“(A gay bishop), being head of a diocese, is like the head of the police being an armed robber, or the head of the fire department being an arsonist”
Good morning, Monsignor.
Good morning, Father Osanyin. And if you don't mind, let me also say Dominus vobiscum (May the peace of the Lord be unto you).
Et cum spiritum (And with your spirit, too). Please, I have something very important to discuss with you, sir.
What's it about?
It is about this raging controversy in the Anglican Communion over the issue of the consecration of a gay bishop in the US.
How does that concern us, Catholics?
Ha, Monsignor! I think it more than concerns us. Since the Episcopal Church installed Rev. Gene Robinson as bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire, USA, the first openly gay bishop to be so consecrated, the Anglican Church has known no fury like a congregation scorned. The rest of the Anglican world has risen up in arms against the pro-gay elements in the church and leading the opposition is Peter OmoAkin, a Niagaran bishop, who has become an icon of ecumenical defiance to Robinson's appointment.
What's our own problem in that?
Simple. Whatever is troubling Aboyade is bound to trouble all Oya devotees, whether now or later.
Father Osanyin, you've come again with these your fetish proverbs.
Fetish? This is the more reason why I'm here this morning. Some of the faithful among us believe that what is happening to the Anglicans is 'fetish', 'sodomic', 'gomorrahic' and, therefore, can never happen to us because we are more conservative, better organised and, lest I commit heresy, more catholic than the Pope. Look up, sir, and see the writing on the wall.
What?! Are you saying we may also have openly gay bishops controversy? Never! We are Catholics, not Protestants.
Yes, sir, but I think we may soon have a rebel gay padre or bishop or a lesbian Mother Superior that may turn the applecart and make nonsense of our credo.
Never! We shall excommunicate them or send them to Siberia, the land of Never-Never.
You dare not say that. Even the Pope, himself, has hinted that the Catholic Church is ready to accept gay reverend fathers and bishops, provided they adhere strictly to their oath of celibacy.
Clever Papa! I trust His Holiness for ordained wisdom. Celibacy, poverty and obedience to the papal order. Hmmm... The Holy Father is a genius like his predecessor. Clever Pope, indeed!
Why do you say that?
It means a gay clergyman cannot practise homosexualism in the sanctuary of Roman Catholicism because he is supposed to be celibate. So, being gay or not being gay is out of the question because there is no room for him to exhibit and indulge in his sexual reality or preference or whatever you call it.
Sir, we have to be careful. A celibate environment can be a breeding ground for homosexualism and lesbianism. For instance, I learnt Robinson, the gay bishop, had his first homosexual relationship while in the theological seminary! After two years of therapy, he was rehabilitated and got married to his first wife, Isabella Martin. His 12-year marriage to this woman produced two daughters.
You said first wife. Does he have a second wife?
Yes, sir. His second 'wife' is a man called Mark Andrew and they have been together for about 22 years.
Nobody has ever peeped into their bedroom but that's the bone of contention. Bishop Peter OmoAkin and company say homosexualism is a sin and it is not compatible with the teachings of the Bible. They say it is bad enough to be gay, but worse to be a gay bishop in charge of a diocese. And they are vehement about it, so much that the church has been divided into two. They argue that Robinson, being head of a diocese, is like the head of the police being an armed robber, or the head of the fire department being an arsonist.
Or the head of our nunnery being a serial rapist! That's too strong an indictment.
But the gay bishop is not bothered about the hue and cry over his consecration. He says his mission is to challenge his congregation and to reach out to those on the fringes of society. Then he says something I'll never forget.
And what's that?
He says: "The only way you get through Easter is through some Good Fridays". That is food for thought and it has dropped an anchor in my memory. It appears we, clergymen, find it difficult to understand the kind of emotional turmoil causing some kind of internal combustion in fellow human beings and minister unto them instead of callously and selfishly condemning them. Everybody has a cross to carry. When our Lord Jesus Christ carried his own cross 2,007 years ago, we sympathised with him; why should they not empathise with a fellow clergyman on his own spiritual road to Golgotha?
Let me tell you something. In the Catholic Church, we know how to tackle such problems.
What do we do?
We just transfer all potential troublemakers to Rome! When Martin Luther did his own thing in the old Christiandom, the Protestant Church emerged. We shall not be caught napping, like those Anglicans who are now in two camps: the GAY and the STRAIGHT. Or, as the indomie generation will put it, the zip-up and the zip-down groups. Jesus Christ! The men that God put together are now being put asunder by virtual reality. What a pity!
But for how long shall we continue to postpone the day of the sex rebels in our own church, too, as religion is no longer exclusively an expression of faith but also of creativity and freedom?
And also of mercantilism and entrepreneurship a la Niagara. Remind me next Sunday to deliver a homily on Virtual Sex Reality and the Church.
I am sure the Charismatic Movement will kick against that with everything it has.
*First published in TELL August 20, 2007.