Terminology and the Attitude of Some Ordinariate Priests
June 8, 2012 15 Comments
Fr Michael Gollop SSC is profoundly irritated:
Does anyone else find it somewhat disappointing that when some (thankfully, by no means all) of our friends and former ‘colleagues’ find a new ecclesial home they begin to refer to ‘Anglican ministers’ or ‘vicars’ instead of the terms they would once unfailingly have used to describe those in Anglican orders? It becomes even less explicable when they are part of a body which makes an entirely convincing claim to be able to offer a secure and lasting place for orthodox Anglican patrimony and the only guaranteed safe haven for the Anglo-Catholic tradition.
I understand the precedents; didn’t Bl John Henry Newman use precisely this kind of terminology? Yet this is not the nineteenth century; the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus go out of their way to recognise the displaced catholicity of many in the Anglican Communion, not to mention the undoubted progress that had been made towards reconciliation before ‘the dedicated followers of fashion’ threw additional roadblocks in its path.
Before anyone comments, I’m fully aware of the statements of the Catholic Church on the subject of Anglican orders from Apostolicae Curae onwards. I’m also aware that because of Anglican innovations (the historical irony is painful – so much for ‘the constant Tradition of the primitive church’ in Bramhall’s phrase) the subject will never now be re-examined. Yet those who were once in Anglican orders know better than any that, even if they now have reasonable doubts about the form or intention of their erstwhile ordinations, they were originally ordained as ‘deacons’ or ‘priests’, not ‘ministers’ or ‘vicars.’
I say this extremely reluctantly and without any wish to be confrontational or to seem in any way whatsoever ‘anti-Ordinariate’, just to point out that the minority who express themselves in this way are in danger of provoking unnecessary antagonism among those who wish them and Pope Benedict’s initiative only well. If someone so sympathetic to the Ordinariates can have this reaction, what must be its effect on those who are more undecided?
Of course, it may be said (by some it is often said) that the truth is meant to hurt, and that an uncompromising expression of the ecclesial realities may prove a spur to immediate action, yet the first impression given to those on the receiving end is one of a calculated rudeness and discourtesy, and perhaps to sense in those concerned to dole out this ‘speaking of the truth in love’ more of an overriding desire to find acceptance in their new home rather than any more pressing evangelistic motive towards those they have left, hopefully temporarily, behind.
I would guess that most Anglo-Catholics (for want of a better term) who remain pro tem in Anglican structures are concerned less about the possible defects of Anglican ordinations than about the contemporary and – because of its loss of even a claim to apostolicity in holy order – irrevocable apostasy of a Communion which seemed to be on a path of theological convergence both with Rome and Orthodoxy.
But the last word on this should probably go to St Francis de Sales, not an unsuccessful evangelist in the heartland of Calvinism itself, who remarked that you can catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with ten barrels of vinegar.
While the truth (theology) indeed needs to be brought to bear, as I have noticed on my own blog (and in real life), far more kindness, forbearance and Christian love and charity is needed – on both sides. In fact, I would go as far as to say (the point is made above) that such would go a long way in winning over others to one’s own held position.