9 April 2020

Join us at the Table

It seems an eternity ago; another age; but in reality it's hardly a decade. Back in those Church of England days I had the considerable privilege of sitting round a table in a basement in Gordon Square with half a dozen others in a Working Party, putting together a statement about our theological position (Consecrated Women). There was a great sense within that group of a mission: to fill up and then to guide a lifeboat to the rescue ship. Most of us are now in the Ordinariate; but others, including some of those who seemed most enthusiastic and vocal about the 'Roman Option', are still with the remnants in the Church of England, gratefully scavenging whatever scraps they can. They include one who was, as well as being a member of our Working Party, also the secret Theological Adviser to an initiative unrelated to the Working Party: a secret group of Anglican bishops (seven diocesans and at least a couple of others) who made secret dead-of-night visits with secret overtures to Rome but who drew their secret and trembling toes back up out of the water when Benedict XVI made public his offer of an Ordinariate. (I wonder if those bishops - especially those of them who are now associated with the Society of SS Wilfred and Hilda -  feel at all ashamed about how they treated that dear good old man as they sit in their retirement homes, nothing to do now except to polish carefully each day their Reasons For Not Going and to feed the cat and to go to Waitrose with their wives).

I often think about the still-Anglican members of that Working Party, and my other friends in the priesthood and episcopate of the provinces of Canterbury and York, with great affection, mingled with sadness at the thought of how much fun, how much sense of real purpose, they are missing out on; how much real talent is being wasted on a dead end; how very much some of them could offer to the great project outlined by Aidan Nichols, of repatriating to Catholic Unity all that was good in Anglicanism. So far, we haven't attended to much more than the liturgical side of things; I claim that I am doing my humblest best but there's work here for dozens (especially, but by no means only, those with academic skills). And there are others who have spent decades talking about Unity with the See of Peter ... what is one to say ...

Yes; I know that 'Papalism' seems much less attractive, even less convincing, under the present clique in Rome. But, honestly, that is a reason for diving in rather than digging in. The Papacy is more than just one Argentinian. 

I ought to make it clear that I am not 'proselytising'. I do not have in mind younger clergy who have, with a good conscience, discerned a particular ministry to be completed within the Church of England. I am not thinking of those who are not and never have been 'papalists'; those for whom going to Rome is as problematic (or even more so) than staying. I have in mind solely those who, when we were together, by their words and body-language, made clear that Rome, 'the rock from which we were hewn' as one of them repeatedly put it, was the answer to our pressing need; those who cheerfully said to a PEV 'Give us the lead, Bishop, and we'll follow'; those who told us that they would just put in the few more years necessary to secure their pensions and then join us; and, inexplicably, have been nowhere to be seen since the publication of Anglicanorum coetibus.

Of one thing I am sure. When their time comes, it must be made easy for them (and indeed also for those ex-diocesan bishops, if only they can be man enough and humble enough). There must be no unpleasant nonsense about how they missed the opportunity when the 'terms' were easy. Men who have spent 50 years in the Sacred Priesthood, who are priests to their fingertips, must not be told that they are "too old" for the presbyterate of the Ordinariate; that never again can they expect to stand at an altar holding in their hands the Adorable Sacrifice, that vocation which in the Mind of the Eternal was theirs before the ages began. There must be no manufacturing of hoops  ... detoxification periods ... long periods of 'formation' ... There must be no subtle (or unsubtle!) systems of discouragement. The spirit of Benedict's gracious intentions must be honoured to the full. The doors must be widely and generously and permanently open. These are good and able men, fine priests, who are called by God to give service in His Vineyard. To treat them in any way otherwise would be positively very wicked.

But I do urge them not to hang around. We're Keeping The Home Fires Burning until you are ready to Come In From The Cold! Risky, however, to leave it! Do you really want to die in the C of E as it is now, let alone as it will be in a couple of decades? What would you lose by making discreet enquiries?

24 comments:

Unknown said...

Do they really want to die outside of what they know to be the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? Time is short, eternity is long!

Paul-A. Hardy said...

