Fisking the Piskies

My friend Christian calls the Episcopalians the ‘piskies. I hadn’t heard that one before, but it fits.

Here’s the letter from California Bishop Marc Andrus on the installation today of the new Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco–Abp. Cordileone–a staunch defender of marriage. Knowing the Anglicans pretty well, I thought I’d do a Fr.Z type fisk on the letter:


Dear Ones, ???? Sounds like one of those creepy New Age messages from an alien.

On the Feast of Saint Francis, patron saint of our city by the bay, Salvatore Cordileone notice no title of respect or office–not even ‘Rev’ or ‘Fr’ will be installed as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco. The Anglicans always have to call us ‘Roman Catholics’ this is because they think they are Catholic too. They know it’s an insult to us, but they do it anyway, and it’s usually done with a patronizing smile which says, “I know you don’t like me calling you Roman Catholic, but I’m going to make my little point anyway. The announcement of his appointment by Pope Benedict has come with mixed reactions and feelings from San Franciscans of all or no faith tradition.  subtext: We’re hopping mad that the Pope has imposed this conservative guy on us even though we’re not Catholics, you should take notice. Note that when liberals don’t want to listen to Catholic teaching they say, “Why do you force your morality on us?” But when they don’t like something we do they’re suddenly ‘one of us’ and their opinion matters. Bishop Cordileone was an active supporter of Proposition 8, which I and the other Episcopal bishops throughout California opposed. Ah, now we’re getting down to business.

Despite this difference of opinion and support, I look forward to working with Archbishop-designate Cordileone when and how we can, remembering as the Apostle Paul writes that we are one body, united by one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. Then there is also our Lord’s words that there should also be “one flock and one shepherd.” But we’ll overlook that shall we? Christianity has a long tradition of the faithful disagreeing with one another yet working together for common mission for the building of the Reign of God. “Reign of God” is code for “we don’t like that “kingdom of God” business–much to hierarchical and patriarchal. We’ll go ahead and change the God given inspired language chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ himself if we don’t like it. Religion is, after all, a human construct–the product of a certain time period and it needs to adapt to new times and new places and a new–better kind of people–us.

Archbishop-designate Cordileone’s predecessor and I have worked closely and fruitfully on reducing extreme poverty globally through the Millennium Development Goals. At the same time as we did this important work together, we took very different public positions on Proposition 8. 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.” Uh huh. Let’s cast the Catholic Church as an oppressive, tyrannical power. Usually they wheel out the ‘old man in the walled city’ ruling the world thing. 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. The whole agenda is there: helping the poor, lesbigay equality and ecology. What about free contraceptives for Sandra Fluke? By conflating the issues you can imply that Catholics actually oppress the poor.

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, “brother Christ?” I wonder what his views are on the incarnation? Sounds slippery to me, and I wouldn’t be surprised if “Brother Christ” is just about all he grants the Lord. So much for “Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords and Righteous and Merciful Judge at the end of time…and all that stuff. 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. subtext: We are taking a courageous stand here. We are the brave pioneers who will promote homosexuality without fear and without compromise. 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. “Putting ‘sisters’ before ‘brothers’ is always driven by a feminist agenda. Here’s a blatant appeal to steal sheep, and this from the folks who grumbled about the Anglican Ordinariate. and put every obstacle in the way of Anglicans who want to swim the Tiber. Never mind, their numbers are plummeting, and the Catholics who want to head that way probably should.

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. “God’s inclusion” has become their clarion call–a kind of artificial gospel. 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. A judgement that we are ‘in error’ from one who would bleat that we mustn’t be judgemental. An infallible statement from one who does not believe in the pope’s infallibility.

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. Thank the Lord for that anyway.  I look forward to attending Salvatore Cordileone’s installation as Archbishop of San Francisco and working with him in the future. You shouldn’t fib.

+Marc Handley Andrus
Episcopal Bishop of California


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