Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Headlines you never thought you'd see

"Heterosexual elected Episcopal bishop of California" was the headline Reuters gave the news of (heterosexual Alabaman) Mark Andrus' election over the weekend to lead the Episcopalians of California. Now that's certainly not the lead-in of an article about a bishop you would have expected 10 years ago! There were some other funnies, too:

There was Relief as California diocese elects straight bishop from the Guardian and Anglicans avert clash over gays from the London Times. The Washington Post was a little more negative with Episcopalians Reject Gay Hopefuls. On a lighter note, there was also Joy as gay dean stays at St. Mark's from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (about one of the gay candidates who wasn't elected), which was much snappier than the Chicago Tribune's All Saints keeps its pastor, about Rev. Bonnie Perry, the lesbian candidate from Chicago, who unfortunately didn't garner much support.

Of interest to us Catholics who would like a little more participation in the selection of our own bishops, though, was the election process: Candidates had to achieve a majority of both clergy and lay delegates to be elected (it took three ballots in this case), and the diocese had a year-long search process to find qualified candidates. For those folks out there who will immediately complain that "the church is not a democracy," I think the Episcopalians show that democratic participation is not only desirable, it can be successful, too, even in the difficult situation facing the diocese over whether they would elect a gay partnered bishop. It sure beats the most recent headline about a Catholic bishop's "election": Pope Benedict XVI appoints new Bishop in Kerala. Do you think he consulted God's people in Kerala?

Of course, I think this obsession with the sexual orientation of clergy is more than a little ridiculous and immature, even a titch peeping-Tom-ish (there must be a real word for that). As my friend and former coworker said when her Episcopal parish asked whether their new priest should be gay or straight (and I'm paraphrasing here): "Shouldn't that be the priest's business?"

From your lips to God's ears.


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