6 February 2011

Why the Ordinariate? (1) ... and the Bloody Question

The Bloody Question, so I recall, was put when Elizabeth Tudor's interrogators asked: "If a papist army invaded this realm, would you fight for the Queen or the invaders?". Bloody, because unanswerable: "the Queen" means you would be fighting against coreligionists; "the invaders" means you are a self-confessed traitor.

People who have trouble accepting the women-priests dogma and who seek communion with the Holy See tend to get asked: "But what will you do if Rome herself changes her mind?" If the answer is "I will follow Rome", then the come-back is available that "If you're happy enough to change your mind when Rome changes, why are you making such a fuss? Why not wait and see if Rome does change?" Alternatives, such as "I'll join the Orthodox*" mean that one is confessing to being Protestantissimus; one is not accepting the Church's Magisterium, but testing the Church by one's own Magisterium. The assertion "Rome won't change" gets one into a scrappy argument when 'examples' are adduced of changes which, it is claimed, have occurred in Catholic teaching over the millennia.

Politicians have more sense that to get into discussions with journalists about possible contingencies. They are wise. Since contingencies, some probable, others improbable, are literally, logically endless, following the interviewer down this path means that, sooner or later, he will succeed in making a fool of you.

What I think one can do is to throw oneself into the contingency game as a willing player, rather than leaving the richly dangerous quagmire of Contingency-land in the exclusive possession of the enemy.
Example will follow.

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*Do I recollect that one of the politicians who converted to Rome back in the 1990s once, in the early days, said something like this? If not, I apologise to all of them.

16 comments:

Albertus said...

There is much more to Catholicism than just the all-male priesthood and episcopacy. There is also much more to communion with the See of Peter than mere refusal to be ruled by a bishopess. If one is convinced that visible, official, communion with the Apostolic See is necessary, or at least highly desireable, then that alone should be reason enough to become a Catholic united with Rome. NO matter what Rome might later decide regarding the possible ordination and consecration of women. Otherwise, if one primarily believes that an all-male episcopacy is more important than Union with the See of Peter, then it seems logical to me, and no disgrace, that one would then leave Rome for Moscow or Constantinople, or some other Eastern See. And yes, many papal teachings have changed over the centuries. But no papal teachings except two ever were declared as infallible dogmas. Most Catholic dogmas (as opposed to mere doctrines or teachings) have been infallibly proclaimed by OEcumenical Councils. In the moral sphere there are - as of yet - no infallibly defined dogmas, and probably such as thing is impossible. Disciplinary regulations, at least those not directly dependant upon infalliblly defined dogmas, are by their very nature changeable (keeping in mind St. Thomas Aquino's warning that the positive good wrought by any contemplated change in discipline must greatly outdo the unavoidable damage caused by the very same proposed change, as all change causes some damage.)

fieldofdreams2010 said...

The decisive point for those moving into full communion with the Holy See has been the realisation that their opposition to novelties in the CofE or elswhere has been implicitly based on the conviction that only Rome can definitively rule on such questions. Of course we cannot know the future; but it would be ridiculous to take as a principle that one should accept any novelty now, because at some unspecified future date Rome might rule in its favour. We must listen to today's Pope, not speculate about tomorrow's.

Bryan said...

So it's taken them 18 years to do something about women priests in the CofE?

I prefer Father Basil Maturin's explanation "one near ONE is too far"

Gertrude Donald, The Men who left the Movement (1933) page: 322.

Enrico Dante said...

Browning via Maturin, isn't it?

"If two lives join, there is oft a scar, They are one and one, with a shadowy third; One near one is too far." (By the Fire-side, 46)

Rubricarius said...

Learned Father,

Why does joining the Orthodox "mean that one is confessing to being Protestantissimus"?

Is it not the case that such people, and I am likely to be one such in due course, are accepting the Magisterium of the Church but see Rome as part of the problem not the solution?

adriansmusings said...

