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Episcopal-to-Catholic Converts

 

BOB FAW, Correspondent: In Bladensburg, Maryland, the Catholic service unfolds smoothly, a comfortable routine for priests and parishioners alike.

But one year ago, members of St. Luke’s parish were devout, devoted Episcopalians. This is the first Episcopal church in the country to convert to Catholicism under Vatican rules designed to attract disaffected Episcopalians.

If 20 years ago I had said you’re destined to be a Catholic priest, how would you have answered?

FATHER MARK LEWIS: I would have thought you were crazy.

FAW: Under a 2009 decree by Pope Benedict XVI, St. Luke’s, like all Episcopal churches that choose to convert, gets to retain much of its liturgy and traditions, like using its Book of Common Prayer and Anglican hymns.

It also gets to keep its married priest, Father Mark Lewis, who is exempt from the Roman Catholic vows of celibacy. Father Lewis, an Episcopal priest for 10 years, and his wife, Vickey, have two children. Their grandson, Sherman, is an altar server.

Father Mark Lewis, St. Luke’s ParishLEWIS (St. Luke’s Parish): We left the Episcopal Church not because we were running away from the issues of the Episcopal Church. We left the Episcopal Church because we were running to the Catholic Church. We came to the point where we realized the theology of the Episcopal Church is what was lacking. The theology of Rome, the authority of Rome, the unity in the Holy See and in the bishops: that was appealing to us.

FAW: Former Episcopal priest, Father Scott Hurd, married with three children, also found the move to Catholicism seamless. He was ordained into the Catholic Church in 2000 and acted as the chaplain here while Father Lewis waited to be ordained.

FATHER SCOTT HURD (US Ordinariate): There is a real hunger amongst some Episcopalians and Anglicans for authority. It was the question of where can true Christian authority be found that was a key element in this community’s journey.

FAW: It wasn’t just the need for authority, say other former Episcopalians. They were also uncomfortable because the Episcopal Church approves of ordaining women, openly gay priests, and same-sex marriage.

STEPHEN SMITH (Congregant): There’s not any one real incident you can point to, but it’s like the strands of a rope giving one by one, and each one weakens the rope as a whole.

Anne Marie WhittakerFAW: Anne Marie Whittaker feels that she didn’t leave the Episcopal Church but that the church left her.

ANNE MARIE WHITTAKER (Congregant): All of a sudden it was do-your-own-thing mass, and there was a lot going on, for instance, a clown mass. I would come in and someone put a red nose on me! I saw children circling altars. One by one, parishes started to succumb to some of these practices in order to attract people, and it made it difficult for me to worship in that atmosphere.

FAW: Under the new Vatican guidelines, an estimated 1300 Anglicans and 150 married priests have inquired about being received into the Catholic Church. To accommodate them, the Church has established a new ordinariate, the equivalent of a nationwide diocese. Father Hurd acts as its chief of staff.

HURD: I don’t see it as being a tidal wave, but I see it as a slow and steady trickle of people who wish to—who feel led to come in this direction.

FAW: And who feel led despite revelations of widespread priestly pedophilia and cover-up within the Catholic Church .

WHITTAKER: I was outraged with these, with the scandals, with the priests. And then recently I sat down and I said, “What about Penn State? What about Penn State?” Is this something that is happening all around? It’s not to excuse the Church.

FAW: But it’s bigger than the Church?

WHITTAKER: It’s bigger than the Church.

LEWIS: There have always been scandals in the Church. There have been heretics in the Church from the very beginning, and there has been sin in the Church. And as I said in my sermon this morning that what makes the Church holy is that it is the Church of Christ, and that is what I choose to focus on rather than the sinful nature of people.

FAW: Some Episcopal Church leaders, such as Bishop Eugene Sutton of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, argue that these conversions are not a threat and that many Catholics become Episcopalian.

Bishop Eugene Sutton, Episcopal Diocese of MarylandBISHOP EUGENE SUTTON (Episcopal Diocese of Maryland): I like to say that we are really one spiritual family. We believe about 90 percent of things in common. Where we disagree is on matters of authority and some other spiritual matters. But the important thing is that we are not fighting; we are not in competition with one another.

