After the fiery comments this weekend on the posts, Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross Contacts and The Continuing Anglican Church in Australia (CACA), off we go…
So I’d like to begin by pointing to a post this morning by Fr Anthony Chadwick, Blogs have their limits… Well yes, they most certainly do. From it:
I have given a considerable amount of thought to the demise of the Anglo-Catholic and the article written by Fr Christopher Phillips to fill in the gaps. That blog died because it had no further purpose. Its purpose evolved in a way with which I could not agree, so I was the first significant contributor to take the exit door. There was a Cistercian monk who wrote frequently, and he seems to have disappeared. With the decisions by Fr Phillips and Deborah Gyapong to go, that was it. Christian Campbell himself set up a new and unrelated blog in which he discusses the things that interest him. I can only applaud this effort and wish him well.
I have often reached “crisis” points in my time as a blogger…
… Until now, I have been prepared to take a lot of flak out of a sense of human solidarity. I joined the TAC in 2005 by writing to Archbishop Hepworth, and he had the kindness to believe that irregularities and difficulties could be redeemed and corrected. I was staunchly loyal to him for nearly seven years. He was a respected Archbishop and Primate until September 2011. Another thing not to be forgotten is that we are both sailors – other people’s lives come first. You always go to the assistance of someone in difficulty or danger. Incivility exists at sea, but I have only found that with one professional fisherman who despised people who mess about in boats for pleasure. The man was tragically lost at sea last May! I believe in the law of Karma. You get what you gave – cause and effect.
I have to admit that some things just don’t add up, but I am still grateful to him for having given me an ecclesial vocation to my priesthood for seven years. Now I have only to ask for moderation in our way of talking about him, and I am hated and shot with venom. At best I pass for someone as “deceitful” as the Archbishop, guilt by association. I have read a number of comments on Fr Smuts’ blog to that effect. We are in France in 1944 – resistants getting even with collaborators. Woe betide the young girl who had an affair with a German soldier! Where is the forgiveness and desire to put the past behind us and rebuild?
Archbishop Hepworth has never done anything bad to me personally, and I have no way of being able to pronounce on the soundness of his decision to allow harrowing events in his personal life to hit the news. I might suspect this or that, but I have no evidence. From my own point of view, I followed him as far as possible, but can no longer do so. That has caused me a considerable amount of pain, but life has to go on. You can only leave the drowned sailor in the sea and make your own way to survival!
In early 2012, Archbishop Prakash wrote a kind letter to me saying that I was not forgotten, and that I was still under proper jurisdiction as a priest. The TAC is only the shadow of what it was in October 2007, because it engaged on an illusory trajectory of asking Rome for something already requested in the 1990’s by Church of England clergy. The remnant is difficult to quantify apart from the bishops who participated in a meeting last March in South Africa. Communications are rare, Canada being the least taciturn with the monthly bulletins. The Australians merely have a directory of clergy and parishes, and we still await a new English website to give news and inform the world what’s left.
I express my own position clearly. I am not (and have not been) involved in any conspiracies, but at the same time I am not sure about staying indefinitely in the TAC if I know next to nothing about whether it amounts to very much in any part of the world anything like near where I live. I am still dismayed about the US bishops and how they handled the old Patrimony of the Primate, not to speak of the debacle of that neo-baroque church in California. At the same time, if the TAC is a “feeding tank” of stragglers for the Ordinariate, no stable consolidation is possible for those who are opposed to the RC Church for doctrinal reasons or are unsatisfied with the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus, notably the rigorist application of the principle that on one who has ever been a Roman Catholic will be admitted to the clergy, and without any consideration of any mitigating circumstances. There must be a parting of the ways, but in a Christian way, not like angry people killing each other just after the Armistice.
The obvious solution would be for the TAC to continue in Africa and India and be folded up elsewhere, asking bishops of other churches to have the kindness to take in the shipwrecked by recognising some validity of their previous Christian lives or priestly ministry.
At this point, I am forced to recognise the total sterility of any further discussion of the TAC and the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus – not only on my own blog, but also in Fr Smuts’ postings and the comments on these subjects. It is unhealthy, even addictive in a certain sense, and can lead only to loss of faith, if not in God, at least in the institutional church.
Unlike previous times, I am not making a dramatic announcement of a more or less permanent hiatus, and I see no reason to close down this blog. I might feel inclined to write something tomorrow, but I must apply ascetic means to resist the temptation to perpetuate this poison killing our spiritual life and candid belief in the Absolute. Many questions in my own life remain unanswered, but I will not discuss them with anyone other than my own family. It hurts, and I limp on…
I have questioned my own vocation for a considerable length of time, and am increasingly alienated by the Church every time I am physically confronted with its reality. I have found the same thing in my experience of stays in the guest house of a monastery. Am I under the influence of evil spirits or someone having almost achieved what Jung called individuation? I won’t find the answers on the Internet. My real vocation was the sea, am I can probably do something about it to a very limited extent. The contemplative life at sea is not without precedent – St Brendan!
What conclusion can I offer? Perhaps I can offer a little advice. Don’t look for relief to our spiritual agony on the Internet any more than in our mailboxes. Don’t wait for Godot, because Godot will never come. We have to go to Godot and our destiny is in our own hands. Many of us will never find resolution in this life and death will come all too soon, the loose ends remaining loose. Wherefore unsatisfied soul? and Whither O mocking life? – as I quoted in another context. We are at the same time our own best friends and worst enemies. We are full of the same contradictions as we find in others, and this is why we often over-react by “projection”. I see that with the “trolls” who are as rude and callous on the Internet as they are in their cars blasting their horns and tail-gating.
And when we hit rock-bottom, and all the rubble gets cleared away, we may discover the meaning of Original Sin, the Redemption and the real Christ. That is our faith and hope in the darkness and the desert. Let us pray for each other. That is the least we can do.
There’s also a question on the TAC on the blog Foolishness to the world - although I see no problem myself.
And the (Ordinariate) formation for of the former Canadian Anglican clergy, is to begin in Advent of 2012.