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Bishop Fred?

Last year the Los Angeles Times Magazine ran a cover story on the Episcopal Church’s Bishop of Los Angeles, Fred Borsch. We haven’t seen the article, but on May 9, 1999, the magazine printed letters in response to the article, and the letters recently came our way, thanks to an NOR reader.

One Episcopalian letter-writer from the L.A. diocese, who says his parish is “led by a vibrant priest whom we fondly call Mother Toni,” sings the praises of the bishop, whom he calls “Bishop Fred” (the letter gives no evidence that the writer and the bishop are personal friends).

Bishop Fred. We found that rather jarring. But then, if Episcopalians want to call their bishop by his (or her) first name, that’s their business. Episcopalians have (from our Catholic vantage point) a low view of the episcopate, and they’ve become quite laid-back of late, so we’re not terribly surprised.

Would Catholics refer to their bishop by his first name? Not likely. It would be incongruous because it would be so disrespectful. Oh yes, we’ve heard of some Catholics on the left fringe who do so, but they probably do so in order to signal their own low view of the episcopate.

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