FAW: Even though the number of Episcopal congregations converting to Catholicism is relatively small, the impact on the Episcopal Church has not been negligible. Indeed, here at Virginia Theological Seminary, the country’s largest Episcopal seminary, the president and dean calls the movement “a real threat.”

REVEREND IAN MARKHAM (Dean of Virginia Theological Seminary): There’s quite a lot of traffic currently going both ways between the two traditions, especially at the level of congregants. What’s interesting here is you’ve got entire congregations and clergy making the shift. So, yeah, I think the Roman Catholic Church is a threat, because we’ve lost the sense of our theological understanding and identity.

FAW: Dean Markham believes that among Episcopalians there’s still anger today over the pope’s 2009 decree.

MARKHAM: There was a perception that this was poaching by the Roman Catholic Church of Anglicans around the world. It was discourteous, it was stealing sheep, it was unecumenical.

FAW: It is seen as a kind of poaching?

Reverend Ian Markham, Dean of Virginia Theological SeminaryMARKHAM: It’s viewed as not recognizing the value of and integrity of our traditions.

FAW: Conversion, then, is a touchy issue which newfound Catholics handle both diplomatically and bluntly.

HURD: I think it’s very important that this initiative is identified as a response and not an offer. You know, we’re not trying to steal sheep or to poach. We’re trying to pastorally respond to those who wanted to come in this direction for some time.

WHITTAKER: Let me tell you something about sheep stealing. You cannot steal sheep if the shepherd is doing his job, and that’s the bottom line. If the shepherd is doing his job, the flock will stay.

FAW: Whether “poaching” or a natural “evolution,” Episcopalians troubled by what’s happened at St Luke’s and elsewhere argue that their Church simply cannot sit back and watch.

MARKHAM: I think this could be quite a healthy movement for the Episcopal Church, because what it does is it keeps the Episcopal Church focused on providing a theological rationale for the things that we do. Too often we couch our changes in terms of policy or positioning on questions like sexuality, in terms of secular discourse. We as a tradition need to be as self-confident as Roman Catholics are. We need to be equally robust in saying, look, we actually think we have discerned what God requires of us as a community in the world. And we need to put our vision up against the Catholic vision.

FAW: While some Episcopal leaders have made conversion difficult, that was not the case here at St Luke’s. Under generous terms, this parish gets to keep its building. But however the conversion is handled, church leaders see little need to back down from where the Episcopal Church stands on social issues.

SUTTON: One thing that the Episcopal Church does that is very attractive to people is that we try to do two things at once, and that is hold onto the ancient past, We believe in tradition. But the other thing we do well is embrace the new. We do not believe that in order to follow Jesus means we have to have our heads in the sand, and we cannot be open to any new understanding or any new way of being the church.

FAW: For new converts, though, it is that very tension between embracing both the old and the new which has caused them to turn in a new direction.

LEWIS: It was a move to going to what we believe as truth and what we know is truth, and I don’t think there’s anybody alive that would know what truth is and not move to it.

WHITTAKER: It is going home. It really is, and it feels good. Everyone’s been so very helpful, and I’m at peace. I’m at peace.

FAW: Here where “going home” brings comfort to a small congregation and implications for the wider Episcopal Church.

For Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly this is Bob Faw in Bladensburg, Maryland.

  • James Bredin

    I am astonished that this change should occur, especially since the number of Catholic pedophile priests in recent years.
    At one time in my life I would have enjoyed it because I grew up in what was then the most Catholic town in the world (Ennis County Clare Ireland} where all priests and nuns walked on water. But times have changed.

  • Steve

    Welcome Home!!!

  • L1011

    Catholics leave the Church to become Episcopalians so that they divorce, so they can have abortions, have sex out of wedlock and use contraception. These Catholics who become Protestants will have to face Hell just like King Henry the 8th.

  • Julie

    It was stealing sheep? It was a very long time in coming answer to a REQUEST by traditionalist Anglicans to theVatican. In the meantime, many, many protestant churches work mightily to steal sheep from the Catholic Church.

  • Craig

    Welcome. For those coverts-and all Catholics-looking for Tradition, find and attend a traditional Latin Mass! Ecclesia Dei site has Mass locations. Find a FSSP or even a SSPX church. May Mary guide and protect us!

