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to kill it with sunshine

By Diogenes (articles ) | Sep 10, 2007

Jim Naughton is the Canon for Communications and Advancement of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, and, in his role as spokesman, a frequent commentator on the problems vexing the Anglican Communion. Naughton used to be a Catholic, and a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Georgetown, about whose conflicts he wrote a fairly-presented, lucid, and convincing account called Catholics in Crisis (1996).

Naughton was a player in the controversies about which wrote, and did not hide his progressivist convictions -- convictions which, when he was a Catholic, made him a vocal opponent of centralized authority and a champion of parochial independence. A 1997 message thread discussing Holy Trinity's battles with then-Archbishop James Hickey includes this posting by Naughton:

The archdiocese has been looking for a pretext under which to punish the parish for cooperating with me in my research for Catholics in Crisis, and it seems as though the moment may finally have come. Last night, William Lori, auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Washington, Bernard Gerhardt, chancellor of the archdiocese, and another diocesan priest conducted the first of a series of interviews with committee chairpersons and parish staff. They are investigating alleged "liturgical abuses" at the parish. The "visitation" was supposedly occasioned by an incident that occurred during the Octave of Christian Unity when an Episcopal priest and a Presbyterian (I think) minister, both women, preached at a liturgy at Trinity and were later invited (it isn't clear by whom) to distribute communion.

chop

I think all of this is a lengthy pretext for firing a few Trinity staff people whom conservatives in the archdiocese have been gunning for some time (one of whom, the liturgy director, was a central figure in my book), but I suppose it could lead to Cardinal Hickey ousting the entire Jesuit staff.

Note that the Catholic Naughton was almost a congregationalist in his insouciance about communicatio in sacris and his phobia against archdiocesan control. Later he became an Episcopalian, got a job on the staff of the Episcopal Diocese, and, with the instruments of authority in the hands of fellow Lefties, the secessionist poacher had turned curialist gamekeeper. Check out the Anglican Naughton's response in a 2005 interview, when asked what he liked best about his job:

I suppose it's that the variety is great. Last month, for instance, there was a bill in the Virginia state senate that could cause a lot of trouble for the Episcopal Church because it would have unilaterally changed the governing structure of our Church in a way that favored parishes eager to break away [emphasis mine]. So I worked with a few others folks to try to bring this legislation to people's attention -- to kill it with sunshine.

Lest I be misunderstood, I don't mean to imply that Naughton has been inconsistent or insincere. On the contrary, he shows the highly consistent political discipline of a convinced Leftist, for whom subsidiary issues (like ecclesiology, or even church affiliation) are governed not by principle but by their utility in bringing about the desired changes. Yesterday you had a conservative archbishop to contend with, and the cry was for autonomy; today you have a liberal on the throne, and you deplore the "separatist agenda" of your antagonists. Once you've convinced yourself that you have seen The Future -- as every progressivist has -- the prime moral imperative is to do what is necessary to make that vision a reality.

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Sep. 11, 2007 3:11 PM ET USA

    Let me see! Does having two not one non-priest give a homily at mass violate Church Law? That alone justifies an investigation by the bishop. That these non-Catholic ministers were allowed to distribute Communion is even more reprehensible. That the staff apparently is Jesuitis regrettable, but not surprising.

  • Posted by: Art Kelly - Sep. 10, 2007 11:36 PM ET USA

    Diogenes, your commentary is powerful. Thank you.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 10, 2007 11:36 PM ET USA

    Diogenes, your commentary is powerful. Thank you.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 10, 2007 2:35 PM ET USA

    "...Once you've convinced yourself that you have seen The Future ..." Evidently the poor man has not read the Book of Revelations... And when as Jesus so clearly describes "...if your light is darkness..." as seems to be the case with our agonized and miserable Episcopalian brethren you can sometimes temporarily appear to get away with murder.

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