Sunday, June 04, 2006

Faithful, Yet Not Traditional Catholics
Doctrinal differences, social issues, scandals lead congregations away from church hierarchy.
By David Haldane, Times Staff Writer
June 4, 2006

Like Catholic priests everywhere, Bishop Peter Hickman dons a white tunic each Sunday to celebrate Mass in a sanctuary laden with incense and crosses.Unlike most, he'll often have lunch with his wife and children afterward.

"Marriage promotes growth," says Hickman, 50, who has fathered five children, been married three times and divorced twice. "People who've never been married have a hard time knowing themselves."Marriage and children aren't the only things separating Hickman from nearly all Roman Catholic clergy. The church he has pastored for more than 20 years, St. Matthew in Orange, operates much like any other Catholic church, and offers what appear to be the same sacraments. Yet it ordains female, married and openly gay priests, recognizes divorce, accepts birth control and premarital sex, blesses same-sex unions and, most important, rejects the authority of the pope.
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