Fort Worth requests union with Roman Catholic Church

Updated again 8/12

Katie Sherrod of the Diocese of Fort Worth reveals an attempt by several clergy, with the apparent support of their bishop, to take the Diocese to the Roman Catholic Church. According to the document William A Carey, Charles A Hough, Louis L. Tobola, and Christopher Stainbrook, leaders in the Diocese of Fort Worth, claiming the Bishop Iker ‘gave us his “unequivocally support” to proceed further by having this conversation with you’, proposed to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Fort Worth that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth become a Roman Catholic Diocese.


1. We believe the See of Peter is essential not optional – Fr. Stainbrook

2. We believe a magisterium is needed desperately – Fr. Crary

3. We believe the Catholic Faith is true – Fr. Stainbrook

4. We believe the Anglican Communion shares the fatal flaws of TEC- Fr. Tobola

5. We believe our polity is in error-Fr. Crary

6. We believe we are not the only ones in our diocese – Canon Hough

7. We believe Pope Benedict XVI understands our plight – Fr. Tobola

8. We believe there is a charism which Anglican ethos has to offer to the Universal Church-Fr. Stainbrook


PREAMBLE – Fr. Crary

A. We appreciate your taking this time to meet with us.

B. Introduction of group by Fr. Crary. Fr. Crary introduces himself and then the group.

C. History: Our group met several times (with our Bishop’s knowledge) for the past year and a half. Out meetings arose because of the on going crisis in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

D. We shared our conclusions with Bishop Iker on April 10th of this year. He gave us his “unequivocally support” to proceed further by having this conversation with you.

E. We would like to share briefly with you our journey and our conclusions which we shared with Bishop Iker.

F. However, before we share our thoughts we would like to present you with this icon which was commissioned expressly for you and for our meeting today.


We request that the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth provide the guidance necessary so that we might “make a proposal” that would lead our Diocese into full communion with the See of Peter.

We believe this guidance is necessary for the following reasons:

1. We cannot adequately prepare such a proposal without input from those to whom the proposal is to be made.

2. Such guidance would help us through the complicated aspects of this proposal.

3. With this guidance, the Holy Spirit could affect more quickly the healing of this portion of the broken Body of Christ.

Should you consent, we gladly offer ourselves for this important work and stand ready to work with those you might designate.

Read it all here.

Update: The Dallas Morning News reports:

A delegation of Episcopal priests from Fort Worth paid a visit to Catholic Bishop Kevin Vann earlier this summer, asking for guidance on how their highly conservative diocese might come into “full communion” with the Catholic Church.

Whether that portends a serious move to turn Fort Worth Episcopalians and their churches into Catholics and Catholic churches is a matter of dispute.

The Rev. William Crary, senior rector of the Fort Worth diocese, confirmed that on June 16 he and three other priests met with Bishop Vann, leader of the Fort Worth Catholic diocese, and presented him a document that is highly critical of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

The document states that the overwhelming majority of Episcopal clergy in the Fort Worth diocese favor pursuing an “active plan” to bring the diocese into full communion with the Catholic Church.

While declining to specify what that might mean, Mr. Crary said it likely would not mean “absorption” by the Catholic Church.

He cast the initiative as following Anglican and Catholic leaders in longstanding efforts to bring the two groups into greater cooperation, with the ultimate goal of honoring Jesus’ call in John 17:21 for Christian unity.

But other local Episcopalians interpret the meeting and document differently.

“There’s a very serious attempt on the part of Episcopal clergy in the Diocese of Forth Worth to petition Rome for some kind of recognition,” said the Rev. Courtland Moore, who is retired as rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Arlington.

“They make it clear that they no longer believe there is truth in the Anglican Communion, and the only way they can find truth is reunion with Rome.”

Mr. Moore is co-chairman of Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians, a group that wants the Fort Worth diocese to remain in the Episcopal Church. He obtained a copy of the document the priests gave to Bishop Vann and made it available to reporters.

Dallas Morning News: Episcopal priests from Fort Worth may be looking at Catholicism

UPDATE: 8/12 5:30 EDT

Statement by Bishop Iker:

Their discussion with Bishop Vann has no bearing upon matters coming before our Diocesan Convention in November, where a second vote will be taken on constitutional changes concerning our relationship with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. There is no proposal under consideration, either publicly or privately, for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth to become part of the Roman Catholic Church. Our only plan of action remains as it has been for the past year, as affirmed by our Diocesan Convention in November 2007. The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth intends to realign with an orthodox Province as a constituent member of the worldwide Anglican Communion


Read the whole statement here.

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  1. I suggest you climb down off your holy-high-horse and run, not trot, to your nearest Roman Catholic Parish Church and sign right up…please don’t take Grannie Getyourguns Stained Glass window with ye as she wasn’t much a fan of them Popes!

