Skip to comments.Same-sex ceasefire ends for Anglican Church
Posted on 05/21/2006 5:56:57 PM PDT by sionnsar
It was not supposed to be like this, not for anyone.
Linda Privitera had been looking forward to practising her calling as an Anglican priest and living in peace with her spouse, Melissa Haussman.
Desiree Stedman had been looking forward to a peaceful retirement, recalling with contentment 19 years of service to the nurturing church she had grown up in.
Instead, both women have found themselves embroiled in a churchwide dispute over same-sex unions, and, more to the point, what it means to be Christian.
"This is one of the hardest things I've ever done," says Rev. Privitera, her eyes clouded and mouth creased down.
The 59-year-old grandmother was an ordained minister for 19 years in Massachusetts before she married Ms. Haussman in 2004, and then followed her here in November.
Like most newlyweds, they saw nothing but sunshine on the horizon. Canada seemed so welcoming to gays; after all, the federal government had just made same-sex marriage legal.
Ms. Haussman had landed her dream job, a tenure-track teaching position in Carleton University's political science department, and Rev. Privitera was confident of finding a position in Ottawa's Anglican diocese. She had studied at Yale, was just finishing her doctorate in pastoral ministry, and had glowing recommendations from the U.S. Episcopal Church. Since Episcopalians are widely regarded as the American equivalent of Anglicans, what could go wrong?
She and Ms. Haussman even had a contact through Garth Bulmer, pastor at St. John the Evangelist on Elgin Street. The three had become friends while he was on a fellowship at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachussetts.
At first, it looked promising. Ottawa Bishop Peter Coffin granted Rev. Privitera temporary permission to work as a priest in the diocese and suggested to church officials she might make a good pastor at St. Mary the Virgin in Blackburn Hamlet.
But within days, seven local clergy posted an open letter on the diocese listserv denouncing their bishop.
"We are distressed that our diocese has taken actions that deepen the crisis in the Anglican Communion," the letter read.
"We regret that we must publicly disagree with our bishop. In December, The Bishop of Ottawa ... granted permission to a priest in an open same-gendered relationship to officiate in this diocese. This action ... puts our relationship with the world-wide Anglican Communion in jeopardy."
Since then, Rev. Privitera has worked at Saint John the Evangelist, filling in for her friend, Rev. Bulmer, while he was on vacation, but that work has wrapped up with his return.
Nothing much is available elsewhere in the diocese, and her financial future here looks bleak.
She has sent out resumes, but not to anywhere in Ottawa, not even anywhere in Canada. She is aiming for positions in the United States, meaning she and Ms. Haussman may have to plunge into the long loneliness of working and living apart.
"We thought we could live in this city, but it's been difficult," she says.
"It's not the dream we had. I still get up in the morning. I am still glad to be here, and glad for my partner. I still say thanks to God. But it's a hard way to live. I underestimated what it would be like here."
She describes it as a kind of cultural whiplash, lurching her back to a dark time for gay people.
Just two years ago, she had a joyous wedding day in Boston, in a church overflowing with supportive parishioners.
Now, when Rev. Privitera walks into a room -- even a room full of other clergy -- people look away.
It is no help that other gay clergy are likely flying under the radar of the church's long-time non-policy of "don't ask, don't tell."
Had she been dishonest about her sexuality, and lived with Ms. Haussman without benefit of a legal marriage, everything might have been fine.
Ms. Haussman, for her part, finds life at Carleton very convivial. "It's so paradoxical how many different realities are out there."
It's hard for Ms. Haussman to see what the big deal is.
"We're Americans and we're allowed to be married in both the state of Massachusetts and the Episcopal church, so much of this a false issue."
Rev. Privitera says: "I was hired as an out, honest, person, a priest who happened to be gay. I am not the poster girl for gay clergy, I am not a symbol of gay rights."
Or at least she had not intended to be.
- - -
It isn't about gay rights in any event, say Ottawa clergy on the other side of the debate. It is about whether Anglicans believe the Bible is a human document open to interpretation, or the word of God, and non-negotiable.
The Bible has nothing good to say anywhere about same-sex relationships, and, if it is the word of God, that makes it the final word, regardless of what anyone on Earth may say.
Desiree Stedman, minister at St. Matthew's on First Avenue, is one of the clergy who signed the letter criticizing the bishop.
She is having trouble getting liberals to see that she is speaking out of religious conviction, not sexual bigotry.
She says she would also refuse to bless an unmarried heterosexual couple living together.
Yet "we are considered simple-minded, fundamentalist and bigoted. These are the labels thrown at us.
"It's a very sad time. It is impossibly difficult to describe the betrayal of us as a group by the liberal hierarchy across Canada.
