Anglican Priest, Flock Cross a Welcoming Bridge

In the Boston Globe:

Before Mass on a recent Sunday, the Rev. Jurgen Liias stood in a cramped sacristy of a Catholic church with an acolyte and cantor and began a call-and-response prayer of preparation.

Incense smoldered. The men thumped their chests in a gesture of contrition.

The elaborate ritual would seem unusual to most Catholic priests, who pray silently before Mass as they don their vestments, or quietly focus on the sacred work ahead. But Liias, who is 65, is different. He entered the church through a new doorway that lets members of the Anglican Communion return to the mother church in Rome while retaining their congregational communities — and, if they wish, much of their ornate ritual, including old Catholic traditions that Rome changed or left behind.

Pope John Paul II extended to Anglicans, including married priests, the opportunity to become Catholic in 1980. During the next 30 years, 100 or so Anglican priests entered the Catholic Church and were incorporated into local dioceses.

But some in the worldwide Anglican Communion — particularly the Episcopal Church, the religious body’s US province — wanted to make it easier for whole congregations to come in, and to be part of a group of like-minded churches.

At their request, Pope Benedict XVI established special “ordinariates” — basically superdioceses — especially for Anglican priests and congregations. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, which spans the United States and Canada, was created last year. It includes more than 30 congregations, including Liias’s St. Gregory the Great, which held its first Mass in April.

“They are on a pilgrimage together, as opposed to an individual journey,” said the Rev. R. Scott Hurd, the ordinariate’s vicar general.

It is a tiny movement so far, with fewer than 2,000 people spread across a vast continent, an infinitesimal proportion of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

In many respects, the ordinariate resembles the Eastern Catholic Churches that returned to Rome from the Eastern Orthodox Church and have been allowed to preserve their own worship traditions and structure.

Hurd said the Vatican created the ordinariate primarily to “promote Christian unity” by bringing Anglicans back into the fold of Catholicism.

He said Episcopalians who are attracted to Catholicism “usually struggle with the breadth of plurality in belief” within the Episcopal Church “and come to appreciate the definitive teachings that are found in Catholicism.”

Liias has spent most of his career at the margins of the Episcopal Church, embracing both charismatic and high-church worship styles, each of which would be alien to most Episcopalians in Massachusetts. An avuncular grandfather who hikes 14,000-foot mountains and has deep experience in the charismatic movement, he is as comfortable speaking in tongues as he is praying the rosary.

He has come to see Catholicism as the center of gravity of Christianity, and an inevitable end point, not only on his own path as a Christian, but for Christianity itself.

“The unity of the church is not only an imperative for the internal life of God’s people but an essential dimension of her evangelical mission,” he wrote in a blog post this year…

Read on here.


Catholics of the Anglican Patrimony

The Catholic League:

On 17 August 2013, Fr Peter Cornwell, a married Catholic priest and former vicar of the same church as Blessed John Henry Newman, The University Church of St Mary, Oxford, wrote a surprisingly mean review in The Tablet of Catholics of the Anglican Patrimony: The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham by the distinguished theologian, historian and thinker, Fr Aidan Nichols OP (Gracewing, Leominster, 2013). Fr Mark Woodruff’s response in The Tablet for 24 August 2013 is below.

The book is an extended essay and arose from a remarkable lecture delivered under the auspices of the Ordinariate, as part of a conference on its place and purpose with the work of New Evangelisation. Fr Nichols revisited a familiar and resonant theme of his, that proclamation and evangelisation do not concern only the personal individual but groups and traditions of people, including entire cultures and histories. This understanding, incidentally, lay within Pope Benedict’s presentation of evangelisation on his visit to Great Britain in 2010. Faith alone, he said, answers humanity’s profoundest questions and longings; hence the need and benefit for the constant and public dialogue of faith and reason, between the Church of Christ and society, the state, politics, commerce and culture. With this in the background, Fr Nichols observed that Catholic society in England was made of four main components: the English recusants at the core of the history from the 16th century onwards, the influx of a large Irish Catholic population to cities from Victorian era onwards, a small but influential stream of English converts to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism of whom Newman and Manning are the most symbolic but which continues to the present day, and more recently the international diaspora of the last two decades, especially from India, Africa, the Far East and Eastern Europe (including Eastern Catholics) transforming the complexion of parishes especially in the larger population centres. The one culture that seems, however, not to find expression and belonging in the contemporary Catholic Church in England is England’s indigenous religious culture for almost the last half-millennium. Thus he makes the argument for embracing the liturgical, pastoral, cultural, spiritual, apologetical, homiletical, operational-organisational and academic-theological traditions and patrimony of Church-of-England Christianity, to equip the Catholic Church in England to address, take seriously, resonate with and converse with English public life and culture, as well as its citizens’ religious sensibility, by means of their familiar spiritual language and sensibility.

