The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia never fails to amaze when it comes to its priorities. And that is no more true than in the Title IV case now underway against the Rev. Dr. B. Cayce Ramey, former rector of Sharon Chapel in Alexandria and a one-time member of the diocesan reparations committee. Ramey faces a Title IV hearing panel over his refusal to take communion, or give it to others, until the Diocese repents of its role in slavery.
To be clear, Anglican Watch recognizes the problems inherent in a priest who refuses to offer his congregants Holy Communion. If nothing else, a priest has to fulfill their job requirements.
On the other hand, since 2015, the Diocese has had only one Title IV matter go to a hearing panel, which was that of Lura Kaval.
In that case, Kaval faced Title IV charges for ignoring Bishop Susan Goff’s directive to have no further contact with the Church of the Incarnation in Mineral.
That’s pretty rich, as Susan Goff routinely ignores church canons when it suits her. That includes the provisions of Title IV, which:
- Require a pastoral response in all cases where a Title IV complaint is filed.
- Forbid clergy, including bishops, from neglecting their duties.
- Forbid clergy from engaging in dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
- Forbid clergy from any criminal act that reflects adversely on the member of the clergy’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a minister of the church.
In other words, if Goff can ignore the church’s written canons, surely Kaval is entitled to act similarly.
How did Goff ignore the canons?
Specifically, Goff ignored Title IV by knowingly overlooking criminal activity by Episcopal priest Bob Malm, including perjury, filing false police reports, and even lying to his bishop in writing.
So, we face a situation in which Lura Kaval gets defrocked for the sin of lèse-majesté, but criminal conduct by Bob Malm? Not of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church.
Similarly, the Rev. Dr. B. Cayce Ramey stops with the study groups and other transactional “solutions” to racism, self-excommunicates as an act of protest, and gets the heave-ho.
And yes, we get that Ramey cannot serve a parish under the circumstances. So why not get him a gig at VTS? Or working to end racism? Or fighting to end homelessness?
If the Diocese can shrug off criminal conduct by a priest, it can damned well also ignore an act of protest to end structural racism.
Finally, for the record, we’d much rather have someone like Ramey who at least has a spine, versus the sneaky, gutless wonders who too often serve as Episcopal clergy. Whether it’s Oran Warder and his tolerance for alleged torture profiteers in his parish; Bob Malm and his criminal conduct; or the willingness of the Episcopal Church to ignore criminal conduct by clergy; the denomination needs more Rameys and fewer Warders.
Ramey did not immediately respond to a request for comment.