Katharine Jefferts Schori, the new leading bishop in the American Episcopal Church is a former Roman Catholic. Her parents brought her into the Episcopal Church when she was "not quite nine" and she attended a Catholic convent school maintained by the Sacred Heart Nuns. She is fluent in Spanish and active in outreach to Hispanics, pretty much all who were formerly Catholic. She is a liberal who voted for the consecration of the openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, three years ago. She also supports the blessing of same-sex unions. She is a scientist, only ordained a priest in 1994.
Victoria Garvey, one of two sergeants-at-arms who escorted Schori to the convention floor after the election, said: "My heart stopped. A number of people — men and women — were weeping. . . . I'm a former Roman Catholic, and part of the reason I made the switch was over women in the church. Thirty years after finally approving women's ordination, we now have a woman bishop presiding."
Schori tells a reporter for THE LIVING CHURCH FOUNDATION: "My parents brought me into the Episcopal Church in early 1963, in conjunction with their own move out of the Roman Catholic tradition. This was before Vatican II had had any impact on parish life, and as a fifth-grader, my awareness of the difference was of language (from Latin to English) and of community and style (large and faceless to small and intimate). My understanding of faith in this new community was increasingly about the ability to ask questions. The vicar was a remarkable gatherer of people and artistic gifts into warm, challenging, and effective community. I would summarize my experience of the shift as from a religion of prohibition to one of invitation."
The 75th General Convention has gone and done it. When I was young I was full of hope that the division between the Catholic and Anglican communities would be healed. But there is no chance now. A few churches and individuals may continue to seek reunion; but as a whole, it cannot happen. The Episcopal church is now solidly in the rank of liberal Protestantism and has abandoned its Catholic and traditional roots. While claiming Scripture, they have dismissed the pattern that goes back to Christ in his selection of men as his apostles, the first bishops and priests of the Church. They have also dismissed clear Scriptural messages where we find divine positive law about such matters like the indissolubility of marriage, the evil of fornication, adultery and homosexual acts. Indeed, with one act, the consecration of Gene Robinson, many of these borders were trespassed; afterall, he had left his wife to live with his gay lover. His consecration was an indirect but real act of approbation toward these evils.
The trouble with a female bishop, from the Catholic perspective, is the fact that we do not see any concrete biblical or traditional evidence that it is God's will. Pope John Paul II even went so far as to say that we do not have the authority to ordain women. Thus, if the ordinations of men as priests in the Anglican churches were in doubt (because of Orthodox and Old Catholic participation) and in most cases rejected, certainly the sacramental reality is going to be denied completely in regard to women.
There are no priestesses in the Christian religion.
Any priests ordained by women bishops will not be priests themselves.
Any Masses offered by any of them will not be the sacrifice of Christ and will not be the Real Presence!
She calls Catholicism the "religion of prohibition" and in doing so devalues the riches of the Catholic faith, many of which were once shared, even if in a lesser and defective way, in her own Protestant communion. The Church cannot tolerate anything and everything. The last convention, the only moral question upon which the Episcopalians could agree was about a prohibition toward landmines. About everything else they had compromised with a pagan and/or secular modernity.
The new bishop calls homosexuality a gift, not a sin.
Can there be any doubt that she will continue to support the gay agenda and the ordination of openly gay priests and bishops?
The Episcopal churches have already stepped aside regarding the most important issue of the day, abortion.
When asked about the alienation that many feel about her selection, she simply spoke about it as the personal problem of "not knowing another human being". But of course, the problem in conscience for many conservative Anglicans is that they have Catholic and traditional views on ministry and morality. The problem is not something that a greeting and handshake will resolve.
When asked about the tension with communities that do not accept women priests, her answer was not only flippant but targeted the Catholic discipline. She called the priest an "actor" which is already a far cry from the Roman Catholic view of the priest as an "alterchristus". A theatrical actor pretends but the Catholic priest at the altar really is offering the sacrifice of Calvary "in the person of Christ, head of the Church". It is this point of identification which is at the heart of the Catholic dispute with Anglican priestesses. Women cannot stand at the altar as Christ, the bridegroom of the Church. Anyhow, she moves the question first to so-called "pastoral underpinnings' and then quickly dismisses critics of women priests as donatist heretics who put too much emphasis on the holiness and attributes of the actor.
A sacrament, including Holy Orders, requires legitimate MATTER. The Catholic Church has determined that such is a "male" human being. Donatism does not speak to the question of proper matter or intention. Donatism implies that the minister is already validly ordained. The heresy of Donatism is in regard to moral failings and the efficacy of the sacraments. The Church responded to this rigorism by stipulating that the efficacy of the sacraments did not depend upon the worthiness of the minister but on Christ. Therefore, even a priest in mortal sin can hear Confessions and offer the Mass. The Lord protects the sacraments for his people.
Schori would extend the heresy of Donatism to those who would exclude women from the priesthood because they are not men. Good try, but such reasoning does not fly. Neither can it be applied to the dubious priesthood of others in the Anglican communion. Being female is not a moral failing and neither is it an accidental. Men and women are not utterly interchangeable. Our gender touches the core of our identity.
It is unfortunate that Episcopalians cannot always know if their priests are valid or not, but such confusion is not due to Donatism. The Catholic Church makes no claim against their degree of holiness and individual faithfulness (where true Donatists take offense); all we are saying is that if you are not a priest then you cannot offer that work priests are empowered to do.
Elements of discipline like celibacy, poverty and obedience are often required of candidates, but failure in regard to promises and the moral life do not negate the sacraments. While women cannot be validly ordained, homosexual men (given that they are chaste and celibate) can be ordained. However, the question still arises as to whether it is a good or prudential idea. Even homosexual priests and bishops in the Episcopal Church might be valid, given the faith to which they subscribe is sufficiently Catholic and the ordaining bishop or bishops possess apostolic succession. At one time it was pretty clear that all orders in the Anglican churches had become null-and-void and that apostolic succession had been lost. However, given the presence and participation of Old Catholics and the Orthodox at episcopal consecrations, and the defection of Catholic clergy into the Episcopal churches, the matter is less clear today.
The breakup of the Anglican communion is taking place before our eyes. Some are seeking primatial support from Africa and Fort Worth Texas has appealed to be placed under the Archbishop of Canterbury. (However, the Anglican Church in England is also rushing quickly away from its ancient Christian roots and values and practices.) I would hope that some would finally come to their senses and call upon their best friend, Pope Benedict XVI. There are already Anglican-Usage parishes in operation and there is talk that the Pope might even make the concession of lifting the celibacy discipline for future clergy in their churches after reunion. The presence of married clergy in the Catholic Church who were formerly Episcopalian priests has pathed a road to this eventuality.
But the tragedy remains that there will be no worldwide reunion. Things have gone too far now. It cannot be fixed. I am not dispairing of the Holy Spirit, just a realist in regard to how people can place secular values over Church tradition and the Gospel. We thought we might have the glass glued back together but then it was deliberately fractured again and again. All we have are splinters now.
Schori opposed the Winsor Report released by the Lambeth Commission on Communion which suggested that the ECUSA make amends and say it was sorry for the trouble caused by electing an openly gay bishop. The report would also have established a moratorium on ordaining homosexual bishops and blessing same-sex couples. Her election is essentially telling the rest of the Anglican communion, NO DEAL!
Schori's consecration as presiding bishop will be celebrated at the Washington National Cathedral. I wonder if the Catholic and Orthodox prelates will stay away? I hope so, because their presence would only lend credence to a terrible lie– about the health of a church community and about a so-called bishop.