24 January 2018

Twenty five long years (2)

In other words, they hadn't bothered much about doctrinal standards during the quarter of a century since Vatican II, but, with papalist Angicans knocking at the door, the very highest standards should now be demanded. High and fancy bars to jump over; small and delicate hoops to squeeze through, were the welcome they wanted to be offered to us.

What made this particularly wounding was that it fitted perfectly into the parody of our position which the secular media, and our enemies, were trying to fix upon us. According to this narrative, the only reason we had for leaving the Church of England was that we were all misogynists. Indeed, we were probably all homosexuals. (The paradox, the absurdity, of this was that it was precisely at this moment that some homosexuals within the Anglo-Catholic community had cottoned onto the idea that if "Theological Development" could provide an alibi for extending priestly ordination to women, then it could also give cover to the possibility of extending marriage to homosexuals. To a man, that lot stayed within the C of E. They may have been misogynists, but they had a canny eye for the main chance.)

So this was a painful moment to be given such a kicking by the CBCEW. It was, of course, around this time that the Prefect of the CDF, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, asked the memorable question "Whatever are the English bishops so afraid of?" We rather arrogantly and uncouthly thought we knew the answer (viz, that we were so much more Catholic than they were); but probably the reason was more prosaic. To quote Fr Aidan's 1993 paper again:

"During the Press Conference convoked to hear the statement, the somewhat ambiguous comment was authoritatively made that the bishops did not favour the idea of a 'parallel church'. 'Parallel', we may ask, to what? A Uniate church for Catholic Anglicans would not be a parallel church to the ordinary Latin church in this country any more than is the Byzantine church of the Catholic Ukrainians. These are not parallel churches: they are convergent churches, churches with differing spiritual patrimonies converging on the divinely given centre of peace and unity, the Petrine see at Rome."

Last year, when the South Indian Catholics in Great Britain were so splendidly given their own eparchy, there were (so unverifiable rumour has it) still voices among some English Catholics which asked whether this might not create 'confusion' in the area of jurisdiction. That is to say, there may still be people who don't understand the plurality of Catholicism; the coexistence within the One Great Tradition of many different traditions, the great richness of many Catholic cultures. This failure in cultural comprehension may also explain why, for so long, some authorities in the English Catholic Church were so uneasy about the Old Mass. I recall the baroque guidelines set out after Summorum pontificum by Cardinal Cormac, and the jokes that went around his diocese in which he was humorously referred to as "the Envisager" (because his guidelines made some play with the amusingly convenient impersonal-passive syntactical construction "It is envisaged that ... ").

(Perhaps, during this time of Prayer for Unity, there is a great deal to be said for praying for Unity, with mutual respect, among our fellow Catholics and within the One Church, eschewing imperialist attitudes between our richly diverse communities!)

Twenty or so wasted years before we Anglican Catholics received our Corporate Solution? But who can guess what might have happened. What we do know is what Ratzinger, God bless him, did do when he got the chance.

9 comments:

Michael Leahy said...

God bless Joseph Ratzinger, indeed.

vetusta ecclesia said...

I have a simpler explanation for the intransigence of the CBEW and an answer to Ratzinger's question: fear, above all of the much higher standard of theological ( and other) education of the clergy who would come in to communion.

matthewgaul said...

Father Bless! Please feel free to snip any portion of this if I overstep.

This is exactly in keeping with my experience, and was what I presumed to be the case after reading the prior post. Fifteen years ago I "swam the Dnieper" from the Latin Church to the Ukrainian Catholic Church. The conformist streak in the Latin Church is truly astonishing. I've had the legitimacy, orthodoxy, and - groan - "American-ness" of my church questioned by Trads, conservatives, modernists, and everyone in between. At best, most of them consider us a "museum piece." I've told close friends, ones who respect my church even, that I pray and hope that the Greek Catholic churches make great conversions in the world, and the USA in particular, and even some of these close friends clearly think that my church belongs in its ghetto, how dare we evangelize.

I remember a conversation with a Latin regarding that across the whole world, the only place without a Latin hierarchy is Eritrea, and consequently Latins in that country are subject to Eastern bishops. The Latin was indignant - it's fine for Easterns to be subject to Latins, but how dare Rome allow such an upending of the Right Order Of Things that so much as one Latin be subject to an Eastern bishop anywhere, even Eritrea.

Now I must also point the finger at myself. Prior to becoming educated on this, I had the typical "Fortress Rome" Catholic mentality, coming from a perfectly orthodox, if somewhat neo-Catholic, upbringing.

