Open Response to Msgr Steenson’s Letter by Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of St Mary of the Angels

[Background: Msgr Jeffrey Steenson letter to the ACA parish of St Mary of the Angels in Hollywood is here.]

In via e-mail:

Open Response to Msgr Steenson’s Letter of May 3, 2012

By the Rector, Wardens, & Vestrymen

Of Saint Mary of the Angels, May 5, 2012

There have indeed been obstacles in our path, and these are being overcome.

1)      Almost all Parishioners (and some desiring to become Parishioners) have been instructed in the Evangelium Catechism used by those entering the English Ordinariate. This was approved by Msgr. Stetson. Each person has been exhorted to examine his or her conscience in this matter. 65 have endorsed the Petition at this time.

2)      The Corporation, underCalifornialaw, determines its affiliation. This has been tested in the past in court. Two votes of the Corporation members have already been taken in the affirmative, by over 80%. A third vote is scheduled for May / June, 2012.

3)      St Mary’s website does not refer to any charges, nor have any disciplinary actions been undertaken by any recognized authority over St Mary’s Church. On the instruction of our Bishop, at the division of the House of Bishops of the ACA, our only connection to the ACA was the Patrimony of the Primate. When this structure closed, April 15, 2012, so too were our ties to the ACA. The Solemn Agreement adopted by all ACA bishops on April 26, 2011, at Tucson, guaranteed that any parish desiring to return to an ACA jurisdiction from the Patrimony had to formally request such a move. St Mary’s has not done so. Dissolving in reverse, ex post facto, has no legal effect in theUnited   States of America. (See above, Point 2, and the U.S.Constitution.)

4)      The statement that there are “charges” – and this is noted on the website – is contrafactual, to the best of our knowledge and a thorough web-search. No “charges” were ever brought against Fr Kelley, only allegations, and that without foundation in evidence.

5)      As a matter of Californiacivil law, who has oversight is a matter determined by the Corporation.

6)      The Vestry has been duly elected at an Annual Parish Meeting, according to the By-Laws. NO Vestry Member may be “appointed” in this Parish, under CA Law, not even by any Rector, Bishop, or presumptive Canon. State Law in CA specifies who are the legitimate authorities, past and present.

7)      Only a single Draft of proposed Articles and By-Laws was ever offered by us, and that only for comment, before its submission to the Vestry, although up to five drafts were communicated from sources unknown, pretending to be on authority.

8)      The actual tally of votes was provided electronically immediately after the vote, Sunday, January 22, 2012; this was acknowledged by both Msgr Wm. Stetson and Fr S. Hurd. The vote countof May 1, 2011, was also transmitted and acknowledged. All Vestry members signed the letter to Cardinal Wuerl on December 11, 2011, expressing the stated will of the Parish (by over 80%) to join the Ordinariate soon after its formal erection in 2012. This was also acknowledged by the Cardinal’s office.

9)      At the January 2012 meeting, copies of Dr Chalmers’s statement on parish property was made available to all who wished to examine it; several expressed interest and took it for examination; it was discussed on the floor of the meeting. Fr Raymond Willy and Mr Charles Coulombe were Roman Catholic witnesses; Pastor Philip George was a Presbyterian witness.

10)  The nine points in bishop Steve Strawn’s April 2 “Notice IF Inhibition” (sic) were all falsehoods. They rest only on slander, gossip, or speculation. Some of them are actually impossible, as does appear to any careful examiner. Bp Strawn has never had legitimate jurisdiction over St Mary of the Angels.



UK Society ‘Post-Christian’?

Glasgow — The archbishop of Glasgow has warned that if the government  continues to ignore the wisdom of generations, then society will further descend  into “ethical confusion and moral disintegration.”

Archbishop Mario Conti went on to warn that religion is being driven from the  U.K. public sphere by a new form of secularist tyranny.

Archbishop Conti was speaking at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, in the  presence of all Scotland’s Catholic bishops, representatives of civil and public  life, and the apostolic nuncio to the U.K., Archbishop Antonio Mennini, during a  special Mass to mark the seventh anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict  XVI.

Asking what society — “now in many respects post-Christian” — expects of the  law, he said it is “certainly not the role of law to re-create our society  according to passing fashions and ideologies, nor to redefine nature, whether in  terms of persons and their rights or its natural institutions.”