Where necessary, of course, for reasons of clear exposition of Catholic teaching these Anglican traditions and patrimony need to be duly adapted to meet the fullness of communion within the Catholic Church, but since all internal Anglican traditions, aspects of heritage and customs have been developed and continue in existence within a conversation between the different schools of theological thought and churchmanship, and thus find ways not only to co-exist in Anglicanism’s internal ecumenism but also to find clearer expression over against each other, there is something intrinsically Anglican about the adaptation needed when embracing a new setting for being in communion within the Body of Christ. Fr Nichols’ 1993 book, which looks at the interplay and relationship between the Catholic and Anglican in English religion, state and culture, The Panther & The Hind: A theological history of Anglicanism remains an essential account of Classic Anglican divinity, and the most sympathetic analysis of the now largely occluded Classic Anglicanism tradition ever made by a Catholic theologian.

It is a pity that Fr Cornwell did not acknowledge this in his endeavour to portray the Ordinariate as a mere refuge for Anglo-Catholics escaping a finally uncongenial Anglicanism. Thus he missed the point that, as the Catholic League can testify, its essential form has been proposed for 100 years at least and that his has influenced Anglican ecumenism for good, spread wide what is now shared by all Christians as “spiritual ecumenism”, and placed the cause of Christian Unity, to which communion with the Apostolic See of Rome is integral, at the heart of the Church’s purpose in proclaiming the Gospel to the world and its cultures. After all, it is Pope Benedict who organised efforts and structures for a New Evangelisation in the struggle for the soul of Old Europe, including the societies which have in part emerged from it across the world through the 19th and 20th centuries. The Ordinariates established under Anglicanorum Coetibus and Ad Gentes are part of this New Evangelisation and represent the Catholic Church’s desire, learned from half a century of direct dialogue and ecumenism, to learn and receive for itself what the providential Anglican tradition and its patrimony has to offer. None of this is for an isolated group that looks in upon its own narrow concerns, any more than Benedictinism, Franciscanism or Jesuitism is – it is something borne by some but for the whole Church – and that includes its efforts to reconciliation and unity.

While some of Fr Cornwell’s comments were legitimate debate and criticism in a book review, he made two misrepresentations as to fact, which made it clear that prejudice was the ground upon which he then went on to caricature the persons – the people and priests – of the Ordinariate. It is clear that he can have met few of them. What follows is the letter submitted to the Editor of The Tablet upon submission that Fr Cornwell’s affront needed a riposte. it appeared in The Tablet publised on 24 August, 2013. The final paragraph was, however, not included owing to the need to make space for a subsequent letter from Mgr Andrew Burnham of the Ordinariate which addresses the same point more fully and better. (The term “lively conversation” reflects Archbishop Rowan Williams’ attempt at a positive description of the adversarial nature of Anglican theological and constitutional decision-making in its Synods, and “treasure to be shared” is a quotation from Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.)

Fr Mark comments, “I do not lightly take issue with a brother priest in public, especially one for whom I have the highest admiration. But, since he first expressed these views in 2009 in my hearing and yet, despite eirenic argument to put his concerns to rest, persisted in disseminating them by way of attack on the true motivation and character of his fellow Catholics in the Ordinariate, it is important to say that the cause of Christian Unity is served by airing disagreement frankly towards better mutual understanding and rapprochement in a spirit of friendship, not by caricaturing people acting in good faith.”

To the Editor, The Tablet, 20 August 2013

Fr Peter Cornwell says that Anglican patrimony “in truth has proved to be quite elusive”. Anglicanorum Coetibus III locates it in liturgical books, the Complementary Norms adding the tradition of married presbyters and the pastoral council for consulting the lay faithful formally. Article 10 refers to a larger hinterland of its aspects of particular value.  In 2010 I collected a volume of over 30 pieces of comment and analysis, critical and supportive – Anglicans & Catholics in Communion: Patrimony, Unity, Mission. A second volume is in preparation. A Customary containing the Divine Office and Calendar was published in 2012 and permission to celebrate an Order of Mass with elements of the Prayer Book rite was issued this summer. This is hardly elusive.

