Friday, September 29, 2006

Anglican angst

All's not been quiet on the Catholic front, but it's been hard to keep up of late. Here's something from the Anglican Communion's continuing rows (to use the Brit word) over gays, women, and bishops from both groups.

It seems the “Windsor compliant” primates (those who support the 1990-something Windsor Report that says homosexuality is contrary to biblical teaching) met in Rwanda. Most are from the Global South and belong to a group insisting on what we might call a more conservative approach to Anglicanism. Few if any ordain women priests, and none ordain them bishops. At the meeting many said they would snub Episcopal Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori when she comes to the Anglican primates meeting; others said they would meet with her, though only in "impaired communion." They also called for the creation of another U.S. Anglican church, and the eight Episcopal dioceses who have rejected Schori met in Texas recently, planning strategy I guess.

Episcopal News Service can fill you in on the whole sordid affair. You can also get Our Sunday Visitor's (gloating?) take on the whole thing; don't know why OsV would devote so many inches to someone else's problems. A warning to liberal Catholics? Proof that women and gays are nothing but trouble? You decide.

I’d be willing to bet the whole schismatic crowd, or at least a healthy number of them, will be coming over to Rome eventually, as many did when both the U.S. Episcopal and then the Church of England began ordaining women. Lucky us.

What will happen to a possible married bishop, do you think? Of course, usually if you’re conservative enough, you can do whatever you want.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Both pope and professor?

A friend and reader asked when I was going to comment on the Benedict v. the entire Muslim world smackdown. First, apologies to the faithful--I've been more than a bit swamped, so I've been a bad blogger.

My personal opinion about B16's allegedly inflammatory remarks is simply that he forgot himself: He's the pope, not a professor, and everything single thing he says is fair game, even when he's misinterpreted. I find it hard to believe, however, that he didn't anticipate that his quote of a 14th-c. Byzantine emperor about Islam would go over badly, though maybe not as badly as it has. If he didn't, he's guilty of a naivete that we generally don't expect of him. I'd be willing to bet that no one outside the immediate papal circle--and certainly not anyone involved in Catholic-Muslim dialogue--read that piece. If the now-dismissed former president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, had seen it, it never would have been said.

In the pope's defense--and let me reiterate that he made a huge mistake for which he should apologize (and I don't mean "I'm sorry some Muslims took what I said the wrong way")--I don't doubt that he intended no disrespect to Islam or the prophet Muhammad. And unfortunately some will see the violent protests as proof of inherent violence within Islam. (If you want a real defense of B16, you'll want to read John Allen's op-ed piece in today's New York Times. Incidentally, I think it a bit unfair that Allen mentions the murder of an Italian priest in Turkey as an example of Muslim countries' oppression of Christians. Tens of thousands of Muslims have died at the hands of Christians in the past four years. If we're going to do a body count, Christianity is not going to come out looking good.)

At the same time it is valuable to remember that there are over 1 billion Muslims; if they really wanted a holy war, we'd have one. Indeed, considering the atrocities in Iraq and Guantanamo, I'd argue that most of the Muslim world has shown remarkable restraint. And, as many Muslims have argued, given both history and the current state of affairs, it is presumptuous for a Christian leader to lecture anyone about violence done in the name of religion. Add to that the fact that most Muslims are probably hearing the pope's comments both third- or fourth-hand and translated, and we shouldn't wonder why we have such a problem on our hands.

There were two op-ed pieces in today's Chicago Tribune that I think shed real and objective light on the situation: one by Martin Marty, formerly of the University of Chicago; the other by Notre Dame's Paul Cobb.

The whole thing makes you long for the days of JPII. He may have been grumpy with the West, liberal Catholics, and Communists, but he did know how to treat everyone else well!