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By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Jun 05, 2006

For those who like rhythm in their schism, the "independent" Catholic churchlets fill the bill impeccably. The L.A. Times has a delightful story on the Most Reverend Peter Hickman, Bishop of the Ecumenical Catholic Church, Inc., and pastor of St. Matthew's Parish in Orange, California -- a faith community that, we're told, "ordains female, married and openly gay priests, recognizes divorce, accepts birth control and premarital sex, blesses same-sex unions and, most important, rejects the authority of the pope."

What, nothing on the doctrine of Trinitarian procession?

There's no denying that Bishop Hickman found the perfect match for his particularly Californian assortment of talents. He's open. He's caring. He's able to name and own the gift of being him. The very essence of self-actualization psychology is summed up in this wonderfully dead-pan paragraph:

"Marriage promotes growth," says Hickman, 50, who has fathered five children, been married three times and divorced twice. "People who've never been married have a hard time knowing themselves."

Excellency, you said a mouthful. The remainder of the news story conforms to the predictable template, contrasting Vatican intransigence with progressivist openness, and quoting Catholic academics who assure us these independent catholicisms represent a "growing" phenomenon (which is true, but which neglects to mention that the growths in question typically have the lifespan of mayflies). I was astonished to learn from the article that the Society of Jesus, in the larval form, had its tender origins in the same sociological hatchery:

According to theologians, independent Catholic movements arose as early as the 11th century, some of which, including the Jesuits, the Vatican incorporated into the church.

Ah well, if theologians said it I'm hardly in a position to demur.

Someone once told me of a "Simpsons" episode in which Lisa's orthodontist displays a copy of the The Big Book of British Smiles, the better to encourage hesitant patients. In the same cheerfully admonitory spirit I recommend ten minutes' browsing in this catalog of custom-built American prelacies. They should issue trading cards with rookie-year photos and on-base percentage. Your Uncle Di's personal favorites are the Right Rev. John P. Johnston, ChCStI, Bishop and Religious of the Virtual Order of St. Isidore of Seville; His Divine Grace Daniel Clay, Bishop of the Church Universal and Global (formerly, The Divine Assembly of Holy Prophets) and Religious of the Order of the Mystical Rose; and of course the Most Rev. Dr. Chief Alexander Swift Eagle Justice, Bishop of the Mexican National Catholic Church, Bishop of the Western Federation Church, and a licensed pilot. All this, and same-sex unions too!

Dominus Iesus, anyone?

Bishop Peter visits Dignity Los Angeles

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Show 8 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: sparch - Jun. 12, 2006 1:54 PM ET USA

    It is like seeing tranvestites. What one wears on the outside doen't change the nature of what is underneath.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 06, 2006 2:06 PM ET USA

    Who said the vaudeville is dead?

  • Posted by: RC - Jun. 06, 2006 1:21 PM ET USA

    Here's a cautionary lesson for fringe bishops. Some clergymen entering these movements are out of their former denominations for good reason, and even the Piskies have some standards for "affective maturity".

  • Posted by: Quadratus - Jun. 06, 2006 12:00 PM ET USA

    I guess some people like to run around in clerical garments, miters, chasubles, albs, pastor canes, etc. The Reverend Justice Swift Eagle is a howler. This guy even has a claim on the moon and mars! How cookie can you get. Sadly we have some bishops, priests, deacons and lay people as crazy as that in the Catholic Church. But thank you, this makes me appreciate our Church, even with all its problems it is the One True Church.

  • Posted by: Art Kelly - Jun. 06, 2006 12:26 AM ET USA

    I'd really like to know why anyone would be part of the Ecumenical Catholic Church, Inc. when everything this group stands for is fully and completely found in the Episcopal Church. Granted the Episcopal/Anglican Church does not have valid orders, but attempts by schismatic bishops to ordain women would be completely invalid. Besides that, if this group rejects everything the Catholic Church says, why would they believe Pope Leo XIII when he declared that Anglican orders were null an void?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 05, 2006 11:07 PM ET USA

    I'm afraid that I spent many more than ten minutes reading about... the separated brethren; such a mixture of the horrible and the comic.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 05, 2006 2:22 PM ET USA

    If I join the Virtual Order of St. Isidore, can I go to virtual confession? Do I confess to my computer screen? Or maybe it's a confession chatroom. This will do wonders for my self esteem - i will be able to feel really good about myself all the way down that virtual slippery slope..... the flames will be virtual too.....won't they?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 05, 2006 8:14 AM ET USA

    Some of us who go back to non-PC days also can recall The Mystic Knights of the Sea. Yet that fine lodge never was tarnished with heresy.

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