Nor is it accurate to say that Anglicanorum Coetibus came “out of the blue”. Such provision was explored by prominent Catholic-Anglicans with designated Roman Catholic figures in England and Rome in the late 1980s. And around 2008, a sizeable group of Catholic-Anglican bishops visiting Rome with concerns about the Lambeth Conference and General Synod, even discussing possible corporate reunion, did not go behind Lambeth’s back.  What changed was not a papal assault upon the ARCIC method, but Anglicanism’s decision for a fundamental change within the order of bishop. Nevertheless the additional layer of ecclesial incompatibility provides a re-set ecumenical starting point. In this, some have seen a positive opportunity to think through what Anglicans believe the patrimony they offer to the whole Church’s unity in diversity is, in a manner unaddressed before.

Fr Aidan Nichols has pointed out that the prevailing religious tradition of England for nearly five centuries is a large gap in our consciousness of being the Catholic Church for this land and culture:  internalising Anglican aspects of tradition through the Ordinariate offers one way of beginning to fill it, even if late in the day. At the same time it is far from the whole story of Anglican-Catholic reconciliation: for evangelisation to be convincing, Christian unity remains unfinished business.

Fr Cornwell’s mocking tale of narrow sectaries escaping to a “granny flat” is an injustice to the real priests and people of the Ordinariate. He will indeed find some former Romanising Anglo-Catholics, but he will also find inner city pastors, middle-of-the-road “Prayer Book Catholics”, scholars, diverse origins and backgrounds, “Vatican II Evangelicals”, country parsons, overseas missionaries – people with an ecumenical instinct who did not live apart but took part in the “lively conversation” of the Church of England, and who are proving no less willing to engage in our diocesan parish life, as much as they want to see the Ordinariate’s “treasure  to be shared” make its distinctive contribution.  What binds them in the Catholic Church is not shallow preoccupation with liturgical tastes, but the faith that is none other than our own, and acting upon it generously.

Fr Mark Woodruff


Ordinariate Sisters Have a Permanent Home

The Hermeneutic of Continuity:

Here is the Press Release from the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham:

Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary Move to Permanent Home

The new religious community of the Personal Ordinariate, the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, have a permanent home for the first time since they were received into the full communion of the Catholic Church on New Year’s Day. They are to move on Tuesday (August 27) into a convent in Birmingham which is the former home of the Little Sisters of the Assumption.

Mother Winsome, the Superior of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, said: “We are absolutely overjoyed to have been given the opportunity to live in this convent.  We have prayed long and hard and the Lord has opened up this way for us. It is a gift from God.”

The community, established as part of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham adopting the Benedictine rule, includes eleven sisters who had been part of the Anglican Community of St Mary the Virgin in Wantage Oxfordshire and one, Sister Carolyne Joseph, who belonged to an Anglican community in Walsingham.

With no endowments to keep them afloat financially, the sisters have been living for the last eight months as guests at an enclosed Benedictine abbey on the Isle of Wight. “The abbess and the community there shared their Benedictine life with us and welcomed us into their hearts in the most wonderfully generous way”, Mother Winsome said. “It has been a life of complete harmony and joy and it will be a wrench to leave. But we are pleased beyond measure that our journey of faith has taken this new direction”.

The provision of Benedictine hospitality through retreats is central to the community’s charism. Their intention is to earn a living at their new home by offering retreats and the ministry of spiritual direction.

The Benedictine Sisters on the Isle of Wight have been very kind in offering hospitality to the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is a mark of their generosity to the Church as a whole. The flourishing of contemplative orders is an indicator of vitality in any local Church and such communities have an impact way beyond the confines of their enclosure…


A Glimpse of the Ordinariate

And Damian Thompson has it.

Here are a couple of photographs taken by the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham when they celebrated Evensong and Benediction for the Feast of the Assumption last week; they’re in their new church in Warwick Street in the West End. This is what certain Anglo-Catholics in the C of E have turned down, preferring to stay in a denomination which repudiates their vision of the priesthood. Baffling.


Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali on the Ordinariate

… the Anglican Communion, Gafcon, FiF and more. Virtue Online:

The Church of England bishop sees the Anglican Ordinariates as a two-edged sword. First, he notes that finally at the highest level, the Church of Rome has recognized the validity of the Anglican Patrimony and a married priesthood in the Western or Latin Rite. He is very well versed in the Vatican documents that outline the Ordinariates and how they will be formed and operated. He has clearly read and thoroughly digested the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus and its Complementary Norms and has given them much measured thought.