  • Fr. John W. Morris

    You should also mention the dozens of Anglican communities that have converted to Western Rite Orthodoxy under the Russian and Antiochian Orthodox Churches as well as hundreds of Episcopal individuals who have converted to Eastern Orthodoxy. The growing Western Rite of the Orthodox Church uses the 1928 Book of Common Prayer with a few revisions to accommodate Orthodox doctrine. The Western Rite of the Orthodox Church not only accepts this generation of married Anglican clergy, but will continue to ordained married men from Western Rite parishes unlike Rome which will require celibacy of all future candidates for the priesthood. Western Rite Orthodoxy does not require acceptance of the papacy, purgatory and indulgences and other Roman Catholic beliefs that Anglicanism rightly rejected at the time of the Reformation. The claim of the original Anglican reformers was to return to the Faith of the ancient Church, by becoming Western Rite Orthodox, they have realized that dream by becoming part of the ancient Apostolic Church.

    Archpriest John W. Morris

  • Tom O’Reilly

    One day, I am confident to say, that there will be a recognition that the implementation of the Modernist heresies of Vatican II by the Pope and the Bishops of the Church was diabolical. Since the teachings of Second Vatican Council were put into place, the Bishops and priests have all but abandoned true Catholic dogma. This fact is clearly evidenced by their sermons. With few exceptions, virtually all are indistinguishable from a political speech given by one of our leftist leaders like Barack Obama as he urges Americans to become more socialistic and spread the wealth.
    In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says tells us that when “Blind guides lead the blind, both will fall in the pit”. The Bishops and the priests are those blind guides, but they fail to see that Matthew’s Gospel is referencing them. The Bishops of today were misled by their predecessors, and they now mislead the young priests and the faithful of today. How tragically sad, as it is the souls of those who are influenced by this Modernism that are at risk. Just listen to the priests on the pulpit. They rarely use the term “mortal sin” or speak of Hell in their sermons today, but absolutely never are the actual sins ever discussed, as the mere mentioning of these “uncomfortable” topics might offend some people in the church. As a result, Catholics are forced to guess what might be a serious sin, a lesser sin, or even a sin at all. Consequently, many of the faithful now believe that homosexuality, and living together without the benefit of marriage, and artificial birth control, and many other terrible sins are not sinful at all. Moreover, the Bishops preach through their false ecumenism that one religion is as good as another. Hence, this debacle with the Episcopalians takes place. Is it any wonder that our society has become what it is today?
    But one day there will come an accounting, and oh what an accounting it will be. And as the true Mission of the Catholic Church is to lead all souls to salvation, the Bishops will not be asked how much money did you squeeze out of the parishioners for Catholic Charities; or how successful were you on your Fortnight for Freedom as you fought the government over your “Religious Liberty” issues. No, they will be asked how what they did in their effort to bring all souls to salvation.

  • Marina Calabreze

    live near Bladensburg, MD, am a Catholic, but I’m not too sure how comfortable I feel about another religion coming onto the Catholic Church with their own set of rules. Just saying.

  • Rick

    Great interview and report. It is quite true you see alot of shifting going on in the laity. As one that has come into full communion with the Church from a Protestant upbringing it is truly interesting the dynamics going on in the world. Inside the Church you have many members and groups that are more lower church Anglican than Catholic and can see them being canidates to enter the Episcople Church and others Like Fr. Cute having difficulty with his vow of Celibacy. There are many lay Catholics in my area that are drawn to non-denominational parishes, I think manly because of the poor catechisis inside the Church since Vatican II and many because they are divorced and have remarried. What is more striking those is the move of Protesant theologians and more traditional minded protestants making the swim across the Tiber. I praise those that have made the conversion and pray for continued growth in their faith. I also pray for the Bishops, priest and lay leaders in the Church that are trying to make the Church more non-denominational than Catholic.

  • kells

    You wonder if the roman church would be as gracious in surrendering its property,

  • JDE

    So these men get to remain married – yet they’re now Catholic priests. How convenient for them.

  • Channah

    The next step? It is the beginning of Catholic priests looking at these new priests who have families and wanting them also. After all, celibacy was started by the church because so many priests were dying and leaving their fortunes not ot the church, but to their children. Time for a major change.

