San Antonio archbishop removes Anglican-use Catholic parish pastor

BREAKING: San Antonio archbishop removes Anglican-use Catholic parish pastor

[For no apparent reason except possibly for deviation from the local AmChurch party line of mariachi-music Masses and liberation theology-influenced institutions such as the Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC). The beginning of a crackdown of another aspect of the JP2/B16 legacy? – i.e., special provisions for former Anglicans and Episcopalians to become Catholics because of opposition to pansexual innovations (such as ordination of women and buggers as well as marriage of the latter) in their churches. Hat-tip to (1) Hilary White at What’s up with Francis Church for the Jason Winchester’s Facebook post and (2) John Bruce at St Mary’s Hollywood: The Cold Case File for the archbishop’s letter]



Get AQ Email Updates

12 comments on “San Antonio archbishop removes Anglican-use Catholic parish pastor

  1. [Fr. Phillips’ successful (thriving and growing) Our Lady of the Atonement Church and School in San Antonio]

    An Anglican-Catholic ecumenical conversion triumph in the Lone Star State

    Fr. Dwight Longenecker
    October 12, 2016

    Father Christopher Phillips in front of the expanding Atonement Academy school in San Antonio, Texas

    Despite continuing dialogue, unity between the Anglican and Catholic Churches seems as far away as ever. But there are practical examples of where communion between the two is real. One of them is the burgeoning parish and school of Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, Texas.

    Last week the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, attended Vespers with Pope Francis at the church of Saint Gregory in Rome. It’s where Canterbury and Rome meet: the church marks the spot of Pope Saint Gregory’s monastery, from where he sent Saint Augustine to evangelize the English in the sixth century.

    The union between Rome and Canterbury was broken about a thousand years later, when King Henry VIII declared himself the head of the Catholic Church in England. Last week’s Vespers in Rome marked 50 years since Archbishop Michael Ramsey’s historic meeting with Pope Paul VI in 1966.

    That meeting opened the way to the establishment in 1969 of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) which pursues theological rapprochement between the two churches. Despite the Anglicans imposing “grave obstacles to unity” such as women priests and same-sex marriage, the polite discussions continue, interspersed with formal meetings between popes and archbishops and the occasional non-Eucharistic worship services.

    Ecumenical discussions among theologians have value, but the path to formal unity seems impossible. To be frank, the majority of Anglicans have no wish to be Catholic. Evangelical Anglicans maintain stark and intransigent theological disagreements with Catholicism. Progressive Anglicans abhor the Catholic church’s refusal to ordain women and believe Catholic teaching on human sexuality to be repressive and regressive.

    Yet Pope Benedict XVI’s establishment of the Ordinariate has shown that genuine ecumenical success is possible. Derided by progressive Catholics and despised by the Anglican hierarchy, the Ordinariate provides a structure for those Anglicans who wish to be in full communion with the Catholic Church to maintain not only their distinctive styles of worship and devotion, but also to have their own hierarchy, clergy, parishes, seminaries and religious orders.
    One of the forerunners of the Ordinariate is the remarkable parish of Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, Texas.

    As a young Anglican seminarian, Christopher Phillips trained for the ministry at Salisbury in England. On his return to the United States he and his wife Joanne, living at that time in Rhode Island, felt the call to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church.

    It was 1981 and Pope John Paul II had just given permission for married Anglican priests who become Catholic to be granted a dispensation from the vow of celibacy, thereby allowing them to be ordained as Catholic priests. Permission was also granted for groups of Anglicans to set up “personal parishes” using an Anglican-style liturgy under the supervision of their Catholic bishop.

    At the same time Christopher and Joanne were discerning the way forward, a small group of Episcopalians in San Antonio had decided to leave the Episcopal church and seek re-union with Rome. They asked Christopher if he would move to Texas to be their pastor.

    They packed up the Volkswagen with their three children plus dog and hamster and headed to Texas. Father Phillips remembers that in the early years their small congregation could only offer them a thousand dollars a month. They began Anglican-style Catholic worship and for the first four years moved from one location to another. But soon word circulated about the young priest and his family, and like-minded former Episcopalians and traditionally minded Catholics began to join the parish.

