28 November 2017

Eric Kemp and the purpose of the Ordinariate in a Bergoglian Church


Today is the Year's Mind of the Right Reverend the Father in God Eric Waldram Kemp, sometime Lord Bishop of Chichester.

Memories crowd in: of the day when, by an act of quasi-papal primacy (immediate and ordinary and episcopal, and so dead in line with Vatican I), George Carey sent a Guildford suffragan clutching a Primatial Commission in his hot little hands to "ordain" women for the Diocese of Chichester. On that potentially depressing day Eric came to us at Lancing - he felt so at home singing Pontifical High Mass in Lancing Chapel - and then spent the rest of the day having lunch with us; his face growing redder and redder as the gin ... and the wine ... flowed, and we drowned our sorrows in the traditional Anglo-Catholic way. Memories also of the sermons he preached when Lancing had a head master, formerly head of Rugby, who did not share our foundational Catholicism. Somehow, Eric always seemed to be able to work into his homilies a scathing reference to "the ideas sometimes associated with the name of Thomas Arnold head master of Rugby". It was a commonplace that the Chichester diocese, during his pontificate, was the Indian Summer of the C of E; it was, certainly, of the 'Catholic Movement'. After he retired, the secret police went round the diocese gathering evidence of liturgical 'illegalities', and the rumour was that a man was going to be put in with a clear remit to "bring it back into the Church of England". It is certainly true that under his successor, women began to receive the diocesan license to officiate; and the Roman Rite, for the first time since 1975, began to be persecuted.

Eric had exactly what Manning found so reprehensible in Newman; the old Anglican Oxford Literary Patristic tone. It was a style of theological Anglican Catholicism which read and remembered; which argued and did Divinity in accordance with the rules of evidence and of logic; which was deeply marked by the continuities of the Anglican Catholic tradition and its rootedness in parish church as well as in Cathedral and in library; what Archbishop Michael Ramsey had beautifully called Divinity done within the sound of Church bells. But ...

Sadly, Eric was a man out of his age. His gentle gifts of erudition and rational discourse were naked before the mechanised onslaught of the panzer divisions of Liberalism and Feminism ... he was himself no Guderian; not even a Montgomery. It was under Eric's leadership of the 'Catholic Movement' that, uneasily, we gradually became aware that we were winning every battle, triumphing hands-down in every argument, but unmistakably losing the war. It took some time to realise it, but eventually we identified the great strengths our enemies possessed and which we totally lacked. Their idea of 'discussion' or 'dialogue' meant them shouting abuse until their foes fell silent. They demanded that we 'hear their experience' purely as a preliminary to getting out their cudgels. They would never engage in rational argument because, happy pantomaths, they already knew every answer. They had made bullying into a fine art. To disagree with them was but to manifest one's own psychological problems - one's phobias and hang-ups and prejudices. What defences had we, or the methods by which Divinity had hitherto been done on the banks of the Isis or even of the Cam, against this ruthless and Stalinist totalitarianism and its Dahlek-like readiness to ex-ter-min-ate?

Only God knows if the Ordinariate project will work out in the long term. I pray that it will. If it does, this will be the best possible memorial to Eric: to the old Oxford (and Cambridge and Durham) Patristic Tone - the Divinity of Pusey and Keble and Liddon and Neale and Dix and Kirk and Jalland and Lewis and Sayers and Kemp and Carpenter and Farrer and Mascall and Couratin and Ratcliff and Willis and Chadwick and Cross and Kilpatrick - as a living and thriving reality, vigorous in its defence of orthodoxy, fruit of a broad and deep and generous culture, but now, happily, transplanted into a broader Christendom.

And the Anglican Catholic Patrimony has been transplanted, surely, for the good of all Catholic Christians. Papa Ratzinger replanted us within Christ's Catholic Church Militant here in Earth so that we can share and proclaim our experience. So that we can tell our fellow Catholics: "If you go down that path, we can explain to you here and now exactly where you will end up. We can show you the map. We have already visited the future ... the future to which Bergoglianism beckons the Catholic Church ... and, believe us, it does not work."

11 comments:

Steve said...

Thank you Father. Some people have studied the map. There be dragons.

vetusta ecclesia said...

I remember seeing him, in pontificalibus, processing with his two suffragans into St Paul's, Brighton for Chrism Mass. As a traddy RC I gasped at seeing what we seemed to have lost!

My late brother, a priest of Arundel and Brighton and a canon lawyer, greatly enjoyed the company of Dr Kemp.

Arthur L. Gallagher said...

For some reason, this post has reminded me of a C of I clergyman, who held a position at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. I often went by there to see my friends Louis and John, who were alumnae of the choir school, and Louis was working there (Still is, in fact.)Every time that I saw that man, he would invariably refer to anyone he was speaking to as "child", no matter what their age.

I think that it was a little antique, even then, but it suited him, and It seemed more appropriate than "my friends" "my brothers and sisters" and "family" which are things that I hear in my parish as the opening lines for a sermon.


RichardT said...

I was in Chichester today. Prompted by reading this in the morning, I prayed for Kemp at St Richard's shrine.

Cherub said...

Did he not support the unity scheme with the Methodists? Did he not support the ordination of women to the Diaconal level of the Sacred Ministry? Was he not in part responsible for persecuting the Church Union's only real leader in the twentieth century, ie Father Peter Geldard? I accept all of the good things you say, but I am not all sure that on balance he was such an unqualifiedly "good thing" as you seem to suggest. He was not one for the real fight!

Banshee said...

I keep forgetting to mention someone to you, Father!

There's an evangelical computer guy named Roger Pearse who has done quite a lot for patristics and promoting the Fathers, just as a hobby (ie, in that way that takes it very seriously, but doesn't get much remuneration). He's been running tertullian.org forever, scanning in old books and putting them in the public domain, and chasing down patristics stuff in all languages. He has commissioned a lot of translations from Greek, Syriac, etc. that he thought should be done, and published them with his own money and time.

He's pretty much the opposite of Catholic, as far as I can tell; but he's a very courteous person of learning, and has deep faith.

In short, he's a living treasure of England, and I just think he's the kind of guy you should know! Even if he went to Cambridge!

Banshee said...

Forgot to mention his blog URL, from which you can tell that's he's also been blogging for practically forever!

http://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/

William Tighe said...

My recollection is, that all of the questions posed by "Cherub" are to be answered with a "yes" (as would also be the case with the last two of them, although not the first, if they were asked in regard to the late Msgr. Graham Leonard).

Adrian said...

Dr Kemp had many great gifts (and I genuinely liked and admired him as my diocesan bishop), but he played not an inconsiderable part in creating the Synodical system that has largely been the cause of our present sorrows.

Little Black Sambo said...

"...the Church Union's only real leader in the twentieth century..."
There's glory for you!

Mark said...

A brilliant description of the Libchurch version of "dialogue." I may have to steal, I mean, quote this for my blog.