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Accepting disaffected Anglicans.

One week before the Vatican announced it would ease entry for Anglicans into the church (NCR, Oct. 30), a woman who was ordained in the Episcopal church and ministering with compassion to her community in New York City wrote to ask me what I thought of such an overture. Obviously, advance notification was sent to her with a faint hope she might want to enter the Catholic church. Vatican officials have put forth a two-pronged spear. One is to gain the attention of discontented Anglicans and the other to keep women from positions of responsibility in the church. Discrimination against women is illegal in any sector of society, but the Catholic church continues to rely upon a narrowing field of males to serve. Single-gender operations are the equivalent of seeing with one eye only, walking on one leg, breathing with one lung: If women withheld their services, church communities would shut down within one week. The recent move to attract "traditionalists" who are unhappy with women priests is offensive to all women, and to men who dare not discriminate against them.

VIC HUMMERT

Lafayette, La.

The Vatican's bid to get Anglicans to switch faiths seems a Solomon's choice. With the issues of female ordinations, celibacy and the acceptance of gays dividing some in each community, a compromise could be a "player for player" type trade: disaffected Anglicans to one side, disaffected Catholics to the other.

FRANCIS W. RODGERS

Rensselaer, N.Y.

Although one can imagine ancient pagan priests complaining that the early church was usurping their stories and symbols in a brazen attempt to make Christianity more attractive to their adherents, the attempt by the Vatican to "respond" to Anglican anguish in its latest accommodation is perhaps something new. One can cite many historical accommodations, from the reunion of Eastern Catholic churches through recent attempts with Lefevbrites to allow a bigger tent for the Roman church. But this Anglican overture is one that capitalizes on internal discord with the centripetal forces to extend aspects of practice (women priests, blessings for gay unions) rather than the previous ones of alternative ways of using symbols or reinterpreting practices, beliefs and customs into a Christian context. It is why this initiative smacks more of opportunism than ecumenical respect and conversion. It betrays not the openness of the Roman communion, but rather its centrifugal force to bring all practices into the center and solidify a hold that makes dissent even less respected. Will the center hold or will cracks appear due to those always troublesome unintended consequences? One can only hope.

DAVID E. PASINSKI

Fayetteville, N.Y.

First Archbishop Raymond Burke is put in charge of overseeing appointees to be bishops of our church, then the pope plays on the discord in the Anglican church in the hopes of enticing their bishops, priests and people to join our church because they may disagree with women priests and gay clergy, and will allow them to keep much of their particular worship practices--and will even bring in more married clergy but continue to ban our good men who wish to be married from serving as priests. Go figure. I hope the Anglicans counter and open their doors to welcome those Catholics who are disgusted with Rome and let us keep: our worship practices. It would make for an interesting story. Where do I join up?

ROBERT IRISH

Las Vegas

The Vatican's decision to poach in the troubled waters of the Anglican communion as it wrestles with the inevitable developments of women and gay persons as priests and bishops is misguided. I predict that in 400 years, as Earth continues its orbit around the sun, and Galileo is a distant memory, Pope Benedicta, surrounded by her cardinals and their husbands and domestic partners, will apologize for the insensitivity of this Vatican strategy to gain members.

Suppose that, instead, the Vatican and Anglican Communion set up a panel of laypersons, women and men theologians and scripture scholars to study in a free and open manner the issues at stake in the progressive march toward the full recognition of women and gay persons in all religions ministries, then we would have an ecumenical example worth emulating.

PAUL SURLIS

Crofton, Md.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:LETTERS
Author:Hummert, Vic; Rodgers, Francis W.; Pasinski, David E.; Irish, Robert; Surlis, Paul
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Nov 13, 2009
Words:701
Previous Article:The Vatican angles in rightist waters.
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