    Now, 33 years later, the parish of Our Lady of the Atonement is a model of ecumenical success. Phillips and his people purchased six acres of scrub land in northwest San Antonio. They built a beautiful church and a thriving school, the Atonement Academy, with over 500 students. The parish has now embarked on an ambitious building program. The new school will house a massive gym, as well as classrooms, fully equipped labs, theatre space and a magnificent auditorium and concert hall.

    At the Atonement Academy the Anglican tradition not only survives but thrives within full communion with the Catholic Church. Anglicanism is known for its great musical tradition. The parish rescued two pipe organs and had them re-furbished and fitted, and a third will be installed in the new school. All the students at the school are in various choirs that sing at the daily school Mass. The students achieve top scores nationally and the Atonement Academy regularly ranks in the top ten schools in San Antonio.

    Worship at Our Lady of the Atonement is unapologetically traditional without being traditionalist. The high-church Anglican liturgy is celebrated with solemnity, grace and beauty, but the parish is happily free of the right-wing extremism and apocalyptic conspiracy theories too often associated with the Catholic traditionalist movement.

    While formal talks between Anglican and Catholic theologians continue, individual Anglicans are taking action. One former Anglican priest I know puts it this way: “As an Anglican I asked myself what I could do to further unity between the Anglican and Catholic churches. I decided the only thing that I could do was to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church.”

    Phillips made the same decision and the parish of Our Lady of the Atonement is a witness to his faith, courage and perseverance. It is also a witness to the fact that church unity can be attained-one person and one parish at a time.

  2. This is an another example in Church Militants argument that the Church hierarchy is responsible for the Catholic Church loss of Catholic Church members for the last fifty years and eventual disappearance. Pope Pius XII small change in the Easter Week liturgy has lead to the situation we have now , the complete destruction of True Catholic Tradition and Doctrine. It goes without saying , also the complete destruction of the Beautiful Catholic Liturgy of the Tradional Latin Mass . The Popes from Pius XII to now have all been complicit in the destruction of the Catholic Church as we all once knew it. The Catholic Church will not nor can it survive under it’s present form .

  3. Don’t forget the imposition of the translation of the Psalms from Hebrew, also mandated under Papa Pacelli. As Canon Hesse pointed out, it literally made the sung Divine Office impossible to properly perform.

    Had the KGB been 1/4th as surreptitiously clever as the Modernists, ever since the 40s and 50s, we’d all be speaking Russian today.

    Pius XII was in so many ways a deeply Catholic and pious pope, one who never wrote a word that wasn’t truly orthodox and richly imbued with the highest and noblest sentiments of the Faith.

    He was not, however, a gifted discerner of men. He discovered and promoted Bugnini as well as appointing as cardinals every one of the rebels who sacked Tradition, beginning in 1962.

    I agree with Canon Hesse’s assessment, that Papa Pacelli simply had no idea of what his top people were really up to, especially with regard to how committed they were to undermine every last vestige of liturgy, ecclesial dignity and the Church’s 2,000 year stance against the heresy of liberal ecumenism.

  4. The money quote from Longenecker:

    “Worship at Our Lady of the Atonement is unapologetically traditional without being traditionalist. The high-church Anglican liturgy is celebrated with solemnity, grace and beauty, but the parish is happily free of the right-wing extremism and apocalyptic conspiracy theories too often associated with the Catholic traditionalist movement.”

    As a very recently unemployed elitist political leader would have said, “You like your heretical, anti-Roman church, you can keep your heretical, anti-Roman church.”

    Which, of course, is why I have opposed the whole ordinariate scheme (and the ever-more-pathetic Patheos crowd) since learning of either.

    Prots gonna prot, like it or not.

  5. To be extremely Right is extremely right — if your Right is right.
    As for conspiracy theories, even if it were possible to know they are right, they are simply a waste of time, and are no part of right Traditionalism.
    Just be as extremely Catholic Right, and right, as you can be, and everything will be all right.

    BTW, kudos for the recoinage of the noun/adjective ‘Prot’ into a verb form. You’ve shown it has potential.

  6. More from a source Tom linked:

    Several months ago I heard that there was some difference between Fr Phillips and the Archbishop over whether Our Lady of the Atonement would leave the Archdiocese to join the OCSP (Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter). If Fr Phillips were still an Anglican, I assume this letter would be equivalent to a notice of inhibition. This is probably not good news for Fr Phillips, nor indeed for the OCSP or Bp Lopes. [Bp. Lopes is the head of the OCSP]

    [The blogger, John Bruce, appears to be an Anglican convert who is seeing through the problem of trying to stay Anglican while calling oneself Catholic. Here are two links.]

