(RNS) What started off as a rocky relationship between the Episcopal and Roman Catholic bishops of San Francisco got even worse on Thursday (Oct. 4) when Episcopal Bishop Marc Andrus said he was denied entrance to the installation Mass of the new Roman Catholic archbishop.
Andrus said he arrived at St. Mary’s Cathedral 30 minutes before the installation Mass of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was scheduled to start, but was kept in a holding area with an employee of the Catholic archdiocese until after the service started.
After other local clergy had processed in for the 2 p.m. Mass, Andrus said the message was clear that he was unwelcome, even though he had been invited.
“At 2 PM, when the service was to begin, I said to the employee, ‘I think I understand, and feel I should leave.’ Her response was, ‘Thank you for being understanding.’ I quietly walked out the door. No one attempted to stop me,” Andrus wrote on his blog.
George Wesolek, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, described the event as a misunderstanding that arose because he said Andrus arrived late and church officials were working to get him into the cathedral without disrupting the service, already in progress.
“We had no intention of excluding him at all,” Wesolek told The Associated Press. “If he felt like because of the wait that was insulting to him, we certainly will apologize.”
Days before Cordileone’s installation, Andrus had written an open letter, saying Catholics who disagreed with Cordileone’s hard-line stance on homosexuality could find a home in the Episcopal Church. Cordileone is an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, while Andrus helped lead the fight to overturn California’s Proposition 8, which ended same-sex marriages in the state in 2008.
“Christianity has a long tradition of the faithful disagreeing with one another yet working together for common mission,” Andrus wrote.