Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The problem is...

The problem is, to put it simply, Anglicanorum Coetibus, (the Apostolic Constitution , "AC") is not a vehicle for unity of Anglo-Catholicism and the Roman Catholic Church; yet a lot of people seem to think it is.

One reads of devout men and it has to be said, on the whole Clerics, that they have "always believed what the Roman Church teaches." Members of the TAC particularly state that by their Bishops signing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, proving de facto their adherence to Roman doctrine, that therefore it is only natural for them to seek unity with the Holy See.

The trouble with this is that a) if they truly believed what the Roman Church taught, they would've converted to Rome years ago surely and b) by "uniting" with Rome under the terms of the AC, they are in fact only submitting/being received as Roman Catholics - not Anglo-Catholics - and if they have always believed what Rome teaches, they will be bringing nothing with them but what is "cultural" of the Anglican Patrimony.

The truth of the matter is, Anglicanism has never taught the same as Rome - some Anglo-Catholic clergy have taught Rome's doctrines, true, but no official Anglican Catechism has ever taught the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption of Mary and most especially not the Infallibility of the Pope!

The Apostolic Constitution should be understood to be what it is - an opportunity for Roman-thinking Anglicans to be received as Roman Catholics. What it is not, is an exercise of unity between Anglican Catholicism and Roman Catholicism. What is unclear, especially from the statements of TAC members is, that if they have always believed the same as Rome teaches, what will they be bringing that is "Anglican" except a penchant for fine liturgy and music?

There is more to Anglican Patrimony than that which is just cultural - but the apologetics and theological discourses of the Homilies, the writings of the Divines etc are not being offered by the TAC - for they have "always believed" what is stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and that is not up for discussion... This is not the result nor the conclusion of the ARCIC dialogue (Rome has made that clear) meaning that it is not therefore "the meeting of minds", the long awaited "agreement" between Anglicans and Romans on doctrine and theology and understanding. This is simply the reception of Anglicans as Romans.

Response to "The Anglo-Catholic"

The following is a response to "Doc+" on The Anglo-Catholic blog...

I think dear Father it is somewhat of an exaggeration to suggest that you (esp. the TAC) are the continuation of the Catholic Church that existed between the 2ndC and the mid-16thC in the British Isles?!

For one that means bypassing the Reformation and the separation of the Church in England from the Holy See and the creation of the Church of England – which actually is what makes you Anglicans and secondly, ignores the development of Anglican Patrimony for the past 450 years which, it is claimed, you are bringing and offering to Rome?!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church contains indeed, the same Faith as that “which has been believed everywhere and by all” as well some additions from the 19thC. Of course, it is debatable as to whether or not those additions are “innovations” or formalisation of what was already widely believed. However, the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception, Papal Infallibility and (much less so) the Assumption, cannot reasonably be said to have been believed “everywhere and by all” in consideration of the Great Schism and our Orthodox brethren’s understanding of some of these issues; i.e. not believed by the whole Church Catholic.

By the same token neither can recent Councils called “Ecumenical” be regarded as such by those of us who believe the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church does not consist solely of the Roman Communion but also of the Eastern Catholicate and others besides. Rome’s own teaching is somewhat confused on this point – since VCII teaching that salvation is possible outside the (Roman) Catholic Church and recent pronouncements such as “Dominus Iesus” further define the salvific efficacy of those Communions not at present in Communion with Rome.

While I wholeheartedly appreciate that many Anglicans are giving up the fight for continuity of traditional “Anglicanism” and hot-footing it to Rome… Wholesale denial of their previous beliefs and teachings does not persuade me to believe that it is true “unity” but indeed conversion that we are witnessing.

The questions remain; what is Anglican Patrimony and why, if salvation depended upon it, did people not previously convert to Rome? What was it about being Anglo-Catholic that meant holding out to the last as a group before finally submitting or surrendering? The answer to that question I think, will provide an answer to the first regarding Anglican Patrimony.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Anglicanorum Coetibus UK latest developments...

From the Bishops Conference website;
The bishops warmly received the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, and its generosity towards those seeking full visible communion with the Holy See. They established a Commission to consider in detail the next steps in this process in England and Wales. They strongly reaffirmed their continuing commitment to ecumenical relations, working for the unity of his disciples for which Christ prayed (John 17:20-21). In particular, they looked forward to the next regular meeting with the Bishops of the Church of England ever seeking to deepen the shared mission to proclaim the Good News to the society in which we live.

