Instruments of peace? —UPDATED

The installation of Salvatore Cordileone as the new Archbishop of San Francisco was not lacking for drama, even before the event began. And on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the atmosphere in the city by the Bay was not exactly peaceable.

The Episcopal bishop for the region, Marc Andrus, wrote the following “welcome” to his Catholic counterpart:

Archbishop-designate Codelione and I share concerns for the treatment of immigrants to this country and reforming the United States’s immigration policies. Working to alleviate global poverty and change systems that disenfranchise all people are the concerns of those who follow our brother Christ, and that work is not limited to the work of bishops.

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 respect. 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.

I hope that we may move forward together in ministry and faith in a way that bears witness to the unity of Christianity without necessitating uniformity.  I look forward to attending Salvatore Cordileone’s installation as Archbishop of San Francisco and working with him in the future.

But late today, this item was posted on the Episcopal diocese’s website:

The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Episcopal Bishop of California and an invited guest for the installation of Archbishop-designate Salvatore Cordileone, was not allowed to be seated.  He was escorted to a basement room at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral and detained by an usher until the time the service began, whereupon Bishop Andrus left the cathedral. More information will be forthcoming as it is available.

The AP has an update:

San Francisco Archdiocese spokesman George Wesolek chalked it up to a misunderstanding. Andrus had arrived late and missed the procession of interfaith clergy who were to be seated up front. Church staff were looking for an opportunity to bring the bishop in without disrupting the service, according to Wesolek. When they went to retrieve him, he had already left.

“We had no intention of excluding him at all,” Wesolek said. “If he felt like because of the wait that was insulting to him, we certainly will apologize.”

UPDATE:  Bishop Andrus just posted his account of what happened at the installation on his blog:

I saw the Greek Metropolitan, a good colleague of mine, who was in the same room with me, several Greek Orthodox priests, archdiocesan employees and security guards. I greeted the metropolitan and we spoke briefly.

An archdiocesan employee attempted to escort me upstairs with the Greek Orthodox group, but was stopped from doing so by the employee to whom I had first identified myself. This person, who appeared to be in a superior role, instructed another employee to stand with me.

At this point no other guests remained in the downstairs area. The employee and I chatted while waiting. I began to wonder about the time holdup. I checked my phone; it was 1:50PM. I asked the employee standing with me if the service indeed started at 2, which she affirmed.

At 2PM, when the service was to begin, I said to the employee, “I think I understand, and feel I should leave.” Her response was, “Thank you for being understanding.” I quietly walked out the door. No one attempted to stop me. No attempt was ever made to explain the delay or any process for seating. I arrived early, before the time given my assistant, and waited to leave until after the service had begun.

My intention for attending the installation was to honor our ecumenical and interfaith relations in the Bay Area.


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