A Letter from a Concerned Episcopalian
October 2017By Edward B. Connolly
In October 2003, Fr. Edward B. Connolly was Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. In his weekly bulletin he had a feature called Ask the Answer Priest, from which this article was adapted.
Ed. Note: Throughout 2017, in commemoration of our fortieth year of publication, we are featuring one article per issue from the NORs past. This article originally appeared in our October 2003 issue (volume LXX, number 9) and is presented here unabridged. Copyright © 2003.
Dear Answer Priest:
I am a member of a small, closely knit Episcopal parish. I am writing you because you are not a member of my denomination and you have a reputation, despite being a Catholic, for being fair and objective in your advice.
I think it was about 10 years ago when our Vicar stood up in the pulpit on a Sunday morning and made a distressing announcement of a personal nature. He told us that he and his wife were divorcing, and that she was moving out of the vicarage. He told the congregation that, while his soon-to-be ex-wife and he were the best of friends and hoped to remain so, they had certain irreconcilable lifestyle preferences, which made it impossible for them to live together in Christian peace and tranquility. The Vicar asked us to pray for him and for her, and to respect their privacy by not making them the subject of unnecessary conversation, so much of which would simply be uninformed gossip. He reminded us of the following: all of us are sinners; Christ died for sinners; none of us is perfect; and permanent marriage is an ideal proposed to us for our admiration, but is not always possible or practical.
Well, of course, we were sad, but we accepted the situation and wished the both of them well in their transition. With the exception of two cranky spinsters who joined the Salvation Army, the congregation stuck together and supported the Vicar.
I have to admit that, along with others, I was curious about the lifestyle differences that the Vicar referred to, but I tried to suppress my curiosity. I thought it would be unseemly to allow my mind to wander in that direction. But you know how human beings are!
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