You’ve gotta be kidding me…

I was alerted to this by a reader:

Controversial Episcopal bishop scheduled for Catholic book trade conference

Bishop Gene Robinson

St. Charles, IL, Apr 28, 2008 / 08:17 pm (CNA).- A group of Episcopalians has invited controversial Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson to speak during a major Catholic trade show for booksellers.  Though Robinson’s appearance is not directly sponsored by the trade show, he is listed in the show’s schedule of events.

Robinson is the Bishop of New Hampshire, and was ordained a bishop despite his leaving his wife to live in a homosexual relationship.  His elevation to the Episcopal Church’s leadership has inflamed controversy throughout the Anglican Communion, and furthered speculation that the unity of the communion could be ruptured by schism.

The Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit (RBTE) is a major trade show for Catholic bookstores that has been held for 17 years.  It meets in St. Charles, Illinois and is open to other religious denominations, including the Episcopalians who invited Bishop Robinson.

Bob Byrns, the RBTE show’s organizer, said in a letter that the trade show was organized “simply for the purpose of bringing liturgical book and gift sellers and their vendors together under one roof to educate ourselves about our industry, and to offer a venue in which products would be displayed and purchased, while at the same time offering additional opportunities for networking, entertainment, and worship.”

Byrns said the show’s speakers and musical artists were recommended by the publishers and retailers.

We attempt to balance the program to meet the needs of both our Catholic and Episcopal attendees, as well as folks from other denominations,” Byrns said.  [Yah…but… who needs this?  Really?]

Church Publishing Incorporated, the publishing arm of the Episcopal Church, had suggested that Bishop Robinson be invited to speak at an RBTE lunch.

We told them that would not be possible,” Byrns said.  When the organization asked if Bishop Robinson could speak at the Episcopal Booksellers Association (EBA) dinner on Wednesday evening, Byrns said, “We told them that we would need to seek the approval of the EBA membership.”

According to Byrns, the EBA membership “overwhelmingly wished to extend an invitation to the Bishop, and so it happened.”

Bishop Robinson’s talk, titled “Charting the Course of the Anglican Communion,” is announced on the trade show’s web site in the RBTE schedule, which says that the talk is sponsored by Church Publishing Incorporated.  The bishop’s talk is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 28.



During Pope Benedict’s US visit he spoke at an ecumenical service, and said:

But another, growing problem lies in the fact that "fundamental Christian beliefs and practices are sometimes changed within communities by so-called ‘prophetic actions’ that are based" on a reading of Christianity "not always consonant" with that found in the Bible and in Christian tradition.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. tertullian says:

    The only course he’s charting for the Anglicans (and the CofE) is onto the rocks.I cannot recall a more egotistical, self-centered individual as a member of any clergy.

  2. Patrick says:

    It is interesting that at the same time 7:30PM Wed., there is another dinner on the schedule for the Association of Catholic Booksellers with a different speaker. So, apparently, the episcopalians go off to their dinner and the Catholics go off to their’s.

  3. magdalen says:

    Time for ALL the Catholic booksellers to withdraw!!! This publid adulterous
    “bishop” in his blatant homosexual lifestyle who wants to chart a
    course for the humanist make-it-up-as-you-go religion is free to do so but
    NO Catholic should support his efforts.

    Of course God brings good out of evil and this man has helped many to
    make the decision to ‘swim the Tiber’!

  4. magdalen says:

    ALL Catholic booksellers should withdraw! This public adulterous ‘bishop’
    with his open homosexual lifestyle is free to live as he wants and in this
    modern make-it-up-as-you-go religion of his.

    But God brings good out of evil and this man has helped many to come
    to the decision to ‘swim the Tiber’!

  5. Danie says:

    There is an alternative trade association, The Catholic Marketing Network, which holds their own trade show. Speakers at their trade shows have included Fathers Joseph Fessio, Mitch Pacwa, Andrew Apostoli, along with Johnette Benkovic, Bob & Penny Lord, etc. EWTN’s Bookmark program usually provides some coverage from the trade show.

    Daniel H.

  6. Virgil says:

    Father Z makes an interesting point, but I am afraid it’s a bit overblown. Bishop Robinson is not particularly radical. His consecration a few years ago was completely within th eboundaries as defined by the Episcopal Church. Long ago, TEC began ordaining divorced and re-married men. And long ago, they began ordaining priestesses. And long ago, their dioceses began offering ministry of blessings for gay and lesbian families.

    So, in my opinion, the Benedict quote is a bit of a stretch. Gene Robinson is not the one who was trying to be “prophetic” and missing the boat. It was rather his predecessors, seevral decades back, who took actions to buck traditional notions of priesthood. He’s just the one who has become the poster boy for his denomination.

    I don’t think Father Z’s posting is meant to slam Robinson, or to slam gay people. I think he is merely questioning if it is appropriate to have non-Catholic folk, especially ones who are controversially non-Catholic, in honor in Catholic venues.

    As for folks “swimming the Tiber” and coming back to Rome over this issue, it’s not the Anglo-Catholics among Anglicans who are upset about uppitty gay folks. It’s the Evangelical wing of the Communion, and they are more inclined to wander off as independent mega-churches. The Anglo-Catholics are much more concerned about the bad liturgy going on among Anglicans, than they are about the family dynamics of the bishop of a tiny diocese.

  7. An American Mother says:

    Um, Virgil, I am able to speak directly to this, as I am a former (sixth-generation) Episcopalian, and the Robinson mess was what finally precipitated our family’s departure from that whited sepulchre (though it had been brewing for many years – as per your fair comment that the handwriting had been on the wall for quite awhile, I believe since the unsuccessful presentments against Spong and Pike in the 60s, though you could make a strong argument for Lambeth in 1930.) Of course, consecrating as a bishop a man who abandoned his wife and two daughters to live in sin was completely new ground, let alone living in sin with a man . . . .

    But what made the Robinson situation truly different was the involvement of General Convention and the use of the canons to impose approval of his consecration on the American church at large. Thus it became a matter of overarching church governance, which individual parishes could no longer ignore. The custom in the American Episcopal church was always for each bishop (and even each parish) to “do its own thing” without a great deal of interference from above. Thus, “bad liturgy” was never a problem, at least not in one’s own parish. This was the norm until the national church was taken over by extreme radicals who wanted to remake the Episcopalians into Unitarian/Universalists with fancy vestments . . . . then individuals and parishes could no longer ignore what was going on.

    The consecration was a set-up, of course, with the national church maneuvering to have Robinson proposed for bishop within three (?)months of GC, which required a vote of approval from the entire convention. I won’t go into all the naked political campaigning and other even less savory maneuvering that went into the whole process. But it was my dear husband’s line in the sand. He was raised Methodist, so you could have knocked me down with a small feather when he declared that if Robinson was confirmed, we were headed to RCIA.

    Which leads me to the second point, on which I wholeheartedly disagree with you. Our family in this country (not in the old country, where our people attended St. Giles Cripplegate, a notoriously Puritan parish) has always been as ultramontane as you can get without actually being Catholic. Believe me, the ‘high church’ Piskies were just as upset as the evangelicals over not only the approval of Robinson, but the use of the church as a political sledgehammer against orthodox parishes (including noteworthy evangelical ones). But our numbers were small, and in many cases ‘high church’ parishes and worshippers were isolated in overwhelmingly ‘low’ dioceses (that was our case.) So we tended to come over as individuals or little clumps. Those parishes that were able to move as a unit under the Anglican Use Provision are truly blessed, and I think that that Rite will preserve the beautiful language of the old Prayer Book in a far worthier and holier setting.

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