Thursday, July 10, 2008

Anglicans: Let 'em sink or let 'em swim?

By Brian Kopp

There is an interesting perspective posted on one of the blogs by Gerald Warner:

The barque of Peter should not pick up Anglican boat people

On the other hand, a bit more hopeful and helpful post comes from Fr. Dwight Longenecker at the Standing On My Head blog:

Checklist for Anglican Tiber Swimming


Fr Tim Finigan at The Hermeneutic of Continuity Blog has a great summary post with lots of links regarding the Anglican impasse:

Come on in.... it's awful!

RorateCaeli has a post with quotes from another Anglican leader who is less enthusiastic about the prospects of swimming the Tiber:

"That remains a problem for me..."

ZENIT weighs in:

Anglican Bishop Asks Pope for Magnanimity

And Damian Thompson has both a blog post,

The Fellowship of St Gregory the Great

as well as an article in The Catholic Herald,

Ex-Anglicans will bring new life to our Church

in which we find the meat of the matter, most relevant to us Catholics:

The situation now is very different. Pope Benedict XVI is an old friend of conservative Anglo-Catholics in England and America; he shares their dismay at the shoddy state of the liturgy in many churches, and he is seeking to renovate the vernacular Mass by exposing Catholics to the treasures of pre-1970 Latin worship. All this would have been inconceivable in 1994, as would a Ratzinger papacy, and old-fashioned "Sandalista" liberals are still hoping to wake up from their bad dream. The cheering from the Anglo-Catholic sidelines at these developments has been hearty and loud - much louder, I'm sorry to say, than that from the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales. Yet it is now looking less likely, thank God, that our diocesan bishops will dig in their heels and refuse to allow special measures for former Anglicans. Roma locuta est, I suspect - quietly and diplomatically, but decisively. (One thing I do know, though it is a different issue, is that Ecclesia Dei has instructed the English and Welsh hierarchy to implement the Motu Proprio.)

So what might an agreement between Rome and former Anglo-Catholics look like? Here are some informed guesses:

1. Rome will set up an "apostolic administration" under a Catholic bishop to offer pastoral care to former Anglican priests and their parishioners.

2. The ex-Anglicans will form an umbrella organisation called something like the Fellowship of St Gregory the Great. The Fellowship, under the guidance of their new Catholic bishop, will consist of former Anglican priests who have been ordained into the Catholic priesthood. Their parishes, though open to anyone, will consist largely of ex-Anglicans.

3. Some Fellowship parishes will occupy their former church buildings, though this will require an unprecedented degree of co-operation with the Church of England.

4. Former Anglican communities may - if they wish - be allowed to use parts of the Book of Common Prayer adapted for Catholic use, as in a few American parishes. In practice, there will be little demand for this concession, I suspect.

5. Former Anglican priests will undergo an accelerated programme of study allowing them to be swiftly ordained. (Conditional ordination is unlikely to be on offer.) Marriage will be no bar to ordination, but no actively gay priest will be knowingly ordained, and this will be strictly enforced.

6. However there will be no question of married lay former Anglicans becoming priests, since this would effectively abolish the rule of celibacy in the Western Church.

7. There will therefore be no Uniate Anglican-Rite Church; there is not enough demand for it, and it raises too many questions about celibacy and jurisdiction.

8. That said, there could well be a future for the Fellowship of St Gregory once its original supply of ex-Anglicans has died out. The treasures our new brethren will bring with them - a poetic and contemplative spirituality, glorious prayers, fine music - will permanently enrich the Catholic Church in England; they belong to us all.

As I say, these are just informed guesses. I have only one plea to the Vatican and the Catholic bishops:

Please, get it right this time.


Anonymous said...

Gerald Warner was right only in his opening question: Yes, it's just him.

His points are valid but do not take adequately into account the fact that these Anglicans grew up in an entire culture of error. Extricating it from themselves has been a life-long work-in-progress. They are emotionally attached to an erroneous worldview. Does Mr. Warner honestly doubt that they are now looking back, with a new perspective, and realising that they should have left this ship of confusion much earlier?

As to transubstantiation and other dogma, most of these Anglo-Catholics are probably more Catholic than 'renewed' Vatican II pewsitters, most of whom don't know what that word means and can't spell it.

(One last note: no, the Pope's statement on womanpreist was NOT infallible, as then-Cardinal Ratzinger later explained, although the teaching given is probably infallible. More than a plural number is needed to make a statement itself infallible. The Cardinal wrote that it is 'practically' unchangeable, the adjective being used in the older sense of 'in practice'. In other words, the teaching is irreformable whether infallible or not. But I digress.)

We need to be charitable and accommodating to these people, who are attached to particular forms of prayer which are not inadmissible in themselves. Yes, they deserve separate structues to protect them from the wolves in the English Catholic Novus Ordo hierarchy.