"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Writes the Standing Committe of the Diocese of Fort Worth--Southern Cone

It really is just a formality, Gentle Reader, but I thought I would pass along to you the news that PB Schori of the TEC has just sent a missive to the Standing Committee of our diocese. In it she announces that she does not recognize them as the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Fort Worth. As our diocese is now a part of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of the Americas this really isn't irrelevant to much, but there you have it.

You can read it all here.

There is no canon of the TEC, by the way, that gives the Presiding Bishop authority to "unrecognize" a Standing Committee. But there is also now not anyone left inside of TEC who is going to interfere with PB Schori's wishes. She has clearly made a habit of expanding the PB's alleged powers beyond their canonical scope. Were I still a member of the Episcopal church I would be quite concerned about this power grab. As it is, I wish those still inside TEC good fortune in their relations with their Presiding Bishop.


Anonymous WannabeAnglican said...

Well, I don't recognize Ms. Schori as a bishop of the Holy Catholic Church or as a Christian for that matter. So there.

What part of "none of your business" does the lady not understand?

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In concert with so many others, I do not recognize Katharine Jefferts Schori as a deacon, priest, or bishop of the Episcopal Church, for the simple reason that many regard her theological education as suspect at best, she is woefully lacking in experience, and she was fast-tracked into her supposed "episcopacy" by those whose interest was in advancing their agendas of gender equality in the ministry, and so-called GLBT "rights."

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And BTW, fellow anonymous, be assured that no one needs recognize her as any kind of cleric since she is the very example of serious heresy and also a woman, her so-called ordinations as deacon, priest, bishop were invalid, utterly null ab initio.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Fr. Christopher Cantrell SSC said...

Father - I have just tagged you!


3:25 PM  
Blogger Fidelis said...

Many Christians upset with media references to gay rights are even more upset over the issue of gay marriages. Certain clergymen are, in their condemnation of homosexuals, threatening schism in the Episcopal Church. Yet others are adopting a pastoral approach based on research and biblical inspiration. For example, Michael Guinan, a Franciscan, has been a major influence in helping his brother clerics understand and reach out to homosexuals. Guinan has been forbidden to speak and write on this topic by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict. (The following comments are based on his and those of others who have also been silenced).
Obviously, the homosexual question has some unsolved problems and areas of confusion. The question has been only recently formulated and addressed to the various fields of inquiry, e.g., psychology, sociology, biology, theology, biblical studies, etc. Each field has its own methodology and resources, and we are finding answers to many aspects of this question. However we need to be concerned with a Christian, pastoral response to homosexuals now….. Because we Christians are bound, by the Commandments and by the example of our Lord Jesus, to the following:

1. Love of neighbor, with no exceptions;
2. Speaking the truth;
3. Avoiding judgment of others,

for Jesus says: "Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the FIRST and great commandment, and the SECOND is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: ON THESE TWO COMMANDMENTS HANG ALL THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS" Can anything be more clear? Yet many Christians disobey that Word when dealing with homosexuals. I believe we Christians need to follow four guidelines:

1. We must avoid religious arrogance and self-righteousness, setting us over against our gay neighbor in violation of his/her common humanity. The first step of prejudice and persecution is the denial of the common humanity of gays. We are the "good people"; they are "queers, perverts, fags".
We will not admit we are all equally human beings, sharing the same basic needs, desires, hopes and life. The second step is to quote the Bible to support this, ignoring the many interpretations of any given text to bolster their particular stand in disobedience to the mandate of Jesus to love one anther, on which “hang all the law and the prophets”. In the Gospels we meet religious "Bible-quoting"
people who provided the norm against which others are judged. The Gospels characterize them as Pharisees who "lay heavy burdens on other peoples' shoulders not lifting a finger to help", Mt. 23:4. Note how our Lord deals with them: Mt 23: 27-28. We can identify modern Pharisees by their phraseology: "We are decent people, we will not put up with.....We should love the sinner, but hate the sin." Evil thus committed in the name of decency is worse than that which is being opposed. In practice it is the "sinner" who Is hated and violated. Perhaps the basic underlying problem has to do with faith. For all their "religious" talk, such self-righteous people really do not have faith in God
as much as faith in their own faith. The God of the Bible is a God of surprises, a God who calls us forward to new depths and new understanding. We need as an integral part of our faith, a healthy sense of doubt, a doubt in our own faith. The guideline is this: We must not be deceived or misled by the religious veneer on so much talk about gays. When we encounter attitudes such as this we should pause, be suspicious, and have some reservations. Such an approach often masks something not only un-Christian but even anti-Christian. We can never appeal to self-righteousness to condemn, harm, or deny rights to our neighbor.

