A retirement service of Holy Eucharist honoring a pro-LGBTQ Episcopal bishop has been moved from the originally announced venue at a Roman Catholic church to the bishop’s own cathedral.
Longtime Episcopal Bishop of Michigan Wendell Gibbs is retiring from his diocese later this year. His elected successor is The Rev. Dr. Bonnie Perry, the first woman to lead the diocese and the first partnered lesbian diocesan bishop in the Episcopal Church. Both Gibbs and Perry are former Roman Catholics.
Originally, the service was to be held December 9 at St. Mary Magdalen Roman Catholic Church in Brighton, about halfway between Detroit and Michigan’s state capital in Lansing. Events were suddenly rescheduled to be held at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, the diocesan cathedral in downtown Detroit.
The venue was only moved after complaints were filed with the Most Rev. Earl Boyea, the Roman Catholic bishop of Lansing, by traditionalist Roman Catholics and Episcopalians, although the reason for the change in venues has not been confirmed by either the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lansing or Episcopal Diocese of Michigan.
The Diocese of Lansing has not, as of publication, responded to calls regarding the change in venue or why the event was scheduled to be held at St. Mary Magdalen, Brighton in the first place. Meanwhile, the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan office declined to give a statement on the transpiring events with Gibbs, Perry, and the venue switch.
Conservative Roman Catholic news outlet Church Militant and Anglican news outlet Virtue Online reported the complaints filed with Boyea were based on the fact that a Roman Catholic parish church was hosting a celebration of a pro-LGBTQ bishop who, the complaints allege, supports heretical teachings. These include support for the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopacy as well as Gibb’s support for gender ideology recently condemned by a Vatican document Male and Female He Created Them: Toward a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education. An objector was quoted in a complaint to Boyea:
“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.”
One complaint also noted that the replacement for Gibbs would be a non-celibate lesbian woman:
“The election of Dr. Perry has caused faithful Anglicans in the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan to begin the process of withdrawing and looking for fellowship and alternative episcopal oversight from other institutions — be they within the Anglican Communion or outside of it through the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter in your church.”
It’s widely pointed out that recent disputes on gender ideology, homosexual practices and women’s ordination are among the reasons some have left the Episcopal Church for the conservative Anglican Church in North America — some, but not all, dioceses do not ordain women to the priesthood — or Roman Catholicism.
The strains between conservative Anglicans, the Episcopal Church, the actions of some Roman Catholic churches, the Vatican’s official teachings and the Bible’s widely held teachings on sexuality are only furthered highlighted by these most recent events in Michigan.