  2. tgflux

    From the FW Manifesto: In April 2006 our Diocesan Bishop and several of the clergy made a pilgrimage to Rome. At that time we were blessed to have an informal visit with his Eminence, Bernard Cardinal Law.

    Ah, yes: they were “blessed” to have a meeting w/ the Sacred Protector of Boston Pedophiles. What more need be said, really?

    Lord have mercy!

    [Personally, I don’t think Rome will touch ’em w/ a 10-foot monstrance. They reeeeeeeally don’t want to go down this path to (Totally Chaotic Bishop-Shopping) Perdition, do they? [As any Episcopalian starts counting RC parishes they know of, who might prefer being an (lay-empowered!) Episcopal parish, given the choice].

    Nope, Rome has its hands full as it is: they wouldn’t DARE step into this mess!

    JC Fisher

  3. With all the desolation within the RCC, why on Earth would they want to deal with more legal troubles?

    David Green

  4. Marc

    Hopefully, the powers that be in the RCC church will have the integrity to demand Iker et al. relinquish all claim to anything that belongs to the EC (property, holy orders, etc.) as a condition for reception.

    Marc P Vance

  5. ATGerns

    It sounds as if these men want the RCC to take in the whole diocese or at least the congregations that want to leave the Episcopal Church. This is certainly a very long shot.

    I cannot imagine the Roman Catholic Church going that route and getting entangled in both a legal and ecumenical brouhaha that they simply cannot afford. Besides their interpretation of our orders would forbid it.

    Instead these 54-59 men would all need to renounce their Episcopal orders and seek the odd kind of reordination the RCs do for defecting Episcopalians and these men would have to live under the pastoral provision and they would need to build up new congregations under the terms of that same provision.

    Still, for these Anglo-Catholics all this work is probably a more attractive option than living under an Evangelical bishop from Argentina.

    Andrew Gerns

  6. Derek Olsen

    Very interesting… FW really is exploring all of their options. It’s noteworthy that the Pastoral Provision/Anglican Use is already centered in Texas; 4 of the 7 Anglican Use congregations in the country are located there. Of course, there’s no way that Bishop Iker would remain a bishop going this route.

  7. On carefully reading the report I see the diocese isn’t asking for union with Rome (yet?); four priests are proposing it. I essentially agree with them about Anglicanism. The Catholic Movement there has no future.

    Yes, of course Iker and his clergy wouldn’t be received in their orders; chances are he’d be ordained a Roman Catholic priest. But in future of course he could be consecrated a Roman Catholic bishop, perhaps as an auxiliary in Fort Worth.

    As for property there is the claim that the diocese owns the buildings but then again there’s the recent precedent, in central California at that, of former Assyrian bishop Mar Bawai Soro and most of his diocese leaving to go under Rome; they didn’t try to take the buildings.

    If this comes to pass I can see that happening again.

  8. Correction: Iker’s married. The rule on clerical celibacy is discipline not doctrine but Rome wouldn’t make an exception here, not least because celibate bishops are a point of unity with the Orthodox. Like Mgr Graham Leonard he’d be a Roman priest.

  9. B. Snyder

    Excellent! Thrilling!

    And I for one can’t wait to see what happens when they try seceeding from the Roman Catholic Church on some future occasion!

    That will be mighty entertaining indeed….

  10. Notwithstanding the recent statement by the Roman Bishop of Newark (I think it was Newark, wasn’t it?), I can’t imagine Rome receiving them except as individuals, especially with the comments Cardinal Kasper made at Lambeth. Now, should the Roman bishop choose to ordain any of them – that’s his responsibility, and I hope God blesses everyone involved. Of course, Rome is the last place to speak of the diocese as the basic unit of the Church, independent of larger Church structures….

  11. I should think Archbishop Myers is in a position to speak for Rome.

    Of course Iker and his priests would be received as individuals but… with or probably without the current buildings, keeping the parishes together for cultural reasons as RC ‘national parishes’, just like Italian, Polish and Slovak ones in other parts of America, ‘bringing our folk with us’ as Andrew Burnham recently said in England, is doable.

    Good point about Rome and the basic unit of the church which is why Mar Bawai and his people’s way of changing churches makes sense.

  12. Barry Fernelius

    For all of those wonderful Anglo-Catholic Episcopal priests in the diocese of Fort Worth, I would offer these words of encouragement: be careful what you wish for.

    Lord have mercy!

  13. Richard III

    My rector grew up in the RCC and his take on this is that these priests don’t know what they are asking for and that many of them would not be happy with their decision.

    – Richard Warren

  14. tgflux

    My rector grew up in the RCC…

    You mean, some didn’t? 😉

    I essentially agree with them about Anglicanism. The Catholic Movement there has no future.

    Only if by “the Catholic Movement”, you meant Papalism, JohnB. I, and numerous Anglo-Catholics around the world, do not.

    JC Fisher

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