29 September 2010

The Society of SS Wilfrid and Hilda

I gather that, while Pam and I were enjoying the Cornish Sun, those slippery folk, the 'Catholic Bishops of the Church of England', took advantage of my absence to hold a 'Sacred Synod' without my supervision.

By 'slippery Catholic Bishops' I mean, not our worthy and stalwart Flying Bishops who are still studying the Ordinariate offer with admirably open and unbiased minds - may the Holy Spirit soon enlighten them - but a collection of 'Establishment' prelates who seem, so many of them, to have some sort of connection in their CVs with John Hinde, the Bishop of Chichester. From this stable comes the Society of SS W and H, as the answer to the crisis facing the Catholic Movement in the C of E.

Considering the track record of those two saints in tidying up the C of E in a relentlessly Romanising direction, a Man from Mars might have thought that this proposed society was a cunning scheme for rounding up the troops for an enthusiastic and immediate mass entry into the Ordinariate. He might have been encouraged in this assumption by the fact that the first stated aim of the new Society is: to secure the full visible unity of the Church. But if this is what the begetters of the scheme have in mind, they are being very delicately allusive, indeed, Jesuitically cunning, about it. Would it not be more English, more Manly, to dump the devious and be open and frank? You will have discerned that I am feeling in rather a Charles Kingsley sort of mood about all this.

Alternatively, might it be that they are trying to syphon off some Anglicans who might be tempted by the Ordinariates? "Stay in Mother Damnable and you can kid yourselves that by joining our game you are more or less joining the Ordinariate ... except that completion will be just that little bit further down the road". But if this is what the begetters of the scheme have in mind, would it not be more English, more Manly, to be open, honest, and frank?

After 1992, we waited for the "Leaders of the Catholic Movement" to come up with something; to do something resolute and virile. They came up with an Act of Synod which, essentially, sold the pass (there are growing numbers of women priests in every diocese) but enabled those gentry to retain palaces and cathedrals; seats in the House of Lords and - perhaps the really insidious temptation - the trappings of status and deference. They even delicately distanced themselves from the groundroots organisations, such as Forward in Faith, which raised the money and did the fighting and took the opprobrium ("It's the tone we don't like"). Now a new generation of such "Leaders" has decided that, after all, just one organisation more really is the solution to all our problems.

If founding yet more Societies were the solution, bully for wilfn'hilda. But does anybody seriously suppose that our opponents are suddenly going to cave in and allow such an organisation to have jurisdiction and the necessary autonomies? And even if women bishops don't jump over the numerical hurdle in the next General Synod ... well, does anyone doubt that they will in the one after? And even if that innovation were per impossibile held permanently at bay, how can any Catholic see ecclesial integrity in a 'Church' in which more than half the presbyterate will very soon be female? Or in a 'Society' sponsored by bishops who, while they salve their incomprehensible consciences by declining physically to taint their own hands with the touch of female hair, nevertheless ordain women by proxy and license and institute them to the cure of souls ("which is mine and thine") and treat them in their dioceses as in every respect de facto priests? Ordained women, wearing stoles priestwise, participate liturgically with these bishops, and Bishop Hind has even established forms of priestly ordination in his diocese in which the collegial imposition of hands by the presbyters present includes the participation of women 'priests'. Are such compromised men as this the toughies who will put on their boxing gloves and "take it if we are not given it" and be prepared to break the Law and face down the bailiffs?

Perhaps I had better not be too rude about the Society. If the English RC bishops were to succeed in so smothering, tying up, and impeding the local Ordinariate, that the Holy Father's generous intentions were cleverly frustrated, I suppose some among us might have to fall back on wilfn'hilda. But I don't see how, to any real Catholic, it can be plan A. I don't see how it could even be Plan B. Plan Z, fifteen times removed, a bastard begotten on the wrong side of the blanket, is just about the best it could be.


Steve said...

Two things:

(1) There IS a PEV named among those involved in starting up SSWH, namely +Beverley.

(2) As I've put it on another blog: if you can accept women bishops you're OK in the mainstream of the C of E, if you can accept the doctrinal authority of Rome in its entirety you can swim the Tiber (either via the Ordinariate or otherwise), but if you come in between, what do you do?