Anglicanorum Coetibus Commission

Responding readily to the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, the Bishops’ Conference establishes a commission of Bishops and advisers to consider the next steps which may arise in this process.

‘The Commission is therefore available for consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (cf. Anglicanorum coetibus 1§1) and to offer advice and guidance to Diocesan Bishops. Given the faculty for members of an Ordinariate “to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared”(Anglicanorum coetibus III), the Commission is to advise the Bishops’ Conference on transitional arrangements for the reception of groups of Anglicans, should such requests arise. The Commission is also to consider those articles of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus and the Complementary Norms that refer to the responsibilities of the Bishops’ Conference and to present suggestions for their fulfilment. The Episcopal members of the Commission are to be Archbishop-Elect Bernard Longley, Bishop Malcolm McMahon and Bishop Alan Hopes.’
Ok... an interesting development (has similar happened in the States, is there a release from the USCCB? Not at 23:27 24/11/09).

Will the TAC in England now direct their application to this Commission or is that being done with any such application by the whole TAC directly to the CDF? Perhaps a "less than secret squirrel" will share?

For those pro the AC in England this is a positive step forward... it will be very interesting to see what the response will be by potential convert Anglicans.

The problem for (CofE) Clergy to consider now is whether they approach individually or as a group e.g. the Society of the Holy Cross together... Or whether they approach as Pastors with Parishes... The real "test of the metal" is about to take place... Will Clergy lead the way by forsaking stipend and potentially pension... Or will they rely on the fruitfulness of their catechesis of the laity for the last few years to apply [i]en masse[/i] with them... Or will they wait patiently for a general consensus and a "caravan" as the Bishop of Ebbsfleet advocates?

Sadly - and now it might appear, that Rome is playing the "spin" game - will people fall for the "unity" angle or realise their emotions are being played upon to initiate a false sense of conclusion to ecumenism and unity talks? Or have both parties decided that the "reunion not absorption" bluff card has been played and this is the end of the game?

The base line is still the same... "convert and be absorbed" or make a stand for Anglican Patrimony that means more than "surplice, scarf and hood" and "choral evensong" or aping Rome with "bells, smells and lace..."

On the Apostolic Constitution

Dear Reader

It has become to concern me somewhat of late, the over spin and positive gloss that some Reverend Colleagues are placing on the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus. The most recent example being a Pastoral Letter issued by +Louis Falk, head of the TAC in America, issued this past weekend (22/11/09).

Taking my life into my own hands possibly re ruffling a few feathers, but my thoughts below on +Louis Falks recent Pastoral Letter concerning the AC...


22 November 2009 – Sunday Next Before Advent

To all the Faithful of the Anglican Church in America


The great Orthodox theologian John Meyendorff has been quoted as remarking that genuine Christian unity would require humility on the part of many, and charity on the part of all. I suggest that to those two paramount Christian virtues we must add the more workaday quality of patience. It took 450 years to raise all the questions posed by the possibility of real and corporate unity between Roman Catholics and Anglicans. We will not have all the answers in 450 minutes.
Indeed, John Meyendorff is worth reading, but the Apostolic Constitution does not offer corporate reunion - it offers "corporate" (at best) conversion - this is not Communion it is absorption. It is not the reunification of the See of Canterbury with the Holy See, but the absorption of some Anglicans as Roman Catholics.

Yet with the publication of Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus we do now have the possibility of addressing those issues directly and in cooperation with each other. As most everyone knows by now, the Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion, meeting in October of 2007 in Portsmouth, England, addressed a petition to the Holy See seeking to explore what would need to be done to achieve full, visible unity while maintaining the best characteristics of our beloved Anglican heritage. The Apostolic Constitution is meant to provide an approach to just that question. It is an extremely generous and pastoral document. Indeed, it explicitly address the desirability of preserving our Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony intact and undamaged after the ravages of such as Jenkings, Spong, Robinson and Schori.
The Apostolic Constitution provides "full, visible unity" in as much as a convert will become a Roman Catholic. That is Rome's understanding of "full, visible unity". Rome's answer is, "convert and you will achieve full, visible unity" with us. The "Anglican Patrimony" can only be cultural if people as converts take on Rome's doctrine, her thinking, her praxis... what is left to bring accept cultural appreciation if by converting you necessarily leave all else behind? The AC is an "accommodation" it is not the recognition of an inherent Catholicism in Anglicanism.

