Wednesday, March 16, 2011

800 +60 a Dissappointment?

I posted the stats published by the Bishop's Conference for the Ordinariate yesterday.  I have received a rather sneering comment, which I have not published, from a Roehampton Liberal stating that 800 lay members was about one largish Catholic parish, or two average sized parishes, which is true. My "co-respondent" suggested the Pope must be really disappointed and questioned whether a parish priest, meaning the Ordinary, should really be on the Bishop's Conference. He/she continued and asked whether such a small number warranted all the time and effort the Pope, the Curia, Bishop Hopes et al had spent on the Ordinariate. Sour liberal! especially as the 800 represents those who chose to go to a Cathedral, and wanted to take part in Rite of Election for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, if I were an Anglican and considered myself an Initiated Christian, I would choose not to go. Anglicanorum Coetibus doesn't call for the repudiation of anything.

Sixty[ish] clergy, admittedly some a bit long in the tooth, of course is larger than some of the UK's more remote dioceses, that alone justifies Fr Newton's seat! I think for many Anglicans the whole Ordinariate thing was rushed through, for lay people especially it was difficult to know how to get involved, especially if one's clergy were going to stay. In my own diocese of which the southern part covers the Anglican Diocese of Chichester there is an Ordinariate group in Eastbourne and that seems to be it.
However it isn't, talking to Anglican lay people around here, there seems to be a lot of interest in the Ordinariate, most people I speak to seem to wonder how it is all going to pan out, who is going and who is staying. There is surprise among Anglican laity that clergy, who have traditionally of "up the candle" south coast Anglican have not been more enthused by the Ordinariate. The problem could be, in some cases, a problem with Catholic morality but more likely that in our area there is a Catholic enclave that has closed itself off from the rest of Anglicanism, "ladies are not invited to concelebrate" at most South Coast Religion parishes, and John Hind the Bishop of Chichester has been pushing the Society of Saints Wilfrid and Hilda. Here, there is anxiety about just how Catholic the locals might actually be, having resisted women's ordination in the CofE, they don't want to find calls for it in the Catholic Church. On a more mundane level exchanging Hymns Ancient and Modern with bad arrangements of "Eagle's Wings" accompanied by banjo, tambourine and recorder is not an inducement.
One has to remember that Anglicanism is essentially culturally congregational, theologically it is more a system of church government than a Church. Catholics, Evangelicals, Charismatics, Liberals have learnt to co-exist and  communicate with one another at least when necessary. It is worth remembering the Coetibus bit of Anglicanorum Coetibus, it is aimed at groups. England might well be the epicentre but the impact is really going to be felt in the former British colonies.
For many Anglicans the issue that has caused the 800 +60 to leave, the break with Catholic Tradition, will only have impact when a female bishop insists on celebrating the Eucharist in their own church or sends the fruit of her hands to do so, even then many will hope for some English compromise.
I suspect myself that the 800 +60 is the beginning, they are the "first fleet", the founding colonists, the sons of Noah on the foreign shore, many of them will continue to have contacts with their former congregations, whilst testing the terrain and the water, setting up structures, finding homes, building, checking out the friendliness or otherwise of the natives.
This is part of the Benedictine brick by brick thing, it is a candle in the dark, the leaven in the lump. These are men and women who have boldly gone where no-one has gone before.

21 comments:

James Blythe said...

It will also surely be easier for more people to come now that these 800 pioneers are there, especially as you say, Father, in places where the priest decides not to join. We should remember that many Anglo-Catholic priests will be put off because they are former Catholics, or because they are in irregular relationships. In those cases, the people would find it very difficult to join the first wave without their priest, but might join the 2nd or 3rd waves...

berenike said...

"only" 860 souls ... :)

Oliver said...

"For many Anglicans the issue that has caused the 800 +60 to leave, the break with Catholic Tradition, will only have impact when a female bishop insists on celebrating the Eucharist in their own church or sends the fruit of her hands to do so".

We Anglicans from Roehampton and elsewhere chose not to convert over single issues and have confidence that the matter is in the fruitful hands of the Holy Spirit moving inevitably towards inclusivity.

Best Wishes.

Laurence England said...

Has this 'Roehampton liberal' not read the parable of the Prodigal Son, the Father 'looking out', scanning the horizon so to speak, for his son?

The Holy Father looked out and saw 860 of them!

Or Our Lord talking of Himself as the Good Shepherd, who take home the one lost sheep. Not a thousand, not 500, not 860. He rejoices just over one!

pelerin said...

I do like Father Ray's quote of 'boldly gone etc'. It conveys to us how brave these people are, especially the vicars, stepping out into what for them is the unknown.

Thank you for the link to Eastbourne - I had no idea it was all happening there. Last time I attended Mass there in OLR there was hardly a seat left - they will be needing a new church soon!

Andrew Leach said...

Here, there is anxiety about just how Catholic the locals might actually be, having resisted women's ordination in the CofE, they don't want to find calls for it in the Catholic Church.

There are already calls for it in the Catholic Church. The issue many disaffected Anglicans have is the Church of England's repudiation of its catholicity in arrogating to itself the right to do this no matter what happens to ARCIC and the moves for unity.