I really feel your sentiments. I really do. But your vision of Roman Catholicism to me seems somewhat askew. You speak a single Argintinan. But I am afraid that this Argentinan is representative of a large chunk of Roman Catholicism. This is given in his most reeent outrage: public endorsement of the Panchamama Cult. The cults of Africa have a long history in the America's operating under the guise of the Communion of Saints and called Santeria. We in the Americas witness this syncretism as a part of everyday life. The Church in the America's have never launched a crusade against it, at least, not in the way it launched a crusade against Islam. And yet Santeria has always been in its midst. This parallels its silence with regard to the adulterous unions that produced an entire continent of mixed race people, a people, so degraded that they could only seek status by degrading the indigenous people of the America. It would have been easier not to have imported Negroes from Africa to produce sugar, tobacco, cotton, things for which Europeans could have easily found substitutes producible in their own lands. But when has the easy way ever been the way people choose. Priests duly baptized the offspring of these adulterous union as they tolerated santeria as a shadow region. The Argentinan thinks like a judge seeking equity for the indigenous cult. We saw the same move when it came to the vows of marriage. Until 50years ago, priestly vows were considered unbreakable. After the Vatican II, priests in great numbers broke their priestly vows. Some did this legally. Others did not. The latter have a long history in Roman Catholicism. Pope Francis, the Argentinan sought equity in this as he sought equity in the matter of the indigenous religion in the Amazon.
What this say about the Pope's sense of the Faith, I will not attempt to judge. I only say in behalf of those who refused to involve themselves in Roman Catholicism that they found no excuse for getting involved with such an organization no matter how bad the situation is in the C. of E. My only excuse for remaining an R.C. is that I was born into it. I no longer attend its rites or suffer its ministrations. I attend the local Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. I do not fully join that body because I am a Roman Catholic and as my old aunt used to say: "If we get you before you're 5 years old, we've got you for life." My family has lived in America for 300 years, longer than Bergoglio's lived in Argentina. We're used to its contradictions.
But I find it difficult to understand how you a middle class Englishman, with all that entails with its Mrs. Proudies, herself born in the low estate of being a niece of a Scottish earl could have become involved with an outfit like Bergoglio's. I cannot stand to even to sit in R.C. pews and must debate how and if I will make my Easter duty each year. I know the history of England but can't an argument be made for seeking union with that province of the Church to which the Anglo-Saxons belonged prior to the Norman Conquest?

John F. Kennedy said...

"There must be no manufacturing of hoops ... detoxification periods ... long periods of 'formation' ... There must be no subtle (or unsubtle!) systems of discouragement."

Has that been happening? Yes / No?

Happy Easter.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Paul-A. Hardy You may find this of interest concerning the sempiternal speculating about whether or not God chooses Popes to lead His Church.

According to the 1945, The New Roman Missal of Father Lasance, the answer is, yes, God did chose Pope Francis ro rule us Catholics.

See page 482 of The Good Friday Liturgy

The same order is observed in the supplications that follow.

Let us pray, also, for our most blessed Pope N., that our Lord and God, Who hath chosen him in the order of the episcopacy, may preserve him safe and unharmed to His holy Church, to rule God's holy people. .

mike said...

what a silly letter? the catholic church of the east and west byzantine and latin is still the mystical Body of Christ. Joining her would give you a pulpit from which to voice your concerns about the state of the fallen part of the priesthood. may I ask if you are like those who lacking fortitude as Fr H. describe staled a good tale, sang a nice tune and then powered by the noon day devil procrastinated.

mike said...

why rocor and not SSPX

Paul-A. Hardy said...