“That is a major advance; there is no going back on that now,” he said adding that it was a good thing for Pope Benedict XVI to do. However, he is concerned about the Roman Catholic nature of the Ordinariates, how they will eventually play out in time and that there are some built-in shortcomings. He named three.

“First of all, it is quite strange that one ‘episcopal church’ to provide for another ‘episcopal church’ a system which has no bishops in it – a presbyterian provision – because the ordinary is to be a presbyter (priest),” he explained that this could eventually lead to the Latinization of the Ordinariates as they need to turn to the local Catholic diocesan bishop for Apostolic Sacramental care for their clerical ordinations.

He also feels that with Ordinariate clergy being solely trained and spiritually formed at major Catholic seminaries would lead to even more creeping Latinization as the Anglicans are further distanced from their spiritual traditions and Anglican roots.

“What you need is free-standing colleges that would promote the Anglican-Catholic way of doing things in its integrity,” the CofE bishop explained.

Finally, he feels that the Ordinariates’ married priesthood provision would eventually dry up. “I think there has to be an explicit recognition (of a married priesthood) because Anglicans have found married priests valuable for the Mission of the Church, just as they have found celibate priests valuable for the Mission of the Church.

“There are some problems in the Ordinariates, he continued, “but there are also some positive things.”


Pope Francis Embraces the Ordinariate

Sent in by Timothy from the fine Catholic Bibles Blog: Pope Francis Embraces the Ordinariate – and increases its power to evangelise:

Opponents of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, set up by Benedict XVI to allow ex-Anglicans to worship together with their own liturgy, were so excited when it was reported that Pope Francis, when Archbishop of Buenos Aires, wasn’t keen on the initiative. But if that were ever the case, then he has changed his mind.

This week it emerged that Francis has widened the remit of the Ordinariates in Britain, America and Australia. Until now, only ex-Anglicans and their family members could join the new body. But, thanks to a new paragraph inserted into the Ordinariate’s constitution by Francis, nominal Catholics who were baptised but not confirmed can join the structure. Indeed, the Holy Father wants the Ordinariates to go out and evangelise such people. Put bluntly, this suggests that English bishops who wanted to squash the body – and whose allies were rushing to get to the new Pope in order to brief against it – have been thwarted.

Here’s the fine print, from the Ordinariate’s website:

Pope Francis has approved a significant amendment to the Complementary Norms which govern the life of the Personal Ordinariates established under the auspices of Anglicanorum Coetibus.

On 31 May 2013, the Holy Father made a modification to Article 5 of the Norms, in order to make clear the contribution of the Personal Ordinariates in the work of the New Evangelisation.

This paragraph has been inserted into the Complementary Norms as Article 5 §2:

A person who has been baptised in the Catholic Church but who has not completed the Sacraments of Initiation, and subsequently returns to the faith and practice of the Church as a result of the evangelising mission of the Ordinariate, may be admitted to membership in the Ordinariate and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation or the Sacrament of the Eucharist or both.

This confirms the place of the Personal Ordinariates within the mission of the wider Catholic Church, not simply as a jurisdiction for those from the Anglican tradition, but as a contributor to the urgent work of the New Evangelisation.

As noted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, enrolment into a Personal Ordinariate remains linked to an objective criterion of incomplete initiation (i.e. baptism, eucharist, or confirmation are lacking), meaning that Catholics may not become members of a Personal Ordinariate ‘for purely subjective motives or personal preference’

So there you have it: a ringing affirmation of the Ordinariate’s mission from a supposedly sceptical pontiff. Now what the new body needs is money and perhaps a little more courage to stick its head above the parapet. The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have so far declined to organise a nationwide second collection at Mass to help their new brethren. They should do so without delay.


Anglican Patrimony is Becoming a Reality

The Tablet:

As a convert from Anglicanism I have been curious since Benedict XVI paved the way for the creation of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham about what particular aspects of ‘Anglican patrimony’ – as the Pope emeritus put it – might be introduced into Catholic worship. Last night at the Little Oratory, Brompton Road, an Evensong and Benediction was celebrated that gave a strong indication.

If any of the upwards of 200 people crowded into the beautiful chapel had any doubts about the workability of the combined liturgy, few can have been in any doubt at the end.

