Last time he sent his associates to change the locks and confiscate the property. It’s a less bare-knuckled approach this time, but essentially the same story:

The pastor of a Bristol parish that voted itself out of the Episcopal Church in May has been removed from ministry by the Connecticut Diocese, and church members have been given until July 8 to vacate their building.

Connecticut Bishop Andrew Smith said the Rev. Donald Lee Helmandollar “renounced his orders” and was deposed – the equivalent of being defrocked – on June 13 by the clerical members of the diocesan standing committee. Smith said he has since written to leaders at Trinity Episcopal Church informing them that the diocese intends to take over the property July 8.

The diocese’s decision to claim the property was not unexpected: The same scenario is playing itself out in other parts of the nation as the Episcopal Church grapples with the fallout from the 2003 election of the openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire…

Cases of this kind tend to go against the dissenting parish. Regardless, Trinity will make a valiant effort:

Trinity has since hired a lawyer and intends to fight the diocese’s order to vacate the property, Helmandollar said Friday. He also said he has continued to lead worship services in the church, despite being notified by Smith that he is no longer a priest in the Episcopal Church.

“We firmly believe that our church was built by and given to the Anglican communion there, known as the Trinity Church Society,” Helmandollar said, adding that the church’s construction in 1746 preceded the formation of the Episcopal Diocese. “Our own constitution says we will remain.”…

At least 45 parishes from around the United States have left the Episcopal Church over recent disputes about ordaining openly gay pastors and the blessing of same-sex unions, according to the denomination.

“That’s 45 out of 7,600” say Episcopal Church authorities. But they insist they are grieved by the loss.

8 Responses to “State’s Pro-SSM Bishop Launches Attack on Pro-Family Church”

  1. on 30 Jun 2007 at 6:34 pmDon Pesci

    “Connecticut Bishop Andrew Smith said the Rev. Donald Lee Helmandollar ‘renounced his orders.'”

    Certainly there is a difference here between renouncing one’s orders and renouncing Bishop Smith. It’s not as if Rev. Helmandollar went over top the Moonies. The church he hopes to affiliate with is Anglican, the same church to which, some think, Bishop Smith belongs.

    It’s about the money.

  2. on 12 Jul 2007 at 8:15 amtomie

    Moot point anyway, now that the Pope has reiterated that the only TRUE church is the Roman Catholic church. No other church has the means to salvation.

  3. on 12 Jul 2007 at 11:22 amDave


    You are relying upon a gross oversimplification of the statement ratified by Pope Benedict XVI, and the popular media spin upon it, rather than what it actually says. I suggest you read it from the original source:

    To the extent that it speaks to there being only one true church, it refers not to the Roman Catholic Church but instead to the universal “Church of Christ” which is present and operative throughout the world in various churches and ecclesial communities.

    You are wholly incorrect when you imply this pronouncement has the effect of saying that “no other church has the means to salvation”. Quite to the contrary, the statement indicates:

    … these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation …

    While the RCC may choose to adopt an air of superiority in its choice of words, in order to highlight important differences about in doctrine – which they assert as “defects” within their rhetoric – (e.g. acceptance of papal authority, apostolic succession, etc.), the popular media is reading too much into this. To the extent that Christian communities remain fully rooted in the teachings of Jesus, the unalterable gospel message (see Galatians 1:6-12), and biblical truth of both the Old and New Testaments, we are all one church in Christ. Even the Pope is not so bold as to claim otherwise, despite the seeming bluster of this statement. I suspect you brought this misinterpretation here with the hope that it would divide us, but I assure you that it will not.

  4. on 12 Jul 2007 at 6:00 pmtomie

    You’re putting wishful thinking on the document, Dave.

    You left out the final part of the sentence …

    … whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church”[12].

    Previously, the document reads:

    “This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him”.[7]

    In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium ‘subsistence’ means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church[8], in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.

    It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.[9] Nevertheless, the word “subsists” can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe… in the “one” Church); and this “one” Church subsists in the Catholic Church.[10]

    And while the Pope cencedes that the Orthodox Churches are true Churches despite any “defects,” he is pretty clear on the Protestant churches:


    Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?


    According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery[19] cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense[20].

    I would like to add that I am not here to cause division. Indeed, it is rather precious of you to make that accusation — you who take it upon yourself quite frequently to judge churches and clergy as if you are the Deity Himself.

    Will you print this, or will you censor me yet again as you so often do?

  5. on 12 Jul 2007 at 9:25 pmDave

    I am willing to give these pronouncements the benefit of the doubt, and consider them as not being meant to further widen the already-existent divisions within the universal “Church of Christ” but simply as posturing that acknowledges their own perceived role in the history of Christianity. I believe if you read the Vatican’s documents carefully, you will find there is an important distinction between the theological concept of the universal “Church of Christ” and the Roman Catholic Church specifically. That is why they tap dance around the issue, being careful not to literally claim that the two are one and the same, and why they choose to use the word “subsists”. While the Pope may be the earthly arbiter of what it means to be Roman Catholic, in truth only Jesus Christ can define the boundaries of His church. And as far as I can see, none of their writings contradict this.

