Some time ago, a "senior Church of England official " commented on the the likelihood that the C of E might split as a result of the renewed 'dialogue' about sexual matters such as pseudogamy. He/She said:
"If the Church of England does split, it will be 'Winner Takes All', because it is an Established Church, and everything belongs to the controlling party, which is at present solidly revisionist. There is no basis for going to law to try to obtain a division of the assets, either the church buildings or the financial assets. The 'losing' part, like the Wesley's, will have to leave without any of the patrimony which morally belongs to them."
The official may have been senior, but (s)he failed to remember that there is a much more recent example of 'losers' having to leave without anything. A decade ago, when the Ordinariate was set up, the bishops of the C of E had a meeting which decided, not only that no property would be given to us, but that no amicable arrangements would be allowed whereby exiting Anglicans could continue to share buildings with remaining Anglicans. I believe a similar policy was made to apply to the Wantage Sisters; and that members of another women's community were told, on departing for the Ordinariate, to return the religious habits they were standing up in ... without delay.
As Canon Garry Bennett's Crockford's Preface a generation ago made clear, there is now no cement binding the C of E together: neither liturgical nor doctrinal nor even cultural. He might have added that the one thing which does really animate Anglican bishops is their pathetic fear that they might lose some milligram of their 'jurisdiction'. The ghetto now occupied by the High Church Society of Ss Wilfrid and Hilda would probabably not have been conceded if, at that time, the bishops had not just been given a salutary shock by the erection of the Ordinariate.
One bishop was quoted as declaring that he would rather have a church of his bull-dozed down than let it go to the Ordinariate.
The culture was such that they had refused to sell a church to the SSPX ... better, by far, to sell it to the Moslems ...
Back in the 1990s, they had tried to persuade Basil Hume to force converting Anglican clergy to renounce their pensions. Yes ... I was at the meeting where he revealed this.
They were, collectively, a nasty as well as a pretty shoddy lot.
Here is a link to a moving account of the trials and triumph of the Wantage sisters, written by Mother Winsome SBVM.
The now retired Bishop of London Richard Chartres is reputed to have said in private that 'fudge is the cement that holds the Church of England together'. Very drole but although he kept his own hands clean by not ordaining women priests himself (while allowing his suffragans to do the dirty work) he was succeeeded by one whose orders he presumably considers dubious. You could not make it up alas. If ever a church was under judgement it is this one.
I do not wish to enter into a discussion of "Anglicanism," its history ans nature - for that, see Fr. Aidan Nichols' brilliant The Panther and the Hind: A Theological History of Anglicanism, T&T Clark, 1993 - but in all of its dealings with "orthodox opposition" groups within it the Church of England has revealed itself to be precisely the same sort of institution led by the same sort of unprincipled institutionalist "suits" (or should I write "pseuds") as the Church of Sweden, the Church of Norway, the Church of Finland, et hoc genus omne. This ought to have been an apocalypse, an "unveiling" for the members of "the High Church Society of Ss Wilfrid and Hilda," but instead it proved merely an opportunity permanently to adopt the ostrich position under the slogan "better together" (with apologies to the lemmings from whom they filched it).
Very illuminating, dear Father Hunwicke: one more (as if more were needed) example of one of the greatest myths (canards?) of our time: liberal largesse, compassion, and open-mindedness.
I have a theory that, lacking a real footing in the enduring Truths of Christian Tradition, they double down in a sort of delusional madness that quickly turns mean and fascistic. Liberals need prayers more than they do oxygen.
Well said, Father. You have spoken well.
Father, as someone who has recently left the CofE and within it SSWSH for Roma Felix, my hunch is that if such a split comes, it will not be the Anglo-Catholcs splitting but the conservative Evangelicals, and the "winner takes all" scenario will be softened by their pre-existing networks and resources.
Anglo-Catholics and within it SSWSH have not been able to stand up to uphold classical orthodoxy on these matters with much authenticity. Pronouncements on sexual ethics would not be and are not taken very seriously from that wing of the CofE — there are many Anglo-Catholics even in the "traditional" wing as well for whom "celibacy" only means not being *married* to a *woman*, and everybody knows this. But this makes them unlikely to want to stand up and offer serious commentary to begin with. Those Anglo-Catholics who uphold classical Christian belief and practice regarding sexual ethics are often left on their own.
The GAFCON-affiliated Conservative Evangelicals are much more likely to split because there is already a large international support network available for them. Many already purchased church buildings (e.g. disused Roman Catholic churches), and have set up parallel financial, or in cases even ecclesial structures. For some of them splitting would hardly be noticeable, it would be as eventful as flicking a switch. For others the loss of their buildings may not matter as much as they are not that attached to them anyway.
Frankly, I think that the C of E treats assets of Anglican congregations that cross the Tiber in the same way they have treated Catholics from the time of Henry VIII onwards.
I just read the moving story of the Wantage sisters through the link provided by Sprouting Thomas. May Christ continue to bless these sisters.
As a cradle Catholic I have always been impressed by Catholics who come to the Church through Anglicanism. As a young serving officer in the Canadian Forces I read Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua and consider it among the spiritual treasures in my library. Father Jonathan Robinson (a convert from Anglicanism) of the Toronto Oratory of Saint Philip Neri was a wonderful priest. May eternal light shine upon him.
God bless you Father Hunwicke. You have an excellent Catholic blog.
The Anglican Church tried to be everything to everybody. Now it is nothing to nobody. A great lesson for Catholics pushing homosexuality and female ordination.
Post a Comment