Report From the Belly of the Beast 2 [UPDATE]
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Wed Feb 08, 2006 at 04:19:49 PM EST
Update [2006-2-11 0:2:48 by tikkun]: Up and coming news
Unless a quiet deal is cut, there will be significant breaking news next week of improper use of Diocesan endowment funds in the Episcopal (Anglican) Diocese of Albany. I can't say much more than that right now. Just keep eyes peeled for breaking information.

John Dorhauer, in his diary, Anatomy of an Attack: Part I, began a conversation about churches under attack. In this diary, I continue the conversation.

I am a member of the Episcopal Church, one of the mainline churches under attack by the Institute for Religion and Democracy, frequently called the IRD.

Since we were birthed out of the Church of England, a brief look at our English history provides an important insight into our present situation and personality.

In the 16th century, from the reign of Henry the VIII through Mary, the Protestant Reformation exacted a bloody toll in England. The political, social and religious fabric of the nation was under enormous pressure. Early in the reign of Elizabeth I, a new direction was charted. Queen Elizabeth refused to take sides in the theological disputes and through acts of Parliament she directed that the unity of the Church of England would be based not on doctrinal conformity (as the Protestants demanded) or on magisterial authority (as the Catholics required), but on a common liturgical worship.

Now that theological broadness is being sorely tested by attempts to impose a religious orthodoxy completely foreign to our common Church of England culture by groups both inside and outside the church. The diocese of which I am currently a member has fallen under the leadership of a rogue bishop who is working diligently to take our diocese out of the Episcopal Church in American along with the money and property that are attached to it. He is one of those wishing to impose orthodoxy on Episcopalians. One way he is subverting the will of the Episcopal church is by changing the rules for selecting a bishop. Another is by forcing the self sorting of candidates for bishop through the questioning process.
The following are some of the seventeen questions that candidates for Bishop Coadjutor for the Diocese of Albany must answer.
3. Using the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, find what you would consider the clearest expression of the doctrine of the Trinity and identify it. Does this coincide with your own personal belief and practice? (Use 500 words or less)

4. Are there any articles of the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds with which you are in anything but full personal and theological agreement? If so, which and why? In your response, please address the following questions: Was Jesus raised bodily from the dead, such that the tomb was empty of his physical being, and in his body he appeared unto his disciples until his Ascension into heaven? Do you believe Jesus was virginally conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary? Do you agree that the Persons of the Trinity are only the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and no other expression or naming may be substituted? For example, do you believe that a person baptized in the name of "Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier" is validly baptized? (Use 500 words or less)

6. Under what circumstances would you authorize the use of rites for or any practice of same-sex blessing, union, or marriage in this diocese or support such rites or practices anywhere in the Church? Under what circumstances would you permit or approve the ordination or licensing of a person who is sexually active outside the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman? (Use 500 words or less)

7. In John 14:6, Jesus stated, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (NIV) What is your understanding of this passage, and what does it say about Christianity's relationship with other world religions? (Use 500 words or less)

12. Detail your commitment to Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 Human Sexuality, Section 3, below and your sense of its call to the Diocese of Albany: "This Conference: 3. recognizes that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptized, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ." (Use 500 words or less)

17. Have you had the opportunity personally to lead someone to faith in Jesus Christ? Explain. (Use 500 words or less)

A candidate in Albany's last quest for a Bishop Suffragan reports that he was told, in writing, that this Diocese places a low priority on "social action and ecumenical outreach." Because those areas were central to the priest's ministry, he withdrew. A friend of his, a woman, did the same thing, for the same reason. I don't know quite what my role in the fight against this madness will be but I will be in the fight.

But it seems to boil down to this : " Are you in full doctrinal conformity with God's revealed truth ? If not, why ? "

You may need to find others engaged in similar fights : to share notes, for solidarity....

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Feb 09, 2006 at 12:17:09 AM EST

I'm new to the area so I'm in the tenuous position of not knowing who to trust. It appears that there is a group of us in the region but the last meeting was infiltrated by 6 of the bishop's spies. There is likely a place for ecumenical work here since it's unlikely that we're the only ones under the gun. I know that this must sound like a spaghetti western to those on the outside. It certainly feels like a bad movie from the inside.

by tikkun on Thu Feb 09, 2006 at 09:47:48 AM EST
Of "Albany Via Media" (see my comment at the end of John Dorhaeur's post)  but also, it would be very easy for me to set up dedicated spaces on this site for discussion ( both private and public ) :  less personal than in person but much more flexible, and it's easy to do that on an invitation-only basis.