Dear Mike: ROCOR happens to be closer. The chief hierarch,Metropolitan Hilarion strikes me as a very saintly man, silent and humble, who has inherited and practices the spiritual traditions of Russian monasticism, which I over the years have learned to cherish. I mean the spirit of prayer centred on invocation of the Holy Name. All the monastic offices are carried out on a daily basis, which it is easy for me to participate in.
Why not SSPX? Unfortunately SSPX and its followers are centred in opposition to something. The negative tone of opposition I find debilitating. Its history is bound up with the French Church and the schisms, (eg. La Pétit Église) and resistance to 1789, (La Vendée) etc. All of these due to my own family history makes mass at SSPX a huge distraction form what is central: the worship of God.
It is true that currents of a similar resistance to 1917 existed and still do exist in ROCOR. They are less since the Soviet Union fell. But ROCOR finally as the Saint Sophrony of Tolleshunt Knights in Essex said to me "has kept the ascetical spiritual traditions of Orthodoxy better than anyone else. And that is what interests me, not Czarism. It is not that I am an anti-monarchist. I support the ancien régime in both West and East and find the Queen of England wonderfully inspiring and an unfailing guide, whenever my sense of duty grows weak. 60 year 24/7 is difficult to beat. But in the final analysis we are bound to a Heavenly KIng, who reigns over a Kingdom, which shall not pass away.

Paul-A. Hardy said...

Dear Amateur Brain Surgeon:
What you say may well be true. But I find the ministry of Pope Francis utterly revolting as I do the morally compromised Church in the Americas. He is very much a part of that Church. I grew up in it and am not surprised as he reveals it to the world. If you think he is bad now, just wait and while you wait pray for a new Pope. It is not just theological ignorance which besets his efforts. It is spiritual formation, a formation I share since elementary school run by the nun before the disaster of Vatican Council II, which even as a teenager I found repugnant. If I had not come to the UK for my education and encountered a different strand of Catholicism, I would have been at a loss. I also met fine Anglican priests both in the UK and in the USA. Are you acquainted with people like Ted McCarrick, sometime Cardinal Archbishop of Washington D.C.? I could give you an entire list of such clerical degenerates. I've known them since childhood. They never laid their hands on me because my parents were vigilant and kept me away from priests. But many Catholics, being recent immigrants and uneducated, are taken in.
Father Hunwick is speaking of people of a certain background and social class to which he belongs. What he was told growing up as an Anglican, about the social mores of Catholicism is essentially true. Only, some of us find it difficult to stomach it.He obviously has overcome this barrier but must suffer a lot. My Catholic spiritual director informed me long ago that I had no reason to suffer in this way if it distanced me from God. Bless your heart! You and Father can take it. I cannot.

Paul-A. Hardy said...

John Kennedy: The aim is Christ and His KIngdom, not the Pope, nor the the dualism of consolation and desolation. All dualism sinks in kenĊsis. Phillipians 2.

Shaun Davies said...

I can assure you that the experience of having been a Roman Catholic since 1984 after many years of traditional High Anglicanism has been one of bitter and very sad disappointment. I cling on by the "skin of my teeth". Most Catholics, ordinary, pew filling decent types think and act like protestants. You just have to look at how many do not even "bob" before the Blessed Sacrament and I never saw Anglicans receive Holy Communion in the irreverent and casual way that I see in most ordinary parishes. I sure they are well intentioned and are doing their best but let's not kid ourselves - there is something badly wrong. There is also, I am afraid to say, a very NASTY spirit in the Catholic church,something harsh and critical; you get it in the neck from those who are more Traditional than you are and you really get it in the neck from those who are less traditional. I always found a kindness,sympathy, a live and let live in the Church of England; even among those who shared little.
I will cling on but with little sense of joy and certainly not of happiness.

Frederick Jones said...

After a long life making up my mind, always attracted by anglican culture and roman theology, I have at last found my home in the Ordinariate. As a historian I am well aware of the faults of the church but like Newman I think it is "the one fold of the Redeemer". Among those who have joined in this century from the C of E or from the Traditional Anglican Communion which first petitioned Rome for acceptance of culture on the basis of agreement of catholic doctrine,the great number appear happy and content.

John Nolan said...

I find Shaun's comment saddening but not surprising. I have always wondered why anyone would have wanted to convert to the post-Conciliar Church, and 1984 probably represents its nadir.

