Thursday, June 17, 2010


Many of you know, I think, that I just came back from an ecumenical conference. It was held in Baltimore—at Loyola University. It was sponsored by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. Presenters included Lutherans, Catholics, a Presbyterian and an Episcopalian, men and women, ordained, consecrated religious and lay, all (of course) affiliated with university work in one way or another. The theme: The Morally Divided Body: Ethical Disagreement and the Disunity of the Church. It is, sadly, a very relevant topic for us today.

It seems to go without saying that there are deep divides between the various denominations, and indeed within some denominations as well, on ethical questions that revolve mostly around the expression of human sexuality and respect for life. The divisions produce an adversarial context that allows us to congratulate ourselves (too easily?) for being “right,” and encourages us to condemn others (again, too easily?) for disagreeing with us. This is especially true when we operate out of a mentality that is based on drawing battle-lines that divide “us” from “them.” Why can’t “they” (both sides say) see it “our” way—the right way?

In a situation such as this, it is very difficult to see what use there can be in ecumenical exercises: they must surely be exercises in futility…

But an important insight was offered by one of the presenters: “It is much easier to be with people with whom you disagree, if you have a relationship with them.”

A couple of years ago, Archbishop Rodi was approached by our Board for the Christian-Jewish Dialogue in Mobile, to ask him to speak. He was reluctant, at first: “You know, I’m not a scholar in this area.” “Archbishop,” was the reply, “it isn’t about scholarship; it’s about relationship.” It won the day for him, and he came to be with us and speak with us.

The Episcopalians are now going through a great upheaval in their denomination. But I am in relationship with many Episcopalians, especially Fr Albert Kennington. So what is my proper response to that sadness? It is to see him as a brother, a member of the family, and be sad with him for his suffering. And he returns the favor when offensive things like the recent lead article in Time appear.

When the Body is divided, we can either retreat and huddle closely to our own in self-righteousness, or we can sit together, even if it’s only to cry for our divisions—for each other’s brokenness—because we know them and their hurt. I hope we can be a parish, a Church, that chooses the second. How will we be in a position, otherwise, to wash each other’s feet?
[Just a reminder that more essays are posted in "The Pastor's Corner" on our parish's web-site:].

1 comment:

  1. My thoughts are that we first need to be UNITED as CATHOLICS, before we can reach out to others that have dissented, protested, and disobeyed in a very marked way. Shouldn't the Word of the Lord be the guide by which we live, and not by the word of men that believe themselves to be, or to know better than the direction given us through the Holy Spirit? When will genuine efforts be made to unite us in Our own Church? I pray for the day when we all of us that call ourselves (Roman) Catholic will come together and defend our Faith that is guided by the magisterium and Our Pope (via the Holy Spirit), and not be misdirected/misguided by those that see themselves as being as like gods themselves. When we reach this point, then perhaps, our brothers and sisters that are fallen away will see the TRUTH lived by our steadfastness in our Faith/The Word, and that by our witness will be drawn to come home. There can be no gray area, lukewarmness, or obscurity. The WORD spoken/given to us through the Gospel are very clear, even though there may be some variations in the translations.