“We live in a culture of human rights which appear to be ever more in need  of codification and protection,” he said. “And I wonder why; I do not think  society of itself ought to be more needful than before law and laws, unless, of  course, we can no longer rely on the generality of citizens to act virtuously  and according to conscience.”

Referring to the words of Pope Benedict at Westminster Hall during his U.K.  visit, when he said that some people wished to deny a religious voice in the  public sphere, Archbishop Conti said, “One cannot help remark that those voices  are growing ever louder in our country, that attempted marginalization is  becoming ever more acute, and we are witnessing the transformation of tolerance  into a kind of tyranny in which religious views are the only ones which seem  unworthy of respect and acceptance.”

He continued, “Governments which fail to take into account the wisdom that is  handed down generation to generation in communities of faith or fail to  underscore the right and duty of following informed conscience on the part of  citizens will, it seems, inevitably find themselves attempting to be wise by  creating ever more legislation and requiring judges to interpret it according to  the mores of the day.”

In such a climate, the archbishop suggested that it is hardly surprising that  the authorities “seem ready to redefine marriage without any reference to  children or to the natural law written on the heart of mankind, putting the  claim of ‘equality and diversity’ on a higher level than faith and reason and,  ultimately, asserting the moral equivalence between marriage and same-sex  unions, contrary to the virtue of chastity.”

He concluded, “Our society will descend further into ethical confusion and  moral disintegration the more that those in government and the judiciary slip  society’s moorings from the capstans of virtue.”

The above was here.



The Pope’s Handout to Disaffected Anglicans offers a Glimpse into his Mind

‘Handout’? A poor word choice. Anyway, that’s the headline of a piece in The Guardian today:

Anybody attempting to fund-raise in these hard-pressed times of austerity knows how hard it is to get big donations, especially now that George Osborne is going to tax philanthropy. So imagine opening an envelope to discover that, out of the blue, someone is giving your cause a quarter of a million smackers.

That is the happy state in which the Anglican ordinariate – the body set up to provide disenchanted members of the Church of England a berth in the Catholic church – finds itself this week. A whopping US $250,000 (£154,000) is coming its way towards setting up the organisation. And it’s from the pope himself, no less.

It’s not an everyday occurrence that the pope provides handouts to cash-strapped good causes. I don’t get calls from worthy Catholic organisations such as Cafod or the homeless charity The Passage telling me that the holy father has bailed them out. Maybe they’re too discreet to say so. But it’s not unheard of: Pope Benedict did send a donation to the appeal run by Fisher House, the Catholic chaplaincy at Cambridge University, for its refurbishment project.

But Fisher House got £2,000, paid in euros. This gift as well as being vastly more, comes in US dollars, the currency of Benedict’s major publishers. Might it come from his publishing royalties?

I’d suggest this is about more than money. It gives an intriguing insight into church politics, Benedict’s vision of the church, his personal thinking, and the way he perceives Britain.

News of the donation came hard on the heels of a talk given by the papal nuncio to Britain to the bishops of England and Wales. You might expect a talk on the issues facing the church here would have focused on attendance of mass, priest shortages, and the response of English Catholics to the new version of the English mass, imposed by Rome and not exactly going down a storm in the parishes. Instead, top of the nuncio’s agenda was the ordinariate.

Now if the man who is the pope’s number one diplomat in the UK makes what is officially known as the personal ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, top of his agenda, you can take it as read that the message has come from on high and that it is seen as being of the utmost importance. And what Archbishop Antonio Menini said to the English and Welsh bishops was: “Do please continue to be generous in support of their endeavours.” That’s code for: “Knuckle under and make this work.” And it wasn’t the first time that the bishops got this message: Benedict urged them to be similarly enthused about the ordinariate during his final message to them at the end of his 2010 UK papal visit.

It’s fair to say that the ordinariate hasn’t been a runaway success in Britain. It has about 1,200 members who retain elements of their Anglican identity, including 60 priests. But there haven’t been droves of them – although that may change when the Church of England welcomes women bishops.