    Moreover, this isn’t really a new position for the RCC. They’ve consistently held to the primacy of papal authority, the importance of apostolic succession, and sacerdotalism as doctrinal principles that set them apart from other Christian denominations. So what’s the big deal? We already knew this stuff. Essentially the Pope and the CDF are just affirming their own Roman Catholicism. And, likewise, other Christian denominations rejected one or more of these teachings a long time ago. The fact that on certain matters of doctrine we don’t see eye to eye is yesterday’s news. If you can avoid getting hung up on these differences, we actually have quite a lot in common as Christian brothers and sisters, and it is upon these commonalities that we ought to build an ecumenical dialogue.

    It may seem to some like the Pope is taking a very offensive stance, but probably no more so than other religious figures who argued in the opposite direction. Consider the words of John Calvin, in speaking critically of how the RCC priesthood arguably stands in the way of direct access between individual believers and God.

    [Jesus Christ] once for all offered a sacrifice of eternal expiation and reconciliation; now, having also entered the sanctuary of heaven, he intercedes for us. In him we are all priests, but to offer praises and thanksgiving, in short, to offer ourselves and ours to God. It was his office alone to appease God and atone for sins by his offering.


    It is a most wicked infamy and unbearable blasphemy, both against Christ and against the sacrifice which he made for us through his death on the cross, for anyone to suppose that by repeating the oblation he obtains pardon for sins, appeases God, and acquires righteousness.

    But I will say this much, since you have chosen to cast aspersions on my motives and actions. You think that I take it upon myself to judge churches and clergy based solely upon my own personal standards, but I do not. All Christians are cautioned to be watchful for false teachings, and to carefully discern the truth of teachings according to the Bible and its guidance.

    I am glad you took the time to read the actual Vatican documents, instead of relying on news reports alone. I hope you and others will also take the time to study the Bible, and decide for yourself if what you are hearing rings true with the actual teachings of Jesus Christ and the original apostles. And when I read the Bible, on this subject, here is what I find:

    For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2: 5)

    An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.” “Master,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9: 46-50)

    But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to ALL who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3: 21-24)

    For it is by GRACE you have been saved, through FAITH—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2: 8)

  6. on 13 Jul 2007 at 7:36 amtomie

    I had read the Vatican documents before being lectured by you to do so, Dave. And surprisingly enough, I have read, and do read, the Bible. Do not think that because people disagree with you they don’t know what they are talking about. Very often they disagree with you BECAUSE they know what they are talking about.

    As you say, all Christians are cautioned to be watchful for false teachings; there are many who believe it is your “teachings” that are false. At the end of the day, you are relying on YOUR interpretation of the Bible, which is really no more valid than anyone else’s. That you have a political agenda behind it makes it suspect.

    Much as you would like to downplay Benedict’s reiteration of Church doctrine, it remains that the Roman Catholic Church is the one Church that follows directly from Jesus Christ, through Peter. The Pope is the voice of Christ’s Church, not merely (as you so glibly state), the RCC. He is not reaffirming his *own* Roman Catholicism — he is reaffirming the primacy of the Church of Rome. Because Calvin walked away from the Catholic church, you don’t have to believe his spin for doing so.

  7. on 13 Jul 2007 at 8:42 amDave

    But in essence, isn’t this whole controversy – in which it is primarily the popular media, along with others seeking to make this a wedge issue between conservative Christians, who are fanning the flames of dissent rather than the RCC itself – just another example of “an argument amongst the disciples as to who is greatest”? To be blunt, such thinking is silly and foolish.

    Quite simply, Jesus said:

    Where two or more are gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst. (Matthew 18: 20)

    I think you are putting the Pope on too high a pedestal when you say that he is THE voice of Christ’s Church. Without a doubt he is the absolute head of the RCC, and can speak with authority as the voice of that church. But is he to be considered a voice above that of our Lord Himself? Even the RCC teaches in its own catechism that Christ speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures: “it is He Himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read.” Consequently, if you are looking for THE voice, it is Christ Himself through the Word of God. RCC Archbishop Denis J. Hart (Melbourne, Australia) summarizes this quite clearly in his 2006 commentary:

    The written Scriptures contain the Word of God. But the Second Vatican Council went one step beyond this affirmation and declared that “since they are inspired [they] really are the word of God.” (DV 24). In making this affirmation, the Church does not lose sight of the foremost fact that Christ is the Word through whom God speaks to us today. It is precisely through the Scriptures that Christ speaks to us.

    And it is precisely this element – the Bible, the Word of God – that continues to bind us together in Christian unity, despite political forces that seek to divide us against one another.

  8. on 23 Jul 2007 at 2:14 pmPaul

    Let’s get back “on topic”. The Episcopal Church has strayed so far from the basics of the Christian faith that it is no longer taken seriously by most Bible believing Christians. George Washington would be shocked to see that the Church Denominationthat he belonged to has become an advocate for unnatural sin !

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