The catalyst just happens to be women bishops; it could just have easily been anything else.

On a more mundane level exchanging Hymns Ancient and Modern with bad arrangements of "Eagle's Wings" accompanied by banjo, tambourine and recorder is not an inducement.

You're not wrong there, Father! However, music is part of the Anglican patrimony and Anglican hymnody -- such as is consonant with Catholic theology -- is something which will definitely form part of Ordinariate worship.

...checking out the friendliness or otherwise of the natives.

For the record, I have found nothing "otherwise" at all. The warmth of the welcome has been astonishing.

Faith, Hope, and CHARITY said...

Was the Church not started with just 12 people?

Sadie Vacantist said...

Faith, Hope, and CHARITY said...
Was the Church not started with just 12 people?

No. Only the Virgin Mary, a few holy women and one seminarian turned up at the crucifixion.

parepidemos said...

Even if not a single Anglican more than this "800" enters full communion with us, a place has been created for those who have and that is what is important.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Sadie,
At the Crucifixion most of us reckon St John was a Bishop! not a seminarian. Though I suspect he did not turn up in episcopal vestments.

Justin said...

The Ordinariate project has led to 900 new Catholics so this is a disappointment?

Ecumenism has led to neither the Orthodox or the Protestant admitting their errors and submitting to the Church and yet we still continue on.

900 > 0 as far as I am concerned.

Fr Ray Blake said...

p.s. The Last Supper was also an ordination, "do this memory of me" conferred orders.

Peter, Alison and Holly said...

My mother and father are two of the 800 and they hoped my two sisters and I would follow. Everybody was friendly and welcoming.
We really tried but the subtle authoritarianism and underlying sexism within the structure meant we could not follow mum and dad.
It has caused heartache. Mum has felt a failure and her Christianity has become joyless. The church is dull and colourless unlike our Anglo Catholic previous church and my sisters and I have returned there.

JARay said...

Today, for me, is a Thursday, for you it still is Wednesday. Today's rosary is the Luminous Mysteries and the third one is the founding of the Church. For me, what I call to mind is the sending out of the 72 by Jesus. They were sent to evangelise, to announce the coming of Jesus. They returned rejoicing but Jesus told them not to rejoice at being able to cast out demons but to rejoice that their names were written in the Book of Life.
Certainly the Last Supper was when the apostles were made bishops and given the power to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus himself but then, it was only just before his ascension that he told them to baptise! They were given their mission in bits at different times. It was at a different time that he said "Whose sins you shall forgive...etc."
But I'll stick to my sending out of the 72 as the point when Christ mobilised his church.

JARay said...

The Church is not just bishops and priests. It is the mystical body of Christ. That includes the ordinary folk like me. That is why I prefer the sending of the 72 as a body, not made up of priests and bishops but ordinary faithful who were sent out on a mission. And so are we!

Fr Barry Tomlinson said...

One correction, Fr Blake. It is not 800+60 but 795 in total. The priests are being received as laity and are therefore presumably already included in the total. However at the end of the day, exact numbers don't matter. What is important is that each Christian is where they believe God wants them to be.

Sadie Vacantist said...

@Fr Ray

Ok, but I was trying to encourage those presently in training that they and not their superiors were there at the start!

Fr Ray Blake said...

JARay,
I think there is difference between the 72 being sent out and the Commission in the last chap. of Matthew, which is specifically to the Apostles.

Alan Harrison said...

I write as an Anglican still on the other side of the Tiber from you, Father. In my case, the reasons for still being here (for the time being) are simple, if I can't pretend they are particularly worthy.

One is that I have simply been prevented by my personal circumstances from attending the local Tiber-swimming classes. The other is that the parish where I worship has been in interregnum until January, the previous incumbent having taken early retirement just a couple of months before Anglicanorum coetibus - hence an absence of leadership.

I think that there is certainly a large amount of truth in what you say about reasons for staying. The leader of the ordinariate group in Birmingham was vicar of a firmly Anglo-Catholic parish, but had "C of E" written through him like a stick of your local rock. Far more flamboyantly spiky priests have stayed put.

William Tighe said...

"We Anglicans from Roehampton and elsewhere chose not to convert over single issues and have confidence that the matter is in the fruitful hands of the Holy Spirit ..."

Well, "homoousios" was a "single issue," too:

"moving inevitably towards inclusivity."

So it was but pretense and mockery to write "the frutiful hinds of the Holy Spirit" when all you really meant was "what I want."

berenike said...

Peter, Alison and Holly:

Sorry you didn't manage to get over the trivia - but don't despair.

A well-beloved lecturer of mine said to me once "Anglicanism is such a joyful religion". I was speechless for the rest of the walk to the bus stop, having absolutely no idea how to respond to that, because from what I can see Free Presbyterianism is more joyful than any kind of Anglicanism, but there we are.

I used to live in a parish that depressed the living daylights out of me, but authoritarianism, sexism, colour, and joy (or lack of any/all of these) are not really good reasons for choosing a church :)

don't give up :)