View Full Version : Roman Catholic Diocese Receives First Episcopal Priest

Thursday, November 30th, 2006, 08:09 PM


By David W. Virtue

SCRANTON, PA (1/4/2005)--For the first time in the 137-year history of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton, Bishop Joseph F. Martino will receive a married former Scranton Episcopal priest and father into the priesthood from the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem.

The Rev. Eric Bergman, an Anglo-Catholic priest at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Scranton's Green Ridge section in the liberal ECUSA diocese, renounced his orders effective December 31st and left the Episcopal Church over the church's acceptance of homosexuality and the consecration of an avowed homoerotic bishop to the episcopacy in the person of V. Gene Robinson.

In a phone call to VirtueOnline Fr. Bergman, 34, and the father of three children said, "I think that the ordination of Robinson is the logical conclusion of the contraceptive mentality. When Lambeth approved contraception for married couples in 1930 they set the stage for the Robinson consecration in 2003. You remove the marital act from its purpose and we bless sterile intercourse. It is not a big jump to bless then sterile homosexual intercourse."

Some 60 parishioners at Good Shepherd will follow the priest and become Roman Catholics. About 275 will remain in the Episcopal parish. The group leaving the Episcopal parish also includes a small group from St. Stephen's parish in Whitehall, the former parish of Fr. William Ilgenfritz, who recently left that parish for a parish in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

In an open letter to the congregation Fr. Bergman wrote, "The events that have unfolded within the Episcopal Church USA and across the worldwide Anglican Communion can certainly be understood to be a catalyst that precipitated action on my part. That is, the election of an unmarried and unchaste man to the office of bishop demands a response from the faithful, particularly when the institutional response on the part of the Anglican Communion to this innovation has been so feeble. Nevertheless, I now view the incidents of General Convention 2003 as the logical outcome of a flawed orientation that betrays the Anglican Communion’s ability to proclaim the Good News, especially that truth that life comes to us through sacrifice. It is this orientation, ensconced in the teachings of the Anglican Communion for the past 74 years that finally led me to renounce my orders."

Episcopal Bishop Paul Marshall knew I was going to Rome and asked me to write this letter to the congregation on why I was leaving and renouncing my orders, Bergman told VirtueOnline.

Fr. Bergman, a Bethlehem native, will be received into the Roman Catholic Church through a process known as the "Pastoral Provision Decision," and will result in the conversion, priestly formation and potential ordination of Mr. Eric Bergman, a former priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, as a member of the clergy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton, said a press statement from the Roman Catholic diocese.
Bergman and his wife, Kristina, are the parents of three children, Clara, Eric and Julia, all of whom who will become Catholic.

The Pastoral Provision Decision, rendered in 1980 by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, came in response to a request from the North American Province of the Society of the Holy Cross, a secular institute of Anglican priests, whose married members wished to offer themselves for priestly ministry in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as lay Episcopalians who wished to enter the Catholic Church with a common spiritual and liturgical identity.

In its acceptance of former married Episcopalian clergy as clergy of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pastoral Provision Decision grants a special exception to the Roman Catholic Church's rule of mandatory priestly celibacy. However, the Decision stressed that this particular exclusion "should not be understood as implying any change in the Church's conviction of the value of priestly celibacy, which will remain the rule for future candidates for the priesthood from this group."

"I warmly welcome Mr. Bergman, his family and members of his former lay community on their new faith journey to become Roman Catholic," said Bishop Martino. "We assure them all of our prayers and complete cooperation as they take the initial steps toward full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in the Diocese of Scranton," the bishop stated.

Bishop Martino said that the Diocese of Scranton and Mr. Bergman have taken initial steps to begin the conversion/ordination process established through the Pastoral Provision Decision. The steps include preparation and submission of a dossier, or report, containing required documents which will accompany Mr. Bergman's petition to the Holy See for priesthood and incardination, or service to the Diocese of Scranton.

Fr. Bergman told VirtueOnline that his new congregation will use the Book of Divine
Worship published in 2003 in which elements of the Book of Common Prayer are revised and adapted according to the Roman Rite for use by Roman Catholics coming from the Anglican tradition.

On January 2, Bishop Martino announced that Mr. Bergman will become Executive Director of the newly-formed St. Thomas More Society of St. Clare's Church in the Green Ridge section of Scranton. Members of the St. Thomas More Society of St. Clare's Church will provide for the temporal needs of Mr. Bergman and study with him in preparation to enter the Catholic Church. Mr. Bergman said that membership in the St. Thomas More Society is open to all former Anglicans or Episcopalians.

To date, the Holy See has permitted the ordination of a number of former Anglican or Episcopal priests who have become Catholic in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain.

Episcopal Bishop Paul Marshall was in Africa and could not be reached for comment.

Friday, December 1st, 2006, 01:38 AM
good. Im glad the 'Piscies finally got tired of their churches lack of any backbone on almost every issue.