The Rev. Don Armstrong is among the self-described "conservative" or "orthodox" priests who have left the PECUSA to form their own mini-denomination, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, in which women can be ordained as priests but not bishops and gay people may keep quiet.
He is also, according to a grand jury indictment, a thief.
Armstrong, the long-time pastor of a parish in Colorado Springs, is accused of using church money to pay the college expenses of his two children, including their rent and tuition. In 2007, an ecclesiastical court found him guilty of financial and pastoral misconduct to the tune of $400,000, and he was "removed from the active ministry." Coincidentally (ahem), it was also in 2007 that Armstrong joined CANA.
The current indictment accuses him of stealing $291,000 from a trust and, later, from general church funds.
It has been a bad few months for Armstrong, jurisprudentially speaking. His schismatic congregation had hoped to obtain possession of the $17 million church property, which a judge has now ruled they must turn over to the diocese.
Look, we know it happens in the best of families, yadda-yadda. But what we're really wondering is why CANA let this guy in. Do they have some evidence that of the guy's innocence? Do they simply not care about the Seventh Commandment (or Eighth, by the Prayer Book count)? Were they perhaps swayed by the prospect of a $17 million church property?
We hate to be Father One-Note, but we are reminded of another schismatic church body, which left its parent denomination with great fanfare, over issues in which politics and theology blended uncertainly. They too claimed, and not entirely without reason, that "we didn't leave our church; our church left us." Subsequent experience has suggested that some of the most compelling and apparently gifted of these schismatics were not entirely well-adjusted, emotionally speaking. We wonder what would happen if CANA's clergy were to take, say, the MMPI en masse. (Or after Mass, if that were more convenient).