"I grew up in the Episcopal church. I hope I don't cry when I talk about this. But the issue is: Are we going to follow Scripture?"
So an anguished Katrina Wagner, a member of the leadership of Truro Episcopal parish, told Washington Post reporters Bill Turque and Michelle Boornstein. They have been covering the sad Christmas story of the breakup of the Episcopal Church in Northern Virginia. Nine parishes have voted to secede from the American church.
What forced the break was the installation at the National Cathedral of Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada as presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church. Schori has blessed homosexual unions and supported the consecration as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire of V. Gene Robinson, a priest who had left his wife to enter a homosexual union. At last report, Robinson was cohabiting with his gay lover.
Traditionalists have had it with the hierarchy, and the in-your-face elevation of a green and trendy liberal prelate to lead them broke it. Not only have the nine parishes severed ties, with more considering secession, seven of 111 Episcopal dioceses have rejected Schori's authority. Sad as the story seems, however, it produced mirth and mockery from Washington Post columnist Howard Meyerson.
"Whether it was the thought of a woman presiding over God's own country club or gays snuggling under its eaves, it was all too much" for the "Fairfax Phobics," wrote Meyerson. This is "just the latest chapter in the global revolt against modernism and equality and, more specifically, in the formation of the Orthodox International."
And what, exactly, is the "Orthodox International"?
"The OI unites frequently fundamentalist believers of often opposed faiths in common fear and loathing of challenges to ancient tribal norms. ... The OI's founding father was Pope John Paul II, who ... sought to build his church in nations of the developing world where traditional morality and bigotry, most especially on matters sexual, were ... more in sync with the Catholic Church's inimitable backwardness. Now America's schismatic Episcopalians are following in (John Paul's) footsteps -- traditionalists of the two great Western hierarchical Christian churches searching the globe for sufficiently benighted bishops."
The reference to "benighted bishops" is to Archbishop Akinola, who believes, as the 13 colonies and 50 American states did up until the late 20th century, that homosexual sodomy should be a crime. Jefferson, the patron saint of liberals, thought active homosexuals should be emasculated.
Meyerson dismisses the Fairfax dissenters as a "distinct minority." Yet, he concedes that only 13 of 38 national churches in the Anglican communion ordain women, and only three -- the United States, Canada and New Zealand -- permit the consecration of women bishops.
So who are the real schismatics, the real heretics?
In rejecting the authority of Schori and refusing to bless homosexual unions, the dissenters have God, Scripture, and church teaching and tradition on their side. Did not Christ Himself say to the Pharisees of his day: "Have ye not read that He who made man at the beginning 'made them male and female'? And He said, 'For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.'"
As for the Old Testament, Leviticus is a good deal rougher on the Mattachines than even Archbishop Akinola.
And, tell us, Meyerson, if the dissenters believe in their hearts that Christ restricted the priesthood and apostolic succession to men and that homosexual sodomy is a sin against God, which, persisted in, corrupts the soul and can bring eternal damnation, should they stand firm in the faith -- or should they conform to the commands of "modernity"?
Meyerson is particularly upset that Pope John Paul's "Orthodox International" -- Israeli rabbis, Christian and Islamic clergy -- came forward to "bury ancient enmities and to jointly condemn a gay pride festival" in Jerusalem. Yet one need not be a raging homophobe to think it probably not a good idea -- in the middle of a Moslem intifada that may lead to a war of civilizations between Islam and the West -- not to have 100,000 Sodomites cavorting in the Holy City.
In discussing the late pope and traditional Christians, Meyerson tosses about insults like "benighted," "tribal" and "Phobics." He charges the Catholic Church with "backwardness," and draws a direct parallel between Catholic teaching and "tribal norms" and "traditional morality and bigotry."
Meyerson's is the authentic voice of an anti-Catholicism that is out of the closet and on the op-ed pages of the national press.
"Episcopalians Against Equality" is the title of Meyerson's piece. But this is surely unjust. None of these folks has called for the denial of any rights to homosexuals. They are simply saying that, as faithful Christians, they cannot elevate to the same moral plane as Christian marriage, which the Lord commends, the homosexual unions Scripture condemns.
God bless these brave Episcopalians at Christmas -- and a very Merry Christmas to you, too, Meyerson.