2. We must not bear false witness against our neighbor. The homosexual IS our neighbor. In debates over homosexuality, a standard set of phrases and accusations are used: "Gays are sick; They are responsible for their condition and can change it at will; They molest children and recruit the young". These statements betray a kind of self-assured simplistic evaluation of the causes of homosexuality. Gays are not recruited from the young or from anywhere else. Were that true,
heterosexuals also would be created by recruitment. The clichés involving children (e.g., Save Our Children) are geared to evoke such an emotional response that the issues seldom can be discussed in a reasonable way. The evaluation of empirical data is important. So-called "Good Christians”
ignore the empirical evidence, established by research, which disproves the above statements. The latest brain studies focusing on the structural differences of the corpus callosum, the hypothalmus, the splenium and the isthmus size between men and women plus the prenatal hormonal exposure provide evidence of a neurobiological basis to sexual orientation. Researchers at McMaster Univ. Hamilton, Ont., state: "Our results suggest that homosexual orientation is not unnatural to the homosexual. It is as natural to them as heterosexuality is to the heterosexual. The way the brain develops anatomically then functionally has a large early hormonal component. Among the things the brain develops is sexual orientation. This is one of the many variations within each genetic sex." Anatomically we move from female to male as hormones effect this transitional phase. Current research on the effect of hormones during gestation points to this as the primary cause of homosexual orientation. Previous research has shown that Homosexuality is established at an extremely early
age, from conception to 3-5 years as is heterosexuality. Child molestation occurs more so statistically among heterosexuals. If a parent is really worried about sexual molestation of their children, they
should demand only homosexual teachers since the incidence of same-sex molestation is dramatically lower than that involving opposite sexes. The Christian Century magazine reviewed ten "Christian" books on homosexuality and all but two were extremely criticized for misrepresenting scientific data, using concepts incorrectly and were described by the reviewer-psychologist as
"especially insidious." All of the clichés noted above as characteristic of gays are demonstrably false. That they continue to be used in debate is the result of prejudice, bigotry, and demagogic sloganeering in violation of the Biblical admonition: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor", Ex.20:16.

3. We must seek to understand the experience of our gay neighbor even though it questions some aspect of our "certain" theories, lest we close ourselves off, as did Job's friends, to a meeting with the living God calling us to a new and fuller life.
As a test of Job's faith and righteousness, he is despoiled of everything he holds dear. From the start we know he is innocent and his protestations are sound. Three friends come to console him. They criticize him, presume his guilt and convict him of sin. Their ears are deaf to his pleas. They are so sure of what God does (their theology admits no doubts) that they are unable to share or even become aware of Job's experience, which does not fit into their neat theory. As Christians, we find ourselves in a similar position regarding gays. We have a theory about homosexuality and because of it we are unable to hear or understand the experience of gays, which calls that theory, in some or all of its aspects, into question.
Biblical texts quoted against gays do not apply to our understanding of homosexuality today as a permanent, a given, psychological condition which simply did not exist in the ancient world. It is unfair to expect biblical texts to provide detailed answers for all our modern problems, problems which either did not exist in that world or which were understood in quite a different way. Just as we should not read all our problems and preoccupations back into the texts, we have to be careful not to carry ancient cultural characteristics over into our present time.
We are not considering here the experimental sexual activity among the young or those heterosexuals who engage in occasional same sex activity, but are focusing on gay orientation. Many statements regarding the ability to change one’s sexual orientation come from those heterosexuals who have had same-sex experiences, for whatever reason, arise from their subsequent guilt, shame or fear. If they choose only heterosexual activity, they reason anyone can. It is becoming obvious that such behavior can change, whereas one’s sexual orientation cannot. Inappropriate behavior by a heterosexual or homosexual is never to be condoned but must be met with concern and pastoral guidance.
If we are to relate to gays in a truly Christian way, we must try to share, in some way, the deep human experiences of gay men and women. We should not understand this sharing only in an abstract, watered-down sense, i.e., we read books and articles about homosexuality, its causes, problems, etc. This is not unimportant, and it should not be overlooked, but it is too cerebral. Human beings are more than minds; they are thinking, feeling, sharing, loving, suffering, embodied individuals. We must somehow share this level as well.
Harvard biblical scholar Paul Hanson focuses the problem: "Job describes a pernicious kind of idolatry, frightfully common among religious people today and yet is seldom recognized as such. Humans conceptualize God, lay claims to the infallibility of their image, buttress their claims by arguing that their concept of God is proven by divine revelation objectively drawn from the Bible,
and then appoint themselves as God’s envoy to proclaim divine judgment on all who differ. Thus the religiously elite bring about the breakdown of community and increase intolerance and human misery, all as a means of safeguarding their own vindictive sense of moral and spiritual superiority. Job has little patience with such self-appointed spokespersons of `god`. Living religiously is not a question of constructing and defending a definitive theological system but of responding faithfully, at the intersection of religious heritage, contemporary existence and experience, to an encounter with the living God."
The point is clear: If we are to relate to gays in a responsible, Christian pastoral way, we must begin to relate to the gay question with intelligence, understanding, sympathy and compassion without condemnation. We noted earlier that the first step to bigotry is the denial of our common humanity. Gays are human beings just like all of us. We must keep Job and his friends in mind. His friends held their theory with great conviction and no room for doubt. The best comment on this comes near the end of the book of Job: "When the Lord had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz, the Temanite, `I am angry with you and your friends because you have not spoken rightly concerning me, as my servant Job has done."