As for the bishops in particular, of course it is a natural temptation of authority to dislike other centers of authority. Anyone who's ever pulled a paycheck knows that. And there have been times when Eastern bishops have been guilty of this. But the audacity to which the Latin bishops defend their turf is a constant source of scandal to me. I have already gone on too long, and so I will spare your educated readers the history, but the Latin bishops of India opposed the spreading of the canonical territory of the indigenous Syrian Catholic churches right in their home nation of India! The sheer temerity of this is so absurd, you almost have to laugh.

Most Latin Catholic bishops don't seem to give a rip that the Eastern churches could very well cease to exist. They'd probably prefer it, just as they'd prefer that the Ordinariate didn't exist, the Carmelite Rite didn't exist, and if they had their way, they'd probably snuff out even the last one or two Mozarabic churches still out there. I almost certainly owe my soul to the Ukrainians, and I'm sure there are millions more like me who have not had the grace to find the non-Latin Catholic church that is the perfect medicine for their souls - but do the Latin bishops care?

Little Black Sambo said...

"...what Ratzinger, God bless him, did do when he got the chance."
And what more might he have done, had he carried on.
("Baroque guidelines"? They sound rather jolly.)

Thomas said...

When the Ordinariate was first publicly established, a friend - a very sound and faithful Catholic mother of Irish descent - asked me with great concern what it all meant. How could these people be 'joining us' and yet still be separate from us? When I did my best to reassure her, using the example of the various uniate churches, I quickly realised that she knew nothing of the uniates and this only disturbed her more to begin with.

Her understanding of the Church and of what it means to be a Catholic was going through something of a Copernican revolution. That same friend now thinks very differently, having realised that our Ordinariate brethren have long been fighting the same battles we have been facing these last few decades, so they come not as exotic or suspicious aliens but as comrades in arms. If they still retain their own livery and regimental identity while yet being fully recognised among the hosts of the Lord, that is all to the good.

I think it's true that some bishops are suspicious of anything which does not fall under their personal control in the local Church. Some of that is indeed motivated by liberal fear of what they regard as a "conservative" stamp of mind among the incomers which could work against their agenda. But some of it comes from the same narrow and somewhat sectarian understanding of Catholicism which caused my friend's initial disturbance. Our bishops, after all, come largely from the same cultural background.

Some of the suspicion also comes from deep ignorance, and indeed bewilderment, about the many nuanced groupings inside the Church of England and Anglicanism in general. To be honest, I include myself in that. I had never heard someone describe themselves - even before coming into full communion - as an "Anglo-papalist ", and that this is something different from an "Anglo-Catholic" (which appears to have a number of possible meanings), before reading this august blog.

We have much to learn from each other, and much to gain from the graces Almighty God has entrusted to each part of his Church, which is broader and deeper, but also more profoundly one if we are honestly united in the One True Faith than most of us realise.

Woody said...

@Matthewgaul, I know what you are talking about, based on a number of years’ experience. I just informed the rector of our Ordinariate church that I intend to petition for transfer of my ascription to the Byzantine Catholic sui juris Church ( and he was very gracious about it, as could be expected, since he is a very fine pastor). So I guess I will be swimming the Monongahela ( or, as is more often said in Pittsburgh, the “Mon”) when the necessary approvals are granted.

Arthur L. Gallagher said...

If you were heretics, you would be welcomed with open arms! The leftist establishment is jealous of it privileges, and also of its dominance.

coradcorloquitur said...

Mr. Gallagher above is totally on target. What the Latin bishops, with notable exceptions, fear is a traditional cast of mind that will not fit with their destructive Modernism and politically correct groveling before the Zeitgeist. It is mainly ideological---like everything liberals say and do. If you do not subscribe to the Cultural Marxist agenda (now found even in the bosom of Holy Mother Church), you are the enemy and must at the very least be considered suspect if not an outright enemy---and be dealt with accordingly. From long and hard experience I can assure you that is exactly how many of them think and act. Moreover, being totalitarians by temperament (a common condition among Leftists), they resent not having a Politburo-like stranglehold on everyone and everything. We are indeed dealing with the mystery of iniquity---and the sooner we fully and publicly recognize that, the sooner a real restoration can be embarked on. God bless everyone on this erudite and fine blog.

Pueblo Southwest said...

I would only add to matthewgaul and others that some of our Latin bishops treat their own flock in little better manner. Seems to be a control and authority thing. I must say that I don't quite understand why they chose a vocation in the Church. Would seem more appropriate has they joined the Marine Corps.