However, at the time of the Council, there were converts in 'ordinary parishes' who were active in pushing the progressive agenda. My father, an Irish cradle Catholic, was always suspicious of them.

My experience of 'ordinary parishes' in the present day would not incline me to join one. The liturgy is probably abysmal, the music even worse, and it will be run by middle-class lay busybodies.

For my money, by far the best parishes in terms of liturgy, music, pastoral outreach and general kindness and sympathy are those run by the Oratorians. The London Oratory kept me sane and practising in the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s; and nowadays the Oxford Oratory is well worth a round trip of fifty miles.

Mike said...

A Catholic, I taught Latin for thirty years in an Episcopal school, and know exactly what Shaun Davies means by the kindness and sympathy of that communion. Unfortunately, a heterodox group captured the place, and much of the live-and-let-live atmosphere evaporated. Administration required a new secular orthodoxy. For example, Planned Parenthood was entrusted with the "sex education."

It seems to depend on the bishop, the priest, and the congregation whether one experiences the Calvary Shaun Davies describes or something better. There are real problems in the episcopate, less so in the presbyterate. In the case of me and my wife, our membership in a parish Scripture Study group has been key. Also, there is a large Latin Mass community whose attendance numbers exceed that of any single Novus Ordo Mass in the cathedral parish. In that community all sorts of people are represented, some censorious, but most not.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Paul-A.Hardy

Your LDP (latter day puritanism) will fail. Jesus is, has always been, and will remain, the Head of His Church that you have abandoned.It matters little what the protestant-inspired cleric told you that because of your suffering that you can flee the battlefield for in doing so, you have weakened the Body of Christ even as the good works of Fr Hunwicke strengthen it.

Jesus is God and you believe a spiritual director who tells you to separate from Him and His Church?

You like to quote scripture in defense of your action?

ABS sees your scriptural quotes and raises you this one:

2 John 9 Whosoever recedeth, and continuity not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God; he that continuith in the doctrine, he hath both the Fsaher snd the Son

God has chosen Pope Francis to be our Pope and we do not get to question God or His reasons for why He does things.

Off the top of his head, ABS remembers an Ecumenical Council that condemned this proposition of Wycliffe -

That the Pope does not have authority over us if he is the arm of the devil..

That which you are asserting is a condemned proposition by a protestant revolutionary.

Repent while you still have time

Paul-A. Hardy said...

Dear Amateur Brain Surgeon Thanks for your efforts to save my soul. I find it touching really.

Paul-A. Hardy said...

Shaun: I really am sympathetic. It is very difficult to put up with God's Holy Catholic Church in its militant Roman manifestation. If such suffering brings you closer to Christ, then it will have been worth it.

Greyman 82 said...

I think my experience since becoming a Catholic in 1987 has something in common with that of Shaun Davies (above), though prior to joining the Catholic Church I was not an Anglo-Catholic except for the last few months before finally deciding to make the move. After 32 years of ordinary Catholic parishes with their insipid spirituality, mediocre liturgy, uninspiring preaching and (mostly) dreadful music, a few months ago I joined the Ordinariate. It's Order of Mass is a rich combination of old and new, and has much to commend it, particularly the use of the full version of the Roman Canon, the Revised Standard Version readings, an accurate translation of the Nicene Creed (something the mainstream Catholic Church in England and Wales still hasn't got) and the reading of the Last Gospel at the end of Mass. The Ordinariate Use form of Mass is greatly preferable to the English Ordinary Form Mass used by the Catholic Church generally.

Shaun Davies said...

Sorry this is late as a reply ! Thank you for such kind comments.
I think that the right answer was the one given to me when I brought up all the difficulties I had by a married ex-priest (formerly a Prof. in a pre-Vatican II seminary near London), he was then (legally ) married with a family. He said: You have only to decide one question; is the Roman Catholic church in continuity with the original church founded by Jesus Christ : everything else is quibbling. The same idea comes in one of the early chapters of Monsignor Alfred Gilbey's book WE BELIEVE.
I admire the Ordinariate tremendously but when you see some of the pictures of the Liturgy and look at some of their activities, I can't help thinking: where is the Anglican Patrimony ? Matching concelebration chasubles ,to me, smacks of Lourdes and not anything connected with the religion of Anglican and Anglo-catholic Divines.