The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis are treasures at the very heart of Anglicanism, even though some would say they are not always appreciated as such. They were given their proper place here. But I had not realised how firmly the responses following ‘O Lord, show they mercy upon us’, had been set down in my own psyche, until I found myself praying them again after a gap of more than eight years. ‘Give peace in our time, O Lord, Because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only, thou, O God’, rings true with force, just as ‘O God, make clean our hearts within us, And take not they Holy Spirit from us’ equally but in a different way expresses our complete dependence.

But what about, ‘Oh Lord save the Queen. And mercifully hear us when we call upon thee’. I joyfully pray for the Pope at Mass. This prayer for the Queen, surely, takes us right back to the Reformation, and affirms our secular monarch as head of the Church. I asked the Ordinary and last night’s presider, Mgr Keith Newton, whether any difficult issues were raised here. ‘Not at all,’ he said. He was delighted to keep the prayer for the Queen, because it showed the confidence of Catholics as full and equal members of British society. To omit this seemed to him to make the Church too peripheral.  And of course Pope Francis was prayed for too.

So what do Anglicans have that Catholics don’t? How about lines like: ‘O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give … ‘?

And what do Catholics have? Well, the Real Presence of Christ, of course. At Benediction: ‘Therefore we before him bending this great sacrament revere … ‘;  The Divine Praises: ‘Blessed be God. Blessed be His Holy Name …’ and afterwards the ‘Salve Regina…’

Mgr Newton told me that his Anglican services, at least, had been no stranger to these Catholic elements.  But when one looks at the separate agonising and bitterness that has been in evidence in the compilations of new Missal translations and prayer books, one cannot help thinking that – on the evidence of last night – the opportunity for a powerful cross-fertilisation, based on a genuinely creative tension, has been there all along.

And is it not the case that, if ecumenism is to make progress, it will be first of all on the basis of deep common prayer? And if the Holy Spirit is not taken from us, the common doctrine will follow.


Why Do We Continue Talking to the Anglicans…

... after they have so wilfully made unity impossible?

To behave as though women priests and gay bishops make no difference to our relations is to do violence to the truth.

Writes William Oddie in the Catholic Herald. In typical fashion, he hits hard:

Hot on the heels of my disobliging remarks last about Archbishop Justin Welby’s Uriah Heep-like cringing to the government even as he told them in the Lords how disastrous their gay marriage legislation was going to be, comes the announcement that this Friday, Archbishop Welby is to meet the Pope.

The real question is why? Why are we still going through the ecumenical motions with the Anglicans, for all the world as though they had (or had some possibility of gaining) the same kind of ecclesial reality as the Orthodox?  Why does the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) still meet, as though Anglican ordinations to their episcopate of openly gay men living with their partners, and also of women to their priesthood and episcopate, despite the warnings of successive popes of the fact that these steps would erect insuperable barriers to unity with the Catholic Church, why do we still carry on with the farce of behaving as though these insuperable barriers just did not exist at all?

In a press release yesterday, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, without the slightest apparent ironical intention, stated that “This brief visit is of particular interest since it is the first meeting of the Archbishop and the Pope since their inaugurations, which took place at about the same time, just over two months ago.” So? Why is that of particular interest? Why is it of any interest at all? Well: “This visit”, they go on “is an opportunity for the Archbishop and Pope Francis to review the present state of relations between the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communion.”  But what does that mean? Will they talk about the fact that since the ordination of women to the Anglican version of the priesthood, the possibility of reunion between the two churches has been made an impossibility for all time?”.

No: they will not; they will talk of other things. They will talk of nice things, not awkward things like the state of internal schism within Anglicanism which makes any talk of unity between Catholics and Anglicans so utterly futile in any case (because you have to ask WHICH Anglicans). So, “they will talk of many things: Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax /Of cabbages and kings /And why the sea is boiling hot /And whether pigs have wings.”

“In particular”, says the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity “the interest shown by Archbishop Welby in global justice and the ethical regulation of financial markets so that they do not oppress men and women, is echoed in the constant teaching of the Holy Father. Ever since his experience as an executive in an oil company, Archbishop Welby has placed great emphasis on reconciliation, and has continued to press for the resolution of conflicts within the Church and society.” Nice, eh?  “This also evokes Pope Francis’ own call to build bridges between people of every nation, so that they may be seen not as rivals and threats, but as brothers and sisters.”

