about the body that would even dream of taking such a name for itself.

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

...rather hoped that the mind-numbing hubris of it would help everyone who ever saw it to understand something fundamental about the body that would even dream of taking such a name for itself.

Stated in a vacuum it is outrageous. When the ARSA used it as a second name, and only on internal documents, it was because they were the Anglican Rite of the Philippine Independent Catholic Church. That made sense.

John A. Hollister said...

The Parsoun wrote:

"Many have left the ACC(OP) over the years, feeling that body to have begun the 'one true church' syndrome. I don't think it wise to blame the HCC-AR for an attitude they probably inherited from the other one true church."

I do not know where the Parsoun got his information but I have been a member of the ACC for twenty-five years. In that time, I have never heard a single other member claim anything other than that the ACC is one part -- only one part, indeed a small part, but nevertheless a real part -- of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Nor have I heard any single other member deny that The Holy Catholic Orthodox Church (the so-called "Eastern Orthodox") is a part of that true Church, or that the Roman Catholic Church is another part, or that the canonical Old Catholics (of whom only the Polish National Catholic Church is the only portion left standing) is another part, or that the Anglican Province of Christ the King and the United Episcopal Church of North America are parts, or that the Anglican Rite Synod of America (at least the portion that still survives and maintains its separate existence) is a part.

There are probably some others I have overlooked of whom the same could be said.

So from where I sit, it sounds as though the Parsoun were trying to blow a plugged trumpet while simultaneously chomping on extraordinarily sour grapes.

John A. Hollister+

Anonymous said...

Holister intentionally leaves out the ACA no doubt they all be vagantes in his book.

If HCC has 500 that is abour 200 more than UECNA.I have only been to a couple ACC churches and the coffee was great but OTC was always at hand especially regarding the CC.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

OTC? Is that "over the Counter?"

poetreader said...


While I. too, was a bit annoyed at Father Hollister's omission of ACA, I am aware that he was charitably leaving aside certain disagreements between his jurisdiction and mine and speaking of situations of which he can be sure. I don't have to like ACC's attitude toward ACA to have respect for them, and to treat them as a sister church.

However, I'm even more disturbed by the attitude I seem to see in your report (I'd like to be mistaken, but ...).

Whether intended or not, your truncation of his name to "Hollister" seems to show a lack of respect for his office, whether you agree with him or not. You might note than none of us, even with our strong objection to Bishop Michael's actions. has failed to acknowledge him as bishop. Canon Hollister is a priest in good standing, and one that, even for the disagreements I have with him, I consider to be a godly priest.

Moreover the statistics game is one heck of a horrible way to try to establish truth. I question your figures, but, even if they were accurate, both jurisdictions, as well as even ACC and ACA are dwarfed in numbers by TEC. By that reasoning (the very reasoning used by Mrs. Schori and others) We'd all be eliminated.

Our commentary here, whether it is correct or not, is directly based on what we have observed of behavior. If our observations are correct, then every bit of condemnation written, and more, is amply ddeserved. If it is really untrue, we would actually be thankful to be relieved of the necessity to oppose such things. It certainly appears to us, however, that we are in accord with solid evidence, and if this be so, we simply have to speak out, in sad necessity.


Anonymous said...

Poetreader writes:

"Moreover the statistics game is one heck of a horrible way to try to establish truth. I question your figures, but, even if they were accurate,...."

Words fail me. Where did I hear about 400K, 450K, or 700K?

Young curmudgeon

poetreader said...

Young Curmudgeon:

Exactly! I've said that to ACA triumphalists also. The statistics game is a decidedly stupid one to be playing, no matter who the players may be.


Anonymous said...

Has anyone gone to the HCC-AR website? Click under "news" It shows Bp Leo Michael at the Ordination of a Deacon wearing his Clerical dress? Odd I thought? He should wear his miter and cope at an ordination! I love how these HCC-AR Bishops play church, they don't have a clue what they are doing!!! Contrast this to the ACC Consecration of the new bishop! What a contrast indeed! Looks Like Bp Michael just went to a close out sale on pre Vatican II regalia and has no idea what to wear nor when to wear it! Pity indeed!

Anonymous said...