The bishops of England and Wales might have welcomed the ordinariate but they don’t seem to have exactly embraced it with a passion. At first they seemed to think it was something that would take off in the US and Australia, where there are larger groups who had already separated from the rest of the Anglican communion. The bishops’ focus was more on ecumenical relations with the Church of England. So they offered the ordinariate a pretty ghastly unwanted church as its home and not much else.

But this imprimatur from the pope is surely a message to the bishops that they really do need to be backing the ordinariate to the hilt. That’s a message that Archbishop Vincent Nichols will no doubt be musing on, as the clock is ticking on Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor’s membership of the College of Cardinals, the group who choose the pope. Nichols won’t be relying on the notion that he will automatically get the next red hat after Cormac, even if it would be deeply shocking if he didn’t. He will know that Rome will have been watching how he is shaping up at Westminster. So being seen to be supporting the pope’s own project in England is crucial.

The ordinariate has turned out to be divisive, yet backed to the hilt by the pope. What is it about it that he likes so much? If you want to understand Joseph Ratzinger, you need to go back to his Bavarian roots. He is steeped in a German Catholic culture and its literature, full of longings for beauty. He particularly treasures the works of Herman Hesse, who explores the tensions between loyalty to an institution and doctrinal system and one’s own self-realisation. With the ordinariate, Ratzinger is offering people an opportunity to remain loyal to what they would see matters most – the tenets of an Anglican church that retains a certain Catholic sensibility. And if Benedict allows them to keep what has been described as their Anglican patrimony, then they can keep the traditions that reflect Anglicanism at its aesthetic best – its stunning music, its beautiful prayers. This is a profoundly musical pope, after all, who was enraptured by Anglican liturgy when he visited Westminster Abbey during his papal visit to Britain, and has since then developed a taste for CDs of its choral music.



Fr Christopher Phillips Explains the Situation at Our Lady of the Atonement Regarding the Ordinariate

[Background: Anglican Use Parish (Our Lady of the Atonement) withdraws Ordinariate request here.]

Fr Christopher Phillips of Our Lady of the Atonement explains further on Facebook:

Dear Friends,

It’s difficult to communicate important information by way of email – there’s an understandable tendency for recipients to forward them all over the place, and there is always the strong possibility of someone misinterpreting them. However, I do want to reiterate some of the points I made in yesterday’s email about my meeting with Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller and Bishop Oscar Cantu.

1. The archbishop is NOT preventing the parish from seeking entrance into the Ordinariate at this time, or at some future time. He was clear about that, and is very respectful of our right to make that request any time.

2. It is important to all of us that we preserve the integrity and unity of our parish – church and school, clergy and people, buildings and patrimony – and at the present time the only way we can insure this is by remaining as we are; namely, a Personal Parish of the Pastoral Provision, rather than a parish of the Ordinariate. We all want the parish to be able to continue as it is, with our clergy and people intact, and with our church and school serving those who want to be here. At some point we may be able to have that in the Ordinariate — but this is not the time.

3. Our way of worship – our liturgy, our devotional life, our music…everything we treasure and maintain – will be able to continue uninterrupted, and the archbishop and his auxiliary bishop have stated their support and admiration for what is done here.

I know the decision to withdraw our parish request to enter the Ordinariate is unexpected, and some of you might be perplexed. As you know, I have been very excited about the prospect of being in the Ordinariate, but I had to weigh every aspect of this, and decide what would be truly best for us. The stability of our parish is something I know you would not want to discard lightly, and this decision provides us with the best and safest way to continue to “preserve, nurture and share” our Anglican patrimony, as we have done for the past twenty-nine years.

As we have opportunities to deepen our communion with our Father-in-God, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, let’s make the most of them. He was genuinely moved to learn that we will be remaining in his jurisdiction for now, and he looks forward (as do we) to strengthening our ties with the archdiocese which has been our home for so long.

The time may come when we are prepared to enter the Ordinariate, and when the Ordinariate will be in a better position to receive us as we are. We can be grateful that God has used our parish, in some small way, to prepare the ground for the establishment of the Ordinariate in this country. As strange as it seems for us not to be part of it from the very beginning, the time is not yet right.

Let’s all pray for the success of the Ordinariate, and especially for the men who are preparing for ordination over the next few months. No matter what jurisdiction we’re in, we’re all working for the same end – the building up of God’s Kingdom!

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips

Both letters are also on his blog here.