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Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Pope, Bishop Gene Robinson, and Sister Simone Campbell

Francis X. Rocca writes that the Vatican has freaked out over some of the guests President Obama has chosen to greet the pope at the White House ...

On the eve of Pope Francis’s arrival in the U.S., the Vatican has taken offense at the Obama administration’s decision to invite to the pope’s welcome ceremony transgender activists, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop and an activist nun who leads a group criticized by the Vatican for its silence on abortion and euthanasia. According to a senior Vatican official, the Holy See worries that any photos of the pope with these guests at the White House welcoming ceremony next Wednesday could be interpreted as an endorsement of their activities .....

Or perhaps the Vatican's objections are unofficial? .....

But anyway ....

One person the Vatican is (or isn't) objecting to the pope meeting is Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of Network, a national Catholic social justice advocacy organization that helped pass a health care bill that the US Bishops opposed. She also led the Nins on the Bus project.

Another person is Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop mentioned in the above news story. Bishop Robinson has written an open letter to the pope in response to the Vatican's hysteria. Here's the beginning of the letter ...

A Gay Episcopal Bishop’s Open Letter to the Pope

Dear Pope Francis,

I pray for you every day, because your pastoral responsibility is so daunting, and even if you are Pope, you are still only human. I have had the opportunity to be chief pastor and bishop to a faithful flock (albeit so very much smaller than yours), and it is an awesome responsibility. It is also a blessing and an honor to serve, is it not?

There has been a bit of a kerfuffle in the last 24 hours due to reports that a senior Vatican official is offended, on your behalf, by my invitation to the White House on Wednesday to welcome you to America. Sister Simone Campbell, one of the nuns working day in and day out on behalf of the poor, is lumped in with me as a purported offense to you.

Based on your saintly ministry so far as Pope, I have to suspect that this report does not represent your own views (if this has even been brought to your attention), but rather the views of those who would try to “protect” you from the world. It would seem that I hold a higher view of you than some of your handlers who may have forgotten that you have demonstrated quite regularly not only your knowledge of the real world, but also a compassion for it. Not to mention that the good nun and I will be somewhere in the middle of a throng of 10,000+ Americans joining together to welcome you and wish you well.

I suppose the Vatican official’s concern has to do with my having been elected and consecrated a Bishop of The Episcopal Church, while at the same time being an openly gay, partnered man. Were I ever to have the honor of meeting you, I would of course not be the first gay man or gay bishop with whom you have had contact. Some of them, undoubtedly, work with and for you in the Vatican. Based on your demonstrated and notorious compassion, I suspect you will not be offended by a gay bishop and a feisty nun somewhere in the crowd of 10,000 admirers.

We disagree in our understandings about sexuality and the diverse and wonderful ways God has made us. But as far as I am concerned, that does not keep me from admiring you and praying for you and your ministry ....

I hope Pope Francis gets to meet them both.


Anonymous Richard said...

What a kind and generous letter!

3:47 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Yeah, I've always really liked him :)

3:57 PM  

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