The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Thanks, but no thanks

While most of the press coverage has been devoted to Episcopalians eager to leave the Anglican Communion, New Jersey has at least one church this is probably going to stay put:

For five years, members of Saint Anthony of Padua in Hackensack, a church in the liberal Episcopal Diocese of Newark, have sought spiritual guidance from a bishop in a socially conservative diocese in South Carolina.

The reason? They oppose the liberal tendencies of the Newark diocese and their national church, which in 2003 seated an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire over conservative opposition. The following year, St. Anthony’s began periodically hosting Bishop William J. Skilton from Charleston, S.C.


laffjpg-14cfc9db9ee02b0b_medium.jpgThe arrangement helps explain why parish members probably will not accept the Vatican’s special offer, made last month, to allow dissatisfied Episcopalians and Anglicans to convert to Catholicism, said the Rev. Brian Laffler, the pastor. The Episcopal Church USA, with 2.1 million members, is part of the 77 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion.


“We have a satisfactory situation,” Laffler said. “We have the pastoral care of an authorized bishop who is sympathetic to our situation.”

While significant numbers of Anglicans in Britain are expected to accept it, many Episcopalians in the United States who staunchly oppose their national church’s stances on sexuality and gender already have been severing ties within the Anglican Communion, church observers say.

Other parishes besides Saint Anthony of Padua have formed relationships with like-minded conservative bishops. And approximately 20 parishes in Canada, and the bishops and many members of four dioceses in Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania and California, have left the Episcopal Church and aligned themselves with the Southern Cone of the Americas, an Anglican province in South America.


“Conservatives who are leaving, most of them have left the Episcopal Church already,” said the Rev. John Donnelly of Saint Michael’s Church in Wayne. “Those of us that are staying — and there are significant numbers of conservatives who have stayed — we’re staying.”

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Michelle Hart

posted December 9, 2009 at 9:11 am

I am staying in the Episcopal church. One of the many reasons I am an Episcopalian is that it is all inclusive. We are all equal in God’s eyes. Whatever color, whatever choice of whom to love, it makes no difference to our loving God. Those who have been called by Him to serve, are to serve. Man’s rules and categories do not apply to God’s plans.

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posted December 9, 2009 at 11:34 am

I am contiunally amazed (although perhaps I shouldn’t be) by the level of hatred directed against GLBT people in this country. Those of you who practice hate: do you know any gay people? Why do you believe it’s just fine to spread nastiness and prejudice? What are you afraid of? Are you afraid that homosexuality, once experienced by you, would be so compelling and delicious that you’d have to forsake the thin veneer of your heterosexist defensiveness?
I am seeking an honest response from whoever hates gays and wants to reply to this comment. Don’t be afraid. Give it your best shot.

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted December 9, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Max …
I think this beautiful statement from the Catholic bishops should be read by all who harbor hatred or animosity toward gays:
Homosexual persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358). They, as is true of every human being, need to be nourished at many different levels simultaneously. This includes friendship, which is a way of loving and is essential to healthy human development. It is one of the richest possible human experiences. Friendship can and does thrive outside of genital sexual involvement.
The Christian community should offer its homosexual sisters and brothers understanding and pastoral care. More than twenty years ago we bishops stated that “Homosexuals . . . should have an active role in the Christian community” (National Conference of Catholic Bishops, To Live in Christ Jesus: A Pastoral Reflection on the Moral Life, 1976, p. 19). What does this mean in practice? It means that all homosexual persons have a right to be welcomed into the community, to hear the word of God, and to receive pastoral care. Homosexual persons living chaste lives should have opportunities to lead and serve the community.

It comes from the pastoral letter “Always Our Children.”
Deacon Greg.

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