Why I’m Not Offended by the San Francisco Welcome Letter

Regular readers know that I’m an advocate and practitioner of ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and cooperation. I believe that persons, including leaders, of different traditions of faith should treat each other, and each other’s faiths, with respect and look for opportunities to work together to uphold and advance values they hold in common. This does not require pretending that there are not important differences between faiths. A fruitful ecumenism cannot be founded on religious relativism or indifferentism. Nor need ecumenical and interfaith partners refrain from criticizing teachings of each other’s faiths with which they strongly disagree. There are respectful, civil, and entirely appropriate ways to do this.

I raise these points in light of the goings on in San Francisco regarding the appointment and installation of Salvatore Cordileone as Archbishop. The city’s Episcopalian bishop “welcomed” the new Archbishop with (how shall we describe it?) a rather pointed open letter implicitly, but very clearly, characterizing Catholic teaching on sexual morality and marriage (and, perhaps, on abortion as well, though that is a little less clear) as “repression,” and implicitly characterizing the Archbishop himself, who is a strong defender of marriage, chastity, and the sanctity of human life, as an oppressor.

Well, it is San Francisco. [more]