Anglicans Swimming the Trinity

Get Religion:

Do not let the small mistakes in this article about the ordination of six former Anglican clergy as Catholic priests for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter distract you — this article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram entitled “6 former Episcopal clergymen are ordained in Catholic Church” is one of the few I have seen that “gets religion” and understands the big picture being covered in this story.

And that story is — these priests are entering the Catholic Church, not leaving the Episcopal Church.

Yes, I know the six priests in question have left the Anglican world for Rome — “Swimming the Tiber” in church parlance — (but as the Trinity River runs through Fort Worth I have changed the phrase somewhat). But the real story is about a journey to something — not a rejection of their past.

Before I go to deep into this article, let me say up front that I am acquainted with some of these priests — and have known the leader of the ordinariate, Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson for 10 or so years. And, I am a priest of the church where these men began their ministries and I have written about the journey these men have taken for a number of church-related publications over the past few years. The bottom line is that I come to this story with some degree of knowledge.

This knowledge can be obscure enjoyment at times — as there are one or two points I found to be distracting in this article. Let’s get them out of the way and turn to the lede:

KELLER — Under a huge dome with images of winged angels, six former Fort Worth-area Episcopal clergymen — including a father and son — lay facedown at a marble altar Saturday and were ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church.

In what officials called a historic moment, Fort Worth Catholic Bishop Kevin Vann and other white-robed priests in the diocese laid hands on the priests at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Keller to welcome them.

It was the first ordination class under Pope Benedict XVI’s new Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, created Jan. 1 to allow Episcopal priests to be ordained as Catholic clergy and for Episcopal congregations to join the Roman Catholic Church.

The tone of the article was respectful and the story arc supportive of the Catholic Church. And, yes, they were all once Episcopal priests — but not since 2008.

It would have been better to say that they left the Episcopal Church when the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth left the Episcopal Church in 2008. As an aside, the national Episcopal Church as since created a second Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth for the small number of clergy and congregations that opposed the decision to leave and litigation is presently before the Texas Supreme Court to determine which is the true Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

When the six left the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth to become Roman Catholics in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s offer of an Anglican ordinariate they left the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) — the conservative rival to the Episcopal Church.

I would also add that the story is not as clear as it could be on the point of the “first ordination class”.  For readers who have not been following the ordinariate story, they might have assumed that this ordination to the priesthood was the first ordination for the ordinariate — which is not true. The first ordination took place on 2 June 2012 in Mobile. The Fort Worth six were part of the first batch or class of new priests to be ordained, not the first priests to be ordained.

Those minor quibbles aside, I was impressed the Star-Telegram presented the issues properly by allowing the subjects of this story to explain themselves. And what the subjects of this story told the Star-Telegram was that their decision to enter the Catholic Church was not motivated by anger with the innovations in doctrine and discipline made in recent years by the Episcopal Church. They had entered the Catholic Church because they had become convinced by the truth claims made by the Catholic Church.

Steenson and the six men ordained opposed many of the changes in the Episcopal Church, including the ordination of gay priests and bishops.

All emphasized, however, that those issues were not central in their decisions to convert.

“Hopefully we understand that this is not just about being opposed to something,” Steenson said.

“If you were just opposed to something, you don’t want to join the Catholic Church. It’s a lot more than that.”

The Rev. Mark Cannaday said his ordination ends a long journey.

“My decision had nothing to do with current issues,” he said, adding that he has been drawn to elements of Catholicism for many years.

The younger Hough said: “For me, it’s not running away from something or saying the Episcopal Church is falling apart. My decision was going toward truth. To me, the current issues in the Episcopal Church are symptoms of a greater problem, and that was authority. There was no authority to say this was or was not part of Christian practice.”

A very common mistake made in the reporting about the Anglican ordinariate is the supposition that those who join the Catholic Church do so in protest to the actions of their former church — be it the Episcopal Church or the ACNA.

