Friday, July 10, 2009

Why, oh why, do people do these things?

On 28 June, Austrian bishop Ludwig Schwarz celebrated Mass at the church of St. Peter in Linz. the service was well-attended. Local politicians were there. You know who else was there? Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger.

Mayr-Lumetzberger is a native of Linz, and routinely worships at St. Peter's, so we suppose her presence at this festival service wasn't altogether shocking. But it was probably unwelcome. You see, she is a former Benedictine nun who has since (a) left her order; (b) been married; (c) been ordained priest by an Independent Catholic bishop and (d) been ordained bishop, or so she says, by some unnamed bishop, of some Catholic persuasion or other. Needless to say, the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize any of her supposed ordinations, and has excommunicated her.

So, also needless to say, when she presented herself to Bishop Schwarz, with outstretched palms, he refused to communicate her. He didn't really have much choice -- that's what "excommunicated" means.

Awkward moment, yes? But not half so awkward as the next, when Mayr-Lumetzberger reached out and seized a wafer from the ciborium. And yes, she was vested at the time -- alb and stole, with a pectoral cross.

Now, don't get us wrong here. We at the Egg support the ordination of women. (You do see that big picture of Mary Magdalene on the masthead, right? First person to preach a Resurrection sermon. Causa est, so far as we're concerned.) But we look for a little bit of common sense, in all the faithful -- even those with a righteous bone to pick.

She claims that, even though she never presents herself to the parish priest for communion, she expected to receive on this occasion. This strikes us as a fib. We daresay she must have known that the bishop was duty-bound to refuse her -- and that had he allowed himself any conscientious wiggle-room, by saying "I didn't recognize her," the pectoral cross was a kind of giveaway. She clearly went expecting to be refused; whether she went preparing to make a scene we cannot say. But she did make a scene.

We ourselves occasionally show up in a Papist house of worship. When we are there in our official capacity -- whether vested, in clericals, or otherwise -- we take for granted that we will not communicate. If a well-intentioned person tries to steer us toward an outstretched host (or, on one memorable occasion, a concelebration chasuble) we politely demur. Not because we agree with the doctrine of the place, but because there are rules -- and even if they are only human rules, it would be boorish of us to flout them.

Now, if Frau -- err, Bischopfin -- Mayr-Lumetzberger really wants to receive Holy Communion, we encourage her to visit us. Our church's communion policy -- that the invitation to the table comes from Christ in baptism -- is a matter of public record. And although we are currently pretty far from Austria, in just a few months, we will be a quick plane-ride away.


Pastor Joelle said...

That's just rude and unChristlike.

Anonymous said...

sly & foxy & oh so deliberate a ploy!

Father said...

Deliberate, yes. Sly and foxy? About as subtle as a sledgehammer, I'd say.