BB NOTE: One does wonder how the Presiding Bishop can continue to believe and say that all is well. Just this week she predicted that the Episcopal Church innovations that have caused such division not only in TEC and the Anglican Communion, but within the global Christian church would be the norm in her lifetime. And she doesn't even have the time of day for the Pope.
In a pointed critique of the Episcopal Church, Pope Benedict XVI told participants at an ecumenical prayer service in New York that the decision of some ecclesial communities to place their perceived prophetic witness above all else, weakened the body of Christ.
Speaking at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan on April 18 during his five day tour of the US, Benedict did not single out the Episcopal Church by name, but in circumspect terms criticized its innovations of doctrine and discipline. Traditional church protocol was also upended as the Episcopal Church’s representative to the gathering, New York Bishop Mark Sisk, was presented last to the pope from the group of over a dozen Orthodox and Protestant leaders.
The papal snub of the Episcopal Church’s national leadership began at a White House reception hosted by President George W. Bush. The Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. James Stanton—a leader of the conservative wing of the Episcopal Church—was invited to the reception. However, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was not.
Bishop Schori, who was visiting Palm Beach and Miami during the Washington phase of the tour, declined to attend the April 18 ecumenical gathering in New York, citing a prior commitment to dedicate a diocesan building in Utah. In her stead, the Bishop of New York and her deputy for ecumenical relations, the Rt. Rev. C. Christopher Epting, attended the New York event.
Following the consecration of Gene Robinson, the “gay” bishop of New Hampshire, the future pope startled the Anglican world by making a public intervention in the American church’s battle over homosexuality. The then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sent a letter of greeting to conservative Anglicans gathered in Dallas to protest the Robinson consecration, writing to assure them of his “heartfelt prayers.”
“The lives of these saints show us how in the Church of Christ there is a unity in truth and a communion of grace which transcend the borders of any nation. With this in mind, I pray in particular that God’s will may be done by all those who seek that unity in the truth, the gift of Christ himself,” he told the predominantly evangelical gathering.
In his New York speech last week, Benedict lamented the decision of some Christian communities to depart from traditional teaching “at the time when the world is losing its bearings and needs a persuasive common witness to the saving power of the Gospel.”
“Fundamental Christian beliefs and practices are sometimes changed within communities by so-called ‘prophetic actions’ that are based” on beliefs “not always consonant” with Scripture or Tradition.
Some had abandoned “the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of ‘local options’,” he said noting that the “relativistic approach” to faith was leading to the fragmentation of the church and a diminution of its witness to the world.
“A clear, convincing testimony to the salvation wrought for us in Christ Jesus has to be based upon the notion of normative apostolic teaching,” the Pope said, and not upon the fashions and fads of the moment.