It is happening in Richmond. The story, from CNA:
Bishop Barry Knestout of the Diocese of Richmond has issued a statement responding to concerns that a local parish church is to host an Episcopalian consecration of a female bishop.
The online petition, titled “Stop Ordination of Female Episcopalian ‘Bishop’ at Catholic Church” refers to the upcoming consecration of the Rev. Susan B. Haynes as the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. It has attracted nearly 2,000 signatures.
In a statement Wednesday, Bishop Knestout called the “offer of hospitality to a Christian neighbor in need” an “act of charity and well within the teachings of ecumenism and the norms provided by the Church for ecumenical activities.”
The event is scheduled to occur on Feb. 1, 2020 at St. Bede Catholic Church in Williamsburg, Virginia. Haynes was elected an Episcopalian bishop on Sept. 21.
The online petition, posted Monday, called the event “highly disturbing given the fact that Ven. Pope Leo XIII solemnly declared Anglican ordinations to be ‘absolutely null and utterly void,’ and the Church has repeatedly reaffirmed the fact that women cannot receive the sacrament of ordination.” the online petition says, while noting that canon law provides that “only activities which ‘serve to exercise or promote worship, piety, and religion’ are permitted in sacred spaces.”
Neither the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia nor the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia have a cathedral. The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, which covers the northern part of the commonwealth, has a cathedral shrine, a small, open-air venue, in Orkney Springs. The closest Episcopal cathedrals to the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia are located in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
In the Jan. 15 statement, Knestout responded to “concerns” raised about the event.
“Use of space in a Catholic parish for the Espiscopal Church to conduct their own religious ceremony is well within the accepted ecumenical teachings and norms of the Church,” the bishop said. “I appreciate that [people] are concerned that the sacred space of the Catholic Church be safeguarded, which it is.”
Bishop Knestout pointed to the Vatican Council II document on ecumanism, Unitatis Redintegratio, as well as the 1993 Directory of the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, which he said gives “clear guidelines and recommendations regarding the possibility of sharing space with our separated brothers and sisters.”
The Vatican guidelines to which he refers, regarding the principles and norms on ecumenism, state:
Catholic churches are consecrated or blessed buildings which have an important theological and liturgical significance for the Catholic community. They are therefore generally reserved for Catholic worship. However, if priests, ministers or communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church do not have a place or the liturgical objects necessary for celebrating worthily their religious ceremonies, the diocesan Bishop may allow them the use of a church or a Catholic building and also lend them what may be necessary for their services. Under similar circumstances, permission may be given to them for interment or for the celebration of services at Catholic cemeteries.
The CNA story also notes that the Bishop of Richmond agreed to let the Episcopal Church use a Catholic parish for the service several months ago, before the identity of the new bishop was known.
UPDATE: Fr. Z. has weighed in. Snip:
What is going to happen in there is pretty much a nothing burger. Also, it might or might not be the case that the church in question was consecrated – many are not consecrated, you know. So, there is a disconnect between the nature of the building as a sacred place and the nature of the ceremony to be enacted.
However, the Bishop is within his right to let that building be used. He can permit it, regardless of the sensibilities of Catholics who may be offended.
What recourse do offended Catholics have? Not much.
In the aftermath, they will have to decide if they want to contribute to that parish and to the diocesan fundraisers, or have anything to do with their projects. That’s up to them.
Choices have consequences.
Were I a diocesan bishop, I think I would gently deflect the original request to use the church for such an event. On the other hand, were there to be a case of a true emergency, I might help them out. Say they had a fire at their own cathedral the day before the event was scheduled. Then I might help them out. But this event isn’t an emergency.
I have a hard time getting really worked up about this.
UPDATE II: The Episcopal bishop at the center of this controversy has decided to hold the consecration elsewhere. Read all about it.