    As far as I can see, the “clergy formation” that has taken place in the OCSP, up to and including that of Fr Baaten, is a joke. As I’ve said before, I would only consider going to an OCSP priest for confession if the big asteroid were about to hit the planet and I had no other option. Msgr Steenson and Bp Lopes will be held accountable for this at their judgment.
    … Later in his interview, Msgr Steenson referred to OCSP parishes as “. . . places that will function for the purpose they were created, to bring people into full communion.” At best, in the five years since the OCSP was erected, there have been a few thousand brought into full communion, although I have a troubling idea that they haven’t been well catechized, and I also have the nagging suspicion that the Anglican hinky-jinky goes to class bias. Indeed, if their shaky parishes and groups fold in the future, will they even move to diocesan parishes? I’m just not sure what’s meant by “full communion” here. Meanwhile, millions who were raised in full communion have left the Church.
    I’m less and less in sympathy with this whole project.
    It seems to me that the Anglican usage of Purity isn’t the same as the Catholic: if I go into confession and mention impurity, the confessor will know exactly what I mean, and purity in the Anglican rite is something else.

    • From these posts by Mr. Bruce, it appears that there is a lot to be troubled about with this Anglican-Catholic “hinky-jinky,” as Bruce calls it. As we at AQ know, Fr. Longenecker hasn’t made the conversion completely yet. Is it possible that the bishop of San Antonio has a genuine concern about Fr. Phillips?

  7. [The St. Joseph Foundation enters the fray]

    The Saint Joseph Foundation
    Office of the Chairman
    9922 Tioga Drive
    San Antonio, Texas 78230
    Charles M. Wilson
    January 22, 2017

    Dear Fellow Parishioners,

    I am one of three parishioners who was involved with our parish before Father Phillips arrived in San Antonio in 1982 and have witnessed quite a few crises over the course of our history. Right now, we are facing a crisis that threatens the very existence of our parish and our right to our liturgical patrimony that has been defined by the highest authorities in the Church. I hope you will find the following information to be helpful; but please understand that I speak only for myself and have no authority to speak for our pastor or for the archdiocese.

    At the time Our Lady of the Atonement was erected by the late Archbishop Patrick Flores, there were less than twenty parishioners and on several occasions the entire congregation could assemble in the living room of our modest home. As the parish grew in numbers and I grew in years, I came to know fewer and fewer of my fellow parishioners. I hope that this sad occasion will help to remedy that.

    A year after our parish was erected, a non-profit organization was incorporated under the laws of Texas. Its name is the Saint Joseph Foundation and its mission is to assist Catholics in defending their rights in the Church by using the canonical processes that have been established by ecclesiastical authority for that purpose. I retired as executive director in 2014 and our offices have moved to Ohio, yet I remain here in San Antonio as Chairman of the Board of Directors and publisher of the newsletter, Christifidelis, which some of you have read. We have provided canonical counsel of the highest quality to faithful Catholics throughout the United States and Canada and have handled appeals all the way to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome. In short, there is no comparable canonical resource anywhere in the world and it is at your disposal.

    Now to the matter at hand, which has three distinct elements.

    1. I assume you have seen Archbishop Garcia-Siller’s letter of January 19th. He gives the
    impression that we are simply in a period of “reflection and prayer.” I can tell you with
    certainty that this is not true. Instead, the archbishop has initiated that canonical process to remove Fr. Phillips as our pastor. If he succeeds, you can expect that Our Lady of the
    Atonement will become a territorial parish with perhaps one Anglican Use liturgy per week.
    All that we have sacrificed for will be lost. The Saint Joseph Foundation is involved and is
    supporting Father with canonical counsel. There is nothing that we can do as parishioners
    except to pray. Any individual action such as writing to the archbishop or demonstrating at the chancery would be counter-productive.

    2. As parishioners, you have a strict right in law to our Anglican patrimony. This has been
    confirmed by Popes Paul VI, Saint John Paul and Benedict XVI, in various legislative
    pronouncements, especially the motu proprio Anglicanorum coetibus. The Foundation stands ready to assist you in using canon law to vindicate this right. You need not worry about all the technicalities of canon law. We can take care of that for you.

