Come home, Roman Catholics, all is forgiven

NightVaticanSusan Wood, filing for the [Carson City] Nevada Appeal News Service, detects an irony that has, to date, escaped the attention of church historians. Writing about a visit of Katharine Jefferts Schori, who will become the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church on Nov. 4, Wood offers this stunning collection of direct quotes and sloppy paraphrases:

[Jefferts] Schori has a new set of challenges to confront with a church in a state of crossroads — including the clergy’s attitude about global warming, which [Jefferts] Schori believes is a real crisis. Old ideals about divorce, contraception and same-sex marriage have given way to a new way of dealing with the modern world.

The latter issue provided the Episcopal [Church] with much discourse during a recent convention when it appeared to relax its rules on alternative lifestyles.

“We did say as a church that it’s appropriate or acceptable for individual congregations to bless couples as a matter of pastoral practice,” she said.

Then, there are other changing signs.

“We’re changing attitudes about divorce,” she said. The church finds it appropriate to encourage divorce for the safety of the people involved.

“We’re more flexible than the Catholic church,” she said.

The irony is, Catholicism was part of the Episcopal Church before a split in the 1500s.

At last the truth is out! Perhaps this irony makes the Episcopal Church (which held its first General Convention in 1785) the honorary largest Christian communion in all the world. Oh, if only those schismatics in the Roman Catholic Church had not separated from the Episcopal Church before it existed.

On a note only a bit less prone to cause spit takes, Tina Kelley of The New York Times reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury has proposed forcing the Episcopal Church to change its mind on sexuality:

At the end of June, the Diocese of Newark named the openly gay priest as one of its candidates for bishop, defying a plea for restraint by a vote of the bishops and delegates at the Episcopal Church’s triennial General Convention. The selection came only a day after the archbishop of Canterbury, the nominal leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans, proposed a plan that could force the Episcopal Church to renounce gay bishops and the blessings of same-sex unions or lose full membership in the communion.

For an ever so slightly more nuanced perspective on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s plan, let us turn to, oh, the Archbishop of Canterbury, describing responses to his public reflections in “The Challenge and Hope of Being Anglican Today“:

In spite of some interesting reporting and some slightly intemperate reaction, this [reflection] contained no directives (I do not have authority to dictate policy to the provinces of the Communion) and no foreclosing of the character and content of such a covenant. Were any such arrangement to be proposed, it would of course have to be owned by the constitutional bodies governing Provinces. The proposal has already been dismissed in some quarters as a capitulation to fundamentalism and in others as a cunning plan to entrench total doctrinal indifferentism.

Both characterisations are nonsense.

Photo by Gianluca Casponi via Flickr.

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  • Steve

    The more the EC-USA changes, the less like the historic Christian Church it looks like. Sometimes I believe that the EC-USA looks more like the ACLU or the Sierra Club than a church. How sad that they have forgotten their first love, Christ.

  • http://www.journalofsacredwork.typepad.com erie chapman

    A real ‘coming home’ would be be about Catholic or Episcopal. A real Christian coming home is the rediscovery of Christianity as all about caring for others. For excellent daily meditations and articles about this, go to http://www.journalofsacredwork.typepad.com.

    Erie Chapman

  • Larry Rasczak

    “The irony is, Catholicism was part of the Episcopal Church before a split in the 1500s.”

    LOL!! I’m sure Henry VIII is even now crying about how Rome left him when Catherine of Arragon divorced him and he was forced to look for comfort from Anne Boleyn! Oh he was so pained when those horrible schmisatic Catholics blew up all their monistaries, forced their lands upon the unwilling English nobility, and threw themselves into prison. Oh how he cried when St. Thomas Moore went and so publicly cut his own head off!! The tragedy of it all….

    If only Susan Wood and the editors at the Nevada Appeal knew as much about English History as say…. the average 4th Grade student at any Catholic School, (or anyone who’s rented “A Man for All Seasons”). Sigh….. she is likely wondering why you put a picture of the U.S. Capitol with this story…

    On a more serious note, I have decided that it is time for my family and myself to depart the ECUSA for more Christian pastures. It would probably not be spiritually fatal for my wife and I to remain with the fold. (I rank Katharine Jefferts Schori right up there with Larry, Moe, Curly, and Shemp when it comes to theological insight and scholarship, and I accord her pronouncements all the weight they merit.)

