ELCA elects female presiding bishop

Just minutes ago, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) elected a female to be that church body’s presiding bishop, Elizabeth Eaton.

I’m curious as to how this will affect ecumenical relations with other church bodies. I imagine it strengthens the ELCA’s ties with the Episcopal Church (ECUSA), which already has a female bishop in Katherine Jefferts-Schori. Interesting side note: Eaton is married to an Episcopal priest, Conrad Selnick.

I can’t see it doing anything to help relations with the Roman Catholic Church or other orthodox bodies like the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS), which do not practice or allow female ordination to the pastoral office.

What is your take on this? How will this affect ecumenical relations with Rome going forward? Will the focus of Lutheran-Catholic dialogue change, or will different partner churches be sought? How will this affect relations with more-Confessional Lutheran bodies, or with greater Christendom, in general?

I haven’t had time to read much about the new presiding bishop but understand that her husband is an Episcopal priest. It seems the merging of Lutheran and Episcopal becomes stronger day by day.

Keep in mind, that there are European Lutheran bishops who are female; I believe the co-archbishop of Finland is a woman.

=steido01;11098093]Just minutes ago, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) elected a female to be that church body’s presiding bishop, Elizabeth Eaton.

I’m curious as to how this will affect ecumenical relations with other church bodies. I imagine it strengthens the ELCA’s ties with the Episcopal Church (ECUSA), which already has a female bishop in Katherine Jefferts-Schori. Interesting side note: Eaton is married to an Episcopal priest, Conrad Selnick.

I’m sure ELCA / TEC relations will continue to strengthen.

I can’t see it doing anything to help relations with the Roman Catholic Church or other orthodox bodies like the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS), which do not practice or allow female ordination to the pastoral office.

Agreed

What is your take on this? How will this affect ecumenical relations with Rome going forward? Will the focus of Lutheran-Catholic dialogue change, or will different partner churches be sought? How will this affect relations with more-Confessional Lutheran bodies, or with greater Christendom, in general?

I think the directional shift of the CC toward confessional Lutheranism has already started, not that the USCCB or Vatican will simply cut ties.
My take on it is it is very sad to see. I love my friends, fellow Lutherans, and family in the ELCA.

Jon

I don’t believe it will be a major issue that prevents further dialogue. The ELCA seems much more willing to dialogue than more conservative Lutheran bodies such as the LCMS.
(JDDJ for example)

I look forward to further dialogue.

Mary.

Ecumenism with the Protestant churches is dead. The only meaningful dialogue to be had is with the Orthodox.

I think that the kind of ecumenical dialogue that aims at restoring full communion on a corporate level has already been pretty much abandoned regarding most Protestant groups. The kind of dialogue we have been working at has been more in the area developing mutual understanding and helping Christianity speak with a more unified voice in this world, and I don’t think a development like this has much effect on that.

Is this from the Vatican?

Jon

I agree the Orthodox are always a “priority” when it comes to dialogue.
In some sense the further away Protestantism gets from Catholicism such as ordaining women, etc the less common ground we have.

Albeit it seems like some ELCA members feel close to their Catholic members and even
believe/feel they are Catholics themselves the religions are night and day.
Mary.

A nicer and more precise way of saying what I said.

To be honest I doubt it will have a major impact on the ELCAs relationship to Rome. She has been drifting further from Rome for a long time. The Catholic Church has never recognized Lutheran clergy as having valid orders so calling a woman bishop means nothing. At worst it just shows how divergent the ELCA is from the Catholic Church. I would think this more strains the ELCA’s relationship with the LCMS and other orthodox Lutheran synods than it does with Rome. I suspect it will have the same impact as the Episcopal church ordination of a female bishop in relationship to the Anglican Communion.

Yes I believe most dialogue seems to be exactly along those lines; towards a better understanding of each other and also a more unified Christianity on those issues we might have in common with our separated brothers and sisters.

I don’t see full Communion with any Protestant group either unless their members choose to convert to Catholicism.

Mary.

catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0603279.htm

Can we just shove all the liberal anglicans and Lutherans in one church and have it done with already?

Absolutely agree. We are never going to agree on essential elements of doctrine, not to mention our “extra” books in Catholic Bibles, apostolic succession or the Real Presence. A female bishop is low on the radar in comparison.

Far more important as you noted is speaking with a unified voice for freedom of religion throughout the world. It’s been a long time since Christians were so frequently the victims of violent attacks and suppression. The radical Islamists have truly promoted bloodshed and the secularist views that demand people of faith compromise to suit their agenda also challenge Christianity and Christians’ ability to live lives of peace and freedom.

Lisa

:smiley: I literally laughed out loud. Sometimes, I feel the exact. same. way.

Wait another 30 years, and they will probably literally fit into one church.

Not all of us have women clergy. The LCMS does not. I think you will eventually see a shift by the Vatican away from the liberal wings of Lutheranism and Anglicanism in favor of the more traditional wings.

Jon

:rotfl: Priceless and all too true! It seems like the more “open” the denomination, the more people LEAVE rather than enter the doors.

Lisa

I am no expert on the subject, but I suspect this is correct.

I would guess that any kind of “corporate” union between the Catholic Church and Protestant groups will be very small; rather like the few Anglican parishes that joined the Catholic Church as a body, retaining some liturgical things and a separate structure up to a point.

My guess is that future "Protestant’ reunions with the Church will be on an individual basis, with the most fertile ground being among Southern Fundamentalists. I’ll admit I stole that opinion from Flannery O’Connor, but have seen it in my own Bible Belt parish. The greatest number of converts are definitely from Fundamentalist groups. Perhaps that shouldn’t be too surprising. As O’Connor put it (paraphrasing) “…Southern Fundamentalists would be greatly surprised to learn that they have more in common with the Catholic Church than they do with classic Protestantism”. The more or less unchurched, but nominally mainline folks being the second largest category around here.

There will probably always be ecumenical contacts between the Catholic Church and the more organized Protestant groups, but it never really seems to lead to anything other than diplomatically worded statements of shared beliefs that don’t mention or very mildly acknowledge the gulfs between them.

There are lots of serious differences; perhaps the main one being the acceptance of the teaching authority of the Church. If one doesn’t accept that, one is a long, long way from being Catholic. In that sense, someone like an ultra high church Anglican is as far away from the Catholic Church as is a snake-handling non-denominational, no matter how many outward similarities the former may have with Catholic practice or how few the latter have.

Maybe on an organizational level that’s true, because they can at least agree on some things and agree to disagree on others. But the tighter the adherence to central beliefs, the more permanent the disagreement is likely to be. The Catholic Church is not going to change and, frankly, I don’t much see LCMS as a corporate body changing either.

But on an individual basis, it might be the exact opposite. Not to be insulting, but when it comes to ultra-liberal churchs, oftentimes there’s really no “there” there, and people can end up feeling pretty rudderless in something where finding solid meaning is everything.

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