Thursday, January 28, 2010

Canon Bullivant's Dilemma


I think this a photograph of the Canon
Canon Ronald Bullivant was the Vicar of the Anglican Church of the Anunciation in Brighton from 1953 -1989. He was very 'igh and very much a Brighton institution, one of those holy, impressive Anglo-Catholics. I remember a conversation I once had with him in which he said he very much wanted to be in communion with the Holy See, but his problem was he said,
"If I was received into the Catholic this evening, I would have to throw into the dustbin that which I had consecrated, honoured as God and knelt before this morning, I just couldn't do that."
It seems to be a similar problem to the one mentioned in the previous post. Canon Bullivant was very proud of his ordination pedigree, which I think went back to at least one of the Father's of Trent. He believed, many of his "spiritual sons" who found there way across the Tiber believed him to be validly ordained.

Rational, contributors are invited to respond to the Canon's dilemma.

18 comments:

Paul, Bedfordshire said...

The words "conditional" and "ordination" spring to mind. Surely the late Mgr Graham Leonard provides the answer to that one.

Submitting to such is surely no humiliation any more than a parent who baptised their child in an emergency would be humiliated by the subsequent conditional baptism in church.

Its just a recognition that the original event took place in an extraordinary (for want of a better word) manner without all the usual checks and balances, so, given its importance, its best not to leave anything to chance?

Anne Chapman said...

Would it be 'thrown in the dustbin' as far as God is concerned? Surely what God wants and thinks is the only thing we have to consider. What the 'world' thinks is just dross. I suppose all they can do is pray and ask God what He wants them to do. I will pray for them.

Steven said...

Having gone through the process you speak of, and 'hearing' what the Vicar of the Annunciation says (he actually referred to himself as Our Lady's Curate as she was the real authority in his Parish) my experience tells me there is little point in having a repro poster when one is offered the original old master.

Dominic Mary said...

I think that the good Canon might have viewed his position a little differently in light of Cardinal Hume's comment about the value of Anglilcan ministry.

Unfortunately, in his days, the (at least apparent) opinion of the Catholic Church was a very different one; and his perception was close to the truth, so one can understand his concern.

Independent said...

Whatever individual Catholics whether clerical or lay, and some unlike Fr Blake are remarkably ill informed and uncharitable , may think it is surely obvious from the words and actions of recent Popes that they would not regard a dilemma to exist. When Fr Colin Stephenson , Administrator of the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, met Pope John XXIII, the later blessed his Shrine and his work, while the present Pope in conversation with Dr Geoffrey Rowell, spoke movingly of the spiritual effects of Anglican sacraments taken in good faith. Indeed this attitude is well expressed in Fr Sebastian Bullogh's book "Roman Catholicism"(1963)where he says "no Catholic is going to deny that the effect of a sacrament, namely an increase of God's grace and friendship, may be achieved, as with 'Baptism of Desire', without the actual rite"(p.118) . He goes on : "Even if the Catholic sees Anglican Orders as invalid, this by no means suggests that he sees them as meaningless: on the contrary , their very meaningingfulness to Anglicans, and the working through them of God's Grace, is a warrant of the true desire". (p119).

As St Thomas More said to his inquisitors he hoped we would all meet merrily in heaven.

Richard said...

Has the Vatican ever formally considered the effect of Old Catholic co-consecrations on Anglican orders?

If not, this seems like a good time to ask them to do so.

Ollie said...

I wonder if it could be viewed in the same way as a convalidation of a marriage - a regularizing of something in the eyes of God. There seems to be a tension involved - acknowledging something that already exists but at the same time bringing something new into existence. I wonder if it might be seen as bringing to completeness or capitulation a ministry, rather than declaring the old one dead and the new one starting.

Very gently I wonder if I could turn this the opposite way up: is there not something implicitly devaluing in electing remaining in a situation that one acknowledges to be undesirable -- and presumably one which God is summoning to leave behind? If one acknowledges the Primacy of Peter, and all the fundamental theological implications that this has in terms of authority, how can one continue ministry in another ecclesial community without feeling just a little hypocritical? I approach this very gently, as I know that the issues are far more complex than this - but this does seem to be at the crux of the issue for me.

Pastor in Valle said...

Not quite ad rem, (but I have written on this subject elsewhere); I met Canon Bullivant in late 1988 or early 1989. I was a deacon then, serving in the local Catholic church. Almost before shaking hands, (and certainly without being asked) Canon Bullivant was showing me his drawers—his sacristy drawers, I hasten to add. I think he assumed that that was what I had come to see. He had the most extraordinary collection of vestments; I remember him proudly announcing that one set was made from the coronation robes of Tsar Nicholas II.
But I suppose that if cucullus non facit monachum, then casulum non facit sacerdotem either, of itself, I mean.
Such a kind old man. God rest his soul.

On the side of the angels said...

Bear with me on this one...

I'm sorry but the notion of 'concelebrating' Old catholic ordinations is specious ; as the individual is not being ordained as an Old catholic - but an Anglican - and Anglican orders do not exist !

nor is conditional ordination anything other than downright scandalous - irrespective of Cardinal Hume's notions on it - Anglican orders are invalid - full stop.

...and I'm sorry but 'in good faith' is another form of wishful thinking - the orders are invalid ergo the consecrations are invalid

nor can this 'convalidation' ; like a radical sanation be considered viable...

