Yet again, the other day, someone asked me how an Anglican priest could possibly allow himself to go through a process of reordination so as to join an Ordinariate.
I continue to have great problems understanding those who ask this question. Let me be autobiographical. In the 1960s, there was a scheme for Anglican Methodist Unity. This would have involved a "Service of Reconciliation". In that service, an Anglican Bishop would have laid hands on all the Methodist ministers and prayed: "Pour out thy Holy Spirit, to endue each, according to his need, with grace for the office of a priest in the Church of God". I eventually voted for this scheme. (I certainly wouldn't have done later. But, back in the 1960s, we all took seriously the idea of Christian Unity; this was well before the Liberals decided that their own new dogmas took precedence over Unity.) I became convinced that the business was just about kosher after bishop Eric Kemp, then Dean of Worcester, explained to us Oxford clergy that this rite was an adequate form of Conditional Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood, and would transform the Methodist ministers into priests.
In turn, if this scheme had gone forward, the Anglican clergy would in turn have knelt before a Methodist minister, who would have imposed hands and prayed : "Pour out thy Holy Spirit upon them for the work of a minister in thy Church". This scheme received the approval of a large majority in the Church of England, especially among the bishops.
I have some difficulty understanding why we were (nearly) all so willing then to undergo this 'reordination', which would have made us all into Methodist ministers acceptable to take any manner of service within Methodism, whereas now there seems to be some gigantic, enormous problem, among some people, about undergoing a similar rite to make us acceptable to fulfil every kind of priestly ministration within the Roman Catholic Church.
I s'pose it's a good sign really. We live in so amoral a world that the mere existence of such amazingly superscrupulous and such bewilderingly, unbelievably, hypertender consciences, is to be warmly welcomed. Yet doubts persist in my mind. If it is so terrible, so unthinkable, to be 'reordained' - if the superscrupulous conscience so decisively vetoes it - why do many of these same people have no qualms about all the compromises which are necessary to coexist with women priests? Why, for example, does a conscience which has no trouble about being in communion with a bishop who licences and institutes women to the care of souls, suddenly get so picky when it comes to the formalities which are necessary to ensure that every Roman Catholic in the world can be without qualms about the Anglican priesthood?
Yeah, pull the other one.
You may be wondering what happened to that Unity Scheme. It failed to get over the 75% hurdle required. 75%, you ask? Well, er, yes; it was after this that, with an eye doubtless to the future, the Great and the Good lowered the hurdle in such matters to 67%. What a good thing they did so. Otherwise, there would be no chance of the Ordination of Women getting through now! Foresight!