An initial set of Complementary Norms has been issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which will be discussed in detail by representatives of that body and of the TAC College of Bishops within the near future. We are now asking members of the ACA (and other TAC provinces) to study the Norms and then pose such questions as may occur.
Complementary Norms can be discussed, this is stated in the Apostolic Constitution [Anglicanorum Coetibus Article II] suggesting that Ordinariates can have their own Norms in sympathy obviously with those already given together with the AC and normative Roman Canonical and doctrinal praxis. This is not to replace the Complementary Norms promulgated by the Holy Father and issued with the Apostolic Constitution. These other Norms will be supplementary to cover practical details, not policy.

Some already have, such as: Question: Will we be able to continue to have married priests indefinitely? Answer: Yes.
More accurate answer: not exactly. For as long as the applications of married candidates are reviewed by the Holy See and are successful, on a "case by case basis" - then "yes". However, as the AC makes it clear that Clerical Celibacy is to be regarded as the "norm" [Anglicanorum Coetibus Article VI:2], in reality, after the first generation, married applicants will be expected to become less, not more. But certainly the option for married candidates to apply will be "indefinite" in that, it is a provision of the promulgated Apostolic Constitution.

Question: Will those of us who were formerly Roman Catholics be excluded from the Anglican Ordinariates? Answer No.
More accurate answer: not exactly. Former Roman Catholic Clerics, who became Anglicans and now might seek to repent and return to the fold, could become lay members of the Ordinariate. The AC is clear that they will not be able to function as Sacred Ministers. Former lay Roman Catholics similarly returning to the fold will be eligible to fulfill their Catholic obligations as normal, which will include attendance at Mass in an Ordinariate. However, it should be remembered that Article 5 of the Complementary Norms states that "Those baptized previously as Catholics outside the Ordinariate are not ordinarily eligible for membership, unless they are members of a family belonging to the Ordinariate."

Question: Will we lose control over our Church finances and property? Answer: No.) There will be more. These can be sent to your own Bishop, and he will see that they get to the appropriate TAC representatives. Your concerns, as well as your thoughts and prayers, are an essential element and a vital part of this process.
More accurate answer: we don't know. It stands to reason that if whole parishes sought to convert it would make sense for them to offer their property also to Rome. Roman Canon Law though is not straightforward about the ownership of property. Generally temporal assets are "given" to the Church whose own laws provide for their governance and administration. The principle is that the Faithful are expected to provide to the Church that which is necessary for the Church to serve them but it is the Church who possesses them and decides how they are used. It may be that as a "juridic person" current property might be given to the Ordinariates for particular "in house" governance, unless the Ordinariates provide for the retention of ownership of property by the Parishes as juridic entities (those supplemental, discussable "Norms"). It could be complicated and could be done, depends on how long people want to take to work it all out and how much of a concession Rome would give Canonically to such proposals. [Mug up on Book V. CCL]

Bishop Langberg has remarked that library shelves around the world are packed with books and papers on the topic of 'ecumenism'. Up to now it's all been theory; but with respect to the world's largest Communion of Christians, there has been no 'test case' or anything like it, trying to work out 'how it will work' on the ground. That opportunity has now been presented to us. In view of our Lord's prayer (John 17) that all his followers might be one, the fact places upon us, and upon our Roman Catholic counterparts, a very great responsibility along with the opportunity. The real-world answer to that practical question will be worked out in real life and in real time as we move forward.
Erm... but this isn't about "ecumenicsm" or "unity" it's about "conversion" so the books can stay on the shelf for further study, obviously. There is nothing to discuss or work out with your Roman "counterparts" (shouldn't that be brethren?) as you will share one doctrine and praxis i.e. Roman Catholic doctrine and Roman Catholic Canon Law and Roman Catholic praxis. There is nothing to discuss as Anglican Patrimony is seen as cultural, not theological.


This will require genuine good faith on all sides. That we come in good faith can be seen from the 'Portsmouth Letter'. That our Roman Catholic counterparts come likewise can be seen from Pope Benedict’s unprecedented offer of a parallel structure for Anglican Catholics, a 'House of our own' (as it were) within the 'compound of Catholicity'. Ecclesiastical life within the colony will evolve over time as adjustments are made. We trusted each other enough to begin our ecclesiastical journey together in the ACA with an original canonical structure based on what we had known in the past. We have adjusted that structure more than once as circumstances has show the wisdom of doing so. Christians of good will can and must continue that process together in unity as Jesus commanded us to do. He promised us the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and his promise remains true.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

+Louis W. Falk
President: House of Bishops.

Oh dear... +Louis doesn't write in terms of "conversion" but "unity" and unfortunately that is just not what is being offered by the AC.