    That being said, I simply can not trust the ECUSA with the Christian formation of my children. My son is ten now, and will soon stop wanting to sleep with his stuffed animals and start wanting to sleep with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. I can forsee an argument five or six years from now when he says “How can you tell me I can’t sleep with my girlfriend? The Bishop sleeps with HER girlfriend! Why can’t I?”

  • Karen B.

    I would really like to know how much of the outrageous stuff in this article is the reporter’s interpretation, and how much can be attributed to +Schori. My fear based on other interviews with +Schori I’ve read recently is that we can’t entirely blame the reporter…

  • http://mcj.bloghorn.com/ Christopher Johnson

    Larry,

    Wrong. That would be when Pope Henry VIII of the English Catholic Church refused to allow King Clement VII to get a divorce, causing Clement to seize control of the Church in Italy, close all the Italian monasteries and form the Roman Catholic Church. Get your facts straight. :-)

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2 Douglas LeBlanc

    Karen,

    What’s within quote marks sounds like the PB-elect, although I’m sure each of those sentences was preceded by lengthier and more complex sentences.

    Bishop Jefferts Schori is no idiot, and I cannot imagine her saying, even as a quickly corrected slip of the tongue, that the Roman Catholic Church was part of the Episcopal Church until the 1500s. I could imagine her making the historical point that the Church of England was simply part of the Catholic Church until the English Reformation, and that it has remained (at least from an Anglican perspective) part of the one, holy and apostolic church.

    Likewise, I am confident — from hearing several of her interviews since General Convention and hearing her in person while there — that her remarks on divorce were more complex than what appears in this article.

  • Pen Brynisa

    re: The more the EC-USA changes, the less like the historic Christian Church it looks like. Sometimes I believe that the EC-USA looks more like the ACLU or the Sierra Club than a church. How sad that they have forgotten their first love, Christ.

    We haven’t forgotten Christ! Episcopalians from all over the country gathered yesterday in local parishes to read and reflect on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to pray and repent of our sins, and to celebrate the Eucharist. Just like we did the Sunday before, and the Sunday before that, and so on.

    The sort of ordinary Christianity which you can find in our parishes doesn’t make for exciting copy, so you’re always going to get a whole lot more media coverage of things of a controversial or political nature, like global warming or homosexuality (neither of which is even mentioned in the Book of Common Prayer).

  • Michael

    Sometimes I believe that the EC-USA looks more like the ACLU or the Sierra Club than a church. How sad that they have forgotten their first love, Christ.

    This could also be written:

    “Sometimes I believe that the [Southern Baptist Convention, Catholic Church, Assemblies of God, the local megachurch] looks more like the Republican National Committee than a church. How said, that they have forgotten their first love, Christ.”

    It’s all a question of perspective.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Michael:

    You owe Roman Catholics an apology. You were joking, right?

    Or locked on only two or three issues? And ignoring the libertarian wing of the GOP?

  • Steve

    My comments on the EC-USA’s leadership. In every interview I either heard or read (NPR, NYT, etc), I do not hear the current EC-USA’s leadership speaking of the Gospel, or of sin and grace. While the local parish may be faithful to the Gospel, is the EC-USA’s leadership faithful?

    While I am not part of the Roman Church, to say that the Roman Church is looks like the RNC is to not understand what the Roman Church teaches.

  • Larry Rasczak

    ” I do not hear the current EC-USA’s leadership speaking of the Gospel, or of sin and grace. While the local parish may be faithful to the Gospel, is the EC-USA’s leadership faithful?”

    I think the best comment on the ECUSA was accidentaly made by a local priest here when she was on a local call in talk radio show.

    The caller (a rather fundamentalist chap) asked about the ECUSA’s position on homosexuality, and on how it is in direct oppostion to what is written in the Bible. He said “Don’t you people read the Bible?!!”

    To which the priest said “We read the Bible, we just don’t take it all that seriously.”

  • Fr. John

    I was schocked to read the article ,” come home Roman Catholics–”. It is truly one of the worst histirical facts of the church of England, which I ever read in print. I have heard lots of untruths said about the Catholic Church. But this is truly one of a kind. The person does not know the church history, when one says that the catholic church was part of the Episcopal church before the split. There was only one church in Englan before the split.And It was Holy Roman Catholic Church.

  • http://www.nhreligion.com Stephen A.

    “The irony is, Catholicism was part of the Episcopal Church before a split in the 1500s.”

    This is one of the most unintentionally funny lines ever written by a religion reporter, or one pretending to be.

