a gay bishop, a sad moment
By Fr. Wilson ( articles ) | Aug 05, 2003
Tonight's confirmation of the Rev. Canon Gene Robinson as the first open, practicing homosexual to be elected a Bishop of the Episcopal Church is a sad moment. As I write this, traditionalist Episcopal bishops and clergy and lay delegates to their General Convention are gathered in a prayer service.
Over the years, I have had many opportunities to meet and know devout Anglicans, and it has always been a pleasure. There was a disciplined way of spirituality, a rich life of discipleship there which was explicitly recognized as a gift by the Second Vatican Council, the Fathers of which said that elements of the patrimony of piety of separated brethren could find a legitimate place in the Catholic Church. I have known laity, bishops and other clergy of that Church, and wonderful Religious as well. Many continue friends to this day. In more recent years, I've found a lot of the same kind of richness in the Lutheran tradition, but I encountered that much later.
It is sad to remember that there was a day in 1966 when Pope Paul VI slipped his own episcopal ring onto the finger of Archbishop Ramsey of Canterbury -- and to see how far apart we have grown since that hopeful day. But there's something ecclesiological about the principle of inertia. A body at rest tends to stay at rest; a body in motion... While the mainline churches were homogeneous bodies, clergy and laity of similar religious backgrounds serving a society which basically agreed on ethical principles, the body was at rest; what looked like orthodoxy was attributable to inertia.
Once the body started moving, both society and the churches becoming less homogeneous and previously agreed-upon principles suddenly up for grabs, there was no break. If you accept the Reformation idea that Christ allowed His Church to be deceived in essential matters and teach error, and the Truth needed to be rediscovered, you have no real defense against that same thing happening five hundred years later.
But there's no joy in watching this. The Book of Common Prayer renders Psalm 137 thus: "By the waters of Babylon, we sat down and wept, when we remembered thee, O Sion; as for our harps, we hanged them up upon the trees that are therein."
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