The Episcopal Church is not a monolithic nor uniform body. Those who are opposed to the recent actions of the church can be found inside the Episcopal Church or outside in the new Anglican Church of North America or other continuing Anglican groups. Some join other Protestant denominations while many simply stop going to church.

Becoming a Roman Catholic, as Msgr. Steenson noted, is a very different thing than being opposed to gay bishops or gay marriage — it is a conscious decision that the Catholic Church is the true church. (I should add that some ex-Anglicans have entered the Orthodox Churches — and while there is no Orthodox ordinariate, the faith journey is very much the same.)

As Fr. Christopher Stainbrook noted, becoming a Roman Catholic was “just a natural progression” for him.

It could be argued that the article might have been improved by the addition of voices from the Episcopal or Anglican churches commenting on the decision to leave. If this had been a contentious decision it might have made sense to do so.

However, Bishop Jack Iker of the ACNA-affiliated diocese has ruined this particular story angle by being gracious and affirming of the decision made by his six one-time priests. I’ve interviewed him a number of times on this issue — and many others — and he won’t bite. I may be cynical but adding more affirming voices to the story from the priests’ former church would be a bit too happy-clappy for me. Now if I could have found someone to say something unkind, that would have been different.

Perhaps I am too close to the story to have an objective mind on this point — what say you GetReligion readers? Would it have improved the story to have spread the circle wider to add non-Catholic voices? Or do you agree with me that the article did a fine job in stating the “coming home” theme and adding more would have not improved the story?

Written by: geoconger.


Bible Archaeology

Temple Mount Time Bomb

Dr Leen Ritmeyer:

About a year ago, I published a post in which I warned that “Cement Creates Temple Mount Time Bomb”, which was published in Biblical Archaeology Review.

In that article I observed that:

“ordinary cement was used in the repairs of walls and pavements. Large areas of new pavement have been laid in the southern part of the Temple Mount, again with ordinary cement in between the joints. This causes a greater flow toward the outer walls, which simply cannot absorb so much water.”

In a previous post, I warned of the structural problems created by wrong repairs to the Temple Mount walls:

One of the first lessons I was taught during the MA course in the Conservation of Ancient Buildings at the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies of the University of York, UK, was that one NEVER uses ordinary Portland cement in the repair of ancient buildings. It prevents ancient walls from “breathing” and eventually causes the collapse of these walls. The Waqf’s continued use of modern building materials in the repair of these bulges and other walls is the equivalent of putting a time-bomb in the walls of the Temple Mount.

Alexander Schick sent me some photographs which shows that my prediction was true:

Here we see the Southern Wall, just east of the Triple Gate, showing that the rain water has damaged the joints in between the stones. Photo © Alexander Schick

Here we see the damage caused to the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount. As predicted, the cement-repaired section could not absorb the water, hence the dirty streaks left by water that cascaded down the wall above the repaired section. Photo © Alexander Schick

Here we see the damage caused by water just above the Double Gate in the Southern Wall. Photo © Alexander Schick

It is clear that the time bomb is ticking louder. It is only a matter of time when large sections of the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount will collapse. When that happens, the Muslims will predictably incriminate the Israelis, when, in fact, they only have themselves to blame.



South African Anglican Bishop Accused of Assaulting Priest

The problems at St Alban’s Anglican Cathedral are far from having been resolved.

The Sowetan Live:

This time Bishop Johannes Seoka is accused of assaulting a priest-in-training in the middle of the night after accusing him of leaking confidential church documents.

Seoka allegedly assaulted Albert Wright on Friday at the church in central Pretoria.

Police spokeswoman Sergeant Anne Poortman confirmed that a case of common assault had been opened at Pretoria Central police station.

The bishop, who is also chairman of the South African Council of Churches, has been at loggerheads with church members for some time.

In May, the church members took Seoka to court after he had suspended church activities.

The court ordered that the cathedral be opened immediately; there be mediation within 30 days; that no party disrupt church activities; and that the bishop, any archdeacon and priest nominated by the bishop, as well as Reverend Rudi Paulse, had the right to officiate at the cathedral without interference, threats and/or disruptions.

