CommunityPam's House Blend

Churches in upheaval

First, it looks like the Episcopal church is about to implode, based on some of the news out there. I don’t see how a split can be avoided.

* Three conservative Episcopal dioceses voted to reject the authority of the denomination’s presiding bishop because of their opposition to the consecration of gay bishops (Dioceses of Pittsburgh, South Carolina, and San Joaquin, CA). Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the Anglican Communion, was asked to assign them an alternative leader.

* The Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, asked Williams to assign them a leader other than Jefferts Schori, because it disagrees with idea of the ordination of women. The Diocese of San Joaquin does not accept women priests either.

* Interestingly, the Diocese of Newark, N.J. decided to jump in the fray and test the new call for restraint by the church on the selection of gay bishops — it’s named a gay priest among the four nominees for its leadership position.

What a mess. Columnist Deb Price has an extremely personal take on the upheaval.

Church regained a central spot in my daily life. My dark mood was slowly replaced by an ever-deepening commitment to trust spiritual tools to fix life’s problems. That the Episcopal Church had already elevated to bishop a gay man in a committed relationship made me feel especially blessed to have been born into the denomination.

But that joy in finding a safe, healing place — a true sanctuary — was shattered last Wednesday when the Episcopal Church’s national convention abandoned its moral high ground and urged that no bishop be confirmed “whose manner of life poses a challenge to the church” — church-speak for “no self-respecting gays allowed.”

Shamefully caving in to Neanderthals threatening to tear apart the Anglican church community, the outgoing and incoming presiding officers — traditionally gay allies — spearheaded the vicious resolution. They plunged my denomination backward at the very time when courageous church leaders are desperately needed to stand firm against those cloaking bigotry in religion.

Many gay Episcopalians will stay, feeling called to help enlighten the church. Others, fiercely torn, will ultimately decide that to sit in an Episcopal pew or put another dollar bill in an Episcopal collection plate would feel like a slap at the diversity-loving God who chose to make us gay.


Popa Ratzi photo illustration by “evilgenius” Doug at Reality Stick).

Then we trek over to Papa Ratzi’s pad, where the paranoia runs deep these days. The WaPo reports that Vatican insiders are worried that the church’s positions on reproductive freedom, SSM, and embryonic stem cell research in an increasingly progressive world may land them in an international court. The fact that Spain, Canada, the Netherlands and Belgium have legalized SSM has vexed the church.

The statements by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo sound very familiar, like our homegrown whining bible beaters who are endlessly claiming that it’s the homos that are controlling everything, and persecuting “Christians.”

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, who heads the Pontifical Council for the Family, reiterated traditional Roman Catholic Church positions and criticized some European countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands and France, for giving legal recognition to civil unions.

“We worry especially that, with current laws, speaking in defense of life and the rights of families is becoming in some societies sort of a crime against the state,” Lopez Trujillo told the Catholic news magazine Famiglia Cristiana for its issue scheduled to hit the stands Thursday. The remarks were posted online on Wednesday.

…Chai Feldblum of Georgetown University’s Law Center said the chances of the church being punished for stating its beliefs were slim to none, at least in the United States, though its stances could lead to Catholic organizations losing state funding. “I cannot fathom a religious organization being punished for speaking its belief against abortion or gay marriage,” said Feldblum, a veteran gay rights advocate.

What is illuminating is not the reality of the legal penalties they face, but an acknowledgment that public morality is shifting under their feet,” Feldblum said.

Lopez Trujillo also compared SSM to “absolute emptiness,” reiterating that marriage is between a man and a woman. IN the past he’s also been quite pithy about gays adopting, calling it “moral violence” against children and jeopardized their personality and stability.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding