18 January 2009

The Chair of Unity Octave ...

... is the name it started off with at the start of the twentieth century, when it was begun by a community of Anglican Papalist Franciscans. Originally, this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity linked the Feast of the Cathedra of S Peter on January 18 with that of the Conversion of S Paul on the 25th. Autobiographically speaking, as a 67-year-old, I now feel conned.

When I was an undergraduate in the early 1960s, this Week was one of the big events of the year. Prayer booklets were issued every year, giving intentions for each day of the Octave and liturgical formulae for use at the (many) prayer meetings that took place all over the University. Christian Unity was the imperative, the overwhelming need if the Church was to bear witness to her Lord. It took precedence over anything, everything else. It was pointed out, over and over again, that John 17 means that the Unity of the Lord's people is rooted in and required by the inner life of the Trinity itself; we were to be One so that our Oneness would be the same Oneness as that shared by Father and Son in the koinonia of the Spirit. Anything that delayed or obstructed such a Unity was deeply wrong. There was much regret that the Roman Church had 'placed a new obstacle' in the way of unity a decade earlier by defining the dogma of the Bodily Assumption of the Theotokos. Anglo-Catholics like me were made to feel rather awkward because our views on episcopacy were a bit of an obstacle. I so far went along with this that, a little later, as a young priest, I voted in favour of the then current scheme for Anglican Methodist Unity, satisfied by the assurances of Dr Eric Kemp that the Scheme included a service adequate to be regarded as a conditional Ordination of the Methodist clergy.

Now, half a century later, I am told that things really aren't as simple as that. Christian Unity is indeed a good thing, but it doesn't really matter if it's a very very long way in the future. And, apparently, I was wrong to accept a simplistic consensus that Unity was the overriding imperative of the Spirit. I should, apparently, have realised (I don't remember anyone explaining this at the time) that there were other things which easily trump the need for Unity: particularly the desperate need for the ordination of women to priestly ministries. If anyone had assured me that, while I was still working as a Church of England priest, a Pope would send a senior cardinal to tell the Anglican English bishops that they could indeed have Unity if only they would forego the Consecration of women bishops and that the same House of Bishops would, by a decisive majority, turn him down and send him packing, I would have laughed my hollowest and most disdainful laugh. What a gullible fool I was.

Never trust a Liberal. Always remember, as the slippery bugger looks you straight in the eye, clasps your hand with warm manly sincerity, and assures you on his honour that something-or-other really is the case, that a few decades later (or sooner if it suits him) he'll sneer at you and say 'Did I really say that? I think you must have misunderstood me'.


Fr.Ogs said...

"...the louder he talked of his honour,
The faster we counted the spoons."

Presbyter said...

Those were the days, but the 50's were even more exciting with the South India Scheme, the Annunciation Group (of which I was a member while my Vicar was not) Walton Hannah and Hugh Ross Williamson.

As you say, some Anglo-Catholics criticised Rome for as they put it "adding to the faith". Now however with priestesses the boot is on the other foot.

Don't forget what Dix said - "the sign of a Bishop is a crook, that of an Archbishop is a double cross".

Cardy said...

Why is the ordination of women being singled out here?

A few years ago, the then Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out that the Catholic spirit in the Anglican communion was the one that was most vociferously resisting the greater inclusion of gay men and women in the life of the Church. Official RC teaching even goes so far as to say that celibate homosexuality is incompatible with priesthood. I am happy to supply chapter and verse on this one (and not in my name, btw).

Anglican attitudes to gay people present at least as big a problem for the RC hierarchy as women priests. And yet the boot only seems to go into ordained women and their supporters.

I am utterly sick of anglo- catholic hypocrisy on this issue. Exclude by all means but, darlings, for goodness sake, at least be consistent.

"Oh father, you're such a cynic" (quote from previous correspondent on this blog). Hmm. If offensive terms such as "priest-ess" and "bishop-ess" are ok, can we use equally offensive terms to describe actively gay finf clergy?

The whole sorry business. Count me out.

Presbyter said...

Surely only those who are actively seeking to take offence will object to priestess as a description of ladies who occupy a position which in the vast majority of Christian churches which give the title priest to their ministers is occupied by a man. Presumably they object to authoress or any other use of ess to denote femininity.

Cardy said...

Accepting the self-description people or groups give themselves is a basic given in courtesy, kindness and good manners. Do you know any Christian female priest who would find the term "priestess" to be anything other than deeply offensive? -with its pagan connotations

However, you wanna use offensive, knock-about language and terms? - ok, let's go. Back to my point, what language shall we use to describe the actively gay pick 'n' mix ranks of finf clergy? Howsabout some of the good old fashioned non-pc language from yesteryear? Would that be fun?

On this issue, finf is one massive hypocrisy.

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

Cardy seems very ferocious. Is there a phobia here? What is there in my post to suggest that I am anything other than totally supportive of the teaching of two thousand Christian years on the immorality of homosexual genital actions? The difference between the issues is that homosexuality has been around for the whole of the history of the church; the ordination of women is a heterodox innovation.

Cardy needs to watch her blood pressure.

Cardy said...

Hey, honey, no fears. I'll be cheering +Gene as he stands next to President Obama. I'm just an inclusivist who can't stand cant.

I do not doubt your own private beliefs. But I believe that you know full well that finf is full of clergy who, by their conduct, do not support the Church's teaching on human sexuality. Yet this does not seem to vex you in the same way. Your PEVs licence, ordain and concelebrate with non-celibate gay priests, and they are openly welcomed in your SSC chapters. Well, good for you. That's a step in the right direction. Now the next foot, and the next. It's certainly an innovation by stealth and praxis but, welcome aboard!