Anonymous said...

Father, a few people are commenting on this post on my blog, because they cannot master the complexities of getting their comments onto yours. I suspect that if they have not got a WordPress or other ID, they need to register a Google Account. Any advice?

AndrewWS said...

Steve (2): in that case, you go to Orthodoxy or traditionalist Lutheranism or a Continuing Anglican body, the last of which this society will inevitably turn into in due course.

Meanwhile, ordinary people in pews who aren't keen on joining things look on in bewilderment.

Anonymous said...

My unsolicited and definitive response to the formation of the new "stay by the stuff" club can be seen on this video link


Enrico Dante said...

The cry goes up: Fr Hunwicke's done it again!

I wonder whether the response to Steve's question is to ask yourself - really, really ask yourself - why you're in that position. What are the reasons for not accepting women bishops the logical outcomes of which do not involve words like "unity", "authority" and "truth"?

The society, to put it politely, a load of mendacious balls, and my gast is flabbered that there are those on the internet leaping to its defence, as though they knew something the rest of us didn't.

We asked for bishops, and we got them. We've asked for clear leadership, and we got it. Now there are proposals, effectively, to create bishops in order to avoid becoming Catholic.

Perhaps the 'ordinary people in the pews' need teaching? Perhaps they need encouragement? Perhaps they need to be told to make a choice: their ancestors had the same choice over and over again, and some were Recusants, some became Methodists, Baptists and what have you. Why is this generation to be exempt from having to make some changes for the cause of faith and truth?

Don Camillo SSC said...

Further to my last, and for the benefit of other contributors:
I have just created a new google account with password etc., and hope that this post will now appear. If you follow all the instructions, it should.
On looking at the preview, I see I now appear without my fieldofdreams2010 identity, which I thought I had included. Ah, well!

Steve said...

For the avoidance of any misunderstandings that might otherwise arise, I should perhaps point out that I do not, myself, fall into the category of those who come "in between" (as per my original comment).

Hierodeacon said...

Hello everyone,

1. "What are the reasons for not accepting women bishops the logical outcomes of which do not involve words like 'unity', 'authority' and 'truth'?" Good question, but its rhetorical purpose -- to imply that "unity", "authority", and "truth", equate to "Rome" -- is lost on many, including myself. Orthodox Christians like myself have unity, authority, and truth. These qualities may not be as neat and tidy as they appear in the RC Church (on paper, but certainly not, for example, at the local Catholic university), but the fact remains that Orthodoxy -- without a Pope, without a "Petrine office" -- has remained remarkably free of heresy, liturgical rebelliousness, and, er, women bishops and priests.

2. As I've said before, if Rome is the True Church, then anyone calling himself a "Catholic" must join her, Ordinariate or no, Anglican Patrimony or no. In what way is this not a moral obligation? John Henry Newman had no Ordinariate. Therefore -- if the Church of Rome is the True Church -- then the Society of Ss. Wilfred and Hilda cannot be Plan Z fifteen times removed. It can only be a prolonging of error and schism -- i.e., sin.

Hierodeacon Philip

Jon said...

Hierodeacon said...but the fact remains that Orthodoxy -- without a Pope, without a "Petrine office" -- has remained remarkably free of heresy, liturgical rebelliousness, and, er, women bishops and priests.

Correct me if I`m wrong, but I believe that Eastern Orthodoxy allows divorce and remarriage up to 3 times and I do believe that the use of Contraceptives is excepted in some jurisdictions. So to say that Orthodoxy has remained remarkably free of heresy isn`t all that true.

Hierodeacon said...


A few months ago I wrote the following on this blog about the two matters you raise:

"I also see the need for the Orthodox Church to be more dogmatically definitive against the use of contraception.

"However, I also believe that contraception has had a hand in the "collapse of Christianity" in Western Europe, even in traditionally Catholic countries like France. Despite the explicit Catholic dogma, I wonder if there is a significant statistical variance regarding contraceptive use among the faithful of both churches. Does anyone know?

