Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Dear Friends in Christ,
I write to address an important announcement from the Office of the Bishop made public yesterday afternoon. The retired rector of Saint Anselm’s, William Viola, has been reinstated as a priest in good standing of the Diocese of Long Island. Bishop Provenzano’s statement reads in part:
In accordance with the provision of Title IV.18.2 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, notice is hereby given that effective as of May 3rd, 2019, I have vacated the suspension and fully reinstated
William M. Viola
at his request, and with the consent of two-thirds of the Disciplinary Board of the Diocese of Long Island. I declare William M. Viola to be a priest in good-standing of the Diocese of Long Island with all privileges, rights, duties, and obligations pertaining thereto.
Those who have been members of Saint Anselm’s for a length of time will recall Father Viola’s long tenure as rector. I have heard, in my time, recollections stretching back over many years. Those same members will also recall the upset suffered in this community just over a decade ago when accusations against Father Viola resulted ultimately in his being suspended from ministry as a priest for a period of ten years. That period now having been completed, the Bishop and the Disciplinary Board of the Diocese have made the decision to lift that suspension. The one remaining restriction on William Viola is that he not be present at Saint Anselm’s.
This news will undoubtedly impact individuals in a variety of ways. Those who have become a part of this church community in recent years may have questions deserving of answers, and the need to be informed of this past history. Those who were upset at the events of a decade past may feel that pain renewed and feel uncertainty about present and future.
Whatever be the variety of responses among us, all of these deserve to be heard and respected. I will be addressing this news this coming Sunday following each of the weekend services. Anyone who wishes is welcome to stay for those conversations.
As a church community we are called to be a home of faith, of hope, and of love. We are called to be Christ in our place and time. This vocation of ours calls for honesty, for truth, for mutual care in every circumstance, and ultimately for forgiving love. This is, as this coming Sunday’s Gospel will remind us, how people recognize disciples of Jesus - by their love for one another. And so let us pray for all who are connected in this present circumstance: for past and present members of Saint Anselm’s Church, for persons hurt ten years ago and more, for those who may be still hurting, for our Bishop and the members of the Disciplinary Board, for the Viola family, and for our community who in these days will walk through this moment with faith together.
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Dr. John P. McGinty
Church of Saint Anselm of Canterbury