We are also told that Archbishop Welby has collaborated closely with the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, to safeguard (however ineffectively) marriage and other Christian values in society, and that “it is a sign of their close relations that Archbishop Nichols will accompany the Archbishop of Canterbury on this visit.” Oh, he will, will he? Why does that not surprise me?

Following his meeting with the Pope, Archbishop Welby will call upon Cardinal Koch at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to renew the acquaintance made at the time of the Archbishop’s inauguration at Canterbury, “and to learn about the workings of the Pontifical Council.” I wonder if Cardinal Koch will remind Archbishop Welby of what his predecessor Cardinal Kasper said about the ordination of women to the Anglican episcopate (which Archbishop Welby supports), that it “signified a breaking away from apostolic tradition and a further obstacle for reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Church of England”? Will he recall Cardinal Kasper’s description of the legislation involved in the erection of this additional insuperable obstacle as the “unspoken institutionalism” of an “existing schism”? Perhaps not.

One has to ask, not only what the point of such visits really is, but whether there is any understanding of what damage is being done by the continued maintenance of the fantasy of Anglicanism as an ecclesial reality with which the Catholic church needs to do business? in 2003, Pope John Paul II officially suspended the operation of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, after the consecration of Gene Robinson, a homosexual man in a non-celibate relationship, as a bishop in the Episcopal Church of the United States. It was a moment in which reality asserted itself. What is unclear is WHY that assertion of reality was itself suspended? Why did ARCIC then recommence operations as though nothing had happened, despite the fact that throughout the Anglican communion,  openly gay bishops are now seen as quite normal and there are thousands of women-priests, several of whom are even commissioners in the new ARCIC?

But recommence operations they did. Now, we have entered into a new phase, which we might call the “despite everything that has happened” phase: this is to be known as ARCIC III.   Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham is its Catholic co-chairman. To be fair, he seems to some extent aware of the impossibility of his task. ARCIC, he says,  “must face the obstacles that make that journey [towards full visible unity] much more difficult.” The next phase of ARCIC, he says, “will recognise the impact of the actions of some Anglican Provinces which have raised the issue of the nature of communion within the Church,”. So far, so realistic. But he then says that ARCIC III “can make a contribution to resolving some of the issues that seem so intractable at present.”

But it can’t do that, in the nature of things, can it? All those women-priests aren’t just going to go away, are they? The Anglicans carry on with ARCIC because they think that one day, we’ll just change our minds.  Just as they led the way with a vernacular liturgy, so they’re leading the way now, that’s what they think. After all, Archbishop Welby’s companion in Rome, or one of them, will be Archbishop Nichols, who is in favour of civil partnerships: so if this very senior archbishop (with others) isn’t toeing the Roman line, if Cardinal Danneels is even in favour of gay marriage why not gay bishops one day?

The fact is that these men do not represent the way things will ever go in the Church. There have always been disobedient bishops.  But we know, Archbishop Longley knows, that on these issues the Universal Church will not change, will never change, its teaching or its practice. He ought now to face the fact that to say that ARCIC III “can make a contribution to resolving some of the issues that seem so intractable at present is to perpetuate a kind of ecclesiastical fantasy island in which one day all things will be possible. It is to do damage to our grasp of the truth. And truth is what we do, as Catholics. The absolute primacy of the truth above all things is what we are committed to before all else. To weaken our understanding of THAT is to weaken faith and to undermine the faithful. The continued existence of ARCIC undermines the faithful: it is thus deeply unpastoral. It is cruel; it is uncaring. That is the reality that has to be grasped.


Archbishop of Canterbury to visit Pope Francis

And hopefully, Pope Francis will not mince his words.

The newly-installed Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will visit Pope Francis on 14 June, the Vatican has confirmed.

It will mark the first meeting between Pope Francis and the new head of the Church of England and spiritual head of the global Anglican Church.

The brief courtesy visit is expected to be “informal” but “important” according to a representative of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, whose president Cardinal Kurt Koch will meet and pray with Welby. The Archbishop of Canterbury is also expected to visit the tomb of Blessed John Paul II.

Pope Francis has made uniting Christian churches one the key priorities of his pontificate. Following his inaugural mass as pontiff, Francis spoke of his determination to pursue dialogue with other religions, in respect and friendship.

