Who Knew?

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Who Knew?

We have had a heavy duty controversy going on in our Diocese over the last month or so. I think its one that is unlikely to occur in any other diocese in the country. I’ve been trying to draw some useful conclusions from it all, but to tell the truth it seems like there are no winners, only losers.

Some background is in order. As most people are aware, Colorado Springs is known as the Vatican City of the Evangelical World. There is any number of Evangelical organizations headquartered here including Focus on the Family, The Navigators, Campus Crusade for Christ, among others. Ted Haggard, a very well known Evangelical preacher, pastors the New Life mega-church with, I think, nearly fifteen thousand members, and it is New Life Church that lies at the heart of the controversy. It seems that nearly a third of those who attend New Life are practicing Catholics.

This statistic surfaced in a newspaper story in which the executive assistant to the Bishop, Peter Howard, was interviewed by a reporter from our local newspaper. In the interview Howard made the point that Catholics should not attend Protestant worship services. A follow up story on the controversy in yesterday’s paper detailing Howard’s resignation had the following quote from the original article:

“Such ‘active participation’ in a Protestant liturgical service, therefore, acts contrary to our faith which professes fundamentally different beliefs in critical ecclesiological and theological areas,” Howard wrote.
(I recall that Howard’s remarks occurred in an interview in the Colorado Springs Gazette, however yesterday’s story said Howard made these comments in a story in the diocesan newspaper.)

There has been a tremendous hubbub in both Catholic and Protestant circles in town ever since the story appeared. Those opposed to Howard’s position claimed that “ecumenical” relations between Protestants and Catholics have been gravely harmed. Catholics who attend those Protestant services are also in an uproar. Soon after the interview was published, the bishop issued a written apology essentially disavowing Howard’s remarks.

The consequences of all this have been stunning. At the height of the controversy a priest who was the Chancellor for the diocese and the Parochial Vicar for my parish, resigned his active ministry in disagreement with the article. And yesterday the story in the paper reported that Howard himself resigned on October 31.

All this from one story (interview) that Howard himself probably did not think very important.

I hardly know what to make of all this, except to take it as evidence of our fallen nature. When I read the original story, I wasn’t so surprised at what Howard said, as I was at the statistic showing the number of Catholics in this town who attend both Protestant and Catholic services each week. I wonder what is behind this? I wonder if it’s true. I mean, what would drive that many Catholics to attend New Life Church and attend Mass on a regular basis?

Then, there is the question as to why Catholics found Howard’s comments so controversial. I thought when I read the article that, politically speaking, Howard wasn’t using a lot of common sense in making those remarks so publicly, but still, I didn’t find them all that controversial. He didn’t say these people would be excommunicated, he just said they shouldn’t do it because, in effect, their attendance at Protestant services showed their lack of concern over the differences in theology between Protestant and Catholic Christianity.

Anyway, the end result is, the bishop has lost his executive assistant, the diocese has lost a good, and much needed priest, and relations between Protestants and Catholics have been strained, at least for the time being. All this over one interview in the local newspaper. I bet poor Bishop Sheridan is wondering what hit him.


Campus Crusade for Christ isn't HQ-ed in Colorado Springs, the headquarters is in Orlando.

Though, there is at least one branch of the ministry that is (the Military Ministry) and there's a good chance that the Regional Office is there.

Just an FYI.


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This page contains a single entry by Ron Moffat published on November 16, 2005 8:02 PM.

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