Sunday, October 25, 2009

Musings on the Anglican Initiative


The former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, has been complaining that his successor, Rowan Williams was not "officially" informed about the Holy Father's initiative, until Cardinal Levada visited him two weeks before the announcement, he urges him to complain.

Ever since Carey's retirement he has been a thorn in Williams's flesh.

Williams was not "officially" informed before he was officially told what the Supreme Pastor had decided to do, it is the difference between Catholicism and Anglicanism. It is of passing interest that the Holy Father also seemed to have by-passed Cardinal Kaspar and given the delay for the summer vacation, when the the Vatican dicasteries close down, he seemed to have waited until the appointment of Archbishop Nichols.


It is an open rumour that those Anglican bishops involved in talks with the Holy See, mainly the CDF, were expecting an announcement following Easter this year. Judging from the speeches of Cardinal Kaspar, remember "spiritual Alzheimer's" and of Cardinal Murphy O'Connor in May at the 2009 Anglican Synod, it was pretty obvious the Holy See was going to make a serious offer of some sort of accommodation to those "catholic" Anglican's who felt they were being rejected by there own communion.


The announcement last Tuesday should not be a shock to anyone. The Catholic Church always welcomes conversions, reconcilliations, call them what you will. The new initiative of the "Pope of Ecumenism" is that though it welcomes individuals, even Anglican bishops - how I welcome the reports regarding the local Anglican Bishop of Chichester, John Hind, -the real thrust and change that this document brings about is that it welcomes "churches", bishops together with their clergy and people. It is aimed primarily, not at England despite the Pope's obvious interest in England, the visit and Newman's beatification but at those communities in the Southern Cone, in the Americas and Australasia, possibly Africa, where diocese have already opted out, to a greater or lesser degree, of communion with a women's and openly homosexual ordaining Anglican Communion.


I like the way the Pope sets his face to a theological idea and then expects canonists to follow it with the relevant legislation, which he did with the freeing of the Traditional Mass. This is going to be a little more complicated. The theology must be that those seeking communion with the Church must want that - Communion - in its fullest sense. What the Pope appears to be offering however is a home for those who can no longer live within Anglicanism.


Do we really want homophobic, misogynistic ex-Anglican's, many of whom do not believe "all the Catholic Church teaches to be revealed by God", whose personal sexual morality might not be in exact conformity with the Catholic teaching, coming en masse into the Catholic Church? For a Pope so against Relativism, the legal solution will be very interesting. Possible we are a looking at a process of Communion rather than a single act - interesting.

24 comments:

Norah said...

"Most importantly, Archbishop Hepworth assured the assembly that they would continue to be able to have married priests by way of dispensations which would be given generously."

Fr Michael Brown reports this.

If true it is the end of the discipline of mandatory celibacy for priests of the Latin Rite of the church. I don't think it would be possible to have one group of Latin Rite Catholic men able to be married and study for the priesthood and another group or Latin Rite Catholic men required to be celibate if they wish to study for the priesthood.

berenike said...

As someone said -"Yeah! We want them all!" cos Jesus does :-D

nickbris said...

It has certainly been a "Godsend" for the Garbage Press.Half-Baked journalists like Euan Ferguson have had a field day showing their ignorance to the whole world.And Denis Skinner sounds like he should have stayed lapsed.

nickbris said...

Sorry I meant Frank Skinner

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

"Do we really want homophobic, misogynistic ex-Anglicans, many of whom do not believe 'all the Catholic Church teaches to be revealed by God', whose personal sexual morality might not be in exact conformity with the Catholic teaching, coming en masse into the Catholic Church?"

Ironically, that is precisely the same stalling message given to Rome by E&W bishops conference ever since 1992. Pope Benedict has now decided that it is largely a spurious caricatural smokescreen with hostile theological motives.

I like the way that the leaders of the TAC have all signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This sets an excellent precedent and would be a good way of calling everyone's bluff, and screening out the "not fully converted".

Independent said...

"homophobic" - literally this means those who dislike themselves as "homo" is from the Greek and not from the Latin.

A phobia is an irrational horror and dislike of something.

Use of this sort of language is a sympton of acceptance of the standards of the secular world.

Precision is to be welcomed in language just as much as in theology.

Mar Charbel said...