The visit of the new head of the Anglican Church comes just a few weeks after the arrival of the new director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Archbishop David Moxon, who is the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Holy See. The Anglican Centre promotes Christian Unity and is the Anglican Communion’s permanent presence in Rome

Archbishop David Moxon? The name sounds familiar… And here’s why.



What the Anglo-Catholics Have to Offer to Anglicanism

Those who have read the recent post on Fr. Philip’s North lead story in the May 2013 issue of New Directions may well have wondered what the specific gifts are which in Philip North’s view the Anglo-Catholics have to offer to the Church of England.

Cleverly Fr. North had already given the answer to this question in the previous month’s lead story. Here is a summary of the article and some quotations:

“What is the point in having us now? What does our tradition have to offer the wider Church?”

1. “We witness to (the) true identity (of the Church of England) as part of the Universal Catholic Church.” Fr. North wonders whether this argument has perhaps already been lost, saying that many view the C of E as “free, independent, Protestant”. Should this be the case, he believes that “then we have no excuse for staying in the Church of England”.

Linked with this guardianship of the true ecclesial identity of Anglicanism is “a passion for the unity of Christ’s Church“. Again the signs are not good. Relations with the Roman Catholic Church are at a low, suspicion of Rome is rife. And ecumenism with the other Protestant denominations is in the doldrums. Indeed “the whole movement towards Christian unity is in crisis” and Fr. North considers this a scandal. Anglo-Catholics have the vocation to “keep alive relationships with the Roman Catholic Church” and – in constant conversation with their own Church of England – to try to “create the conditions required for ecumenical discussion”. Again he says: “If we think the argument is lost once and for all, our self-justification is lost.”

2.  The second gift is to offer the wider Church a “sacramental world view“. The Mass is not one worship option among many but “the primary way in which God invites us to worship him“. It is the duty of Anglo-Catholics “to remind people of the primacy of the sacramental life” and of the role of the Mass to make effective the saving work of Christ in the present, to proclaim the Kingdom, to feed and commission God’s people and to sanctify all creation.

And without the priest there is no sacrament, so Anglo-Catholics offer “a proper view of Christian priesthood”. In the C of E priesthood is often viewed as a waste of young people’s lives, a squandering of their educational opportunities, even “synonymous with child abuse”. Priests are seen by many as an expensive luxury and as “part of a hierarchical cabal holding back the gifts and talents of the laity”. Priests are “a problem that needs solving”.

Philip North believes that people are, however, willing to listen when told about the “correct context” of priesthood in a sacramental view of the world, and he tells a story of a talk he gave at Holy Trinity, Brompton, by which the listeners were “fascinated and moved”.  Fr. North concludes that Anglo-Catholics “are the ones who can lead (the) debate” about “a proper and balanced vision of priesthood“.

3. The third gift concerns “the proper ordering of public worship“. Fr. North finds much public worship is ”inept, unimaginative, banal and pointless”. Few, he believes, “understand the books”. Anglo-Catholics., on the other hand, “know how to offer worship which is both dignified and numinous and yet human enough to meet needs and engage people”, “to show confidence in the Mass”, “to order spaces and beautiful buildings and plan dignified ceremonial”. He also underlines the “enormously imaginative and broad” use of music and the “first-rate preachers who can put across sharp, challenging and relevant messages without banging on all day”.

4. The fourth gift is the “long tradition … of ministering in areas of poverty and social deprivation“. “We don’t bus in the middle classes” Fr. North writes, “but rather we serve local people”, including vulnerable adults, ethnic minority groups, those with mental health problems, the neglected and sidelined and the broken. ”Our movement has a long and proud history of locating itself where human need is greatest”.

He is of the opinion that the wider Church “is forgetting how to pay anything more than lip-service to the bias to the poor”, and that Anglo-Catholics “have a great deal to offer the evangelical world in this respect”. Many evangelical churches are accused of being “a white, professional, middle-class, graduate movement” and are “desperately longing for ways to offer service to poorer communities and for a theological underpinning to such work”.

He sees examples of “the middle classes seeking to improve the lives of the poor by imposing upon them their own lifestyles and values” and believes that this would be “unthinkable” within the Catholic movement, because Anglo-Catholics “instinctively see things from the point of view of local people”, “the incarnational approach to community development is in our bloodstream”.

5. And the fifth gift he identifies is a “disciplined, devotional life”, and he specifically names two aspects of the (Anglo-)Catholic spiritual life: the Sacrament of Confession and the “proper place of Mary within the Christian life“.

(to be completed)

David Murphy


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