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“Do You Have to Say ‘And God Bless You’?”

Recently we were re-reading Mary Vincent Dally’s 1988 book, Married to a Catholic Priest (Loyola University Press), about how her husband, Peter, an Episcopal priest in the state of Washington, became a Catholic priest under the Pastoral Provision.

The book contains a most revealing vignette about the priorities of the Episcopal Church. Peter, when still an Episcopal priest, was summoned to an important meeting by his Episcopal bishop, with two archdeacons present. The conversation went like this:

“Another thing, I don’t like that recorder on your telephone,” Bishop Cochrane growled.

“I’m out a lot, and I don’t have a secretary….”

“It’s that message you have on there. Do you have to say ‘and God bless you’?”

Peter laughed. He thought the bishop was joking.

“Don’t laugh, Dally. I’ve had complaints about…your message. People don’t like it; they’re offended.”

“I don’t know what to say, Bishop. I am a minister. What’s wrong with saying God bless you?”

“Peter, it’s just offensive to some…,” Archdeacon Langpaap explained.

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