"The rhetoric is miserable. The two sides are fundamentally opposed. There is enormous unhappiness and grief. I don't think any priest being ordained could have predicted we would be here now."
Rev. Stedman predicts the Anglican church will have to divide forever on the issue.
"Where is the middle ground? There really isn't one. It's a bowl of soggy porridge, and you can't stand on it."
She is adamant that she and other orthodox Anglicans have nothing against gays per se.
"Any human being who comes before God is doing something wrong, including the priest."
George Sinclair is another of the seven signatories to the open letter that brought Rev. Privitera's career here to a halt.
He is also pastor of St. Alban the Martyr on King Edward Avenue, a congregation so opposed to the diocese's wishy-washy stance on same-sex marriage that it has withheld about $36,000 in annual dues in protest. Rev. Sinclair is also one of the leaders of Anglican Essentials Canada, a network of Anglicans trying to bring the church back to its traditional orthodoxy.
So when the national Anglican Church last year passed a motion "affirming the integrity and sanctity of committed and same-sex relationships," Rev. Sinclair found it "deeply wrong. Even if they had said 'heterosexual sex,' it would still have been wrong because it implies sexuality itself is divine rather than it becomes holy through matrimony. It is teaching a pagan notion of sexuality being inherently divine."
"It is tragic ... that it looks like it's about Linda (Privitera)," he says.
"But it's not about Linda whatsoever.
"I'm sure she's a really nice person. From my understanding, she dealt with the diocese only with integrity.
"It's the timing of the bishop's permission (to allow her to act as a priest) at a time when the worldwide communion is looking at it."
Therein lies the rub: whatever happens with this issue, the church can never return to its unofficial policy of turning a blind eye.
Bishop Coffin said in an e-mail: "Throughout the church -- if we really want to be honest -- we have had gay clergy who have been wonderful pastors. It was OK (reluctantly) if we didn't ask, didn't tell and didn't pursue.
"This lacks integrity. Accepting the gifts of gay and lesbian persons so long as we kept them in silence and under wraps is wrong."
So homosexuality has to be either wholly accepted or wholly rejected, most likely across the whole church. There are about 700,000 Anglicans in Canada and about 2.2 million in the U.S, a fraction of the world's 77 million, most of whom live in a great swath of Africa and Asia.
In many of those countries, homosexuals are still considered criminals.
Bishops there not only consider gay marriage an abomination, but, perhaps more importantly, they are fed up with their North American and British counterparts ignoring them.
Last year, Archbishop Peter Akinola, primate of Nigeria, made headlines in his efforts to unite the conservative Anglicans against their counterparts in Europe and North America.
He was mentioned in Time magazine recently as one of the world's most influential people, a leader who would reshape the church as the influence of the south rises and the north wanes.
The cultural landscape of the southern hemisphere is very different, after generations of profound suffering and a constant pressure from Muslims who point to Christianity and Western civilization as decadent.
Archbishop Akinola used this enormous influence to back a new Nigerian law that would criminalize same-sex marriage, deny gays the right to free assembly, and make it illegal for newspapers to publicize same-sex associations or religious organizations that permit same-sex unions.
Bishop John Bryson Chane of Washington, D.C., said in the Washington Post: "Were Archbishop Akinola a solitary figure and Nigeria an isolated church, his support for institutionalized bigotry would be significant only within his own country.
"But the archbishop is perhaps the most powerful member of a global alliance of conservative bishops and theologians ... who seek to dominate the Anglican Communion and expel those who oppose them, particularly the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.
"What we see in Nigeria today may well be on the agenda of the Christian right tomorrow. I am compelled to ask whether the global Christian community has lost not only its backbone but its moral bearings.
"Have we become so cowed by the periodic eruptions about the decadent West that Archbishop Akinola and his allies issue that we are no longer willing to name an injustice when we see one?"
Archbishop Akinola is indeed a frightening figure to some, especially as he has not been content to keep his disapproval in Nigeria.
When New Hampshire elected a gay bishop in 2004, Archbishop Akinola travelled to the U.S. to encourage orthodox congregations to realign themselves under his jurisdiction.
Anglicans worldwide have tried to find some way of compromising, or at least putting off the discussions rather than breaking apart altogether. Last year, Canadian bishops decided on a two-year moratorium on same-sex blessings, but not all fell in line.
In British Columbia, Bishop Michael Ingham went ahead with blessing same-sex couples, and one congregation broke away, linking with the Rwandan Anglican church in protest. The congregation has ended up in a legal squabble over whether it or the diocese owned the church buildings and land.
Eight churches in British Columbia and three in Saskatchewan have effectively left the Anglican Church of Canada and are now affiliated with the church in Rwanda.
