The Episcopal bishop of Connecticut temporarily removed a Hartford priest from his parish July 14, saying he had taken an unauthorized sabbatical. Mark Hansen, for 15 years the rector of St. John's Church, opposed Bishop Andrew D. Smith's support for the ordination of a practicing homosexual as bishop of New Hampshire. Along with five other priests and their parishes, the "Connecticut Six" have sought alternative oversight. And the six parishes have stopped paying dues to the diocese.
Smith said he suspended the priest for the sake of the health of St. John's Church. According to a statement by the diocese, Hansen never told Bishop Smith of his intention to take a sabbatical. Smith said, "I am concerned for the life and ministry of St. John's. In the past few months Fr. Hansen has made decisions that left the parish without sustained clergy leadership."
Smith also appointed Susan J. McCone as the priest in charge of the parish. McCone is the Episcopal chaplain at Vassar College in New York and the executive director of Affirming Anglican Catholicism, a group that affirms members "regardless of gender or sexual orientation." Ed Seibert, an administrative and financial consultant, was appointed to review parish records and administration.
One witness said that the bishop showed up to the church with computer hackers and a locksmith. "The hackers set to work on the computer, took down the church's website," and the locksmith changed the locks. The next Sunday all but fifteen of St. John's parishioners worshiped at nearby Trinity Church, with Fr. Knapp, a retired priest.
"He abandoned his leadership," Bishop Smith said about Hansen. But the priest says he sent Smith a letter explaining that he was taking a sabbatical "because his ...1