BRIGHTON, Mich. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A parish in the diocese of Lansing, Michigan was originally going to be the venue for a Protestant service honoring a pro-LGBT Episcopalian bishop's retirement, but after pushback was was moved off diocesan property.
The Episcopalian bishop, Wendell Gibbs, an active proponent of same-sex "marriage," is retiring from his role as head of the denomination's Michigan diocese. A service and reception honoring his two decades of leadership were originally scheduled to take place on Nov. 9 at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Brighton.
But the celebration was later rescheduled for the Episcopalian St. Paul Cathedral in Detroit.
The reasons for the venue change are unclear. But it is known that it comes amid complaints from some Anglicans as well as Catholics.
Conservative-minded Anglicans took exception to Gibbs' retirement taking place at a Catholic parish, owing to Gibbs' open support of same-sex "marriage." A petition opposing the event's venue was filed with Bp. Earl Boyea of the Catholic diocese of Lansing — the diocese in which St. Mary Magdalen is located.
Those behind the petition argued that it would be scandalous for someone publicly opposed to traditional Christian beliefs to be involved in a religious event at a Catholic parish.
A June 27 piece on Anglican website Virtue Online shed light on the petition. The article argued, "Gibbs supports same-sex marriage and other heresies that violate not only the teachings of Rome, but also the orthodox doctrine as understood by the overwhelming majority of Christians worldwide."
The article continued, "These heresies include women in the priesthood and episcopacy, as well as the affirmation of the gender ideology repudiated by the Roman Catholic Church in the recent document, Male and Female He Created Them: Toward a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education."
Virtue Online's piece quoted the text of the complaint that was filed with the diocese of Lansing as stating:
Hospitality is one thing. However, allowing heretics to use consecrated space for the celebration of their mass is not hospitality. Moreover, as you surely know, perception is reality. There will be a perception that your diocese is condoning, endorsing or otherwise accepting the heresy of The Episcopal Church through its use of the consecrated space at St. Mary Magdalen, Brighton.
Church Militant reached out to the Lansing diocese and to staff at St. Mary Magdalen's for comment. No response from either the diocese or the parish was received by press time.
A spokesperson for the Episcopalian diocese of Michigan informed Church Militant of the venue change. But the spokesperson did not respond to Church Militant's question as to why the location was changed.
The Virtue Online article made the case that having Gibbs' retirement celebration at a Catholic parish would hurt relations between the Catholic Church and conservative-minded Anglicans — some of whom may be interested in becoming Catholic.
The article argued, "The hosting of what amounts to a pro-homosexual Episcopal mass at St. Mary Magdalen, Brighton, would also undermine the important ecumenical relations between Rome and faithful Anglicans, many of whom have been welcomed into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter."
The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is a jurisdiction set up by the Vatican in 2012 to help former Anglicans in entering the Catholic Church. Canonically, it is equivalent to a diocese. It is located in the United States and Canada. Two similar ordinariates have been created elsewhere; Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia and Our Lady of Walsingham in the United Kingdom.
Gibbs' successor as head of Michigan's Episcopalian diocese is Bonnie Perry. She will be the diocese's first female and first lesbian bishop.
Apparently, both Gibbs and Perry are former Catholics.
A brief biography for Gibbs found on an Episcopalian website says, "Before college, he became a postulant in the Roman Catholic Order of the Holy Trinity, living and taking classes for three years at a Maryland monastery."
Perry, meanwhile, has said that she was raised Catholic, had a conversion moment at a Catholic youth event, but later left Catholicism due to the Church's all-male priesthood and opposition to homosexuality.