  • CW

    Not a bad article, but for the “widespread pedophilia” comment. Seriously? Did they even read the independent John Jay report? Most instances were with post pubescents and with such a miniscule percentage of priests and how many are dead now? And how many are recent? Yes, every form of child abuse is horribly wrong, but seriously?

  • DTR4331

    I have just watched the segment regarding Episcopal churches turning to Rome for a sense of teaching authority. The question, which must be raised, with reference to the Catholic pedopile scandal, was brought up in the program. The Penn State issue was mentioned and the comment was made that this disgusting and damnedable behavior was wide spread throughout the society and therefore why condemn the church for the wayward behavior of a few heretics. Only a true believer would be idiotic enough to utter so vile a sentiment.

  • Dave Downing

    Great piece! Truly, ecumenism is the answer.

  • Deacon Lynn Czarniecki

    It seems as if the people who move to the Roman Catholic Church are in need of certainty and someone to tell them how to think and believe and someone to validate their own ideas about issues of authority and sexuality. The Roman Catholic Church then is a good fit for them. For those of us still in the Episcopal Church, what we treasure is different. We love the questions as much as the answers. We can live with paradox and mystery. Very important is our desire to bring into the communion of Christ, all of God’s people. There will always be tensions in the Episcopal Church as we try to discern God’s will for us and the world; this is inevitable and it is ok. Each person must find their path to the eternal and the faith community that will enable them to do that. The genius of our country’s founders is that they recognized this and created this wondrous religious freedom we share. As long as we keep the love of Jesus as the core or our being, and the burning desire to bring about his kingdom on earth, all will be well. Let us never lose sight of his great love for us.

  • Kathy McKenzie

    Where on earth did you find a woman who went to a “clown” mass. I’ve been an Episcopalian my entire life (now 47), I regularly attend church and have never heard anything so ridiculous.

    The Episcopal Church is opening and welcoming – to everyone. Having women and opening gay people as members of the clergy is recognizing the value of everyone in our society. Marrying gay couples is recognizing the reality of family situations and supporting them and providing a place where people can be wholly who they are.

    Why not put this story in this positive context. People are free to come and go and find places/churches/religions that meet their spiritual and intellectual needs wherever it suits them.

    The balance of tradition, scripture and reason is what defines the Episcopal Church. I’m so tired of all religious reporting focusing on the fringe and conservative.

  • Frank Soriano

    I do not disagree with the social issues the Episcopal Church has espoused. I understand why there are episcopalians who would seek a religious home that belieived as they do and so have no problem with the Vatican’s making it as easy asy possible.Since I have no objection to a female priesthood or a married priesthood (though there are problems in this one) I consider the Vatican’s allowing married epicscopalian priests to be Roman priests as hypocritical given its claim that a celebate priesthood is Christ’s mandate. Consider Peter.

  • pete

    In the 16th cent, the English people overwhelmingly were happy with their centuries old Catholic Faith and Church.
    The people were STOLEN from the Church by draconian persecution from Europe’s first police state of the Tudors–Mary excepted for only 5 years. the same phenomenon occurred in Scandinavia, namely: the Danish King ravaged the hapless Catholic faithful over his own and over the Norwegians; royal persecution followed in Sweden. It is difficult to realize in Protestant America, who idolize the first “reformers” the ferocity and horrific destruction of the Catholic Church at their hands. They were equal to the Taliban in our day for a hatred that had nothing Godly in it, but every sign of the Enemy. But there is a prophecy about England: under one Elizabeth the English left the Church and under a second Elizabeth they will return. Indeed, Blessed Ann Catherine Emmerich a German mystic from Westphalia (died c. 1830,(from whose writings the Passion of the Christ was inspired) phophesed that England would miraculously convert to the Catholic Church in the future. This is the REAL significance of the Ordinariates; it is like the first blades of green grass after a very long winter. Note that what is good in Anglianism is largely traceable to Catholic tradition refusing to die over the centuries.

  • Mmm

    JRE- how convienent you do not understand what you are talking about. The Church has accepted converting married episcopal priests for a number of years. They cannot divorce b/c the Church doesnot recognize divorce. They do not choose such a route lightly.