In Ottawa, Rev. Sinclair says it is not clear exactly who owns which church property; in any event, his group is committed to staying within the diocese "as long as possible."
In the final crunch, would they try to take ownership of their church buildings? He wouldn't really say.
And where does all this leave Rev. Privitera? Says Rev. Sinclair: "Being a priest is a privilege, not a right."
To Bishop Coffin, Rev. Privitera "has many gifts and would be -- in the minds of many, though not others -- an excellent pastor."
He says: "I cannot see (homosexuality) as a sin ... We have swept this under the carpet and made people live in fear and in silence.
"I may be called a liberal and unorthodox. But I firmly believe that people need to be treated with respect and dignity and that loving someone faithfully and in total commitment until death do them part is a blessing, regardless of sexual orientation."
The U.S. church will next month hold its general convention, at which American priests are expected to set their permanent position on gay clerics and same-sex unions. The Canadians act in 2007, and the following year, the world's Anglican bishops meet.
In the meantime, says Rev. Privitera, "I will always hope. I will still be the priest I am, moving in the direction of justice."
--Jennifer Green is the Citizen's senior writer for faith and ethics.
OTTAWA: Open letter posted on listserv after lesbian priest allowed to practise in Ottawa
May 19, 2006
Following is the text of an open letter posted by members of the Ottawa Diocese of the Anglican Church of Canada:
It is with sadness that we write this open letter. We are distressed that our Diocese has taken actions that deepen the crisis in the Anglican Communion. We regret that we must publicly disagree with our Bishop.
In December, The Bishop of Ottawa, with the knowledge of others in diocesan leadership, granted permission to a priest in an open same-gendered relationship to officiate in this diocese. This action is in breach of the General Synod process in place in this country and puts our relationship with the world-wide Anglican Communion in jeopardy.
Lambeth Conference, 1998, reaffirmed historic, Biblical teaching on what it means to be a sexual being and a Christian which is faithfulness in heterosexual marriage and abstinence in singleness. The Windsor Report of 2004 warned that moves in any direction that contradicted this reaffirmation would be seen as a choice on the part of the Anglican Church of Canada to "walk apart" from the rest of the world-wide Anglican Communion. The Primates' Communiqué of February 2005 requested that the Anglican Church of Canada repent of its actions and re-establish the bonds of affection seriously broken by the moves to affirm same-gendered relationships as holy and equivalent to marriage. The St. Michael's Report states that this matter is an issue of doctrine and must be decided by General Synod. As well, this Diocese has a history of making decisions by due synodical process and consensus. The recent actions, however, have bypassed Synod and jumped even further into this controversy by legitimizing same-gendered relationships as holy and as an appropriate lifestyle for ordained persons. The discussions on doctrine, world-wide communion and historic, biblical teaching have been closed by this clear action to affirm the orders of this priest.
Arguing that this is not a change of policy but rather nothing more than the extension of hospitality is a word game. Our Diocese is under no canonical obligation to license or grant permission to a priest who moves here from another Diocese, so the action taken is not due to canonical compulsion or requirement. There is no valid distinction between being 'licensed' and 'granting permission' by the Bishop. Either way there is a breach in the understanding of what constitutes "good standing" for a priest and jeopardizes our place in the Communion.
Without further debate or discussion this action of the Diocese of Ottawa has set us on the course to fully embracing a new policy with regards to same-gendered blessings and issues surrounding Holy Orders. De facto, there is no Biblical constraint to faithfulness in heterosexual marriage or sexual abstinence in singleness; same-gendered unions are acceptable.
Dialogue, debate and study have been answered by this action. The question before the Diocese is no longer, 'Can we bless same-sex unions?' The question now is, 'Can we, as a Diocese, return to traditional Scriptural teaching in all areas of human sexuality?' This action causes a crisis of conscience for all Anglicans who desire to be faithful to Christ and His Word and to those who wish to remain within the world-wide Anglican Communion.
This is not an attack on a person and no ill will is intended towards this particular couple or anyone else in same-gendered relationships. We are compelled by the Gospel to love. We repudiate any suggestion that we feel otherwise. However, in light of world-wide events and the actions taken by this Diocese we must speak out, in conscience, so that members of the Diocese of Ottawa know clearly what has transpired and what it means for us all.
May the Lord have mercy upon us and may each of us seek to live under His grace.
