Monday, September 26, 2005

Anglican doings
From Fr Anthony Chadwick

Spite visit
Disguised as charity: trying to pick a fight simply by being there, hoping that somebody will be less than charitable so you can call him on it: ‘I, on the other hand, was trying to be nice’:
The controversial Episcopalian bishop, Bishop V. Gene Robinson, caused an enormous stir in the Anglican world a couple of years ago by being consecrated, despite his being an openly practicing homosexual (and in violation of his marriage). He recently attended a service at All Saints Anglican Church in Concord, New Hampshire, of the Anglican Church in America, a member Church of the Traditional Anglican Communion. Many of the founding members of this parish broke away from the Episcopal Church over his consecration in 2003. Bishop Robinson showed up unannounced at about a minute before Mass in a purple shirt/collar and pectoral cross. He came in the entrance at the front of the church next to the pulpit (everyone could see him enter), and he sat in a pew in the middle of the church. He stayed for the entire service. When Bishop Robinson approached the rail for receiving communion, the rector made the sign of the cross on his forehead only. He was not disrespected by anyone during the service. Most of the parishioners recognised Bishop Robinson, but he left the church after the end of the service, having said to the rector that he was disappointed at having received only a blessing and not Communion.

It is ironic to know this has happened, and it would be imprudent to speculate as to why Bishop Robinson attended a service in a church that had been formed precisely against his consecration by the Episcopalian Church. One would expect it would be like Hans Küng going to Mass in a Society of St. Pius X chapel! Regardless, it gives heart to see a rector and a congregation with a prayerful and open attitude to the workings of divine grace. Pearls hand on slender threads - as Newman used to say. We have not the right to judge, as we don't know what really has happened in the Bishop's life over the past two years - but we should certainly keep him in our prayers. God works out His purpose in mysterious ways.
Oh, well. I’m less than prudent. Mea culpa.

The rector did exactly the right thing.

Shortly before he became the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (which he still is), Frank Griswold did something much like that (only worse), going to Mass one day at St Agnes RC Church in New York (the city where ECUSA headquarters are) where Fr George Rutler* (a former rector of Rosemont who left in the late 1970s because of the attempted ordination of women in ECUSA) was pastor. St Agnes is a nice conservative Novus/indult kind of place that uses the altar rail. But Bp Griswold went one further and, apparently dressed in mufti, received Communion from Fr R who didn’t recognise him. Apparently somebody, maybe Bp G himself, told the world (‘HA ha!’) and there was a little flurry of attention.

*Whom I’ve met: a Catholic gentleman.

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