"Mother damnable...quislings, vichy...My blood pressure is fine.

I actually enjoy reading your blog. You are a man of enormous intelligence. Just calm down about women. It can be accomodated - grace still flows, even when the priesthood includes the differently gendered... and orientated.

rev'd up said...

Knowledge of a priest's proclivity to sniff-the-pickle, when known, is justifiable cause to cast him into outer darkness - but that just isn't the point here. The point is sacramental authenticity. A sodomite priest can confect the sacraments, a lady (however attractive, pleasant and godly) can not.

Thank you Presbyter for Dix's quote! I have committed it to memory.

Cardy said...

You're quite right. It's very naughty but, what's a girl to do? Betty and Ena send their kindest regards

Little Black Sambo said...

Where has Cardy been spending her time - is it LONDON? Provincial F in F clergy are in my experience as orthodox on the the subject of shirtlifters (I am trying to use neutral language) as on other matters; but we are always told that London is different. Is it?

Bernard Manning said...

"Provincial f in f clergy"

Aw, bless.

Btw girls, I happen to know that Cardy is, in fact, a real man - he supports the good bishop of San Joaquin and loves going to Walsingham.

How does that Morrisey song go:

"Panic on the streets of London,
Panic on the streets of Birmingham,
I wonder to myself..."

Presbyter said...

Cardy - for those of us who do not consider them to be priests , probably the vast majority of Christians, please what can we call ladies claiming to be priests which is polite and does not do violence to our consciences? After all you would not wish us to be hypocritical and I am sure we do not wish to fall victim to your elegantly expressed reprobation.

I personally have long wondered how the f in f clergy could stay in communion with the C of E, in however tenuous a fashion, once the principle of female ordination had been conceded. My contemporaries have almost all left and are Roman Catholics, Orthodox, or in a Continuing Church. Why have the f in f clergy waited so long?

Cardy said...

Only London...ha!

I think you can get some nice pom-pom birettas in Chichester.

William Tighe said...

"Priestesses" they are, "priestesses" they shall remain, although the learned may wish to use the term "sacerdotula/ae."

Some may prefer (as I do not) the term "womenpriests" as suggesting ast once both the bizarre and the novel.

The Welsh Jacobite said...

But, Dr Tighe, sacerdos is of common gender (tho' sacerdota is occasionally attested).

Sacerdotula surely has a more restricted meaning, applying only to sacerdotes feminae who are small (be that in age, stature or status).

William Tighe said...

Here is an extract from Smith's 1875 Dictionary of Greek & Roman Antiquities which suggests that "sacerdotula" might not be inappropriate for the flaminica's assistant ...

Flaminica was the name given to the wife of the dialis. He was required to wed a virgin according to the ceremonies of confarreatio, which regulation also applied to the two other flamines majores (Serv. ad Virg. Aen. iv.104, 374; Gaius, i.112); and he could not marry a second time. Hence, since her assistance was essential in the performance of certain ordinances, a divorce was not permitted, and if she died the dialis was obliged to resign. The restrictions imposed upon the flaminica were similar to those by which her husband was fettered (Aul. Gell. x.15). Her dress consisted of a dyed robe (venenato operitur); her hair was plaited up with a purple band in a conical form (tutulus); and she wore a small square cloak with a border (rica), to which was attached a slip cut from a felix arbor (Fest. s.v. Tutulum, Rica; Varro, De Ling. Lat. vii.44). It is difficult to determine what the rica really was; whether a short cloak, as appears most probable, or a napkin thrown over the head. She was prohibited from mounting a staircase consisting of more than three steps (the text of Aulus Gellius is uncertain, but the object must have been to prevent her ankles from being seen); and when she went to the argei [Argei] she neither combed nor arranged her hair. On each of the nundinae a ram was sacrificed to Jupiter in the regia by the flaminica (Macrob. i.16).

Flaminia, according to Festus, was also a name given to a little priestess (sacerdotula), who assisted the flaminica in her duties.

David said...

Frankly I prefer bishopette to bishopess. It seems to roll off the tongue easier.

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

I did once hear the term 'episcopussies'. In the spirit of compromise, can I offer that as a henotikon to our weird chum Cardy?

I hope that Cardy will soon provide the evidence for her accusations against PEVs. Only very naughty girls make unsubstantiated accusations. As someone who has experienced the life of FIF (not least as clerical chairman of the Exeter diocesan branch), I can only say that Cardy's hysterical nonsense bears no relation to my own experience of the membership of that organisation.

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

I did once hear the term 'episcopussies'. In the spirit of compromise, can I offer that as a henotikon to our weird chum Cardy?

I hope that Cardy will soon provide the evidence for her accusations against PEVs. Only very naughty girls make unsubstantiated accusations. As someone who has experienced the life of FIF (not least as clerical chairman of the Exeter diocesan branch), I can only say that Cardy's hysterical nonsense bears no relation to my own experience of the membership of that organisation.

stevev said...

"...a senior cardinal [told] the Anglican English bishops that they could indeed have Unity if only they would forego the Consecration of women bishops..."
Sorry to be brutal/honest (take your pick), but don't make me laugh. The present Pope, in his previous incarnation as Grand Inquisitor, threw ARCIC back in our faces before we even had women priests. I still believe that the legislation would not have passed in 1992 if the response from Rome had been positive; instead we were told, loudly and clearly, that we did not meet the standard of the "Catholic faith".
Were the C of E to abandon the push for women bishops in the interest of unit with Rome, the next elephant in the room (or one of them) would be telling the Evangelicals they've got to accept the sacrifice of the Mass and prayers to Mary. And if that isn't cloud cuckoo land I don't know what is.