Roger Briggs (retired)
Pat Coulombe (St. James, Leitrim)
David Crawley (St. George's, Metcalfe Street)
Archie Hunter (retired, St. John the Apostle, Vankleek Hill)
Alex Lewanowicz (Holy Trinity, Bear Brook)
George Sinclair (St. Alban the Martyr, King Edward Avenue)
Desiree Stedman (St. Matthew's, First Avenue)
Earlier in May, the Bishop of Ottawa, the Rt. Rev. Peter R. Coffin wrote a letter to his clergy explaining his actions in granting 'informal permission' for the Rev. Linda Fisher-Privitera, an American lesbian priest to function as a priest in his diocese. In light of the fact that the church has not made a decision on same gender relationships, and will not until approved by General Synod 2007, he will not now grant her full permission to function as a priest.
His letter can be viewed here:
People choose to sin. People may not choose to be gay (just as many of us did not "choose" to be heterosexual), but we most certainly do choose to act. Being gay is not a sin; engaging in homosexual acts is. God forgives sinners (all of us are), HE DOES NOT ask us to "celebrate" sin and be happy for sinners while they are committing their sin.
If this woman was actually called by God, she's selective in her hearing. And if she's not comfortable with scripture, she should start her own church, instead (although she'll need lots of prayers!!!).
I never understood this.
"two women" "ordained" that's where the problem began.
Well, the problem really began long before that -- but it's all a difference in where you set the threshold.
I was going to read it before pinging you, and then it got very long. So I never did get to the main point!
Someone who can LIE to herself so well is either sick, evil or stupid. I do doubt that she is stupid....after all, a YALE graduate. Mymymy, that leaves only two other alternatives.
How CAN such smart, educated people talk themselves into such evil or sickness?
I NEVER did either.
As I wrote above, she is either evil or sick.
A bishop can place people such as this in parishes till kingdom come, and the press can also write these poor-little-me pieces till they run out of ink, but they cannot force sincere Christians - and particularly people who willingly pay up on a generous pledge every week - to continue membership in these parishes where they will be forced to sit and listen to this heretical, gnostic, Da Vinci Code type of Gospel week in and week out. That is what the administrators and the social-tinkerers do not seem to understand.
<< I never understood this. >>
If evil is but the absence of Truth all that is required of us is that we recognize evil, not that we understand it.
The suggestion is offered elsewhere in this thread that the subject of the piece is "either evil or sick."
She is of couse, both sick and evil.
The evil includes that the truth about her and about the mental illness of every other "homosexual" has been called a lie. And that from that false premise descends the compounding insanity that every "homosexual's" every insane lie is called "truth" and his every perverted and degenerate and abnormal and sad action and activity is called "normal."
And even, God forbid, "gay."
I see it as perverted individuals putting their own selfish wishes before the whole Church. They try to change the Church for their personal agenda, and when the Church kicks back they claim it's unjust.
When you join a club, you accept the rules. If you don't like the rules, then join a different club.
"How CAN such smart, educated people talk themselves into such evil or sickness?"
Pride, the oldest sins of all.
Correction to last post
sins should have said sin
When schism comes, and the churches in Canada and the US are booted out of the Anglican Communion, they can then join together, and rename themselves...Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada..ECACA...sounds apt, doesn't it..?
One of the seven deadly sins, as I remember.
Yes, it does.
They can join the gay parades around the world, with an ECACA entry of homosexual priests marching embracing their same-sex partners, with children probably. "All it takes is l-o-v-e" and "legalize love" banners can top their march, hand in hand, with a cross and Anglican banner, of course.
They could march right behind the traditional parade starters here in San Francisco: 1. dykes on bikes (motorcyles) and 2. fags on nags (bare buttock men, with chaps and boots, that is ALL). That disgusting, vile parade is coming up next month.
The homosexual voice in America downplays the re-showing of the parade in sound bites because the "voice" desperately tries to "normalize" their abyssmally abnormal lifestyle....which is REAL hard to do with images of "dykes on bikes" and "fags on nags." Harhar. When they first held the parade, YEARS AGO, they were DESPERATE for air time, until they realized how that air time was used against them.
There once was a group of obese lesbians who marched en masse and I do mean en masse in the parade. I called them the Liavathonn Lesbians. They were all 400-pounders. Homo-blubbos on the march. They only did it one year. I think they lacked the stamina to be on their feet, without food for that long.
I know I'm imagining a horrible scenario. You'd think they would have too much dignity for such a disgusting display, but I don't put it past them. Their homosexuality seems FAR MORE important to them than their calling. Otherwise, we wouldn't even know about their homosexuality because they would be CHASTE, UNMARRIED and faithful to the teachings of Jesus.
Here in the San Francisco bay area there's a sick, vile, hell-bound group called the "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence"....but you don't want to get me started.....
These women were/are insurgents.
My sentiments exactly...I could not have stated it better!
More evidence of how Satan softens up the world for attack, by confusing the minds of men.
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