    3. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter was erected with Our Lady of the Atonement in mind. The Ordinariate wants us to become a parish and we want to join, just as diocesan parishes in Houston, Fort Worth, Scranton, Omaha and elsewhere have done. In fact, it was Father Phillips’ petition to do just that that prompted the archbishop’s illegal and abusive action. Our status is before the competent dicastery of the Holy See right now and we need to pray like we have never prayed before for a speedy and favorable outcome.

    The lack of space prevents me from providing you with more details. Some parishioners are working with me to establish a venue where we can meet for an extended presentation and discussion. You will be informed when arrangements have been completed. Most likely, it will be next Wednesday or Thursday. In the meantime, a website has been set up at to keep you up to date. In case you have questions, my email address is

    The threat faced by our parish is extremely grave; but I cannot believe that Our Lady would have nourished and protected us all those years just to abandon us now. After all, this is Christ’s Church and in the end he will be victorious, no matter how grim things may appear in the immediate future. However, we must do our part. We need to pray, keep calm, stay focused and, above all, stand together with the Saint Joseph Foundation at your side.

    Our Lady of the Atonement, pray for us.

    Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for us.

    Saint Michael, defend us in battle.

    God bless you all.
    Charles M. Wilson

    • The St. Joseph Foundation plays by the rules” of Canon Law. Will the San Antonio archdiocese and FrankenPope “packed” Vatican bureaucracy do the same?

    • 3. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter was erected with Our Lady of the Atonement in mind. The Ordinariate wants us to become a parish and we want to join, just as diocesan parishes in Houston, Fort Worth, Scranton, Omaha and elsewhere have done.

      Hmmm. Just what does that mean? I guess it comes down to who owns the parish. If it’s the diocese, as I suspect, then the bishop is going to fight this. $$$ But, by analogy, what if Opus Dopus came in, claimed a parish, and then tried to put it entirely under the Prelature (which would never happen because OD waits on the bishop $$$)?

      I like Chuck Wilson, but there’s more to this than meets the eye. See my comments above for links to a former Anglican who has misgivings about this St. Peter group.

  8. I said above that Fr. Phillips was removed “for no apparent reason except possibly for deviation from the local AmChurch party line.”

    Rather than observing the AmChurch (reflecting the universal NewChurch) version of what has previously been called the Octave of Prayer for Church Unity:

    Week of Prayer for Christian Unity January 18-25, 2017

    The theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “Reconciliation-The Love of Christ Compels Us.” (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-20). According to Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII). . . , “it was in the context of the Reformation Anniversary that the Council of Churches in Germany took up the work of creating the resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017. It quickly became clear that the materials for this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity would need to have two accents: on the one hand, there should be a celebration of God’s love and grace, the ‘justification of humanity through grace alone’, reflecting the main concern of the churches marked by Martin Luther’s Reformation. On the other hand, the materials should also recognize the pain of the subsequent deep divisions which afflicted the Church, openly name the guilt, and offer an opportunity to take steps toward reconciliation.” [See more at ]

    … the news section of the parish website offers the traditonal Catholic prayers and intentions for that period:

    From January 18 through January 25, Christians throughout the world will be keeping the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Octave, as originally conceived by Father Paul of Graymoor, reflects the unchanging truth that there can be no real unity apart from union upon that Rock, established by Christ Himself, which is Peter and his successors. For that reason, St. Peter is considered the special Patron of the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity.


    ANTIPHON: That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in me and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.
    V. I say unto thee, thou art Peter;

    R. And upon this rock I will build my Church.

    [Here is brought to mind the intention for the day’s prayer.]

    January 18: For the return of the “other sheep” to the One Fold of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    January 19: For the return of the Eastern Orthodox Christians to communion with the Apostolic See.

    January 20: For the return of the Anglicans to the authority of the Vicar of Christ.

    January 21: For the return of all Protestants throughout the world to the unity of the Catholic Church.

    January 22: That Christians in America (or, in my own country) may be one, in union with the Chair of Saint Peter.

    January 23: That lapsed Catholics will return to the Sacraments of the Church.

    January 24: That the Jewish people will be converted to the Catholic Faith.

    January 25: That missionary zeal will conquer the world for Christ.
    Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst to thine Apostles, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: regard not our sins, but the faith of thy Church; and grant to her peace and unity according to thy will; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Leave a Reply