Roman Catholic Archbishop John Myers of Newark has raised some eyebrows by writing that not only gay people, but friends and family who support gay marriage, should not receive Holy Communion, the centerpiece of the Roman Catholic mass. In other words, he is excommunicating anyone who supports marriage. (PDF here).
"It is my duty as your Archbishop to remind you that Catholics who do not accept the teaching of the Church on marriage and family (especially those who teach or act in private or public life contrary to the Church's received tradition on marriage and family) by their own choice seriously harm their communion with Christ and His Church…..If they continue to be unable to assent to or live the church's teaching in these matters, they must in all honesty and humility refrain from receiving Holy Communion until they can do so with integrity; to continue to receive Holy Communion while so dissenting would be objectively dishonest."
Episcopal Bishop Mark Beckwith draws a striking contrast in a rebuttal to Abp Myers. He writes,
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Voices of Faith
In our unstable economy and increasingly chaotic society, the stress on families is enormous. All religious institutions seek to support people and families through these challenges, and offer guidance as they do so. Myers and many other religious leaders harbor the conviction that families led by same-sex partners undermine the institution of marriage and the well-being of children. In 33 years of ordained life, I have seen just the opposite: blessing and supporting relationships that are marked by love, fidelity and commitment — whether they are headed by a man and a woman, two women or two men — provide a foundation of social stability that supports all families. Marginalizing people has never been a pathway to community stability.
Several times in his pastoral letter, Myers invoked Scripture and tradition. In the Episcopal Church, our faith is based on the “three-legged stool” of Scripture, tradition and reason — which requires the support of all three legs to remain standing. When we celebrate Holy Communion in the Diocese of Newark, the full and wonderful diversity of humanity — male and female, gay and straight, Republican and Democrat, people of every hue and origin — are integrally involved; receiving communion, distributing communion and, in some cases, as priests, celebrating communion.Oh you mean, caring for the poor like Jesus said? (Something spectacularly absent from the RC Bishops' screeds.)
My hope and prayer is that we can move beyond arguments about unfounded threats to the flourishing of families and focus our attention on the real threats, such as the rising tide of unemployment and poverty, which has left more than 295,000 children in our state — including 42 percent of children in Newark — living below the federal poverty level.
It has been said that the Episcopalians are the REAL post-Vatican II Catholics (well, most of them anyway!) If you are a Roman Catholic who feels marginalized by Holy Mother Church, you might want to see what the Celtic line of Catholicism, aka The Episcopal Church, is doing in your community. You may be surprised at how much you feel at home.
(H/T The Episcopal Café)