Swing’s European adventure

Swing’s European adventure

A reader sends the following interesting recounting of a trip to Rome and Istanbul organized by California’s Episcopal bishop William Swing, who is very liberal. He took along Catholic Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco and their Orthodox counterpart to meet Pope John Paul and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Note these particular excerpts:

  • Archbishop Levada led a Catholic Mass at the tomb of St. Francis in Assisi, where the lesson was read by Beth Hansen, “[maybe] the first woman priest ever to participate in a mass at the Basilica,” Swing wrote.

  • “Cardinal Kasper said wistfully, ‘Women’s ordination is a hard issue for us.’ My reptile brain wanted to say, ‘Our women are a problem for you. And you should know that your men are a problem for us.’ Restraint prevailed.”

And those aren’t the only noteworthy comments by Swing. Evidently, Levada and the Orthodox bishop were used by Swing to grant him legitimicacy as he “swung” through the capitals of Catholicism and Orthodoxy, offending his hosts, apparently purposefully. Shameful.

BISHOP SWING’S MOST EXCELLENT EUROPEAN ADVENTURE
Or, Great Moments in Ecumenical Understanding, ECUSA-Style

Commentary Report By Lee Penn
The Christian Challenge (Washington, DC)
September 16, 2003

LIBERAL CALIFORNIA Episcopal Bishop William Swing hatched a plan in late 2002 to make a ten-day ecumenical pilgrimage to Canterbury, Rome, and Istanbul, in which he would be joined by (among others) San Francisco Roman Catholic Archbishop William Levada and Metropolitan Anthony, the city’s Greek Orthodox Metropolitan.

Swing described this pilgrimage, which took place in April 2003, as having several lofty-sounding ecumenical objectives. Yet it appears that he and some within his entourage did not let ecumenical sensitivity stand in the way of their efforts to promote women’s ordination during visits to the top officials of two major Churches which definitively reject the innovation.

In a rather eye-glazing explanation, Swing said he and the two other San Francisco church leaders set out on their journey “to…witness to the close bond of friendship that has developed over the past decades between the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican bishops in San Francisco; to build on a growing sense of unity whereby social issues have been addressed in common, ministries have been approached jointly, mutual hospitalities have been shared, and worship services have been held that included all constituencies; to demonstrate an earnest desire to become more knowledgeable and appreciative of each other’s traditions; …to show plainly that some religious communities are reaching out to each other; and to make our prayers at each one’s spiritual home as we yearn for the day when we will share together Holy Communion and all the blessings that accompany the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ.”  The trip was to be a witness for ecumenical unity among Christians—a laudable goal, indeed. 

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli

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