[Episcopal News Service] Diocese of California Bishop Marc Andrus, an invited guest for the installation of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco Archbishop-designate Salvatore Cordileone, was not allowed to be seated for the Oct. 4 liturgy.
A statement from the diocese said that Andrus “was escorted to a basement room at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral and detained by an usher until the time the service began, whereupon Bishop Andrus left the cathedral.”
The Associated Press reported that, according to the Rev. Joseph Mathews, a diocesan spokesperson, Andrus had been in the basement room with other guests but was left waiting after those people had been seated by ushers. He was still waiting when the installation Mass began, Mathews said. Andrus left after the service began, according to the diocesan statement.
San Francisco archdiocese spokesman George Wesolek told the AP that there had been a misunderstanding. Andrus had arrived late and missed the procession of interfaith clergy who were to be seated up front, he said. Church staff members 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.”
Following Wesolek’s published comments, Andrus denied in a blog post that he was late to the service, saying he arrived earlier than required. When one diocesan employee attempted to seat him along with Greek Orthodox clergy, that employee was stopped by another “who appeared to be in a superior role,” Andrus wrote.
A third employee was instructed to remain with Andrus, he said. When Andrus later told the employee that he felt he should leave, the bishop said that the employee responded by thanking him “for being understanding.”
Three days before the archbishop’s installation on St. Francis Day, Andrus wrote to the Episcopal diocese saying he looked forward to working with Cordileone “when and how we can,” despite their differences on California’s Proposition 8 ballot measure which said that only marriages between one man and one woman are valid in the state.
The voter initiative overturned a state Supreme Court ruling that it was unconstitutional to deny same-gender couples the rights to marry. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals later ruled that Proposition 8 itself was unconstitutional and the U.S. Supreme Court is reportedly due to decide soon whether it will examine that federal court ruling.
All of the Episcopal bishops in the state opposed Proposition 8 while Cordileone, who was bishop of nearby Oakland for the last three-and-a-half years, was seen as a major defender of the Roman Catholic Church’s stances on homosexuality and same-gender marriage, and an early organizer of the Proposition 8 effort. He chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Defense of Marriage Committee.
In his Oct. 1 letter to the diocese, Andrus noted that he and Cordileone “share concerns for the treatment of immigrants to this country and reforming the United States’ immigration policies,” and he expressed his hope that the two could work together on those and anti-poverty issues as he said he had with Cordileone’s predecessor.
“In working together with the Archdiocese of San Francisco, however, I will not change my course with regard to the full inclusion of all people in the full life of the church. I hope that public disagreements can be handled respectfully and that criticisms of public statements may be met with mutual respect,” Andrus wrote. “Some Catholics may find themselves less at home with Salvatore Cordileone’s installation and they may come to the Episcopal Church. We should welcome them as our sisters and brothers. Even as we welcome those who may join us and look for ways to work with our Roman Catholic siblings in the faith, we will not be silenced in our proclamation of God’s inclusion.”
Andrus’ experience came just a few days after Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith publically criticized Newark Roman Catholic Archbishop John Meyers’ stance on marriage.
In Cordileone’s homily during the installation Mass, Cordileone encouraged the Roman Catholic archdiocese to work for the renewal of the church by imitating St. Francis’ example of personal holiness and conformity to Christ.
He also said that the United States is a land of freedom to worship and where all persons may “express their faith in the public square, primarily through service to others.”
Meanwhile during the service, the new archbishop said that he was grateful for the messages of support he had received from people of different religious and political viewpoints following an Aug. 25 arrest for drunk driving in his home town of San Diego, according to the Associated Press. Cordileone had been scheduled to appear in court Oct. 9 on the charge of driving under the influence, but the AP reported that court record showed he pleaded guilty Oct. 1 to a reduced charge of reckless driving, an option frequently given to first-time DUI offenders.