As a result of the feuds, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba’s office decided to form a task team as canon 21.3 of the church’s constitution states that the Synod of Bishops can form a task team when there are “reasons which indicate to it that in its opinion the affairs of the diocese merit an inquiry or investigation in relation to possible support”.

The task team will report its findings to the Synod of Bishops for a final decision.

It is claimed Seoka used R500,000 of the diocese’s funds to pay for his mortgage bond.

He is also accused of misappropriating R162,000 to fund his legal representation against a church dean.



Holy See Promulgates First Liturgical Texts for Ordinariates

The Order for Funerals and Holy Matrimony:

The first liturgical texts approved for worldwide use by the Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans have been promulgated by the Holy See.

The Order for Funerals and the Order for the Celebration of Holy Matrimony are to be used by the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in the United Kingdom; the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter in the United States and Canada; and the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia.

The new liturgies replace existing texts, including those from the Book of Divine Worship. Drawn from the classical Anglican prayer book tradition, the texts incorporate elements of the Anglican patrimony now in the full communion of the Catholic Church.

Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, noted, “This is an important moment in the development of our distinctive liturgical and ecclesial life. We saw the world stop to watch the Royal Wedding last year, now a very similar and beautiful liturgy is available for use in the Ordinariates of the Catholic Church – it is a great privilege for us to be part of that obvious working-out of practical, receptive ecumenism”.

The liturgies were promulgated by the Congregation for Divine Worship on June 22, 2012, the feast-day of the English saints of the Reformation, John Fisher and Thomas More. They will be implemented in accordance with local civil law requirements in the various nations, with immediate use in the United States and Canada.

“We welcome with gratitude these texts, which bring into Catholic liturgical life some of the most beloved and memorable texts in the Book of Common Prayer. These texts have blessed and comforted generations of English-speaking Christians and will be deeply appreciated in the Ordinariate communities,” said Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson, Ordinary for the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter.

The new texts were developed under the guidance of Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia OP, who served until recently as the Secretary for the Congregation of Divine Worship. Archbishop DiNoia, now the Vice President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, has been re-appointed as chair of the Holy See’s Anglicanae traditiones Commission tasked with developing the new liturgical texts for the Personal Ordinariates. The Reverend Uwe Michael Lang, CO, who also just stepped down from a post with the Congregation for Divine Worship, will also continue his role in the development of the texts.

The texts are available online here.


Traditional Gideon’s Bible Swapped for Kindle

 The Telepraph has the story:

From today, all 148 rooms at the Hotel Indigo will contain a Kindle e-reader pre-loaded with a copy of the Bible. The hotel is claiming to be the first in Britain to offer such a service.

Guests are also permitted to download a copy of any other religious text – to the value of £5 or less – during their stay. Regular fiction books can also be purchased, with the costs added to guests’ bills.

The policy is being adopted on a trial basis, until July 16, after which a decision will be made on whether to retain it in Newcastle, or possibly expand it to more of the chain’s 44 hotels around the world.

Adam Munday, the hotel’s general manager said the idea was inspired by Newcastle’s literary heritage. The city was once a publishing hotspot, and the hotel is found in near the Literary and Philosophical Society – the largest independent library outside London, which houses more than 150,000 books.

“In the 18th Century, Newcastle was one of the largest print centres in Britain and we’re in Grainger Town, close to the Literary and Philosophical Society,” he said. “We wanted to reflect this literary history in a very contemporary way, so are offering guests the use of cutting-edge Kindles pre-loaded with The Bible, instead of the more traditional hardcopy Gideon’s Bible that they would expect to find in a hotel.”

Gideons International is a US-based evangelical Christian organisation founded in 1899. It is dedicated to distributing free copies of the Bible, often in hotel rooms. Nearly 80 million bibles were distributed last year.


Signs of the times…