William Tighe said...

Well, but put thus:

"He said: You have only to decide one question; is the Roman Catholic church in continuity with the original church founded by Jesus Christ : everything else is quibbling"

of at least three "communions," the Catholic, the Chalcedonian Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox one could give a "yes" response without any path further to choose between those three.

Paul-A. Hardy said...

Yes Willian Tighe said that but I don't buy it. A major change in came with the imposition of fixed creeds after Nicaea-Constantinople. By the 11th century, Rome unilaterally decided to depart from that creed.The question for me is how that affected Roman Catholic spiritual practice. The great sage of Vatican 2 and teacher of Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his book The Trinity that we should not" overlook the fact that, despite their orthodox confession of the Trinity, Christians are, in their practical life, almost mere "monotheists." By "monotheist" i take it that he means their practice hinges upon worship of a dimensionless monolith. Might this be a consideration in judging the viability of the post-Conciliar Church? I realise the pipe-line theory of apostolic succession is entrenched. Yet, many Roman Catholics are ignorant of the effects of that theory, e.g., with regard to ordinations performed in the Episcopal Church. In the upper midwest especially Episcopalian arguably priests possess valid orders due to a pipeline to the post-Vatican 1 diocese of Utrecht. Episcopal dioceses down to Chicago were a centre of the Anglo-Catholic movement because of missionary efforts directed at French Canadian refugees from La Pétte Église, a group which broke communion with the post-Revolution Roman Catholic Church in France. Hence, through that succession many US Episcopalians are in continuity with the "original church" despite the numerous heterodoxies of that unfortunate body. I do not therefore find the criterion he's advanced valid. Besides, is all modern post-Newman scholarship to be set aside without an answer? What about Walter Bauer's Orthodoxy and Heresy in the Early Church?

Shaun Davies said...

Yes, I agree, it is a great problem. A friend of mine who knew much about these things was asked which Communion (in his opinion) got the best in the 11th cent schism struggle and he replied: well it depends on which book I have just read.
I suppose this is why I have lived since I became aware of these things,at the age of eighteen ,in a certain state of confusion. I do know that I couldn't go back to the Church of England, so I suppose that's one element of confusion removed.

Paul-A. Hardy said...

That is why, Shaun, my solution is simply to attend the Russian Orthodox liturgy without joining up and thereby repudiating my Catholic baptism. Those who complain of Pope Francis' lack of theological culture might reflect that our theologians have not solved the problem adequately despite Rahner's attempt. When the Patriarch of Constantinople visited a St Peter's Basilica the creed was chanted omitting the "filioque." But this left things at the level of ritual. But as Rahner suggests it goes much deeper than that and affects spiritual practice. Sometimes I wonder since Vatican 2, whether Roman Catholicism had become a different religion. This is especially true during Lent, when I see those around prostrate, face of the floor in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Then there are the long lines for confession, with the penitents turning to bow before the congregation before s/he approached the confessor, suggesting that sin is not a private matter for Xtians but affects the entire ecclesial body.

William Tighe said...

"What about Walter Bauer's Orthodoxy and Heresy in the Early Church?"

Well, what about it? His argument that "heresy" preceded "orthodoxy" throughout the Early Church - except in Rome; for Bauer "orthodoxy" was what Rome foisted on the rest of the Church through its "Petrine claims" - was, in effect, an apologia for Liberal Protestantism, and today only Liberal Protestants (and not even all of them by any means) and their Catholic emulators believe it.

Paul-A. Hardy said...

But clearly by the 11th century Rome had changed. German inculturation had taken place and with that a shift in creed. The Rome of the 11th century was not the Rome of the 4th century, unless we're talking about geography. The idea that the Apostolic faith persisted seems highly unlikely. Bauer deals with the early church German incultuation brought a new creed.i.e., the filioque was added.