  • Tom Sramek Jr

    People generally want “more authority” until it conflicts with their own beliefs. Are all of the members of St. Luke’s prepared to renounce all forms of birth control? Are they prepared to submit unquestioningly to the decrees of their bishop and the Pope? The Episcopal Church has a great number of flaws, like any other church, but it does have a much more flexible and democratic system of governance. I’m just wondering if these new converts are _truly_ committed to the Roman Catholic Church in heart and mind, agreeing with all its dogmas and decrees, or if they’re just happy to have an Episcopal church with a Roman Catholic veneer.

  • Bruce Green

    In tallying the numbers of Anglicans becomiing RCs vs. RC’s becoming Anglicans we should start with the 1960′s or earlier and consider the RC priests who became Anglicans in order to marry and have children. Celebacy and birth control have been RC anachronisms for years and one could not count the number of RCs that just ignored these “detestable enormaties.” What really bothers me is the two-faced RC participation in the Anglican Roman Consultations and the current “Papa” has been a major player. And then there is the weird idea of the immaculate conception of Ann with Mary! Rome needs to take seriously the theology of Holy Baptism rather than putting on another layer of papal finery.

  • Frank

    Many of my gay friends are former Catholics. Over the years I have been to a number of their services. Aside from
    core issues like married clergy, authority etc., the thing that most strikes me is that few if any children are at
    their services. I have never once heard a prayer for the unborn mentioned. The Episcopal service (“high Church”)
    is reverential and beautiful but this wonderful Church is slowly growing smaller and smaller in numbers. That is
    sad!

  • Thomas

    Bruce Green: It’s always a wonder to me when non-Catholics try to ‘honor’ Christ by denigrating His mother. Both Catholics and Orthodox have, since time immemorial, referred to our Queen, our Lady and our Mother
    as ‘Theotokos’, the ‘God-Bearer’, the Immaculate one. To call her sinlessness into question has well been discribed as ‘the little hiss that only comes from hell.’ I, as a man, would be outraged if any man were to impune the honor of my mother. If you think that Jesus is pleased when you refer to His Mother as ‘a sinful woman like any other woman’, you perhaps fail to understand how fully a man He is.

  • James Miller

    Look at the numbers. Mainline Protestantism – including the Episcopal – has lost about half its membership in the past 25 years. Roman Catholicism is growing, even discounting immigration. The issue is that the Episcopalians and others threw the Bible and Ten Commandments out the door. They have no firm beliefs in anything anymore. Catholicism does. The average individual does not spend a lot of time examining the theology. He just knows in his heart that something is missing in the Episcopal and other liberal Protestant churches. And he stops going.

  • Peter J Walters

    Thank you for a respectfully presented report that seems well balanced and very interesting!

  • Anne Marie Whittaker

    I was interviewed for about 45 minutes and thought Bob Faw was extremely fair. Naturally, I had a lot more to say.

    This sheep was definitel not ‘poached’, but ran to safety when the shepherd disregarded his Master’s instructions and abandoned the flock. At the end of the day, I have to answer to a higher authority.

    For those Roman Catholics that are concerned about the Episcopalians (another religion?) coming in as well as the accommodation for married priests, I would suggest that you read about the Anglican Use Personal Ordinariate and the constitution that governs it. Traditional Episcopalians have always believed in most of the Roman Catholic doctrine The prayers and liturgy are almost identical and your new missal is much like the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (Rite 1). As for married priests; these priests will be the exception and, in the future, Anglican Use priests will not be permitted to marry. None of the currently married priests will ever be able to become a bishop or above; the oversight and governance of the Personal Ordinariate is directly with the Roman Catholic Church. The former Episcopal priests no longer have the same latitude in their respective parishes as they had before. An Anglican Use Catholic prayer book had been created a few years back (The Book of Divine Worship, which is more like the 1928 BCP) and is currently being ‘updated’; a new edition, hopefully, will be in use soon. There are some subtle differences in the liturgy as we use the formal ‘Elizabethan English’ for our services. Happily we keep our musical traditions. But there are also some consessions by the parishioners, notably, the official ‘loss’ of the King James Bible, as well as the vestries (which gave laity more power in the respective parishes). We are also learning more about Marian Theology and an appreciation of the guidance and leadership of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Most of all, we must accept the authority of the Pope. But have no fear, the former Episcopalians are far more conservative than many of the American Catholics, and I expect that we will become some of the staunchest apologists for the Church.