BUT!!!
...and this is where the problem lies...and it's a bit like schrodinger's cat

When a man is ordained a priest ; we are dealing with a sacramental grace which changes the very ontological nature of the man - there's a diachronicity within this Grace - he does not merely 'become' a priest forever ; he was always a priest from the moment of his Baptism - there was never a time since baptism where he wasn't a priest - history gets re-written - there wasn't a time since his rebirth in Baptism where he was not a priest. Ontological changes aren't merely temporally linear moving from now to the future ; they ripple backwards in time too.[think the consecration at the last supper before the sacrifice on calvary ; think the immaculate conception occurring before original sin was wiped away on calvary - diachronicity]

So what about an anglican clerical convert who has been performing the same actions with form and matter prior to ordination - while he is doing it it isn't a valid
consecration in two ways - no valid orders nor is there any bishop to provide efficacy.

But if he is later ordained ?
if one looks back on the past events :
are his orders valid ?
is there a bishop ?

Well...um...yes to both - he was always a priest and there is a normative ordinary - His Holiness the Pope at the time - to provide efficacy!

I have absolutely no idea what has been said about such a metaphysical speculation - and of course when Roma locuta - it becomes a non-issue - and I'm certain Rome must have considered the situation and provided an answer - but my Latin isn't good enough to find one in all the annals.

Maurice said...

Priesthood as understood by the Catholic Church is a different animal to that understood by the Anglican Church. Whatever Mr Bullivant thought of his orders .. Did the church which conferred them on him think the same? I suspect not. And if you asked, it would depend who you were talking to in terms of what answer you might get.

I submitted to ordination as RC priest, having exercised public ministry in the CofE. There are lots of similarities( of course) but, essentially, they are two very different things.

As Basil Hume quotes, the Church clearly says that the ministrations of Anglican clergy are not without grace but that doesn't mean it's the same as a sacrificing Catholic priesthood.

This is in no way meant to be uncharitable. I am grateful for my time as an Anglican minister but see it now as a preparation for the fullness of the priesthood which I received as a Catholic (no need for any clever clogs to tell me that only bishops have the fulness of the priesthood - you know that's not what I'm referring to).

gemoftheocean said...

Pastor in Valle -- You mean if I stand in a garage that doesn't make me a car? [And here I thought I was a Lambourgini!]

Paul, I thought of that too -- I'd have too, but I don't think there is a conditional form for ordination.

I see two difficulties with this approach (though I have to admit it was also the 1st thought that popped into my head)

1) As was mentioned he thought his "pedigree" included one of the Fathers of Trent.

2) The Church has already declared all the Anglican orders as invalid -- whether it was a case of throwing up the hands saying "it's too hard to figure out who was legit" [in other words some may be, but a pox on your house, anyway] or they really went through the bishops case by case and determined non of them had in fact valid orders, I don't remember.

3) By doing a conditional ordination, that would play to a person's pride in allowing him to tell himself that he was, in fact _already_ ordained legitimately when it's possible he hadn't -- in which case if so, it's allowing error to persist.

4) one thing a Catholic should NOT have to ask is "was the priest validly ordained?" Because we have the right to valid sacraments.

Malcolm Kemp said...

Canon Bullivant was one of the most saintly men I have ever met, although that does not mean that he didn't have a wicked sense of humour. He was totally loyal to, and worked enlessly for, his largely working class and very poor congregation and he fostered several vocations including at least one who has subsequently crossed the Tiber and been re-ordained. He was a role model to all.

It is said that at his induction service they couldn't find a Book of Common Prayer anywhere in the building and that he never,ever used one. It was all Roman Rite and mission services with Benediction. He related how, when he was first appointed, he asked the then Archdeacon (later Bishop) Lloyd Morrell how he should run the parish. Lloyd told him to run it like an Irish Roman Catholic mission parish. This he did. It worked perfectly. His personal life, and that of his church, was utterly frugal. RIP.

the Feds said...

Three words for the Canon:

1. Humility
2. Authority
3. Certainty

Make the leap of Faith, Canon. "Father, that they may be one..."

Anonymous said...

To call those interrogating St Thomas More on behalf of HVIII "inquisitors", is an insult to the inquisition.


+ Albrecht von Brandenburg

Dominic Mary said...

OTSOTA:
with respect, I think it is rash to set oneself up against the Holy Father; still less two of them.

When Graham Leonard was received into full communion with the Holy See, and petitioned the Holy Father for ordination, it was the express - and personal - decision of His Holiness Pope John Paul II that he should be ordained to the priesthood sub conditio, without the need for preliminary ordination to the diaconate.

That decision was made by HH on the basis of advice given by Cardinal Ratzinger at the CDF - who is, of course, a consumate theologian in his own right - after detailed consideration of Graham Leonard's situation.

I think, therefore, that your preliminary remarks might be described as unhelpful.

Roma locuta est, causa finita est.

Shandon Belle said...

I think we can all get too far away from the central point made... IF the Canon accepted that his orders were invalid (even if he was a very good man) then the invalidity of any 'consecration' that he performed would naturally follow.

Are the bits of bread in the box just bits of bread or are they God, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, under the appearance of bread?

Admittedly a good, even an honourable man, would have difficulty genuflecting to something one day (believing it to be God) and genuflecting to it the next (believing it not to be or doubting that it is)...

However, WHAT IF IT IS JUST BREAD. That's the question that we need to ask. WHAT IF IT IS JUST BREAD?

Dominic Mary said...

Shandon Belle;
That's the whole point.

Even if it isn't the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Blessed Lord, it may still be more than 'just bread'.

(And lest you think that's just me talking, that has been the received position for a very long time.)

Independent said...

Looking at Malcolm Kemp's description of a holy man and thinking of Anglicanorum Coetibus I wondered how someone like Canon Bullivant could have transferred any distinctively Anglican patrimony to the Catholic Church had he changed his religious allegiance. He obviously had no contact with the Book of Common Prayer and ran his parish like an "Irish Roman Catholic Mission Parish".