11 November 2023

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus

In 2003, on Remembrance Sunday, I was the house-for-duty Curate of seven Devon country churches, under a full-time stipendiary Rector - except that he had taken early retirement nine days before on account of health problems caused by those who hated him for his opposition to the sacerdotal ordination of women. But I still had the help of a retired bishop, who lived a few doors away and who, in two years, had become a very dear friend. So, that Sunday, at one end of the United Benefice I said Mass and did the village Act of Remembrance; at the other end, Bishop John Richards did the same. After brunch, he went for a walk with his family; a couple of hours later, after a sudden stroke brought on by his years of selfless service, he was dead.

John Richards was a former Exeter diocesan Archdeacon and a very establishment man who was made one of the first two flying bishops, and in those days after 1993, days heavy with the danger of despair, built up and strengthened a people faithful to the Lord within the apostate body still called the Church of England. The skills which he had used as Archdeacon (and he was a Church Commissioner) to chivvy parishes who were late with their quota were now brought into play to defend the Faithful Remnant against the bullying and cruelty of the liberal establishment.

Going around with John Richards, I soon realised that he had created a new style of episcopal ministry, free from pomposity and prelacy and animated only by the love of God and a perceived calling to strengthen his brethren. PEVs, like ante-Nicene bishops, had no jurisdiction in the modern sense. I think it was the now deceased Bishop (later Mgr) Edwin Barnes who acutely remarked to his clergy 'Fathers, remember that the only jurisdiction we have is what you give us'. I thank God that one part of the patrimony which we carried into the Ordinariates was this vision of pastoral and unprelatical episkope.

John Richards was an Anglican to his fingertips. As we settled down together in the train for the long haul back to Devon after some meeting in London, and I start murmuring some Latin from some Romish volume, he would be fishing out a battered Prayer Book and Bible for O Lord, open thou our lips. But he was far too busy and too big a man to waste his time on anti-Romanism. Whatever he was or did, it was positive and Christ-driven. I think that, had he lived, he would have had no doubts about accompanying his former fellow Exeter Archdeacon Robin Ellis and joining the Ordinariate. But he would have done things in a distinctively Anglican way and in his own inimitatively combative way. He would probably have got down straightaway to enthusiastically devising ways of showing those bloody papists how much better we could do things in the Ordinariate. "Now look here, boy, now we're in the Ordinariate, what we've got to do is  ..."

I can almost hear his voice saying it. He was a dear man.

Cuius animae propitietur Deus.


Banshee said...

It's a blessing that you can offer Mass for your friends, and you can also ask them to pray for you.

And it is great that you can call attention to the lives of your virtuous friends, because often the virtuous do not get as much attention in history as the wicked. (Even if the virtuous did most of the work that allowed survival.)

El Codo said...

The suspicion is ,Father, that the Ordinariate fosters a sort of nostalgia for Anglicana rather than an obedience and fidelity to Rome, and if you scratch an Ordinariate priest you will discover a sort of Cisalpinism. Your continual diatribe against the Holy Father rather points to this fault line. It is all so tasteful.

Albertus said...

A cerain healthy cisalpinism is exactly what the Roman Church of our day very much needs, in order to counter the excesses of ultramontanism, which has turned into crude hyperpapalism, even papolotry. I say this as a Roman-Rite Catholic from birth, brought up in the era of pian, johannine and pauline hyperpapalism, which aleady in the latter years of Paul VIs reign one began to suspect as doctrinally untenable.

√Čamonn said...

El Codo suggests that "if you scratch an Ordinariate priest you will discover a sort of Cisalpinism". To be honest, the attitude that he decries reminds me of no-one so much as Adrian Fortescue, who was hardly a friend of Anglicanism of any kind. It seems in any event to be not so much Anglican, as English, but I might not be seeing things in their true light, being an Irishman myself. However, as we have seen over the last 50 years, criticising the Pope is no bar to being a Catholic. Charles Curran is still a Catholic, after all, as was Tissa Balasuriya and even Robert Mickens. I dare say the Papacy will survive Fr Hunwicke's criticisms.

Catholic said...

This is precisely why the Sarum Rite should be mandatory for all Anglo-Catholics.
Pray for the Moral Temporal Spiritual well being of Bishop Ignacio Trejos.