Monday, October 8, 2012

Time For San Francisco Bishops To Kiss

Bishop Marc Andrus
Episcopal Bishop of
Well, San Fran Archbishop Cordileone pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving (he had been arrested for DUI, a charge commonly reduced for first-time offenders) on October 1, three days before his installation in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, San Francisco.  Present outside the cathedral (where admittance was by invitation only) were the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a troupe of transvestites who favorite rig is nun-drag—dressing up in the pre-Vatican II style wimples and veils.  (Lots of super-orthodox Catholics would love to see those habits, just not on gay men.) The good “nuns” were protesting the new Archbishop’s public opposition to legalization of gay marriage, but even if he approved of same-sex marriage they would have been there anyway.  They never miss a Catholic party.  And who says there is a vocation shortage?  Somebody is just not recruiting the right folks.  Also outside the cathedral was a delegation of the neo-Catechumenal Way, a conservative movement within the Church, with banners thanking the new Archbishop for “teaching the truth about the family.”  The neo-Cats are an interesting group and we should do some entries on them so that you know more about them. 
One person who was not inside the Cathedral was Bishop Marc Andrus, the Episcopal Bishop of California.  Bishop Andrus had arrived late for the service and was not seated.  There are conflicting reports that the Bishop had been asked to wait until the liturgical procession had entered the cathedral and then would be taken to his seat among the VIP ecumenical and interfaith guests or whether he had been refused seating all together.  The first story sounds more credible but in any event he “left in a huff.”   To be honest I don’t know why he had bothered to come to the installation.  Catholic bishops never attend the consecration of installation of their Episcopalian colleagues—they send some junior-grade monsignor as their representative.  This would have been the perfect occasion for bishop Andrus to send Dr. Jane Shaw, the Dean of Grace Cathedral or one of the woman canons to represent him and score a point or two about the role of women in the Church.   

I am not as quick to discount Bishop Andrus’ account of being treated with less civility than due a bishop, even one of another denomination.  Bishop Andrus had written a somewhat barbed public letter “welcoming” Archbishop Cordileone to San Francisco.  While affirming areas of common interest, the Bishop admonished the Archbishop to remember his constituency and their special characteristics.  He also made it very clear that those Catholics who found Cordileone’s Catholicism a bit too narrow would find a friendly home in the Episcopal Church.  Here is part of his letter:

In working together with the Archdiocese of San Francisco, however, I will not change my course with regard to the full inclusion of all people in the full life of the church. I hope that public disagreements can be handled respectfully and that criticisms of public statements may be met with mutual respeect. Some Catholics may find themselves less at home with Salvatore Cordileone's installation and they may come to The Episcopal Church. We should welcome them as our sisters and brothers.
Even as we welcome those who may join us and look for ways to work with our Roman Catholic siblings in the faith, we will not be silenced in our proclamation of God's inclusion. Our ecumenical partnership should be founded in our following Christ and shared service. It is our Christian duty to take stands in public or from our pulpits when others - especially those of our own faith - are in error and trying to suppress the rights of others who, too, have been created in God's image.

Well of course Bishop Andrus welcomes refugees from Cordileone’s Catholicism.  Without disaffected Catholics and the occasional social-climbing Methodist, there would be no Episcopal Church. Although a firm supporter in the ecumenical movement, I think a little tension on the local level between Catholics and Episcopalians is a good thing.  The Episcopal Church is not just “Catholic Lite” and the more clear the differences between us—superficial differences to be sure, there being “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all” (Ephesians 4:5-6)—but important differences none the less, the more faithful we each are.  I think we Catholics stand as a reminder to our Anglican and Protestant “siblings” of the Tradition handed down and they stand to us as a reminder of the radical freedom granted by the Gospel that transcends the Law.   Without our voice, there would  be only moral chaos; with only ours Christianity would revert to the religion of the Pharisees. So you two bishops, kiss and make up and get on with the work of the Gospel.      



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