Horatio

Horatio
[Photo by Jacquelyn Griffin)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What Did They Say Against Smith and Kennedy?

See, this is one reason I left the Roman Catholic Church:
The Catholic Church teaches, in its catechism, in the works of Pope John Paul II and in the writings of Pope Benedict XVI, that the issue of life is the most basic issue and must be given priority over the issue of the economy, the issue of war or any other issue. These same teachings inform us that when both candidates permit the right to abortion, but unequally so, we must chose to mitigate the evil by choosing the candidate who is less permissive of abortion.

Judgment Day is on its way! I may deny it. I may pretend that it is still far away, I may deny that my actions are sinful, but that will not change God’s judgment of me.
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Perhaps having to face these issues during this coming election can turn out to be a grace that truly awakens our need to learn more about the teachings of the Catholic Church, and then to use the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we can receive His mercy and bring our behavior into conformity with the mind and heart of Christ. It is not too late to admit our sinfulness and turn to the Lord in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we do this, both we and the heavens will be filled with joy!

Judgment Day is on its way. Pray your way into conformity with the teachings of Christ and His Church. Pray the family Rosary daily between now and Election Day so that you may not only make the right choice but also have the courage to discuss these issues with others who may have been misled by our materialistic culture. Include the candidates in your prayer intentions. It is my hope that our discussions will bring all of us to our knees to seek help from above.
That's from the Archbishop of St. Louis, for whom Christianity is about submission to the will of Holy Mother Church, even in secular political decisions.

The Spirit of Pio Nono seems alive and well.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Who's That in the Mirror?


It is not, I admit, a particularly charitable thought, but in the wake of the Pittsburgh vote to realign, my first thought was how offensive the fait accompli, pre-printed "glossy brochure" announcing the vote is.

It's one thing to feel the need to part--that raises theological and ecclesiological issues, as to which (at least the theological) I feel that there are legitimate arguments to be had. Questions of scripture and tradition are important. So too are questions of church polity--although I feel the dissentients' views are even more strained and less convincing on that front.

But is it really necessary to caricature the views of those on the other side in such contemptuous terms? I'm extremely tired, most extremely tired, of being treated like a Christ-denying pagan because I believe that inclusion of women and gays and lesbians is more consonant with the spirit of Christianity than the traditional position. The distored image of my views and those who are aligned with my wing of the Church reflected back is a very hard one to view as other than defamatory.

As to those who claim on Bishop Duncan's behalf that he is a martyr, I suppose I should be grateful that they haven't claimed that Duncan avoided the House of Bishops meeting for fear that the Presiding Bishop was planning to reenact the end of The Wicker Man.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Duncan Demarche

I've been thinking about the potential succession of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and the deposition of Robert Duncan, and, in particular, of the tone of even the most respectful criticism of the deposition, that of Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina. Bishop Lawrence raises three arguments against deposition. Two are process-oriented--that it has strengthened the role of the Presiding Bishop and that it was achieved by interpreting as ambiguous canons previously held to be clear. These process objections seem to me--not a canon lawyer, mind you!--to be held in good faith, but, in the last analysis unconvincing. (More positive reactions may ne seen here and here. More information still is here. My reasons for this need not detain the reader long; I have no special expertise here, but the precedents cited for deposition by a majority of those entitled to vote who are present at the meeting of the HOB have not, to my knowledge, been refuted, and the question of inhibition as a prerequisite would require an absurd result--that the three senior bishops could forestall a decision of the House by refusing to inhibit during the pre-trial (so to speak) period. If you view deposition as a penal, quasi-criminal process, such an interpretation is tenable; if you view it as analgous to a civil proceeding, such as that in labor law for atenured employee, it is not. The former seems too overwrought an analogy.

So on to the more substantive question: Bishop Lawrence refers to the deposition as rending the communnion further. I genuinely find this puzzling; is an institution whose fiduciary declares (for however high-principled a reason) that he intends to take a branch location out of the "brand" and assert a right to prevent the institution that hired, trained and elevated him from operating in the vicinage morally barred from announcing that their affiliation with him, and endorsement of him, is at an end?

It seems, frankly, an impausible position to take.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An Encounter With the Presiding Bishop

A friend recently invited me to attend the eucharist at the
Episcopal Church Center this afternoon. The celebrant was Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. The chapel is a small space, and the congregation was small--mostly people who work at the Center, and Bishop Katharine was clearly at home and comfortable. I was struck by two things during the service. The first was that, in distributing the Eucharist, Bishop Katharine clearly takes the sacrament very seriously. With each communicant, including me, she made eye contact, and shared the moment of communicating with respect and dignity. Second, in her short homily, she used the reading from 1 John 4--"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God"--to stress the need for openness amd humility in discerning the will of God for us. That which is comfortable, which reinforces our stereotypes and preconceptions--that is inherently suspect.

Remember that this was a sermon preached to a home crowd, her home crowd. She was in essence urging us to engage with those who disagree with us in love and in respect. She called upon all of us to seek Christ in each other, and to be exemplars of the Christ we love to all we meet.

She also displayed a wry sense of humor; in comparing Remigius (whose feast day is today) with St. Jerome (whose feast day was yesterday), she noted Remigius was appointed a bishop at age 22 and served for 90 years, adding (deadpan), "maybe for his sins." She also, by the way, compared the saint in their views on oratory, preferring Jerome's plain style, and avoidance of persuasion by stoking up emotions.

Afterwards, I was briefly introduced to the Presiding Bishop. She was warm, gracious and funny. It's always interesting to meet someone who is the subject of wildly varying accounts; I found myself liking Katharine Jefferts Schori, and heard the Christian message in her sermon.