    As for the comments about the scandals, I do not wish to excuse the priests or those in the Church who covered up the scandals and protected these priests; indeed I hope they are all brought to justice and punished. However, I need to put his in context with the current situation at Penn State, and even, the Boy Scouts of America. I’m not sure how to adequately compensate those who were abused, but I am hoping that in the future, the Church, universities, organizations, clubs, and schools will be more vigilant and take their fiduciary responsibility seriously. I imagine many good priests, coaches, youth leaders, and teachers are now being prejudged as potential criminals and, as a result, are laboring under clouds of suspicion; these are also victims of the scandals.

    The Catholic Church is eternal and will weather this with God’s help.

    Though with a scornful wonder we see her sore oppressed, by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed, yet saints their watch are keeping; their cry goes up, “How long?” And soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song.

  • Anne Marie Whittaker

    As for the person who inquired about the Clown Mass, just check the internet and see how many parishes have celebrated a Clown Eucharist. Mine was at St. Paul’s Chapel, New York City. However, to be fair, I have subsequently learned, to my horror, that some Roman Catholic parishes have also had Clown Masses. There’s an interesting internet site called, Bad Vestments, that details some other interesting ones. Christ indeed welcomes all people…to hear the word of the Lord and follow it.

  • Anthony Joseph Lucchese

    Apparently the Episcopal church has become lenient on certain issues and thus a few church’s are turning over to become Catholic. This could start a trend for the Episcopal church to become more conservative and to listen what the Bible says. Things like one man and one women for marriage, and women can not be priests, homosexuality is morally wrong. The Catholic church still retains these traditional values and maybe that is why there is a billion plus Catholics world wide!! The Episcopal church should not change these values and give in to a small minority of members of their church who are spoiled and think it is “in” to practice these irrational things. Remember you can not change the Bible, no one can , you are not above the Holy Word of the Bible.

  • Channah

    I concern with the last part of what Bruce green has to say….about Ann and Mary. This is more the reason as to why Mary became important and there were mde up stories about her:

    Mary was of no importance at all UNTIL the church of Ephesus wanted to convert the Greeks from their goddess Diana and the Romans from their goddess Artemis. So, they thought up a scheme. Since the goddess image was so important to these people, they’d give Mary a goddess like image and turn the Greeks and Romans to worshiping her instead of Diana and Artemis. I guess it worked. She really became popular.
    Then, so much of Christianity is made up, as this was. At the Council of Nicene, they made up the thrinity and gave Jesus the G-d status—300plus years after his death. So much Christianity was made up at this council…whatever they thought the people would accept and follow the church on—-so the church could control them.

    Never heard of Ephesus? It is in Turkey, and where the Christian’s St. Paul spent most of his life preaching. It is where Mary is suppose to have retired after Jesus died.. They even have a house there that they say was hers. Oh well–stories are stories.

  • Tim

    Doesn’t matter where you all abscond to……. God’s gonna get you in the end!

  • Gregory

    Dear Channa:
    Ok, so then where is the grave of Mary?
    Its a very convincing argument that the grave of every apostle can be located or at lease suggested.
    However with Mary, there are no gravestones or markers.
    The Assumption apparently did occur and was not made up.

  • Sheila S. Conrads

    Did anyone mention that Eastern Rite Catholics have always had married priests? Why shouldn’t Anglican rite Catholics be allowed married priests. No one, Eastern Rite Catholics, Anglican Ordinariate, or Eastern Orthodox Churches have married bishops. As a former Episcopalian who joined the Episcopal Church at 15 and loved it,
    I now realize the true theologian of Anglicanism was Queen Elizabeth I who said, “believe what ever you want, just pray together.” As a R.C. no one is “telling” me what to do. I choose to follow those who pray and know the church fathers, and the Bible a lot more than I do. I need guidance. Can you imagine the USA governed by the constituation alone – and no supreme court to guide what the constituation means?

  • syednisaruddin

    i am a muslim me and my family want to convert in christianity please hilp me

  • Derek

    The Episcopal Church started ordaining women decades ago and that caused very few problems; I object to how Bob Faw lumps that in with Katharine Jefferts-Schori’s promulgation of extreme liberal positions like celebrating homosexual unions.

