WESTERN NEW YORK: Diocese deposes former Batavia priest

August 13, 2007

Editor's note added 02/25/10: In October 2008, Howson agreed to settle a lawsuit with the Diocese of Western New York. Retired Diocese of Springfield Bishop Peter Beckwith said in a December 2009 letter to ENS that Howson is now a "priest in good standing in the Diocese of Dar es Salaam" and that he "currently is licensed to function as a priest in the Diocese of Springfield." According to Beckwith's letter, Episcopal Diocese of Western New York Bishop J. Michael Garrison "is now aware that Canon Howson was not involved in any financial improprieties or other misconduct when he (Father Howson) was a priest in the Diocese of Western New York."

James Fanning, chancellor for the Diocese of Western New York, told ENS that "as part of a settlement of civil litigation with Howson, the bishop issued a letter, the contents of which are confidential under the terms of the Settlement Agreement."

Fanning said that the letter "did not alter the sentence of deposition in any way. It still stands in full force and effect, and Howson has not taken any steps to have it terminated in accordance with the procedures set forth in Title IV of the Canons of the Episcopal Church. It should be pointed out that the sentence of deposition does not affect Howson's ordination nor his standing in any other church within the Anglican Communion."



Episcopal Diocese of Western New York Bishop J. Michael Garrison August 10 removed Simon Bancroft Howson from the priesthood of the Episcopal Church.


Howson, who once served as rector of St. James' Episcopal Church in Batavia, New York, was inhibited by Garrison on October 19, 2004, and subsequently left the Batavia area. In March of 2005, Garrison forwarded a list of written charges against Howson to the Diocesan Review Committee, which then asked the church attorney to conduct an investigation. Based on the findings of that investigation the Review Committee issued a presentment against Howson charging him with seven counts of immorality involving financial matters and misrepresentations, and one count of conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy.

On April 20, in a unanimous decision, the Ecclesiastical Court, consisting of three priests and two lay persons elected by diocesan convention, sustained all the counts of the presentment. At the sentencing on July 2, the court unanimously voted to depose Howson. Garrison's action on August 10 finalized the deposition.

Howson did not answer the presentment, make any appearances in the Ecclesiastical Court or take advantage of his right to appeal the judgment of the court.

The procedures occurred in accordance with Title IV of the Episcopal Church's Constitution and Canons.

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