Ex fide bona... mmm... we haven't seen the whole letter sent by the TAC Bishops to Rome, excerpts but not all of it (despite promises), and judging by the confusion on the ground, particularly amongst the laity, it would seem the Bishops have not exactly acted in "good faith" with their own people about their approach to Rome.

Something about this letter seems to convey a sense that things are up for discussion and mutual agreement - rather more than is actually the case. The Apostolic Constitution and its Complementary Norms, is what it is - it is not a proposal - it is "take it or leave it". Some finer points re the practicalities are open to discussion naturally, the supplemental Norms peculiar to each Ordinariate etc and perhaps how exactly the whole process of corporate conversion will begin.

Personally, if I were a member of the Roman Curia I would be a little put off by this last paragraph - a "parallel structure" if meaning a separate entity - is not what the AC offers.

The AC offers the structure of a "Personal Diocese" subject to the Holy Father (naturally) and the local Episcopal Conference. The Ordinary is a juridical entity but not with the same authority, quite, as a Roman Diocesan Bishop. His powers are limited to the Ordinariate and his influence will be also. While he may sit in the Episcopal Conference he will do so rather like a Provincial Religious Superior does, his contribution to the policy decision-making of the Bishops will be limited and generally confined to matters affecting his own particular remit, yet he will have to follow the policies of the Episcopal Conference and cannot function anywhere without their specific cooperation (he can't just erect Parishes where he likes but must consult etc).

+Louis seems to think the AC offers a "church within a church" - one presumes he knows it's not a Unitariate, but his language and thinking seem to betray a sense of that. That's not a true understanding however of the AC and I fear it will become a shock to many when they discover that the reality of the situation will not be quite as rosy as it was presented to them.

I repeat again - I'm not against the AC per se - if one wants to become a Roman Catholic and retain something of what one appreciates culturally about being Anglican - go! But what does bother me is the over positive spin being put all over it. It is a generous structure from a Roman/Anglican perspective in comparison to... well nothing else has been offered (in such detail) before. But it is not a reunion corporate or otherwise, it is an opportunity to become Roman Catholic - not remain Anglican Catholic and in communion with Rome - it is about becoming Roman Catholic and having some of your cake but not all of it. That I suppose is the measure of humility +Louis refers to. I think actually it's a self-deception, delusion even and one that might entice others to do something they actually don't want to do i.e. deny their Orders and their Sacraments. All that of course, (deliberately?) not referred to by this pastoral letter at all.

(P.S. I have actually met +Louis and thought him a marvelous "Catholic" Bishop - he has a "presence" and a humility about him which I was quite in awe of. I respect the man, but can't help but feel he hasn't really grasped what this is really all about... That's my personal opinion, not a judgment!)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Holy Relics

At Mass today we commemorated the Feast of Holy Relics - an ancient observance that fits well in its "recent" calendarial location in the octave of All Saints and following All Souls.

An opportunity again to dwell on the fullness of the Communion of the Saints - the interalia of the Church Triuphant, the Church Militant and the Church Expectant. In my homily today I explained the development of the practice of placing Relics in or about Altars.

The Early Church under persecution, having originally met for worship in the homes of local members, was driven to seek the protection of the cemeteries and in some places, the catacombs - essentially the burial places around their towns/cities. Due to a long existing "fear" of the dead and places associated with them(!) Christians could meet almost without interruption from their pagan persecutors who were too fearful to enter the places of the dead in the hours of darkness.

As the Persecutions became more deadly and church members were being martyred for their faith, the importance of gathering together in the places were the mortal remains of their brothers and sisters in the faith were kept became acutely poignant, particularly in connection to the offering of the Holy Mysteries wherein the rememberance of the Passion and Death of Our Lord were celebrated and His Body and Blood shared...

For the Early Church to be a martyr was something some Christians "looked forward to" in the sense that they were so confident in their faith and the promise of eternal life offered to them in the Gospel, that the possibility to spill their blood in defence of the religion of He who spilt His Blood for the world was something not undesired. It became quite something then to the Early Christians to meet in the tombs surrounded by the mortal remains of their forbears in the Faith and to offer the Holy Sacrifice in "memory of Me".

