[UPDATE: I added an appendix to this post the next day, in red, below.]
“21 Folly is joy to the fool: and the wise man maketh straight his steps. 22 Designs are brought to nothing where there is no counsel: but where there are many counsellors, they are established.” — Proverbs 15
Cdl. Sean O’Malley is considered the closest American to the pope, if not his “BFF”. Considering how bursting with ecumenism O’Malley is, it’s no mystery why.
“Cardinal O’Malley, female Methodist pastor team up on ritual” (January 14, 2014, The Patriot Ledger)
“What moved me was not so much that I was anointing him,” she said. “It was him being willing to accept that from my hand – to ask me, as a woman in ministry, to do that.” … She paused with the priest at the cardinal’s pew, so they could receive the baptism water from Cardinal O’Malley. The next moment, the cardinal quietly asked the Rev. Robertson to administer the water for him. “My heart immediately went to my throat,” she said. “To be asked that by the man who might be pope someday – I was stunned. I was choking back tears for hours.”
[I think you’d agree that getting Robertson’s take on the indifferentist incident with O’Malley is important:
At the root of the word “significance” is the word “sign,” and that is what occurred in that moment of anointing. You don’t get to be a Cardinal by being unaware of the significance of your public acts. In a [cough, cough] completely spontaneous [or, off-the-cuff] moment, Cardinal O’Malley seized the opportunity of signifying the truth of Galatians 3:28, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Which is, of course, also the truth of baptism.
In that moment of anointing–as he anointed me and I anointed him–we were not Protestant or Catholic, Scotch or Irish, male or female, cardinal or clergywoman. We were Christians, babes in Christ, spiritually naked before the Lord who called us both to service. Nothing could have better signified what everyone in that room had just reaffirmed. In baptism, we are one.
The things that came to divide us after our baptism exist still. There was a reason beyond the accident of the day that we celebrated a reaffirmation of our baptism together and not Holy Communion. There are uncomfortable realities even in the world of Protestants, even in the world of United Methodists, that resulted in me being the only vested clergywoman of any kind in that service. And there were other symbols of unity that it was not even possible to signify because those exclusions run too deep still.
It was imperfect. In a perfect world this reflection would not exist because a a [sic] United Methodist clergywoman anointing a Roman Catholic Cardinal would be routine and unremarkable. In a perfect world Cardinal O’Malley and I would preside together at the Lord’s Table. In a perfect world I might preside with a Cardinal Brighid O’Malley.
But grace exists, even in our imperfections–perhaps especially because of our imperfections. And yesterday afternoon, Jesus took the [implicitly equally ordained] hands of his servants, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, and Rev. Anne Robertson, and had them anoint each other, thereby signifying to all of us what heaven will be like. [In other words, the particularities of Catholic sacramental theology are merely earthly concessions to the hardness of man’s heart and Cdl. O’Malley is cool because he gets that.]
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
In light of Robertson’s rhapsody, the question presents itself even more urgently: To what kind of ecclesiology and soteriology did O’Malley, wittingly or not, give his in-the-papal-bosom blessing by “playing Church” with Robertson?]