The Episcopal Bishop of California said today that he was snubbed at the installation ceremony for his counterpart, the new Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco.
The new Catholic Archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, helped lead the campaign for Prop. 8, the California initiative banning same-sex marriage. The Episcopal Bishop, Marc Andrus, has supported same-sex marriage and written an open letter in which he looked forward to working with Cordileone but also invited Catholics dissatisfied with their new leader to join the Episcopal church.
Invited to Cordileone's installation at St. Mary's Cathedral, Andrus was taken to a basement room with other guests including religious leaders, but he left after he was not seated by 2 p.m. when the ceremony began.
San Francisco Archdiocese spokesman George Wesolek told the Associated Press that Andrus arrived late and missed the procession of interfaith clergy who were to be seated up front. Church staff were looking for an opportunity to bring the bishop in without disrupting the service, according to Wesolek. When they went to retrieve him, he had already left.
"We had no intention of excluding him at all," Wesolek said. "If he felt like because of the wait that was insulting to him, we certainly will apologize."
Andrus disputed that account, writing that his invitation told him to arrive at 1:45 p.m., an assistant dropped him off at 1:30, and he was in the basement with other guests by 1:40. "An archdiocesan employee attempted to escort me upstairs with the Greek Orthodox group, but was stopped from doing so by the employee to whom I had first identified myself," he wrote.
The Catholic and Episcopal churches have been moving in opposite directions on the issue of sexual orientation. Opposition to same-sex marriage has emerged as a principal theme of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy. In March, he urged visiting U.S. bishops to beef up their teaching about the evils of premarital sex and cohabitation, and denounced what he called the "powerful" gay marriage lobby in America. And on July 27 he selected Cordileone, who is outspoken on the issue, to replace retiring Archbishop George Niederauer.
Just a few weeks earlier, on July 9, the Episcopal House of Bishops approved ceremonies for same-sex couples. Controversy over the role of gays has divided the larger Anglican Communian, to which the Episcoal Church belongs. The Catholic Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 invited Anglicans to become Catholic while retaining some Anglican liturgical heritage.
In his homily on Thursday, Cordileone mentioned marriage only obliquely. Thursday was the feast day of San Francisco's patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi, and the archbishop said that St. Francis, too, lived during a time of spiritual unrest, "even to the point of denigrating marriage on the basis that it was purely a material reality."