Mr Austin Ivereigh thinks that we converts should be quietly humble. We should remember that we can never have the same pure, balanced and holistic understanding of the Faith that he and his fellow cradle Catholics have. Well, I'm not going to criticise him, because I find him rather scary. He got money from the Daily Mail some years ago because they, as the Jury in the Libel Court unanimously decided, grossly misrepresented some episodes in his earlier life.
I don't like the Mail ... it seems to me a nasty little paper ... so good luck to anyone who can do them for libel ... but I've no desire to have to fish my own cheque book out for anybody. So ... forelock duly tugged ... deference elaborately exhibited ... yes, Squire, no Squire ... whatever you say, Mr Ivereigh. And I expect you are even crosser with us converts, now that yet another of our number, the iniquitous Fr Aidan Nichols, has just had the temerity to suggest that there is a crisis in the Roman Magisterium and that there ought to be means of canonical redress for people who think an occupant of the Roman See should be held accountable for heterodoxy. That's just the sort of thing some convert, who wastes his time going around lecturing and writing a couple of books a year about Catholic doctrine and history, would say, isn't it ? I'm with you, Austin, all the way. Good On Yer Cobber, as they reportedly say in Oz.
So, instead, I'll turn my spotlight on an American who is a convert himself. David Mills humbly confesses that we converts will indeed always be creatures inferior to genuine, encradled, Catholics. And Mr Mills appears to demonstrate something even worse: that since he entered the Catholic Church, his understanding of Catholic doctrine has deteriorated. Two examples: (1) he appears to think of our blessed Lady as a sort of vessel which contained the Incarnate Word. Rather off-centre: the Lord took his human substance of the Virgin Mary His Mother (as the Christmas Preface in the Anglican Use makes clear); he did not merely pass through her as water does through a pipe, or as the Lord's Blood is contained in a chalice. And (2): he calls the Church "a living body moving through History" ... which is jejune. The Church is the Body and Bride of Christ. The Church Triumphant (our Lady and all the glorified Saints) and the Church Expectant (the souls whom we remember before the Father) are not within History in any natural sense of that phrase. Only the Church Militant could be described in the way David Mills does.
The habit of regarding "the Church" as synonymous with the Church Militant here in Earth is a common mistake among Roman Catholic theologians as well as 'ordinary' Catholics. Those of us from the Anglican Patrimony have had the opportunity of being taught (for example, by the great Eric Mascall) that the Church is something immeasurably greater than merely the Church Militant. In the words of another mighty Anglican writer, C S Lewis, she is "spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners".
I suspect that this much healthier and more balanced understanding of "Church" may owe something to the influence which some Orthodox writers had on Anglican Catholics such as Mascall in the twentieth century. However that may be, we see the wisdom of Pope Benedict XVI in calling us corporately into the Catholic Unity and urging us to hold fast to the riches which are legitimately ours.
I for one have no intention of asking Mr Mills to share his sackcloth with me or to spare me some of his ashes.