NEWS:  July 13, 2003

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

GAY ANGLICAN BISHOPS   -  The Anglican “Church,” whose episcopate Leo XIII stated was not valid, recently chose its first two gay bishops. One was Gene Robinson, who was elected as bishop of New Hampshire in the American Anglican sect, also called the Episcopalian Church of the United States (ECUSA). In this confession bishops are designated by public elections, and last June 7 Robinson duly won the ballots of 350 clergy and laity in New Hampshire. He left his wife for a man many years ago, and since then has lived with him in an openly homosexual relationship. His partner, Mark Andrew, is named as such in the diocesan directory and on the ECUSA’s website. Robinson is co-founder of the gay lobby group Concord Outright. In American Anglicanism it is not uncommon to find gay priests, but this is the first time an open homosexual has risen to one of the top positions on the denomination (The Tablet, London, June 7, 2003, pp. 32-3).

Some bishops in the ECUSA object to the election and plan to overturn it at the next General Convention to be held in Minneapolis later this month of July. According to the rules of the denomination, the election of a bishop must be confirmed by the ensemble of its bishops and delegates. If Robinson is confirmed, he will stand as the first elected gay bishop; if he is not, it will be a rare case of annulment, the last being in 1875 (National Catholic Reporter, June 20, 2003).

The second case was the choice of Jeffrey John as bishop of Reading, England. John was appointed by Richard Harries, bishop of Oxford, and should be publicly consecrated in the near future. Jeffrey John has also lived in an openly homosexual relationship for more than 20 years. According to Harries John gave him the guarantee that “in the future he would uphold the church’s teaching on homosexuality.” Sixteen other bishops have responded with a letter of protest, but Harries is not backing down on his appointment, and seems to have sufficient support to sustain his decision. Harries answered the signatories saying that John “had emerged from a rigorous selection process as the best person for the job.”

Rowan Williams, the new primate of the Anglicans, has taken a tolerant position toward homosexual relationships, even though he has recently stated that he upholds the official Anglican position affirming homosexuality as incompatible with Scripture (The Tablet, June 21, 2003, p. 32). Williams is an old friend of Jeffrey John, who worked with him to found an influential liberal movement within the Anglican denomination. “It is thought that Williams was consulted about the appointment of John as bishop of Reading,” affirms the bulletin Adista (Rome, June 28, 2003, p.13).

It is interesting to follow these goings-on with the Anglicans, with whom some Vatican officials claim Catholics have an almost complete communion. If these two Anglican bishops are confirmed in their posts, will this affect the ecumenical relations of the Vatican with its “sister Church”? Will the Vatican break its links with it and clearly state that Catholic doctrine has always abhorred and prohibited homosexuality? Or will it close its eyes and continue on with the ecumenical dialogue as if nothing had happened? If the latter should be the case, wouldn’t this also represent an implicit admission of homosexuality in the Catholic Episcopate? All one can do right now is wait and see what happens and how it happens.

DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE  –  Catholic Bishop Andrzej Sliwinski of Elblag, Poland, has being “obliged to withdraw from episcopal functions” pending “further decisions” after an accident in which his car collided with two other cars. Elblag police said the Bishop’s car was seized and his blood alcohol level exceeded legal limits. The diocesan spokesman said the Bishop had expressed contrition and apologized. What makes the case particularly ironic is that the incident occurred during a day of prayer in all Catholic parishes in Poland for greater road safety (The Tablet, May 24, 2003, p. 28).

CLEANING UP THE PICTURE  –  The progressivist wing has seemed generally indifferent about the sexual scandal in which Archbishop Rembert Weakland was involved in May 2002. A homosexual partner of the Prelate, Paul Marcoux, published an 11-page handwritten love letter Weakland had directed to him.

A pious Weakland

America presents a "cleaned-up" Weakland, who appears pious and in full episcopal dress leading an ecumenical prayer service at the Catholic University in Washington -  America, June 23-30, 2003
Marcoux also revealed that Weakland gave him $450,000 to purchase his silence (Los Angeles Times, May 25, 2002). John Paul II quickly accepted his resignation and Weakland has remained quiet since then.

Notwithstanding the public disgrace, progressivist papers like National Catholic Reporter have not missed a single opportunity to sing Weakland’s praises.. Now some heavy-weight organs like America magazine are starting to present a “cleaned-up” image of Weakland.

Some issues ago, the Jesuit magazine featured a picture and some comments presenting Weakland in a “good light,” humble and recollected, at an inter-confessional meeting (June 23-30, 2003, p. 4). Why this effort to restore the image of a putrid Prelate? Two possibilities occur to me: either progressivists would like to bring him back to the limelight to continue his helpful work, or they are just rewarding him for the many past services he rendered to Progressivism.

A SINGING KASPER  –  JPII recently authorized the handover of the Church of Saints Vicenzo and Anastasio located in the heart of Rome for the religious services of the Bulgarian Schismatic Church. The Pope called this act an example of “ecclesial sharing,” which he hoped would help to defrost Catholic-“Orthodox” relations in general. An ecumenical service was also prepared in that church at which Cardinal Walter Kasper was present. He joined in singing the “Orthodox” songs, reciting prayers and exchanging gifts (The Tablet, June 7, 2003, p. 35).

Almost simultaneously the Russian Schismatic Church, the most important member of the "Orthodox" ensemble, came out with a statement protesting John Paul II’s intent to return the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan to it. Among other outrages, the communiqué affirmed that JPII’s action would be void of any meaning since the Icon he possesses supposedly is not the original one of 1579, but just an 18th century copy of the original (Adista, May 31, 2003, p. 5). Yet another slap in the Vatican’s face …

The Vatican defrosting maneuver did not work, and its final result is once again a dismal failure. The only positive point to have come from the initiative seems to be that Cardinal Kasper had a good opportunity to exercise his singing skills.




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