Piskie-Roman Dustup in San Francisco

On October 1st, Episcopalian bishop Marc Andrus published an obnoxious letter “welcoming” Salvatore Cordileone as the new Archbishop of San Francisco … by implying that he’s just a knuckle-dragging Iron Age bigot and decent Catholics should join the rapidly-draining Piskie Pond to get away from such a horrible person. (Why did he have to write a letter to his entire diocese about a Catholic bishop, other than to say, “Just look at how enlightened I am”?) I’ll let the incomparable Christopher Johnson, Anglican Investigator do the heavy lifting, but here are some excerpts:

We can and must both work together for the world’s good, and it is equally important, as I say in most of my blessings at the conclusion of the Eucharist, that “we make no peace with oppression.”  The recognition of the dignity and rights, within civil society and the Church of lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgendered people, and of women are as core to our proclamation of the Gospel as our solidarity with the poor, with victims of violence and political oppression, and with the Earth.

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.

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.

Charming stuff, innit? The scorn dripping from every line just screams “charity” and “ecumenical partnership.” All that Catholic talk about the dignity of all humans–including gays–is just so much whitewash. Sure, we care for the poor, heal the sick, uplift the miserable, preach peace and that silly thing called “the Gospel,” but pretending that two people of the same gender can marry is the Real Deal when it comes to Christian credentials. Thanks for clarifying that, bishop.

At some point prior to this hissy fit, Bishop Andrus got the standard ecumenical invite for Archbishop Cordileone’s installation. The Diocese did not rescind the invite. He arrived, either early (he says) or late (the diocese says). I’ll take Bishop Andrus’s word about what happened: he arrived early and was asked to wait when the others left the holding room for ecumenical guests:

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 read based on the two stories? Lower-level miscommunication and uncertainty about how to handle a controversial guest who had just insulted the man about to be installed. It’s possible someone high up at the Archdiocese wanted to just keep him waiting until he got the hint and left, and equally possible that no one was quite sure what to do with him and waited too long to make the call. Perhaps no one thought he’d actually have the nerve to show up.

In any case, it’s not the way we treat invited guests. We either disinvite them or simply be the bigger man. We can afford to be gracious with the Episcopalians. By the end of the millennium  they’ll be listed alongside the Arians and the Donatists as another vanished splinter of the true Church. Such is always the fate of those who preach the zeitgeist rather than the Gospel.

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Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.