    It was likely a thrown-together article ordered by a gruff editor who needed to “fill space.”

    Sadly, it is all too typical of the howlers we all see in religion writing.

    If I can trust its veracity, I especially like the quote from the 14-year-old noting that during a visit to a retreat, the Bishop-elect didn’t “lecture” but “asks students questions.”

    The teen went on to describe heaven as “a place in my heart. It can be a beautiful meadow to me. But what’s good for one person may not be to another person. I like that she approaches it that way.” I think this teen understood the bishop’s message, and her view of Christianity, perfectly.

  • Michael

    My comments on the EC-USA’s leadership. In every interview I either heard or read (NPR, NYT, etc), I do not hear the current EC-USA’s leadership speaking of the Gospel, or of sin and grace. While the local parish may be faithful to the Gospel, is the EC-USA’s leadership faithful?

    While I am not part of the Roman Church, to say that the Roman Church is looks like the RNC is to not understand what the Roman Church teaches.

    What the RC teaches and what it says appear to be different things, again focusing on the leadership of the U.S. RC. Catholics are the first in line to take faith-based handouts from the Bush Administration, the most vocal supporters of schools vouchers (which will fill the coffers of the local archdiocese), lobbying on abortion and gay marriage while ignoring other life and familiy issues, failing to use their leverage to oppose the war, the death penalty, or economic injustice. Even on immigration, the church is aligned with Bush, while many of the faithful are aligned with those on Bush’s extreme right

    A look at conservative Catholic websites/blogs like Amy Welborns is not dramatically different from reading FreeRepublic or other conservative political websites.

  • http://www.nhreligion.com Stephen A.

    The problem with your analogy, Michael, is that while there are many very public “refusnik” Catholics who do not subcribe to this rather ‘scary’ GOP-friendly RC Church (including many pro-abort Democrat officeholders like Teddy Kennedy and JFKerry) the ECUSA seems to be overwhelmingly in the pocket of the Democratic National Committee.

  • http://www.jeremylott.net Jeremy Lott

    Michael,

    >A look at conservative Catholic websites/blogs like >Amy Welborns is not dramatically different from >reading FreeRepublic or other conservative >political websites.

    If you can’t see the *dramatic* difference between Amy Welborn’s Open Book and Free Republic then I suggest you remove those ideological blinders.
    Your field of vision is so narrow that I worry about you. You’re likely to trip over something and skin your knees.

    Best, Jeremy

  • http://www.nhreligion.com Stephen A.

    ..Further, while the RC Church has chosen to become a “big tent” on many non-doctrinal issues – and some bigger issues – and has not really excommunication as a tool, the ECUSA has seemingly made those who don’t toe the line on radical Leftist politics and P.C. social views feel very unwelcome, despite their clever “All are welcome” campaigns.

    That makes them great bedfellows to the Democrats, who equally drum out anyone who disagrees with their party line, as evidenced by the impending destruction of a pro-abortion, ACLU-loving, extremely liberal U.S. senator’s career because he dared to rise above politics and support the president during a wartime crisis.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    Not to mention that liberals harp on the iniquity of “single-issue voting” when the single issue is something like abortion, but do not hesitate to pile on Lieberman (or for that matter, LBJ) on a single-issue basis.

  • Marcum

    There is good reason why orthodox Catholics lean over-whelmingly towards RNC. The other political choice is far more dissastrous to our faith and our families in it’s speech and actions. The fact is that the DNC is hostile to people of orthodox Christian and Jewish faith in God.
    Yes, I protect my family from the Sodomite enablers of our civilization such as the Church of King Henry VIII and it’s American step-child ECUSA.

  • Michael

    Your field of vision is so narrow that I worry about you. You’re likely to trip over something and skin your knees.

    Har.

    I find many comments on Welborn’s site to be as extreme as the things I read on FreeRepublic. There are fewer conspiracy theories on Welborn’s site, but the level of wing-nuttery is pretty high even if it is bathed in the light of liturgy.

    When RC priests started threatening Dems by whitholding the Eucharist, the tide turned. I understand all the rationalizations for that decision–Welborn’s site if full of those apologists–but the reality is that it was a political move more than a religious one.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Michael:

    Right, the bishops should have said that the same standards apply to pro-abortion-rights GOPers who actively and publicly oppose the teachings of the church.

    They need to find a non-political way to reconnect the reality of Confession with the reception of the Eucharist. That is the theological issue. The issue of public figures who actively slam the teachings of the church is only one example of a larger problem, a doctrinal problem.