Thus later, when the Church was able to grow and develop during those times without persecutions and worship resumed to at first homes
(Domus Ecclesiae) and then later Churches and more permanent and dedicated places of worship, the rememberance of the martyrs and their obvious connection to the Sacrifice of the Mass, meant that the remains of those of particular memory were transfered from the burial places to be located in these new places of worship and specifically under the Altars upon which the Blood of the Saviour of the World was offered. The connection in the Church's heart, let alone the remembrance of those who had died for her Faith, had been inextricably linked with the most solemn offering of her worship and expression of community, the holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

All Saints & All Souls

My "60 Second Sermon" for BBC Radio Sussex 0750, All Saints Day 2009

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Amen.

And so say all of us Christians baptised into the faith of the Apostles!

We who are Christians, no matter which denomination we belong t, are, by virtue of our baptism members together of the Communion of Saints - that is the Church Militant, i.e. the here and now on earth and the Church Triumphant - those who are now in heaven and the Church Expectant - those who have left this life and are on their way to heaven. These two days of All Saints and All Souls are a celebration and a reminder to us of the Communion of Saints.

Today, All Saints, reminds us of the glorious company of Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, Pastors, holy men and women whom The Church feels sure, by virtue of their deeds on earth have attained that perfection necessary to be in God's eternal presence. We remember and celebrate their lives, consider how it was that they - though ordinary people like we - were able to convert their lives by love in God through their deeds and prayers into the sanctity desired for those who would follow Christ. Christians today should be inspired by, as the author of Hebrews describes, that "great cloud of witnesses" who forever encompass us about our daily existence in prayer and acts of charity; urging us too to attain that great reward, that pearl of great price, eternal life with Christ.

On Monday, All Souls, in the Catholic tradition we pray for the faithful departed, fully aware as the Revelation to St John says, that the deeds of their life cannot be altered, but remembering also the merit afforded the great commander Judas in Machabees who offered prayers in atonemnet for the sins of those fallen in battle. Likewise, we who are left to sojourn on this mortal plane, remember and pray for those who have died that by our prayers and through our charity, they may be quickened into glory and the welcome of the Saints on high.

All Saints and All Souls remind us that with and as the Communion of Saints, we as Christians are never alone; we are always surrounded by love and prayer; by the warmest thoughts and best wishes of those who gone before and the knowledge that we too, when we have left this mortal coil, will also be remembered in love and with prayers by those we leave behind... until that time when we may all meet again when Our Lord comes to reign, at the end of the ages for all eternity. Amen!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

An introduction...

Pax Vobis

My ministry in a nutshell? I am a simple priest without stipend ministering to the lost and strayed sheep most other Churches have, for a variety of reasons, mislaid or discarded and don't seek after. The sorts of people I minister to are those whose lifestyle was not deemed reconcilable or whose self-expression or identity made them unwelcome in the Churches of their birth. But before,
dear Reader, you write me off as some socialist liberal, I am in fact totally orthodox in my teaching and in my praxis. The difference perhaps, between myself and others, is that I do not believe that it is sometimes "cruel to be kind", rather I believe it is always necessary as a Christian, particularly as a Catholic and most especially as a Pastor to "be loving" even when it would be easier not to be...

You will notice from my links and later from my posts, that I am a "traditional Catholic", though without the "attitude". I offer Mass daily according to the Usus Antiquior, I recite my Office Hours and I adhere to traditional Catholic teaching. But I have found in my experience of pastoral counseling these words to be true...
“Soyez toujours le plus doux que vous pourrez, et souvenez-vous que l’on prends plus de mouches avec une cuillère de miel qu’avec cent barils de vinaigre… Always be as gentle as you can and remember that one catches more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar." (Introduction to a Devout Life, St Francis De Sales, though legend attributes it to St Bernard of Clairvaux also.)

While I more than truly appreciate the perspectives of Traditional Catholicism with regard to spiritual discipline and liturgy, I find in praxis and from the lives of the Saints, more to commend compassion, gentle persuasion and encouragement in the direction of souls towards perfection than I do to
"slash and burn" with sarcastic wit or condemnation. Though, I admit, I am prone outside of that context (i.e. pastoral praxis) to be as quick witted and short tempered as my namesake, St Jerome, who spared some no blushes in his defence of orthodoxy!

"Detract not one another, my brethren. He that detracteth his brother, or he that judgeth his brother, detracteth the law, and judgeth the law. But if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge." [James 4:11] Our Lord speaks and I listen! It can be all too easy sometimes to fall into the conceit of the Pharisees and apply the "letter" rather than the "spirit" of the law and I firmly believe that the "spirit" of the Divine Law [St Mark 12: 28-34; Deut 6:5; Levit 19:18] is Charity that described by the Apostle Paul as "Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." [1 Cor 13].