On Monday, April 25th, former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey, who admitted his homosexuality and marital infidelity and resigned his office in 2004, was denied admittance to the Episcopal priesthood. McGreevey, a former Catholic who “switched collars” after being forced out of the closet, completed his theological studies at Manhattan's General Theological Seminary in 2007. Though McGreevey graduated last spring with a master's in divinity, the Episcopal Church has not readily embraced him.
According to the NYPost.com, a source at the Episcopal Diocese of Newark denied McGreevey was rejected because the former governor is gay. Reportedly wary of McGreevey's sudden defection to the Episcopal faith, church leaders suspected the former governor of seeking a clerical “cover” through which to re-invent himself. The unnamed source explained the reason for McGreevey's deferral: “It was not (because of) being gay,” the source stated. “but for being a jackass.”
Nicely put, indeed, but do I detect a bit of hypocrisy here?
In 2009, Father Alberto Cutie, a Catholic priest in Miami, admitted to an ongoing affair with a woman after a newspaper published photographs of the two cavorting on a public beach. Father Cutie resigned from the Catholic Church amid great publicity and scandal and promptly joined the Episcopal Church, despite being an admitted liar shamelessly navigating the talk show circuit.
Father Cutie and Jim McGreevey share similarities. Both led secret lives while engaged in clandestine affairs. Both broke sacred vows. Both were in leadership positions in the public eye. Both were forced to admit their ugly transgressions. Both sought refuge in the Episcopal Church - where their similarity ends. The Episcopal Church threw open its doors to Father Cutie, yet shut McGreevey out.
What's wrong with this picture?
I have great reverence for the Episcopal Church; however, I was disappointed in its acceptance of Father Alberto Cutie and even more disappointed in its recent treatment of Jim McGreevey – and not because the Episcopal spokesperson called the former governor a jackass. As I see it, there is little difference between Cutie and McGreevey; why have they been treated differently? Why is the Episcopal collar acceptable for Cutie but not McGreevey? When their ugly secrets were revealed, both these men sought “cover” in the Episcopal Church; why is self-reinvention within its confines acceptable for one repentant and not the other?
If the Episcopal Church is going to accommodate wayward Catholics who, for whatever reason, are suddenly attracted to the Episcopal faith, then it seems to me the church officials should set forth standard rules going forward and treat all its applicants for priesthood equally.