The Catholic Church Seeks Allies in its Political War Against Gays

Immediately after the Episcopal Church’s acceptance of LGBT priests in July 2009, some of the more conservative churches began talking about breaking away from the Anglican Communion. That possibility increased two weeks ago when the Vatican announced that it had “worked out a way” for those Anglican churches to join the Catholic Church.

This is important because Anglicans permit their priests to marry, which the Vatican has said it would allow to continue. National Catholic Reporter’s John Allen has pointed out that Eastern Rite Catholic churches in eastern Europe have allowed married priests for quite a long time, so the move isn’t entirely without precedent.

It is, however, unusual and would certainly be more complex than it would seem at first blush.

For one thing, the Eastern Rite rules are a bit more complicated than “priests can marry.” In fact, that statement is technically false. Men who are already married may become priests. They must be married before their ordination and may not remarry if their wives pass away. (Must married priests be celibate? I’d think not, but I can’t find the answer.) In addition, Eastern Rite priests who are married may not be elected bishop.

Would rules comparable to these apply to the Anglicans? We don’t know.

Regardless, the purpose is clear. The Vatican’s overture to the disgruntled Anglicans is a direct result of their need to form a stronger confederation of ultra-conservative congregations to push an ultra-conservative public policy agenda in the halls of government.

Jon Stewart hosted a segment on The Daily Show about this issue last week. It goes off on a tangent pretty quickly, but I never turn down a chance to post Jon Stewart’s work.

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UPDATE! A few hours after I published this article, the NC Register announced that the Great Britain province of the “Traditional Anglican Communion” has accepted the Vatican’s proposal. The unanimous vote was apparently taken on October 29th.