"One could ask a similar question about multiple marriages, since divorce has also been mentioned, without, however, an adequate account either of the way in which divorce is viewed by the Orthodox as a grievous allowance ("oikonomia") for human fallenness, or of the way the annulment system among Catholics becomes a de facto allowance for divorce."

I would add the following: regarding contraception, while there are differing opinions and practices, there has never been a universally received pronouncement in its favor (like that of Lambeth 1930) -- so, no, the Church has not fallen into heresy here.

And regarding divorce, you might like to read the Orthodox service for second marriages (it's much different than for a first marriage), along with some of the relevant canons here http://anastasis.org.uk/crowning.htm -- at the bottom of this page. For the canons in particular, with their severe penances (which I imagine are always relaxed) it can be seen that the Church does not smile benignly upon second marriages but makes an allowance "for your hardness of heart," to quote our Lord.

Unknown said...

As a Roman Catholic, what I don't get is that it seems (and I may be mistaken) that the traditional Anglicans carry on as if its business as usual yet you know Rome is not going to be keen about considering any "cleric" validly ordained. All of you who want to join the Catholic Church (Deo Gratias!), I would think you'd put everything on a hiatus. Am I missing something?

Don't get me wrong, I've been very excited about this whole prospect ever since I discovered the local ACA/TAC parish in my stomping grounds. I've visited this church and spoken with the rector and some of the parishioners and I hope some day to visit and fulfill my Sunday obligation there.

I really hope more and more Anglicans swim the Tiber. You all belong here and you have much to offer.

Little Black Sambo said...

You have made me see the light. I did think that this Society might fill a gap temporarily for slow movers, if FiF were not going to continue in existence, but I see now that the important thing is to look at WHO is promoting it, and they are the usual suspects. I repent.

_ said...

My neighbour's house is on fire. I stand in the street, calling to him,

"James, get out of there!"

He looks down from his bedroom window.

"One moment... I'm just getting my wife and children together."

A minute later he re-appears at the window, wife and children alongside him. I call again, this time more urgently,


He smiles, and shouts back,

"We think the fire might be staying on the ground floor. We're going to just wait a little, to see whether it doesn't go out before spreading upstairs."

It spreads upstairs. Thick black smoke starts to billow out of the bedroom window. James and his family are coughing and gasping for fresh air. I shout again,


Fighting for sufficient oxygen, James shouts back,

"It's OK, it's OK... we've decided to build a loft extension. There'll be no fire in there."

They burn.

Or maybe not said...

It says it has been saved. Has it?
My fourth attempt today to publish the comments i wrote yesterday

webmasterNW52HR said...

All I can say to Anglicans worried about the Ordinariates is: We have Western Rite Orthodox missions in England - and more starting - come on in the water's fine. We have a Mass and question time at St. Magnus the Martyr on Saturday 6th of November at 11.00 - come and meet us and find out all about Orthodoxy using traditional Anglican services authorised a hundred years ago.

Acolytus said...

I don't think the burning building analogy is exact. A large ungainly hotel perched on a cliff top, more likely. Perhaps a wing or two has fallen on to the beach far below, but some people may have no other home to go to. Until we see the next room actually tumble down many of us are reluctant to seek alternative accommodation.

B flat said...


The Orthodox Church has nourished her members for over a millenium on a Liturgy and spirituality which is Eastern. The Anglican patrimony is a much more recent development growing out of the Latin Church. We can allow that both, although different, can nourish those seeking salvation and have produced saints.

How is what you are proposing (Western-rite Orthodoxy) consistent with the widespread Orthodox hatred of Catholic "Uniatism?" Forming Uniate churches was condemned as an unacceptable method for attempting Unity, in the Balamand agreement of both RC and Orthodox Churches?

Will adherents of "western-rite Orthodoxy" be anything but an anomaly; accepted in practice by no-one apart from themselves and the hierarch who gives them house room?

radicalj said...

I hope the new society is not going to be rammed down our throats at Walsingham at the end of the month. As a simple bum on a pew, all I ask is to be left alone - I can't follow all these shennanigans. Either we resign ourselves to women bishops and priests or convert - I liked the house on fire analogy.