Anglican Watch has received copies of follow-on correspondence in the Duggan Title IV clergy disciplinary case against the Rev. Will Bouvel. We categorically reject the decision of the Diocese of Chicago in this matter on four bases:
- The decision ignores the stated objective of Title IV, which is to promote healing and reconciliation.
- Bouvel, who filed a fabricated request for a protection from stalking order, was found to have acted in good faith, even though some of the information in his petition was false. We believe this was a cover-up on the part of the Reference Panel, as no rational actor would conclude that sending a confidential letter to a bishop opposing Bouvel’s ordination was “stalking,” either within the meaning of the relevant statute or as a practical matter.
- The Title IV reference panel exceeded its authority in dismissing the case. There is no disagreement that the parties have a dispute, and working toward resolution would have been the Christian, appropriate thing to do.
- Title IV only applies to clergy. We have deep concerns when Bouvel, even by the Diocese’s admission, didn’t bother to verify the facts in his petition for a protective order.
Further, we believe that Bouvel sought to use the protective order system for an improper purpose: to attempt to shut down First Amendment-protected speech he didn’t like.
We also note that, but for Chilton Knudsen’s violation of confidentiality, the present conflict would not have occurred.
As a practical matter, we believe the Diocese of Chicago is being remarkably stupid about this situation. Specifically, it would not harm anyone to attempt mediation, while continuing down the current path only further damages the Diocese’s reputation.
Under the circumstances, we believe a lawsuit against Bouvel for abuse of process is appropriate, and we hope Duggan will consider this approach.
While we have differing views from Duggan on many issues, this abuse of the protective order system erodes trust in the judicial system, disrespects actual victims of stalking and domestic violence, and reflects the Episcopal Church at its worst.
We condemn the Diocese’s decision, Bishop Paula Clark’s failure to act as a leader in this matter, the lack of integrity from Chilton Knudsen, and the Rev. Will Bouvel’s fabrications.
And yes, we have a hunch that Bouvel comes from the Bob Malm school of ethics, in which any lie is okay as long as it’s his lie.