I think those who see the new initiative for groups of Anglicans who want to become part of the Catholic Church as being a sort of predatory 'takeover' as missing the point. Once these groups (possibly complete with what will be former Anglican clergy)become part of the organic body of the Church, they will effectively no longer be Anglicans. For each person who decides, and decides to be received into the Catholic Church, be it as an individual or as part of a group, they have to decide as an individual and undertake appropriate catechesis. This is simply an offer to these people who have probably thought about it for a long time. I can't quite see someone doing it on a whim. It requires a certain amount of inner struggle and heroism to do so. The Pope is called to serve all Christians as best he can. He doesn't have the choice whether or not to invite Christians to closer union with Mother Church because of ecumenical politics or hurt egos of others.

I was received into the Catholic Church fourteen years ago after a gradual development of awareness that developed every time I opened the Book of Common Prayer and became increasingly aware of its contradictions- but within it remnants of the Catholic Faith. This struggle at the heart of Anglicanism for some people naturally leads them back to Rome. Pope Benedict's offer will simply ease that process.

Little Black Sambo said...

Good article, spoilt by the ungracious last paragraph.

dillydaydream said...

I think the only way this could work without bitterness and future division is for all ordinations to be considered on a case-by-case basis (same sexual orientation criteria as for current Catholic seminarians), and for a strict time limits on the ordination of "married" priests, so that these arrangements will disappear over one generation. Supporting priests' families is prohibitively expensive - and they might tend to be given wealthy parishes to compensate. Not good.

Father Gareth Jones said...

"Do we really want homophobic, misogynistic ex-Anglicans, many of whom do not believe 'all the Catholic Church teaches to be revealed by God', whose personal sexual morality might not be in exact conformity with the Catholic teaching, coming en masse into the Catholic Church"

Do you really believe this is a fair representation of Anglo-Catholics, Father? It is certainly not my experience!

nickbris said...

Does the invite also include the women Anglican Priests? It could be just what we need to fill the Pews.

Our celibate priests certainly get chased about by "well meaning Ladies"of every Parish and it has not been unknown for some Priests to "go off the rails".

Fr Ray Blake said...

Father Gareth, I was in part trying to be smart but also to highlight a concern of many Catholics. That phrasehomophobic, "misogynistic ex-Anglicans", featured frequently in a certain liberal journal when a number of Anglicans left over the issue female presbyters.

The point I was trying to make is that the invitation is to a "group reception", the Pope seems to be unconcerned about individual "conversions". One example of a difficulty is one of the negotiating Anglican bishops is in formal Catholic terms a polygamous apostate priest, in so far as he was ordained a Catholic priest, left was married, divorced and remarried. He cannot be the only one with "a difficult lifestyle" in Catholic terms, this does not seem to be an issue.

I would love to agree with you but my experience is that most Anglican clergy are not clearly divided into liberal, evangelical and catholic, so I am not sure that everyone who leaves the Anglican Communion will be as "Catholic" as members the Society of the Holy Cross for example.

Father Gareth Jones said...

Father Ray,

Thanks for the clarification, which now makes sense. I have written about the issue of 'difficult domestic situations' on my blog, and I think this is s serious concern.

Can't wait to kneel on you new floor very soon!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Bad, bad Sadie!

That was Guildford.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Sadie, The diocese of Arundel & Brighton covers the Anglican diocese of Guildford and Chichester.

Peter said...

Sorry this is a long blog, but your final comment has startled me, Father.

"Do we really want homophobic, misogynistic ex-Anglican's, many of whom do not believe "all the Catholic Church teaches to be revealed by God", whose personal sexual morality might not be in exact conformity with the Catholic teaching, coming en masse into the Catholic Church?"

Father, you have already clarified what you mean by this in your answer to Fr Gareth, but I’m still left wondering something.

You seem to be making two overall assertions – one, that Anglicans coming over might be homophobic/misogynistic [not your phrase, true, but you have used it nevertheless]; or two, that they might not believe "all the Catholic Church teaches to be revealed by God" [including sexual ethics].

re One

1) Is this really fair? People need exit velocity to make the Tiber crossing because it is hard to make such a big change to one’s life and views. The issue of gay clergy and women priests is not the fundamental issue driving these people, it is just that little extra bit of thrust that will push them to escape the Anglican Communion. So these people aren’t one-issue homophobes or misogynists.

