The Episcopal Church has come full circle in its controversy over women priests, with two male priests currently facing ecclesiastical courts for church law infractions growing out of their opposition to their Church's decision to ordain women as priests.
Canon Albert J. duBois, coordinator of Anglicans United and for 24 years executive director of the Anglo-Catholic American Church Union, has been "inhibited" - that is, barred - from functioning as a priest in his diocese by the Rt. Rev. Jonathan G. Sherman, bishop of Long Island.
Similar action has been taken against the Rev. Robert Morse, rector of St. Peter's Church in Oakland, Calif., by the Rt. Rev. C. Kilmer Myers, bishop of California.
Both men have been charged with voluntarily abandoning the ministry of the Episcopal Church. In separate actions, both have assailed the decision fo the Church's General Convention last year to authorize ordination of women to the priesthood. They contend that the decision is contrary to Church law and tradition.
Father Morse was presented (charged) after he had declared that because, in his view, the national Church actd illegally, the bishop of California therefore has no authority over Morse's parish and that the parish can no longer maintain communion with Bishop Myers.
Canon duBois, one time rector of the Church of Ascension and St. Agnes Church here, has been charged with "abandoning the communion of the Episcopal Church" and with attempting to form a new church as a result of his activities related to Americans United.
Canon duBois, in responding to the presentment, charged that it was not he, but the Episcopal Church, that "acted unconstitutionally in attempting to give permission for the ordination of women to the priesthood."
He charged that the Church, in authorizing women priests and approving a revision of the ancient Book of Common Prayer, had betrayed the basic tenets of Anglicanism, which, he maintained his organization was founded to preserve.
Less than two years ago, the Rev. William A. Wendt, rector of the Church of St. Stephen and the Incarnation here, was found guilty by a church court of violating his ordination vows of obedience because he permitted a woman whose priestly ordination had been challenged to celebrate holy communion in his parish in defiance of his bishop.
An Ohio Priest, the Rev. Peter Bebbe, also was tried and found guilty of similar charges.