Image: Left to right male faces – senior warden, alleged perpetrator, bishop, rector. Female faces redacted.
More details are emerging surrounding alleged mishandling of the case of alleged abuse in ACNA’s Diocese of the Upper Midwest. The Anglican Church of North America’s Bishop Stewart Ruch III has already admitted to “regrettable” mistakes and taken a leave of absence. Now the mother of the alleged child victim has made public further allegations against other church officials.
[Of the alleged abuser, Mark Rivera, the mother said,] “He was well-established as a church leader, even within the diocese. He attended diocesan events as a Christ Our Light leader and representative.” … “That position of spiritual authority was monumental and central to the trust I had in him, and the access he had to my children”.
As reported by Religion News Service the mother alleges
- church officials — the rector and the senior warden of Christ Our Light church — failed to report the allegations to civil authorities
- these church officials pressured her not to report the allegations to civil authorities
- the diocesan chancellor advised these church officials this was not a case requiring them to report to civil authorities
- [the rector] “canceled my infant son’s baptism without an explanation. He said he had a lot going on that he needed to handle. Shortly after he cut off contact with me for four weeks, until he emailed me and asked me to resign from the vestry”
- her family has been cut off from church members since she reported Rivera to police
- she heard of other cases of grooming and abuse by Rivera at Church of the Resurrection which planted Christ Our Light. Rivera was active at both churches
- Church of the Resurrection did not inform congregants of the allegations against Rivera
ACNA has taken over an investigation in the handling of the case. In a July 10 letter Archbishop Foley Beach wrote:
Due to the Anglican Church in North America’s governance principle of subsidiarity, Canonical responsibility and authority in these matters rests with the local diocese. However, the bishop and the diocese have now formally requested that the Province become involved, and I want to apprise you of this matter.
A Provincial Response Team is being formed by Provincial leaders to take oversight of this process, committed to act with thorough professionalism and with deep care for the survivors. This team will include diverse representation of women and men with experience in these areas. We are prayerful and hopeful that this will help bring forth truth and confidence so healing and restoration can be facilitated.