  • Marcum

    Michael, (cute text boxes)

    Your burst about what is a religious move and a political one when considering how concerned Catholic bishops withhold the Eucharist from Pro-Abort politicians is a bit fascinating coming from a person who says they’re not a Catholic,,?
    Outside expert, or stone thrower?

    GW is far from being the leader Catholics would prefer on many accounts, but when you consider what the DNC stands for, the RNC is still the best choice of the two undesireables if you prefer orthodoxy and not social relatavism. Note: The Roman Catholic Church is not guided by relativism but by the Magisterium (teaching of the Church).

  • Michael

    I don’t need to be Catholic to examine whether the church has become politicized. Catholics often believe the church is above politics, but the day-to-day reality of the U.S. experience is that the Catholic church is in the political trenches and K Street muck of Washington. Almost all churches are involved in politics, whether it comes to signing onto issue ads or directly lobbying to filing lawsuits.

    The Roman Catholic Church is not guided by relativism but by the Magisterium (teaching of the Church)

    Every religious organization would say the same thing. And they would all, to some extent, be disengenuous. The RC picks its battles and its opponents as carefully as any other political organization.

  • Martha

    Oh, we didn’t know when we had it good, did we? Just imagine: if we hadn’t been so bullheaded back in the 16th century, and the 30 million of us hadn’t hived off into a tiny splinter sect from the Mother Church of 4 million, today we could have been looking forward to the consecration of Pope Katherine!

    Michael: I’m not American, but my natural sympathies would be Democrat rather than Republican. However, I can assure you, my heart sank when John Kerry was put forward as the Presidental candidate. I was hoping so very fervently for a decent opponent to fight the return of Bush, and he was the best they could do? One look at him, and I knew he was unelectable.

    I was extremely unimpressed by his showing up at Mass to be photographed stunt, and even more unimpressed by his touring Baptist churches to stump up support. Yes, every politician does it, but if you’re ‘my private faith will not affect my public duties’, then don’t use your faith as a tool to garner votes. If you’re positioning yourself as “Look! I’m a Catholic! Catholics vote for me because I’m one of you!”, then you are laying yourself wide open to a belt of the crozier when you tangle with issues of faith and morality. I don’t appreciate the Eucharist being made a political tug of war; however, you can’t neatly divide your faith into ‘what I do on Sunday’ and the rest of the week is a separate thing. Making his reception of the Blessed Sacrament a photo-opportunity – well, that wasn’t very devout or private, was it?

  • Sharon

    Episcopaleans elect a lady Bishop and Roman Catholics have a fit. I personally think it’s a wonderful thing that women are starting to get some recognition in the church. Who knows, maybe one day even the Catholic Church will learn to respect women as equals. Right now it’s nothing more than a private club for men.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    What Martha said!

    Says tmatt, a registered Democrat

  • Martha

    Yeah, ‘cos before Bishop Jefferts Schori, there was no recognition of women in the church.

    Catherine of Siena. Teresa of Avila. Therese of Lisieux. Lydia. Priscilla. Damaris. Mary Magdalene. Perpetua. Felicity. Agnes. Agatha. Lucy. Cecilia. Anastasia. Eugenia. Maria Goretti. Bridget. Ide. Anne.

    And some woman called Mary. But who ever heard of her?

  • Marcum

    Michael, you obviously know little of the Catholic faith and the magisterium or you’re just being a stone throwing liberal. The teaching of the Church is not in-time with the workings of the world, but as a guide to the formation of the human person as a vital component of Christ’s pilgrim Church on earth (The Catholic Church)- Christ’s body.

    To better understand why Catholics are so involved in political issues requires more introspection about how the body of Christ relates to the world through inspiring culture through what is Good, True, and Beautiful.’

    It’s difficult not to judge anyone in the public square since we are all prone to human error, and have a set of principals (hopefully)that we are trying to impress. Catholics can be held accountable (unlike other groups) because they have an unmatched set of human behavior principals along with being the longest running institution in western civilization. Bottom line is, don’t clump all Catholics as one group in the public sqare. The heterodox leaning Catholics have very different views from the orthodox (Orthodox Roman Catholics).

  • Gary

    “We’re more flexible than the Catholic church,” she said.

    The irony is, Catholicism was part of the Episcopal Church before a split in the 1500s.

    Looks like the Episcopal “Church” not only has a flexible view about morals, but a flexible view of history as well.


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