The HCC-AR is neither Catholic (they are not in commuion with anyone) nor are they Anglican (they hold very little of the Anglican faith, they are more like Roman Catholics) not to mention no one heard of such a thing as an "Anglican Rite". There is an Easter Rite, there is a Latin Rite, but no such thing as an Anglican RITE!! It makes no sense to anyone who knows anything about church history!!! Why do they exist again??? Oh thats right I forgot three Bishops needed a job!

poetreader said...

Anonymous of 11.33pm

First, we would appreciate a name or at least a handle. It mahes discussion so much easier.

Second, I have no time to be criticizing someone for degrees of clerical haberdashery.

Frankly, that puts a smokescreen in front of legitimate objections to the behavior of a bishop and of his sect, and makes Catholics look terribly petty and supercicial. Externals like this are a very distant second to the real and solid issues of Christian behavior involed in this unpleasant story.

If the bishop were behaving like a Christian cleric in a body behaving likewise, then I might have mild criticism for such things, as those errors of a cinfused but valued brother. Whereas, if he had every detail of his practice letter perfect by Fortescue ot Ritual Notes, or by Percy Dearmer, for that matter, it wouldn't weaken my objection to his (and their) behavior one whit.


Anonymous said...

poetreader writes,

However, I'm even more disturbed by the attitude I seem to see in your report.

I'm surprised, Ed, that it doesn't seem to cross your mind that anon's "attitude" is merely a natural response to the very hostile "attitude" that has been manifested here.

Y'all really do have a beam in the eye problem, you know?


Fr. Robert Hart said...

Hostile attitude? We presented facts, not an attitude.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fathers,
I am aware that am commenting on an item, which was written by Father Hart sometime ago, but recent developments in the HCC/AR has prompted me to write. I an an Anglican Catholic Priest, but cannot identify myself , because of possible repercussion. Please forgive me then for writing " Anynomously" Fr.Ron then commented that Bishop Leo sees himself as the head of the HCCAR and I regret to advise that his observance and comment are SPOT ON. At this very moment Bishop Leo, who controls the HCCAR Website and the Google HCCAR Clergy group and has the treasurer of the Church under his wing, has locked out Abp. Kleppinger from access to Church funds, he has removed him from the Clergy list and has allowed his shadow Fr.J to issue propaganda that the HCCAR should get rid of all foreign Bishops and there are a few now, wipe the merger of the HCCAR and HCCWR ( gets involved ) does it not ? )And the HCCAR should be a purely American Church only. Foreign Bishops have been accused to be after their money, which is a rediculous acquisation. Bishop Leo first of all let Father J. do his dirty work on the list, by blasting a number of people including Abp.Kleppinger and saying that he has no right to be Acting Metropolitan, a General Synod has to be called and nominations have to be called for the office of Abp. etc etc. Finally Leo himself started writing on the Clergy list announcing a Provincial Synod in June and signing the post with " College of Bishops" This is pure madness, because most of the Bishops are right behind Abp.Thomas and Leo only has the support of a few retired Bishop and one still active, forgive me I not a 100% sure of this. Then Abp. Kleppinger received a letter from a solicitor in Kansas City - a co-incidence that Leo resides there, telling him that he is dismissed from his position as action Metropolitan. Most of us know the very chequered history of Leo, but the latest coup is outrageous - what do they call it in the army? Mutiny. We in the HCCAR and HCCWR will survive and stand right behind +Thomas. One asks oneself , how can this happen once again in the Church of God and how on earth can we bring others to Christ , if we have people like Leo and Fr.J throwing their weight around. Leo's motto is " to the greater Glory of God", but his actions make that statement a blatent lie. As Poetreaders remarks rightly, Leo needs to seek humility .
If only , if only , could we as Continuing Anglicans united in one group. Pray for us Fathers.

Anonomous ( sorry about that )

Anonymous said...

to the last post
The same tactics were used in his attempted takeove of the UECNA.
What do have to fear ?

Anonymous said...

I've found this site as part of my research into the actions of Leo Michael and am curious if there is anyone still here who can clarify the many comments, thread topics and all to help me in understanding who this man really is. Until recently, I was very one to him but my heart began to ache. When I started to question and deal with this discomfort, I was subsequently removed from my role in the church.

I will wait and see if a response is posted.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

This was posted 14 years ago. My information about the man is out of date. I really do not want to look into anything about him unless I have to. Suffice to say, I was not impressed by that jurisdiction and its bishops (?) at the time.