27 Dec 2010

Phoenix bishop immediately excommunicates another priest for "grave offense" of ordaining woman, but child abusers are protected

California Catholic Daily - September 22, 2010

“Grave offense against a sacrament”

Phoenix bishop excommunicates priest for participating in woman’s ‘ordination’

Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted has excommunicated a priest who participated in the attempted ordination of a woman in cahoots with a schismatic sect with ties to California.

The priest, Fr. Vernon Meyer, took part in the attempted ordination last month of social worker Elaine Groppenbacher in Tempe. The ‘ordination’ was performed by Bishop Peter Hickman of St. Matthew Ecumenical Catholic Church in Orange, part of the self-styled “Ecumenical Catholic Communion.” Over the last several years, Hickman has been traveling from California to states like Arizona and Colorado to perform the bogus ordinations.

In addition to ordaining women “priests,” the Ecumenical Catholic Communion allows open access to the Eucharist to anyone regardless of faith, permits its priests to marry, allows remarriage after divorce, approves of contraception and artificial insemination, rejects the authority of the pope, and spurns Canon Law.

A similar episode in September 2009 in which Hickman “ordained” two women in Longmont, Colorado, prompted a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Denver to call the Ecumenical Catholic Communion “a fringe group, like other such groups that disagree with Church teaching. They are in schism."

Bishop Olmsted wrote a pastoral letter published in the diocesan newspaper to explain the reasons for his actions. “As reported in the news this week, a schismatic group in Tempe known as the Ecumenical Catholic Communion attempted to confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders upon a woman,” said the bishop in his Sept. 1 letter. “It was also reported in the news that Fr. Vernon Meyer, a priest of our diocese, participated in the attempted ordination.

Actions such as these are extremely serious and carry with them profoundly harmful consequences for the salvation of the souls participating in this attempted ordination. To feign the conferral of the Sacrament of Holy Orders results in the penalty of excommunication. This penalty applies both to the person attempting the ordination and the person attempting to be ordained.”

Bishop Olmsted continued, “The attempted ordination of a woman is a grave offense against a sacrament and the structure of the Church.”

Bishop Olmsted has not been afraid to use his episcopal authority to rein in error. He earlier excommunicated Sister Margaret McBride of St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix after she permitted an abortion at the hospital. The excommunication of Fr. Meyer brings to five the number of diocesan priests Bishop Olmsted has excommunicated since he took over the diocese in 2003.

“Meyer said his letter of excommunication arrived on Saturday but he did not open it until Tuesday, the day he became pastor of Sun Lakes United Church of Christ,” the Arizona Republic reported. [see below]

This article was found at:



The Arizona Republic - September 17, 2010

Priest is excommunicated over ordination of woman

by Michael Clancy | Arizona Republic

The Catholic bishop of Phoenix has excommunicated another priest.

The Rev. Vernon Meyer, who had submitted his resignation to the bishop earlier this summer, becomes at least the fifth priest to be ousted from the church under Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. He was not defrocked, which is a separate penalty.

Meyer was penalized because of his participation in the ordination of Elaine Groppenbacher in Tempe last month.

Olmsted said on the diocese website, "Actions such as these are extremely serious and carry with them profoundly harmful consequences for the salvation of the souls participating in this attempted ordination."

Meyer, 58, is a longtime pastor and educator in the diocese. He most recently served at St. Patrick's Church in Scottsdale.

He founded the Arizona Center for Theological Studies, which offers religious-studies classes.

Meyer said he never doubted his vocation until Olmsted came to Phoenix.

One of the bishop's initial actions was to order nine priests to recant their support of a statement supporting gay rights within churches. Meyer said he removed his name from the statement but began to question the bishop's actions.

Meyer follows Dale Fushek, Chris Carpenter, Mark Dippre and Gene Young among priests who have been thrown out of the church. They left the church for various reasons and joined other groups.

Excommunication bans a person from participating in church life, including the sacraments. Church leaders say it is a remedial step aimed at bringing the violator back into the fold.

Olmsted has gained a nationwide reputation for his excommunications, notably that of a Catholic nun, Sister Margaret McBride, at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix. He said McBride participated in an abortion of a seriously ill woman with a life-threatening pregnancy.

Meyer said his letter of excommunication arrived on Saturday but he did not open it until Tuesday, the day he became pastor of Sun Lakes United Church of Christ.

This article was found at:



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