21 June 2010

Rowan's Ordinariate

I regard the proposals which the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are promoting as profoundly disappointing. I had been led by rumours to believe that they would be offering something that would in effect be a Third province ... or an Ordinariate ... within the Church of England. They are not.

What is clever about their scheme is that it claims to give us "good news" while at the same time purporting to require only a couple of minor changes in the draft legislation. It ostentatiously claims not to diminish the jurisdiction of diocesan bishops. This, combined with the deference still felt by many towards the archbishops, is likely, in my view, to incline a substantial number of the less fundamentalist liberals to tolerate it; and there will be Catholics who, despite the rhetoric which they have adopted over the years, will be willing to clutch at any straw which can be disguised as a fig leaf enabling them to remain in the Church of England.

Furthermore, any criticisms of the archiepiscopal plan will be met by pointing out that it would in effect create a situation closely similar to what we have now. At the moment, a diocesan can decide to whom to hand on the care of 'petitioning' parishes - it doesn't have to be to one of the flying bishops. So, it will be argued, Catholics will be no worse off under the new system than they are at the moment. Indeed, because of the strong moral pressure on diocesans to follow a (not yet drafted) Code of Practice, we shall, they will say to us, be better off. And, above all, 'our' bishops will, for the first time, have genuine jurisdiction.

This sounds, and will sound, good. The problem about it is the unreality of it all. The plain fact is that it leaves the whip - in fact, all the whips - in the hands of the Establishment. Because diocesans will be able to craft and adjust both their diocesan schemes and the personel who will operate them, they will be able to call all the shots. Their appointees will be crucial. We have to envisage the probable use of a suffragan, a neighbouring diocesan, a retired bishop, who will say, with complete sincerity, that he opposes the ordination of women. But because we shall not have chosen him, he is likely to be a man chosen by the Establishment as a safe pair of hands, someone who can be relied on to bear in mind at all times the overall requirement of the entire system; a man more willing to tolerate a dodgy compromise rather than to rock the boat ... any boat ... too disastrously. In a word, One of Them rather than One of Us. If, of course, several of the current PEVs have by then accepted Papa Ratzinger's shilling, there will be a preference to select successors who can safely be relied on not to provide a new generation of departures in five years' time; men who have made a settled calculation about which side their bread is buttered.

At an even more basic level, what the scheme attempts to plaster over is the fact that the navigation department of the Anglican faith-community has set a firm course which is irretrievably in divergence from that of the Ancient Churches. As Walter Kasper ... a distinctly liberal practitioner as Cardinals go ... unsuccessfully attempted to get the House of Bishops to understand, what the C of E is faced with is a quite stark decision: whether to pursue the ARCIC dream of organic unity, or to opt to be one of the Protestant sects. This is the kairos of decision, both for Anglicanism corporately and for individuals. How long is it feasible, even for those among us of the most stay-and-stick-it-out tendency, to keep a foot on the decks of two ships which are heading in different directions?

If this scheme does go through, I hope that those who go and those who stay to live under it will retain all the old bonds of amity. There will be temptations on both sides to be nasty about the choices which others have made. It is very important that these temptations are resisted. If we end up with a bridge ... and, at one end of it, a bridgehead called Ordinariate, and at the other end, a bridgehead called Coordinated Jurisdiction ... then we could have a new and interesting ecumenical experiment. If, on the other hand, in ten years time, there are two groups of former friends taking potshots at each other across the floodplains, we shall all be the losers.

Come off it, father. You know perfectly well that when you've finished your time at St Whatsit's and qualified for your full pension, you'll want to saunter across that pontoon to a comfortable place where the shadow of Peter can fall upon you. You're going to want your chums the other side to have kept the Border-Crossing wide open for you, and no questions asked ... aren't you?

4 comments:

+ Edwin said...

Perspicacious as ever, dear Father. The Emperors have no clothes, and we have seen through them. +E

Fr LR said...

This points up a fundamental difference between current "Anglican Communion” and "non-Communion Anglo-Catholic" folks: the first has all the money and the stuff (including world class schools and seminaries) whereas, the second gave up all that flesh-pot decadence decades ago - rich man, poor man. Now among both groups there are those who will cross Tiber for screaming conscience sake, both will yet have to make sacrifices but the sacrifices of those "Anglican Communion" folk will be much more egregious than “non-Communion” folk who already embrace the ascetic life. Is there perhaps a bit of embarrassment on the first groups part to have to join hands with such mean and base men who did, years ago, what the “Anglican Communion” group always said they would do when the hand writing was on the wall? Is it hard to accept the fact that the hand writing, which was there from the beginning 500 years ago, our superbly trained minds are just now recognizing as the word “Ichabod”? Buildings don’t matter, pensions don’t matter, money doesn’t matter, education doesn’t matter – you may have these things now but in the end if you don’t do the right thing you will not inherit eternal life. It’s high time for a little humble pie. If you stay now, you never really were trying to be Catholic.

Joshua said...

God be with you in what is humanly speaking so very difficult.

As Gamaliel said, if this is of man, it will fail; but if of God, who may stand against it?

Remember, dear Anglican incomers, that you in your staunch doctrinal stance against modernism and liberalism, whose deceptions you have eluded, are desperately needed in the Catholic Church to shore her up against the same: the Pope needs you – so do all orthodox believers of the Catholic and apostolic faith.

What good Newman wrought in his coming to Rome; what good can not many of his spiritual heirs do in doing the same?

William Tighe said...

I sent the following inquiry around to various friends of mine more than 24 hours ago; as yet I have had no response:

I have been thinking about these matters for the last couple of days; and now I have just read this:

http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/30879/

which I find incomprehensible in its enthusiasm, however "qualified." As I read the archbishops' proposals -- and please correct me if I am wrong -- there is nothing in them that would prevent a "flaminica" (my term for a "womanbishop," with intentionally pagan connotations) form appointing as her "coordinate bishop" a man keen on WO and who (purports to) ordain(s) women, and who might therefore provide "episcopal functions" for such "recusants" as would accept them, but who could hardly serve as an advocate for them and their "orthodox integrity" -- in this respect, of course, completely different from the current PEV scheme. Moreover, and in the longer run (but perhaps the fabricators of this proposal have in mind John Maynard Keynes' "in the longer run we will all be dead") there seems to be nothing to prevent the appointment of a male bishop whose diaconal and presbyteral ordinations were at the hands of a flaminica, or who was himself consecrated by a set of bishops including a flaminica.

I think that in these circumstances "conservatives" (Evoes, Anglo-Catholics -- "papalists" and "anti-papalists" alike) and WATCH Liberals (and, generally the sort of looney enrages who frequent Simon Sarmiento's "Thinking Anglicans") should all seek to defeat the archbishops' proposal -- indeed, they should adopt one VI Lenin's "the worse, the better" as their watchword -- and then seek to prevent it from gaining the requisite two-thirds majority in the House of Laity for the final vote in 2012 or thereabouts.