‘An Anglican Who is Now in Full Communion with Peter’

Convert priest thrilled to host Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury


Catholic convert Father Peter Hughes prefers to describe himself as “an Anglican who is now in full communion with Peter.”

“In a personal sense I have made this journey, and it has been both a fascinating and a demanding one,” said Fr. Hughes, the prior of San Gregorio al Celio monastery in Rome, in an interview with CNA. Fr. Hughes was received into the Catholic Church in 2000, after many years as an Anglican vicar in his native Australia and in England.

This weekend he will experience his life come full circle as he hosts both Pope Benedict XVI and the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The two religious leaders will pray Vespers together to mark the 1,000th anniversary of the monastic Camaldolese Order, which has overseen San Gregorio since the mid 1500s. “The thought of living one’s own ecclesial tradition in a different context and celebrating what is rich in both …is reflected in this whole celebration,” said Fr. Hughes.

He believes this weekend’s events signify the “deepest desire” of the Pope and the Anglican leader “to move towards a communion which symbolically, structurally, sacramentally, institutionally can finally reach its consummation.”

The venue of San Gregorio monastery comes with added significance for English Christians. In the late 6th century Pope Gregory the Great dispatched St. Augustine from the monastery to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, thus making them “not Angles, but Angels.” St. Gregory actually built the monastery on the site of his family home.

“This is the third time that a Pope has met with the Archbishop of Canterbury in the house of Gregory the Great,” Fr. Hughes explained.

“So, this connection with the English, this connection with Canterbury is fundamental to the celebration.”

In recent years, the search for unity has been made more difficult as many Anglican churches have liberalized their stance on moral issues, such as homosexuality.

An internal report published last year also suggested that the rate of decline among Anglican congregations is so severe that the Church of England could be “functionally extant” or effectively dead in 20 years.

But Fr. Hughes is still hopeful for Christian unity. “We’re always searching for expressions of God’s will. I think the desire for unity is as strong as ever. I think we need to look for ways in which we can stimulate our progress,” he said.

“This weekend is a way of saying, ‘this is another step on the way,’ another way of lifting our spirits and saying this is still something to hope for and this is still something to work for concretely.”

HT:   The inimitable Fr Z, who says:

This is for your Just Too Cool file.

Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.



Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on his Meeting with Pope Benedict XVI Today

Vatican Radio:

Pope Benedict received in audience on Saturday morning the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Dr Rowan Williams, at the start of his 3 day visit to Italy. According to the Anglican leader, the discussions focused on “a shared sense of deep anxiety” about the situation of Christians in the Middle East and a look ahead at the theological reflections that Dr Williams will be offering the Synod of Bishops next October. They also talked “quite animatedly” about a recent lecture the Archbishop gave in Geneva on how to connect Christian theology with human rights. After the audience Philippa Hitchen sat down with the Anglican leader to talk about their meeting, about current concerns in the Church of England, including the Anglican covenant, legislation on women bishops and the forthcoming diamond jubilee of Queen Elisabeth, as well as about the concept of monastic values as a key to ecumenical progress…..

Listen here (mp3).

His homily at Papal Vespers, San Gregorio Magno al Celio, can be read here.



NY Times Ad Accused of ‘Hate Speech’ Against Catholics

A secularist group’s New York Times ad that urges Catholics to leave the Church over its’ resistance to the contraception mandate is being called “hate speech” by critics.

“Not a single Catholic who reads this ad will be impelled to leave the Church. That is not the issue,” said Catholic League president Bill Donohue. “The issue is the increase in hate speech directed at Catholics.”

The Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation ad “It’s Time to Quit the Catholic Church” ran on March 9 and billed itself as an “open letter to ‘liberal’ and ‘nominal’ Catholics”…

The foundation’s website says it raised $52,000 to place the ad on page 10 of the Times’ front section.

Donohue harshly criticized the newspaper ad, saying it engages in a “palpable” demonization of the Catholic Church and uses the HHS mandate as a “pretext” to attack the Church.

Source (and rest).



Calendar and Sanctorale for Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter Published

Picked up by the ever vigilant Steve Cavanaugh:

The web site of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter has published its particular calendar and sanctorale. Like the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and Wales, this calendar has the following differences from the Roman Calendar:

  • The term “Ordinary Time” is not used of the Sundays. Sundays following the Christmas season are named “Sundays After Epiphany”, while the three Sundays before Ash Wednesday regaining their historic names of Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima.
  • The Sundays following the Easter season and the feast of the Most Holy Trinity are named “Sundays After Trinity”, according the practice of northern Catholicism in general and the Church of England in particular.
  • The Rogation Days before the feast of the Ascension are restored.
  • Observance of the Octave of Pentecost is restored (in vestments and propers, but using the weekday readings from the Roman Lectionary).
  • The Ember Days, at their traditional times, are restored.
  • The first Sunday of October is permitted to be used for a parish’s dedication festival, if the date of the dedication is unknown

The Calendar specifies that the Sundays After Epiphany will use the Roman Lectionary, and so Second Sunday after Epiphany would use the readings for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time; and the Sundays After Trinity will use the Lectionary readings from the weeks of Ordinary Time.

In the Sanctorale, several feast days are added to the US calendar, and some feasts of the US calendar are raised in rank: The Chair of St. Peter on February 22 becomes a Solemnity. Our Lady of Walsingham on September 24th is added to the calendar as a Feast, and Our Lady of the Atonement is added to the calendar on its traditional day of July 9th as an optional memorial.

Download the Calendar and Sanctorale at this link.

As a postscript (to the above), I have been enjoying reading the book edited by Stephen Cavanaugh, ‘Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church: Reflections on Recent Developments’ (Ignatius Press, 2011) which Fr Raymond Ball (from Canada) gave me on a recent private visit to Cape Town. It looks at the history of the Pastoral Provision in the US and the roots of the Personal Ordinariates. Worth getting:


A Story of Encouragement (for the Middle of Lent)

Tells Fr Jeremy Davies:

A man was sleeping one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might.

So this the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from every day, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Since the man was showing discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into his weary mind: “You have been pushing against that rock for a long time and it hasn’t moved.” Thus, he gave the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. Satan said, “Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough.”

That’s what the weary man planned to do, but he decided to make it a matter of prayer and to take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. “Lord,” he said, “I have laboured long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?”

The Lord responded compassionately, “My friend, when I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I ask you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me with your strength spent, thinking you have failed. But is it really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy, your hands callused, your legs massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. True, you haven’t moved that rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in my wisdom. That you have done. Now I, my friend, will move the rock.”

So often we use our intellect to decipher what God wants of us, when actually all he wants is obedience and faith. By all means, exercise faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who moves the mountains. So, when everything seems to go wrong – just PUSH. When your job gets you down, just PUSH. When people just don’t understand you, just PUSH –

Pray Until Something Happens