Friday, October 23, 2009

Mary Hunt on Vatican's Come-Hither to Anglicans: A Perversion of the Ecumenical Movement

I'd like to add another article to the list I compiled yesterday of valuable commentary about Benedict's embrace of Anglican dissidents. Mary Hunt published a brilliant statement yesterday at Religion Dispatches, entitled "Vatican's Come-Hither to Anglicans: A Theological Scandal."

Though lots of centrist types are trying to dance around the misogyny and homophobia that are driving Benedict's warm welcome of Anglican dissidents (and more on that below), Hunt is unambiguous about what this initiative is all about:

Let history record this theological scandal for what it is. Touted by Rome as a step forward in ecumenical relations with a cousin communion, it is in fact the joining of two camps united in their rejection of women and queer people as unworthy of religious leadership.

As she also notes, the way in which Rome has proceeded with this announcement is a betrayal of the Anglican communion and of ecumenism--a stab in the back to Rowan Williams and the worldwide Anglican communion, which does not place the Catholic church in an admirable moral light:

The permutations are endless but the result is the same: a perversion of everything the ecumenical movement has stood for in the last hundred years. Ecumenical Christians have tried to learn about one another’s traditions and find positive places of agreement -- not little pockets of shared prejudice.

I feel sorry for Rowan Williams if he did not know what he was up against when he engaged in bilateral relations with Rome, only to be subject to its treachery. Beleaguered on all sides in his own communion, he now presides over the potential exodus of some of his members who will find in the new dispensation a comfortable place to live out their outmoded ideas of humanity. I only hope Williams and company are consoled by the fact that they are in good company among ecumenical colleagues who respect one another’s traditions, understand the dynamics of internal struggles, and resist the temptation to profit from one another’s problems. Rome, on the other hand, is in a class, however low, by itself.

I highly recommend Mary Hunt's article, and encourage readers to read the entire text.

Meanwhile, I'd like to note that Jamie L. Manson, whose National Catholic Reporter piece about the recent Roman initiative I recommended yesterday, is under heavy attack at the NCR blogsite on which she published her fine statement. I have to say, I anticipated this attack.

I've noted a troubling tendency of male critics to pile on when a younger woman writer makes a courageous statement like this at the NCR site. Even one of the big names of American religious journalism, a figure not known for his sympathy for gay causes and gay rights, has logged in to question the credentials of Jamie L. Manson.

Which tells me that her truth-telling has hit a nerve--and I intend to try to contact her to tell her that and to offer her support. It's fascinating that many male religionists, including big-name and purportedly "objective" ones, seem unable to hear this kind of plain truth spoken by women, and, in particular, by younger women writers. The old boys' network is clearly rattled when women get out of their places.

I wonder why that is.