Anglican Watch

Spotlight on abuse: Episcopal priest Will Bouvel

Will Bouvel

Will Bouvel, associate rector of St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church on Chicago’s Gold Coast, joins our list of abusive clergy for his role in the David Duggan debacle. In that matter, Bouvel sought an anti-stalking protective order against Duggan, a parishioner, on the basis that Duggan had objected in writing to Bouvel’s ordination.

Duggan had sent a confidential letter to assisting bishop Chilton Knudsen, objecting to Bouvel’s ordination on the basis that the latter is openly gay and in a same-sex marriage.

Knudsen, known for engaging in a range of unethical conduct, reported the letter to Bouvel, despite the fact that Duggan expressly said he would not do anything to disrupt the ordination and wished the letter to be treated as confidential.

Bouvel responded to Knudsen’s unauthorized disclosure by seeking obtaining an anti-stalking protection order. The case went up on appeal and the order was quashed, but not before Duggan spent tens of thousands in legal fees.

In a subsequent Title IV proceeding, the Diocese of Chicago ignored the basic goals of Title IV, which include working towards reconciliation. Instead, the diocese dismissed, alleging that Bouvel knew of a prior altercation involving Duggan, and that while some of the contents of Bouvel’s pleading were inaccurate, they were made in good faith.

Anglican Watch calls BS on the diocese on these issues, and has sent our concerns directly to the intake officer. (In true Episcopal fashion, no response came down from Mt. Olympus.) Specifically:

  • The reference panel does not assess veracity of witnesses or make findings of fact. In this case, the reference panel expressly said it did make findings of fact based on two investigations.
  • The decision ignores the basic goals of the Title IV disciplinary canons.

Moreover, the decision conveniently skirts a foundational issue: While we recognize Bouvel is not an attorney, no rational actor believes that sending a letter in confidence is “stalking.” Anyone who argues to the contrary is full of it, and we believe Bouvel simply didn’t like the content of Duggan’s underlying message.

So, while we support same-sex marriage, we also support the Ninth Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

As for assertions that Bouvel acted in good faith, spare us.

Even if his motives were appropriate, filing a civil complaint against a parishioner is a serious matter and the priest in question has an obligation to get the facts right. Thus, with the diocese admitting that Bouvel’s filing contained inaccuracies, that in itself warrants discipline.

As a result, we believe Bouvel is unsuited to ministry and recommend against hiring him for any future position of trust.

Anglican Watch reiterates our multiple previous requests that the Diocese of Chicago and Bishop Paula Clark act with integrity and work towards healing and reconciliation. God’s love and the church’s welcome should be broad enough to encompass all persons, not just those who support same-sex marriage. And we categorically reject the idea that the ends justify the means.

Finally, we find it ironic that the St. Chyrsostom’s website proclaims, “You are welcome here as you are,” but conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage apparently are not welcome.”

Thus, we recommend against visiting or becoming a member of St. Chrysostom’s on the basis that this sort of misconduct evinces a dysfunctional family system.

Finally, we continue to recommend that Knudsen be defrocked. This is yet another incidence of unethical conduct on Knudsen’s part, including her fabrications about how she notified the police about child abuse while serving with Bishop Frank Griswold.

We have zero patience for those who lie about their role in child sexual abuse.

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