4. The Society of Jesus' time, just as now, had its marginal people, Those others looked down upon, despised, and denied basic justice: Samaritans, prostitutes, publicans, Lepers. Wherever there was oppression, suffering, denial of justice, Jesus faced a choice. He could have said, "If I go to these people, work with them to put an end to their oppression, the injustice they suffer, I may be accused of agreeing with them in every detail; I may be identified with them. I'd better stand aside and criticize them, and people will see how religiously correct I am." Or he could have said, "I will
be present to them in mercy, healing, compassion and strength." He was there with them and he was roundly criticized for it. "He eats with publicans and sinners." Mt. 2:16; Lk 5:30; Mt. 9:11; t.11:19. He was there. "You are a human being; you have dignity, you count. I treat you with respect and call
you to grow to the fullest humanity you can, to a life of peace and love and justice. And I expect my followers to do the same. The Gospels can be no clearer. Religious arrogance, self-righteousness, hard-heartedness are much greater obstacles to the kingdom of God than human weakness or sin. When religion is used to deny life, oppress the outcast, and despise the marginal, do Violence to others, we are not dealing with Christian behavior.
We need to apply these four principles now, for in reaching out to share compassionately with gays, work for justice for them, we are following the example of Jesus who did the same in his society. To challenge, critique, educate, comfort, console in the light of the Gospels is essential to and common to all Christian ministries. But, if we do not, in some way, incorporate these four guidelines, the other aspects of ministry will not, in fact, cannot be heard.

Dom Fidelis, OPR

9:12 AM  
Blogger Jacob Hicks said...

I certainly don't recognise Bishop Schori as a bishop of the Church (though, of course, she is a Bishop of TEC) but, WannabeAnglican, I'm concerned that you don't recognise her as a Christian. On what possible grounds would you say that? Bishop Schori is wrong, wrong, wrong on so many things but she says she loves the Lord. Can we do anything but accept that, rejoice with her as a sister in Christ, and entertain the unlikely hope that one day we'll agree?

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fidelis said...

For example, Michael Guinan, a Franciscan, has been a major influence in helping his brother clerics understand and reach out to homosexuals. Guinan has been forbidden to speak and write on this topic by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict.

It is proper that he is forbidden to speak and write and still be regarded as a Roman Catholic. The summary of his writing which Fidelis has made is clearly at odds with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. It is at odds with the teaching of the Holy Catholic Church.

On the topic of homosexual behavior as with all other sin, the message is confession, repentance, and forgiveness. Fidelis has presented the same claim that homosexual acts are not sin. This does not match with Holy Scripture or 2000 years of Church teaching.


8:05 AM  
Blogger Dr.D said...

Fidelis talks about Jesus ministry to those who were marginalized. Let us consider what he said to the woman taken in adultery. When no one step forward to cast the first stone, Jesus says that He does not condemn her either, but that she should go and sin no more. Jesus does not say, "Well, I suppose that means what you did was OK after all."

Homosexuality is clearly contrary to the Bible and I think that there are few if any homosexuals who do not know this. On the other hand, I have never seen anyone go seeking homosexuals to persecute. It is the fact that homosexuals desire to flaunt their homosexuality in the face of the rest of the population that causes them to be outcasts. Look at the Gay Pride parades if you have any doubt about this. These are not people simply wanting to lead quite lives in their own way. No, these are in-your-face, we are going to offend you every possible way type people.

Fidelis is accusing straight people of being judgmental regarding homosexuals, but in fact I think it usually goes exactly the other way around. Homosexuals force themselves on the rest of the population in ways that are repellent to everyone else and we have a right and an obligation to object.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I don't agree with everything Fidelis has written, it is not "clearly at odds with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church." He has not claimed, so far as I see, that homosexual acts are not sins - in fact, his comments in point four suggest otherwise.

Moreover, it is too simple to say that "On the topic of homosexual behavior as with all other sin, the message [of the Roman Catholic Church] is confession, repentance, and forgiveness." The Roman Catholic Church's position is much more nuanced, as is demonstrated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's "On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons," written in 1986 under then-Cardinal Ratzinger.

Finally, we have more options than a choice between being moral pushovers and being judgmental. Self-righteousness is something all Christians should be wary of, even if strong moral stands are important and even condemnations may occasionally be pastorally necessary. As the apologist Dorothy Sayers noted many decades ago, the Lord condemned sins of weakness as well as sins of pride and hypocrisy, but the former less than the latter.

Fidelis may go too far, or his pastoral approach may need to be balanced by a clearer exposition of moral doctrine; but it deserves reflection and critical engagement, not dismissal.

Ian Gerdon

6:53 PM  

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