Personally I struggle to see the point of the Ordinariate. My long and varied experience of the Church of England has been that those Anglo-Catholics likeliest to be drawn to Rome already use Roman liturgical forms - for the Office and Mass anyway. Considering the question logically, why would anyone whose faith journey leads them away from Canterbury (or York) and towards Rome, want to take distinctively Anglican liturgical forms with them? I fully respect those who in conscience feel they must make that journey. What I don't understand is why they would want to take Anglican "patrimony" with them.

Furthermore I can't imagine that too many ordinary Roman Catholic clergy and lay folk are particularly impressed with the Ordinariate and its provisions for the fast-track re-ordination of ex Anglican clergy, many of them married. In actual fact I think it's only a matter of time before a number of cradle Catholics point out the unfairness of it in understandably vocal terms.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Rubricarius: What I meant was that if one sets up a dogma of one's own choosing - e.g., the impossibility of women being ordained - and then goes around the supermarket checking which churches on offer meet one's private criterion, one is adopting a Protestant methodology. I suspect both Orthodox and Catholics would think it right that one came by grace and faith to a discerbnment of which is Christ's Catholic Chhurch ... and then joined it and accepted its teachings.

Patricius said...

The idea that Rome won't change is laughable. If Pius XII can change the Liturgy at his whim, then I don't see that altering Palm Sunday, the rites of Holy Week, and inventing evening Mass is any different fron ordaining women priests or blessing the union of gay couples...

David said...

I write as one who was received into the Catholic Church in 1994 with a substantial group and our PP (though he didn't remain our pastor after reception). I left on the issue of authority - I wanted to be certain what "my" church taught and that I could no longer be within the CofE. I stayed with the group for a year, worshipping with the Catholic community which had used "my" Anglican church building as a Mass Centre for 20 years,(Dogs in mangers now please note!) but then sought a parish, where I could not be happier. I count myself exceptionally fortunate. I do understand those who now find that "their" church (of England) has left them. They were assured that they had an honoured place and an assured future, but that is now no longer the case. Pope Benedict has responded by giving them that assurance and honoured place - much to everyone's surprise. Catholics - whether "cradle" or other - who respect and abide by the Pope's decision will welcome, as he asks, those who come into full communion with the Holy See in response to his generous provision. Those who choose not to so welcome them are surely being in some way "protestant" in deciding for themselves what they will approve of rather than being loyal to the Pope, the church and its teachings, however difficult that may at times be.

Joshua said...

Patricius - I believe Our Divine Lord "invented evening Mass".

Chris said...

And even leaving the Last Supper aside, I strongly suspect that, e.g., the fusion of Mass and Vespers on Maundy Thursday in the Sarum use was not originally a morning service.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Mass after Vespers, at sunset (the fast, of course, having been maintained)?

eulogos said...

As to "the bloody question" I believe the answer should be to fight for the queen. A Papist army would be a Spanish army most likely, and the Spanish, no matter how Catholic, would have no right to invade England.

But then, I am imposing on that historical period ideas of national sovereignty separate from religious affiliation, which were only just being born during that era.

However I believe many English Catholics at that time felt the same way, and the Pope's declaration that they owned no allegience to Elizabeth was very distressing to them, as well as often fatal.

Susan Peterson

Rubricarius said...

'Eulogos'

Well said Ma'am!

In the entirely hypothetical situation I had been alive in the sixteenth century I trust I would have been 100% loyal to Her Majesty The Queen.

Andrew said...

If a monarch turns apostate, why should you have any loyalty to them? Granted, I'm not English, but I'd rather have a properly Catholic overlord than a heretic.

The reason the Armada failed was not because God was on the side of heretics, but rather because the Spanish were too haughty. They jumped the gun in their zeal to conquer England, probably for their own temporal gain more than for proper motives. We know from the Gospels than one cannot place mother, father, brother or sister before their duties to the Lord. However, even "Catholic" politics can be less than Catholic, i.e. Cardinal Richelieu.

Michael LaRue,K.M. said...

Fr. no brainer. The Pope will not change the all-male priesthood because he hath not the competence to do so, as, among others, previous popes have said. The pope is the servant and guardian of tradition not its innovator. We are Catholics, not papal positivists. Satis dictum.