The lack of class exhibited by the local Episcopal Church in general and Bishop Leo Frade in particular, makes one conscious that religions, even those with similar beliefs, are in competition for parishioners. So with an eye towards highlighting differences, something which Bishop Frade has been doing with a surprisingly cheerful enthusiasm, let’s check out the competition.
At first glance, the Episcopal Church appears so flexible as to its core beliefs, that I would not be surprised to see Plastic Man at their next poaching press conference. The only delay might be that he needs to get a girlfriend [or boyfriend in select dioceses] at his side before they go on camera.
Even determining how to refer to the Episcopal Church is not a simple proposition. The former Joe Robbie Stadium looks stable in comparison. A brief rundown of its history:
- Church of England in British North America (1497–1775).
- Forced to break with the Church of England after the American Revolution.
- Became First Anglican Province outside the British Isles (1789).
- During the American Civil War, an Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America was temporarily formed from the dioceses within the seceded states.
- The Reformed Episcopal Church broke away in 1873.
- The Continuing Anglican Movement broke away in 1977 out of frustration over the Church’s position on homosexuality, the ordination of openly homosexual priests and Bishops, and abortion among others.
- Six Anglican organizations, calling their alliance Common Cause, broke away in 2004 to promote ‘orthodox Anglicanism.’
- The Anglican Church in North America broke away in 2008 to form a “separate ecclesiastical structure” for Anglican faithful in North America, distinct from the Episcopal Church in the USA, since it believed that Church to be heretical.
- Today known as The Episcopal Church, The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and the Anglican Church in Canada, they are the arm of Anglicanism in North America.
What Episcopalians Believe on Issues
Ordination of Women
- In 1976, the General Convention amended Canon law to permit the ordination of women to the priesthood.
- Most dioceses of the Episcopal Church ordain women as priests and bishops.
- However, the full Anglican Communion [of which the Episcopal Church is part of] does not universally accept the ordination of women. Some individual US dioceses do not either.
- The General Convention [GC] reaffirmed in 1994 that both men and women may enter into the ordination process, but also recognized that there is value to the theological position of those who oppose women’s ordination [JC – no word on whether any remaining testicles in the faith were actually removed during the session, or whether it was assumed they no longer existed].
- The Episcopal Church affirmed at the 1976 GC that homosexuals are “children of God” who deserve acceptance and pastoral care from the church.
- However in 1991, the GC seemed to contradict itself when it affirmed that “physical sexual expression” is only appropriate within the monogamous, lifelong “union of husband and wife.”
- In 1994, the GC determined that church membership would not be determined on “marital status, sex, or sexual orientation”. The GC also discourages the use of conversion therapy to “change” homosexuals into heterosexuals.”
- The first openly homosexual bishop–a divorced father of two–Gene Robinson, was elected in June 2003.
- 1958 — Held a strong pro-life position, stating, “Abortion and infanticide are to be condemned.”
- 1967 — The 62nd GC of the Episcopal Church supported abortion law “reform,” to permit the “termination of pregnancy” for reasons of life, rape, incest, fetal deformity, or physical or mental health of the mother.
- 1982 — The 66th GC condemned the use of abortion as a means of gender selection and non-serious abnormalities.
- 1988 — The 69th GC developed a position that stated, “All human life is sacred. Hence it is sacred from its inception until death.” The statement goes on to call for church programs to assist women with problem pregnancies and to emphasize the seriousness of the abortion decision.
- 1994 — The 71st GC expressed “unequivocal opposition to any … action … that [would] abridge the right of a woman to reach an informed decision about the termination of her pregnancy, or that would limit the access of a woman to a safe means of acting upon her decision.”
- In 1997, at the 72nd General Convention, the delegates approved a resolution that did not condemn partial-birth abortions but expressed grave concerns about the procedure, “except in extreme situations.”
- The Episcopal Church currently supports abortion and opposes efforts to restrict it.
- Recently, the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, chose a lesbian, pro-abortion president to lead the seminary.
- Ms Katherine Hancock Ragsdale recently gave a sermon where she stated, “Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.”
The shift in the Episcopalian position on abortion no doubt reflects ‘progress’ in the secular world. Given that background, the shift in allegiance by Fr Cutie is nothing if not logical. An ostensibly confused priest simply could not refuse a certifiably confused Church.
The Catholic Church is often criticized for moving too slowly. I think the Episcopal Church is a good example of why we should continue to do so.
Great Post! The problem with the Anglican Church is that it separated itself from the barque of Peter. Man without the Holy Spirit is, ultimately, lost… as is a Church without the Vicar of Christ. (Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus) What better example than the fragmented Anglican church is there of the scourge of relativism which puts politics before the Truth. There are those in the Catholic Church who are falling into this same trap and rationalizing everything from abortion to the very nature of the sacraments. I have walked into Catholic Churches in South Miami were the publication, Sojourner, (sojo.net) is being distributed along with our Sunday Visitor. This publication is in favor of treating abortion as a moral hazard equal to economic justice and the environment. This is a direct attack on Church teaching. Yet, there it is not five yards from the Blessed Sacrament. Is someone trying to “redefine” Catholic teaching parish by parish?
We need to pray for those in the Anglican Church who would resist relativism and cling to the portion of the Truth which might yet be present in the Anglican Church. They need to make there way into the Catholic Church, where resides the Fullness of Truth. But we should also mind our own house, which, here in South Florida just got a little smaller.
vestri frater in Christe
A few days ago I had a conversation with my boss, who is Episcopalian, about religion. His comments were very similar to your points regarding their contradictions. The problem is that there is a sharp distinction between the left and right wings of the Episcopal/Anglican Church, and the division is so deep that traditional parish and even bishopric boundaries are often crossed and sometimes ignored out of spite. In short, the unity of the Episcopal Church as it is today is hanging on by a thread.
Both comments remind me of what the 'right' [ultimate / all bloggers are allowed 1 cheap-shot post] response should be in this case – to pray for the Anglican Church and its members – especially if I put myself in the shoes of someone who is part of a Church which has taken positions that they have a serious issue with – very difficult position to be in
I don't think stating the inconsistencies in the Anglican Church is a cheap shot. As Robert observed, there are those within the Anglican Communion who would agree with much of what you stated. The example of the AChurch should be a warning to Catholics. The “updating” of the Church for the purpose of making it relevant to “modern man” can have horrible consequences. Of course the AChurch has been “updating” itself for a lot longer.
The Holy Father himself has been calling for a “heurmenutic of continuity” rather than a “heurmenutic of rupture” in interpreting the documents of Vatican II. The response to his liberalizing of the Tridentine Mass included several Catholic critics who appeared to have taken a page from liberal elements in the AChurch.
And as luck would have it Father Z has an excellent example of the current attempts to inculcate hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture by some in the Church which Pope Benedict is trying to correct.
Not sure how to imbed the link hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture which Pope Benedict is trying to correct.
That last paragraph was a great way to end it. People are often switching their denominations because they are looking for a God who will conform to their beliefs, rather than a God whose values they conform to.
Great post. I've started to follow you because you came up when I searched for “Father Vallee.” How do you know him by the way?
Welcome to the blog Gabby, I checked out yours as well – difficult decisions ahead for you, but from great choices.
I became aware of Fr Vallee since he frequently celebrated [still does] Mass at Little Flower when I was a Parishioner there. His homilies are a good example of a priest with a great intellect not allowing that intellect to drown out the priest.
There is now an Anglican Rite in the Roman Catholic Church in the USA. Read “When Father Bradford Goes Away.” http://www.locutor.net/Wilson.htm