Father Jake - of "Father Jake Stops The World" would amble over I'd bet, and there are a number of Via Media groups. So, if you have time to round up some friendly Episcopalians....

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Feb 09, 2006 at 06:20:08 PM EST

As we are being watched both here and on the ground, (damn, this whole business is revolting!) an invitation only contact tool with some means for identification for conversation would be extremely useful

by tikkun on Thu Feb 09, 2006 at 10:42:34 PM EST

to Father Jakes. I've breezed casually through his site but I probably should take a much closer look at About Us.

I'm aware of ViaMedia Albany, but I'm not sure who the best person to contact would be. This is not a good place to mention names, I think, given situation of infiltraters. Once again, your offering of a discrete place to communicate individually is much appreciated. Forgive me if this is a little disjointed. It's getting late, the day's Concerta is gone, and my patience for editing is exhausted.

by tikkun on Thu Feb 09, 2006 at 11:06:51 PM EST

What angers me as a Catholic is that IRD Opus Dei types are putting their noses some place where it does not belong: in the internal affairs of another denomination.

Reach out to us Catholics who want to tame OD. This will make your job within the Episcopal Church much easier.

But once again, I come back to the same question: Why isn't there a rapid response media mechanism to expose these scoundrals? If the American public knew what the IRD was up to it would suffer a devastating backlash.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Thu Feb 09, 2006 at 07:26:22 AM EST

As an interfaith activist, specifically in the area of Jewish Christian relations in the past and broader interfaith relations recently, I profundly reverence my Roman Catholic mentors, friends and collegues. The most interesting and cutting edge theologians and historians, outside of the Lutheran theologian Krister Stendhal and many active Jewish participants, who are currently writing in this in the field are unquestionably Roman Catholic. John Pawlikowski and Sr. Mary Boys come immediately to mind. When Ratzinger became pope, my first thought was that our interfaith community will have to watch the backs of our Roman Catholic friends and watching Opus Dei is the probably the most immediate task on that front. If you know the Roman Catholics in the upper Hudson River Valley who should be contacted I would be extremely greatful for the information. I know who the interfaith people are, but I'm woefully lacking insight about others who are concerned about fundamentalism in the Roman Catholic Church. Thanks Harriet

by tikkun on Thu Feb 09, 2006 at 10:15:58 AM EST
First of all forgive me for the brainlock and mixing up the two posts--the sins a of a dyslexic!

I am very concerned not just about my "Catholic back" but just how these extremists disregard both Protestants and Jews.

I grew up in parts on NYC and LI that were predominately Italian and Jewish. I was taught to emulate the Jews in education and tolerance and respect their faith as the mother religion. These OD clowns don't care about such things.

If you know any Catholics that want to join this fight, put them in touch with me.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Thu Feb 09, 2006 at 06:02:15 PM EST

I wasn't assuming you were necessarily concerned "about your Catholic back" However, I am very concerned about your Catholic back. And I decidedly appreciate your concern for mine. I'm sure that as I gain some traction in this region, I will find that the interfaith relations people and those working to stop the religious right meet at a broad cross section. I will definitely put any concerned Roman Catholics in touch with you.

Bruce mentioned creating a tool here where like minded folks with concerns in common can communicate with discretion. Bless his heart, what a generous idea. It's much needed.

by tikkun on Thu Feb 09, 2006 at 10:57:11 PM EST
First of all on review, the "about your Catholic back" comment did not come out as I intended. On second glance I realize that it looked rather snippy. Trust me, it was not meant to be. It was just poor writing on my part.

With that said, I really believe that much of the power of the Religious Right can be diminished if progressive and moderate Catholics put the brakes on Opus Dei and other similar groups. As you know the far Right of the Church has hooked up with ultra-conservative Protestants to impose a theocracy upon us. Resistance within the Catholic Church will help sabotage this alliance. So, if you know Catholics who desire the same goal, you know where to send them.

As a stem celll activist, I have felt OD's sting in rather personal way. I am confined to a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy. In late 1998 my doctors told me that embryonic stem cell/therapeutic cloning research would be my best ticket for treatments. Opus Dei has been the driving force against this vital work within the Catholic Church--Robert Novak, Sam Brownback and Rick Santorum, to name a few of the research's most vociferous opponents. I will fight them because they are denying me...and people in worse shape than me...their hope for a cure.

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