Thanks to the reader who passed along the link to the following post at a local non-Catholic religious blog. It is an interesting take on some of our favorite local “faux-cats”– faux Catholics, that is.:
Some fake Catholics recently set up shop here in my hometown:
Sts. Clare and Francis Parish was welcomed into the fold of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion on Saturday, Feb. 25, during a celebratory Mass at its borrowed home, Evangelical United Church of Christ in Webster Groves.
No surprise. Around here, EUCC is as hard-left as they come. Their sign has an ichthus with a rainbow in the middle of it and they describe themselves as “an open and affirming congregation” which should tell you everything you need to know. EUCC’s web site is here.
Actually, Webster Groves, Missouri has as good a claim as any town in America to the title of United Church of the Zeitgeist Central. One of the UCZ’s principal seminaries, Eden(which Reinhold Niebuhr attended), is located here as is the office of their Missouri-Mid South Conference. There are three UCZ parishes in Webster, two within a block of each other, and there used to be a fourth.
Anyway, these fake Catholics are big on a particular word. See if you can guess what it is.
“Inclusivity” is a word that resonates with the ECC, and is what distinguishes it from the more traditional Roman Catholic Church.
“Traditional” being defined as not making it up as you go along. And we all know what “inclusivity” means.
The clergy of the ECC are a prime example of these beliefs in action. The newly-elected pastor of Sts. Clare and Francis, Rev. Francis Krebs, is an openly gay former Roman Catholic priest. ECC presiding bishop Peter Hickman is the married father of five. Sts. Clare and Francis parish currently has two women pursuing the deaconate and priesthood, Jessica Rowley and Lisa von Stamwitz.
Inclusion is evident even in the name parishioners chose for their parish – that of St. Francis of Assisi, a man, and St. Clare of Assisi, a woman. The two were contemporaries in the 13th century, and are important figures in Catholic history.
Which these people no longer have any connection to. ECC PrezBish Hickman’s just a LibProt who likes to play dress-up.
“Most of the clergy who are part of the ECC are former Roman Catholic clergy,” said Hickman. “I was raised in the American Baptist Church, and ordained a baptist minister in 1979.” Three years later Hickman converted to Catholicism through the Old Catholic Church.
Actually, Hickman converted to Old Catholicism through the Old Catholic Church. But do go on.
He founded St. Matthew Church in Orange, Calif., in 1985, and became a bishop in 1996. “I began to have contact with other independent Catholic faith communities and Roman Catholic clergy who wanted to look at another way of being Catholic,” he said.
In other words, they wanted to go Piskie and still claim that they were “traditional.” Francis Krebs knows what’s truly important.
In his former calling as a Roman Catholic priest, Krebs served as pastor of St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Soulard for 13 years. Although he left the priesthood in 1990, he missed the ministry. “I’m a gay man, and have been in a committed relationship for the past seven-and-a-half years,” he said. “That’s a primary feature in my life, and I didn’t want to leave that. I thought, ’How can I be a priest and still live as a gay man?’”
Krebs began searching for options. He looked to the Episcopal church, a community he admired, but soon found what he calls a “more cultural fit” within the Ecumenical Catholic Communion.
Then there’s Rowley who’s Episcopalian as all get out.
Parishioner Jessica Rowley is working on a master’s of divinity at Eden Seminary, with the goal of becoming ordained in 2007. Rowley was raised Roman Catholic, and was conflicted about her role in the church. After marrying her husband Joe, a member of the United Church of Christ and also a divinity student at Eden, Rowley discovered Sts. Clare and Francis. “To find a church where I could feel like my spirituality would be nurtured like it was in the Roman Catholic Church, where I can be authentically me, and where people have the freedom to decide for themselves what they believe and how they express their faith, is a beautiful thing,” she said. “It means hope for a future that I never thought possible. It means hope for an authentic community, and hope for a renewed church, which I think this country and this world really needs.”
Let’s see. I, my, I, me, I, I. Sounds about right. There’s no “I” in Jesus, Jess. I’ve steered clear of commenting on the St. Stanislaus Kostka controversy here in St. Louis because I don’t have a dog in that hunt and I don’t understand the issues anyway. But I have to think that this won’t help St. Stan’s cause much.
While in St. Louis [Hickman] spoke with local and visiting clergy, including Rev. Marek Bozek, pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. Bozek was recently excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church for his efforts to minister to the parishioners of St. Stanislaus, which is battling with the Archdiocese of St. Louis over control of the church. “I wish Sts. Clare and Francis all the best, and congratulate the new pastor and the new candidates for ordination,” said Bozek. “I wish there was a way that Sts. Clare and Francis could be part of the Roman Catholic Church, because I believe that what they are doing is very Catholic.”
Bozek received a standing ovation from celebrants at the installation Mass for Sts. Clare and Francis, but said he was not there looking for options for either himself or St. Stanislaus. “I hope and I pray that there will be a day when there will be room in the Roman Catholic Church for diverse communities such as Sts. Clare and Francis,” he said. “The purpose of theology is to bring God’s word to a new generation of people. The message does not change; how we proclaim this message and the means we use has to change.”
For those of you who are unfamiliar with liberal Christian jargon, the word “prophetic” means that whatever pops into my head and feels good in there is right. But I’ll be magnanimous and wait for you to catch up with me, as is illustrated here.
“It’s an issue of justice,” said Hickman. “The church needs to be a voice of hope for the future, rather than looking like an antiquated institution dragging us back to the past. If the church is the people of God, let the people have a voice.
“The Catholic faith tradition is much larger than the Roman Catholic hierarchy, or the Roman Catholic Church,” he added. “We need to put our emphasis on the Gospel of Jesus, rather than canon law. We’re the Catholic Perestroika.”
“The Catholic Perestroika.” Whatever, sunshine.