    I believe The Episcopal Church of the USA has gone from troubled experimentation under Edmund Browning to out-and-out heresy and apostasy under Jefferts-Schori. It’s amazing that Jefferts-Schori has not only managed to retain her position but strengthened her stranglehold on the Conference of Bishops when by all rights she should have been excommunicated from the Anglican Communion.

    I suspect you will find most Episcopal converts to Roman Catholicism or Orthodoxy will say they didn’t leave the Episcopal Church behind, TECUSA left them behind. The Pope isn’t poaching on worshippers, he’s offering a home to believers who have been left homeless and destitute by a “my way or the highway” Presiding Bishop. No organization of Men will ever be perfect but the past scandals of pedophile priests or financial dealings by church officials were Failings of Men while the current heretical and apostatic path of TECUSA is a sad Corruption of the Church.

  • J. Shehan

    I first considered becoming Catholic in 1979 and didn’t complete the catechism. For the next 21 years I went to Lutherna nad Episcopal churches off and on, though I was never officaily a member of either denomination. Finally, in 2001, I made the “leap” and became Catholic. And around a few years ago, I began to question why I I joined and re-examined what made me not go through the catechism 33-34 years ago. In the Roman Catholic Church in America, they count 68 million baptized members. Of those, approximately 22 million have separated from Catholicism for various reasons. They either no longer attend Mass or they have converted to some other denomination or religion altogether. Of the reamining 46 million, one has to ask: How many practice birth control? How many support a woamn’s right to an abortion under certain conditions? How many would like to women become priests? And so on and so forth. The Catholic Church opposes homosexuality, and yet has a very large percentage of priests whose sexuality is questionable. Confession ultimately has to require sinning against God in word, THOUGHT, and deed. Notice the capitalization on the word “thought”. Even thinking about something that goes against church teaching would constitute a sin. No wonder Luther spent hours in the confessional. In Catholicism, the priest acts “in persona Christi” during Mass, when he says “Take you and eat……”. These are considered the Words of Institution–whereupon the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. In the ancient Church the priest was merely the necessaary facilitator during the celebration of communion and posessed no special powers. Jesus also said “Lazarus, come out!” If the priest is truly acting in persona Christi, shouldn’t he also be able to say similar words and make the dead arise from their graves? You can see where this argument is going. Catholicism, throughout its history, has put a REAL stretch on the absolute truth and created dogmas and ideas that border on ludicrous.

  • gadrian

    J. Shehan,

    Your religious history tells it all. You will never be happy with any religion until you realize that it isn’t about how other people practice their faith, it matters how you practice your faith. The Bible says the path to salvation is narrow and few will enter. The Catholic church itself tells us that Catholics who choose to ignore Gods laws, will pay the price. I recognize the many issues you see in the Catholic church. Prior to Vatican II, these issues you mention were not a problem in the Church. I go to a very traditional Catholic Church and we rarely see the issues you mention. Many people in the Catholic church used Vatican II as an excuse to promote their own theology. Sad to say, this modernist theology has infected many parishes and destroyed many lives. Pope Benedict is trying very hard to repair the damage but the damage done in 50 years can’t be fixed over night. Traditional Catholic parishes are growing like wildfire but it can only grow as fast as Traditional priests can go through 8 years of seminary, then a few years of assisting another priest. God Bless the Catholic church, laity and clergy.

  • sebastian

    Christians spend so much of their time bickering over nuanced and re-nuanced positions of faith based upon layers of interpretations of interpretations of the words of Christ, the Apostles and the pre and post Reformation theologians. Why? There are sufficient denominations for every position of faith based in an intent to live according to the Commandments and the manifest instructions of Christ. These are matters of faith within each tradition, not secular civil and political rights that need to be opposed or accepted either within or beyond each such tradition. Buddhist monks are celibate and no-one argues the “incorrectness” of that position or that the requirement inherently leads to sexual deviance, or that women have the “right” to be priests, or that the Roman Church must accept homosexuality as non-sinful act because so many of its priest are so orientated. And individuals will always “sin” against their own tradition – be they Catholic or otherwise, but that does not provide a basis to negate the tradition itself. Christians having liberal views of the tradition continue to have the Anglican Community (or other Protestant churches) to express their faith, and the more traditional-minded have the Roman, Orthodox or Rites Churches to express theirs. When we have all conformed our lives to the essential teachings common to all the Christian traditions, then perhaps we may have the luxury of engaging in so much hair-splitting. I suspect, however, that at that point we will no longer feel the need to do so.

