5 December 2009

More on ALL THAT

Recently I wrote about the unpopularity of Nathaniel Woodard. In fact, it has to be admitted that we Anglican Catholics are, like the early Christians, among the most disliked of humanity. The visceral English hatred of Catholicism (if you haven't, despite my urgings, read Dr Dawkins' diatribe against Catholicism - in the Washington Post - you should do so) provides one reason. Englishmen, brainwashed for centuries about Popery, very naturally did not take kindly to walking into their Parish Church and find that the new Vicar had apparently introduced it there. Probably the clergyman concerned showed them the Ornaments Rubric of the Book of Common Prayer, which, if taken plainly and literally, says that the ornaments of the Church and the Minister should be as they were in 1548 - the year before the first Prayer Book came in. They couldn't see the flaw in his logic, although they were convinced that there must be one since what he was saying and doing flew in the face of everything they thought they knew. So another element came into play: the dislike that the Plain Englishman has for the Cleverclogs. Victorian parishes were flooded with rumours that the new 'Ritualist' parson was a "Jesuit in disguise", since, as everyone knew, Jesuits were as amazingly clever as they were totally unprincipled.

And the RC church just up the road didn't like what was going on close by, either. The simple distinction between Catholic and Protestant had suited them very well. A lot of churches became indistinguishable from RC churches; and there were even some in which the entirety of the worship was in Latin and according to the Roman rules. (There were clergy of the C of E who had never said Mass in any other rite that of the Latin Missal; if you spent the first two thirds of your priestly life working up the long cursus honorum from most junior curate to most senior curate and then some years as incumbent in a like-minded church before retiring to a chaplain's cottage attached to some congenial convent, you could do this.) Not a little of the persecution such clergy endured had a lot to do with the local RC bishop complaining to his Anglican opposite number about the "confusion" such churches engendered. Perhaps here we find the genesis of the ease with which the Anglican elite and some of the English RC establishment collude in antipathy towards us.

And now there is yet another gang of jokers on the block: liberal RCs. They can see that we are so much more the real thing than they are; that all the beliefs and practices they are so proud to have jettisoned in the 1960s are alive and well with us. It is not surprising that the Tablet was so cross about Anglicanorum coetibus. This fact is what makes the views of the SSPX clergyman, whose problems with our lack of orthodoxy I quoted recently, so off-centre. Incidentally, I am glad to read that Mgr Fellay entertains quite a different view from that of 'Fr Scott'.

Could it be that at long last we Anglican Catholics have a friend? The old Bavarian gentleman? Let's try to treat him well. We are so unused to having friends that there is the risk of our being somewhat unpractised in our handling of them.

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