2) Anglo-Catholics would probably say that they are not driven by homophobia or misogynous impulses – but rather they have been forced to re-evaluate what the Anglican ecclesiastical community stands for: it’s true place in the wider Catholic Church [with its going off on a limb to ordain women], whether it really holds true to right-doctrine, whether it really is such a ‘broad church’ after all [given that provision has not been properly made for traditionalists], indeed, whether this Anglican notion of a ‘broad church’ has now been proved to be the flawed concept that it is (not being centred on the truth, and united with the vicar of Christ).

These are not the sentiments of homophobic misogynists.

re Two

1) The leaders of TAC (“+” Hepworth etc) signed the Catechism – in their case, then, have they not demonstrated that they wish to come into full adherence with the teaching of the church?
[You note the ambiguous situation of “+” Hepworth, but it will remain to be seen what happens with his private life – and whether this is felt necessary to be made public.]

2) For those Anglicans who do not accept the teachings the teachings of the church, and whose sexual ethics is not correct, will they really want to come over to Rome? No, frankly. They simply wouldn’t come over. And in any event, the church is strong enough to take it – it is a hospital for the sick, after all (as Fr Z has been pointing out of late).

So is this not a little too provocative?

Jeffrey Steel said...

Father Blake,

I am not clear about the last paragraph when you write of 'homophobic and misogynistic clergy...' The Catholic Church is often described as homophobic due to what it says about a homosexual lifestyle in the CCC. This label is not too helpful for those who would be accused of such accusations for trying to be faithful to the Church's teaching on human sexuality and JPII's theology of the body. Would you help me understand what you mean by homophobic and misogynistic in terms of Anglican identities? Thanks.

George said...

Great photo Fr Ray! Have they all been surfin' them waves - the swell looks great!

Reminds me of the Beach Boys hit Surfin U.S.A. - now how did those lyrics go....? Oh yeh, with just a slight twist on the lyrics..... hehehe!

"You'd see 'em wearing their baggies
Huarachi sandals too
A bushy bushy blonde hairdo
Surfin' (E.C.)U.S.A.
Everybody's gone surfin'
Surfin' (E.C.)U.S.A.
Yeah,Everybody's gone surfin'
Surfin' E.C.U.S.A."

Oh yes, the 'bushy bushy blonde hairdo' is missing 'cos Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is missing from the group photo :-) Probably wondering if she'll still have a job after the 'mass Anglican swimming (surfing!) of the Tiber'. The final verse might go something like....

"We're all planning out the route
We're gonna take real soon
We're waxing down our surfboards
Thanks Papa Benedict for offering us some room!"

johnf said...

Father Ray

Interesting article by George Pitcher in the Telegraph this morning.

In his view, there's a certain number of Anglican Priests leaning towards Rome, who are far from homophobic - quite the opposite. And he points out that they have been coexisting (and cohabiting) in the Church of England without censure.

I think Dillydaydream's points are very good and it would be out of character if these points had not already occurred to the Holy Father.

We are waiting for the small print. The angel is in the detail.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Only Guildford gets a mention and not Chichester?

I guess it's who you know again?

Independent said...

The Holy Father's action was not an iniative or a take-over but a measured response to a petition from the TAC and friendly noises from the Forward in Faith people. It was rather like the Apostle becing exhorted to "come over from Macedonia and help us".

Having known a fair number of Anglican clergymen who were homosexual in my time, many of whom are now in the Catholic ministry, but all were and are chaste, I am not happy with your last paragaph Fr Blake. The Anglicans I know are fully aware of the balanced traditional teaching on sexuality. Indeed the accusation of being "homophobic"- whatever that may mean, and misogynist is one which is often unfairly applied to His Holiness by homosexual activists.

Fr Ray Blake said...

My point is, simply, that the Papal initiative is not about individual reconcilations, or appears not to be so. It is about the reconcilliation of an ecclesial body.

It is not about picking individual fruit but is a dragnet cast into the sea and drawn ashore, containing a variety of fish, the whole "catch" is drawn ashore.

It is the harvest containing wheat and tares.

Is that clearer?

Thomas said...

The Catholic Church is already a harvest containing wheat and tares Father, and while there are tares amongst converts (individual or corporate), it is my experience that the ratio of tares to wheat is not better among those raised in the Faith.

Sci-Fi-Si said...

They could be allowed into the Church - as laymen. No more.

Just because they're jumping ship does NOT mean they can come on board as clergy.

There's more to being a Catholic Priest than a quick years theology study at St John's.

They're welcome, but then they have to take. A wedding guest does not go and sit next to the bride as being repositioned might cause embarrassment.