  • JDE

    @Tim: “Doesn’t matter where you all abscond to……. God’s gonna get you in the end!”

    @gadrian “The Catholic church itself tells us that Catholics who choose to ignore Gods laws, will pay the price.”

    Of course. The inevitable threat. It’s all your kind has.

    This website used to be a forum for liberal people of faith to comment on the issues presented by this program. Unfortunately, it’s become a way station for idiots.

  • J. Shehan

    I beg to differ with you gadrian. And I’ll tell you why. The Catholic prelates of Vatican II who “reformed” the Catholic Church, which included the Roman Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop of Krakow–Cardinal Karol Wojtyla–believed that they could modernize the external structures of the Church, while leaving its internal structures intact. It didn’t work out that way, which should be obvious to anyone who has seen what the Roman Catholic Church has been going through since that time. No church in the history of Christendom has had to “re-evaluate” itself as often as Catholicism has. If the Roman Catholic Church was THAT sure of its positions throughout its history, a Counter-Reformation wouldn’t have followed a Reformation. And most Catholics conveniently omit that “other Chruch” whom they shared the first 1,000 years of history with–the Eastern Orthodox. They haven’t had a Reformation, which says something about them. In many cases they have refuted–and their refutations have been accurate–that the current practices and beliefs of the Catholic Church are not what was once practiced and believed. I’ve been in the Church for 12 years and have seen liturgical reforms being bounced back and forth like balls on a tennis court. Either get it right or leave it alone.

  • J. Shehan

    We live in a day and age where we are constantly experiencing “social evolution”. Things have been moving in this direction since the 1960s. While it is true that mainline Protestant denominations have lost members because they have become too liberal, it is equally true that Catholicism–which shifted to the “left” from the mid-60s through the early 80s–has experiencecd a move toward ultraconservatism. This has been evidenced by the Church’s recent alignments with very conservative politicians, many who make dubious promises to end abortion. I see this as a purely “carrot and stick” approach on the part of these same politicians to garner votes. And once elected, the issue goes to the back burner. These politicians don’t have any intention of outlawing abortion because once outlawed, they would lose future votes of those one-issue voters who put them in office to begin with. I must emphasize that I am not defending abortion. Six out of nine Supreme Court justices are Catholic, and apparently they must not view it as being a serious moral dilemma, or they would have overturned it. And many Catholics who become disaffected can see this for themselves. Gone is the church that once used to champion the rights of the poor, feed the hungry, and stand up for the little guy. As it turns out, I forsee some mainline Protestant denominations slowly gaining members from the ranks of conservative Fundamentalist and some Catholics because they want to be Christians whose faith is rooted in doing good, rather than be a part of a church that merely takes political stances.

  • James Kase

    Your statements are exactly what is wrong with the Protestant ideology. We should not be looking for the church to adapt to our ideas or as you say “to what suits us” and makes us comfortable. There is one church that was created by Christ. We should adapt ourselves to Him alone, not the most recent modernist trends. We should always welcome the sinner into the church and love him/her, but as Jesus said, GO AND SIN NO MORE. If we just allowed ourselves to be “who we are”, we could not become what we were intended to be, new people in Christ. So leave the sin behind and become new in Christ, we should not bring the sin into our church and have it become part of our “open” modern doctrine.

  • osbert

    I’m a Catholic. I don’t like denigrating other people’s religious traditions. So I don’t rejoice that Catholics are getting more converts or that Protestants are losing members. The whole idea of people moving back and forth between religions is partly because people are trying to see what they believe and society is trying to deal with women in positions of power and where gays and lesbians stand. I agree with Rosemary Radford Ruether that Christianity as a whole hasn’t been able to develop outside of a patriarchal context. I hope that in the future Christianity can flourish in a non oppressive way.

  • rasputin

    I think that you mean your answer in a warm and non antagonizing way, but many Catholics have questioning and antagonistic relationships with the hierarchy of the RC church. Mary Karr who converted to Catholicism talks about this in Lit.