Tuesday, July 01, 2008

1,300 Anglican Clergy at Cardinal's Door

More than 1,300 clergy, including 11 serving bishops, have written to the archbishops of Canterbury and York to say that they will defect from the Church of England if women are consecrated bishops.
As the wider Anglican Communion fragments over homosexuality, England’s established Church is moving towards its own crisis with a crucial vote on women bishops this weekend.
In a letter to Rowan Williams and John Sentamu, seen by The Times, the signatories give warning that they will consider leaving the Church if two crucial votes are passed to introduce female bishops.

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When women were admitted to the priesthood almost 20 years ago Rome suggested to the English bishops the introduction here of an Anglican Rite: the use of Anglican liturgical forms, suitably amended to reflect Catholic theology, married clergy, a slightly modified form of Canon Law. Cardinal Hume, though he spoke, maybe unguardedly, about the reconversion of England rejected the idea, presumably on the advice of the then Catholic chair of ARCIC Bishop Murphy O'Connor. The reasons at the time were

  • Most Anglican clergy who would seek communion with the Holy See were already using the Roman Rite.

  • There was a need for proper theological formation of convert clergy.

  • A separate Anglican Rite would create confusion in the minds ordinary Catholics.

  • A separate Rite would be seriously divisive in the Church in England
  • Married clergy couldbe admitted to the priest by another pastoral provision.

I am sure that underneath this thinking there was a concern to monitor closely those clergy who would convert, to weed those of "doubtful moral life" and the misogynistic. The problem was that congregations tended to stay in the C of E and conversions were mainly clerical. I am sure that some bishops at the time were more than a little fearful of the damage that might be done to Ecumenical dialogue and possibly some were terrified of radically orthodox converts.

Things have moved on, Paul VI's understanding of England as "special ecumenical territory" is no more, or at least has changed beyond recognition. Cardinal Kaspar has been invited to speak at the next Lambeth Conference he says it is time for the Anglican Communion to decide if it is catholic or protestant, apostolic or liberal.

I am sure that there are not 1300 Anglican clergy who will be knocking on the Cardinals. Many of these 1300 will find their way into Protestant Charismatic churches or unite themselves outide of the C of E to foreign Anglican bishops. However, now must be the time for the bishops of England and Wales to ensure that generous provision is made Anglicans seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. They have to make known their plan. They have to learn from the mistakes made two decades ago and they have to think of the needs of lay Anglicans as well. The model of the Good Shepherd who goes in search of the lost, might not be a bad one.

The other model is Pope Benedict going in search of the Orthodox, the FSSPX and those attached to the traditional liturgical. My big anxiety is, some, at least, of our bishops have shown themselves unable to grasp the generosity of Benedictine pluralism and principle of subsidiarity that is so much part of it.

Above all they have to think about the sign that is given Anglicans here, in its homeland, because the sign given here is sign to Anglicans throughout the world.


gemoftheocean said...

What's odd to me, is that so many Anglicans and Episcopalians, for that matter, seem to have a cafeteria approach to belief in the true presence. As far as doctrinal belief, it odd to me that that alone hasn't been the trigger for an Anglican to convert. And what about believe in the Assumption and Mary's ever virgin status? Are we on the "receiving end" of this so-called tidal wave to understand the mass of them have also come along to these beliefs?

xx said...

Amen and Amen.

Let them return to the fold and let that welcome be a warm and loving embrace. The Church must not put up barriers to this momentous happening.

Anonymous said...

The Catholic Bishops assumed, wrongly I believe, that when women were first ordained in the C of E, all clergy "against" would leave for Rome then, and no more would leave over women Bishops.
In my opinion, the number seeking admission to the Catholic Church will be greater this time
As an Anglican, I had already approached Bishop Kevin Dunn who warmly welcomed me to his home before he sadly died.
Anglican Catholics, of course, already embrace the True Presence and Dogmas re Our Lady.

Anonymous said...

But for the activities of the lady vicars and the activities of the pro Gay lobby, these men would not bee seeking union with Rome. Now I am not suggesting we reject outright their requests to cross the Tiber, but I have to ask is this the right reason to come to Rome? Because they are upset with the way their own ecclesiastical community is behaving?

Should it not rather be because they are convinced beyond any doubt that Roman Catholicism is the one true Faith handed down by apostolic succession? After all these men all signed the 39 Articles, in particular XIX, and XXXVII, do they now renounce these or like Mr Blair maintain an embarrassing silence?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Mark, for Newman setting up the Anglican See of Jerusalem was the crisis point but there was a whole lot of other stuff that led him to accept the claims of The Church and to be admitted to it.

For every convert, he must discern what is true and the one who is receiving must discern that this search has been honestly made.

Anonymous said...

1300 at the door,will probably turn out to be about 30,when they consider what they will lose in pension rights etc. However only prayerful goodwishes for those who take what can only be a painful and difficult decision.ffn

Physiocrat said...

Individuals have got to make up their own minds about which church they should be in. As always. And joining the Catholic Church always has a price. It may mean giving up a secure job, or leaving a congregation where one has friends and family that one has worshipped with for the best part of a lifetime.

But the more out of line the CoE becomes, the more people tend to make a decision. Same here in Sweden. And when the Archbishop of Uppsala gives permission for the display, in his cathedral, of paintings by Elisabeth Ohlson, it all helps to bring the members of his church into the Catholic establishment in the next street. There could be a method in this madness.


Anonymous said...

..But in a climate where everyone's panicking because of thin vocations, that discernment can be seriously skewed. Mark has a shrewd point. Give me one convinced Roman Catholic, over a dozen Anglo-Catholic "converts" anyday.

Anonymous said...

It is sometimes said that Anglo-Catholics believe in the 39 Articles in the same way as they believe in the Oxford Gas Works. They consent only to their existence.
Clearly, Bernadette wouldn't like any Anglicans joining "her" Church. Clearly, all Churches have problems.
Bernadette seems to be one of yours!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Pelerin I have just put up a post myself, I'll see what Fr Z has now.

Anonymous said...

Bernadette - Correct me if i'm wrong but isn't Fr Z a convert? I would have thought you would consider him a gem??
Other anglo-catholic convert priests would also include for eg Cardinal Newman. I wouldn't say that he had a cafeteria appraoch to doctrine or mary's status in the church.

Unknown said...

As an Anglo-Catholic I can assure you all that there should be no fear of a "cafeteria" approach to beliefs as far as Anglo-Catholics are concerned. Don't forget that we had chosen to be at this end of the Church of England because of our beliefs.

Have any of you attended Mass at an Anglo-Catholic church in Brighton? Try St Paul's or St Bartholomew's.

There was a most apt letter in the Times describing the vote as "a Gadarene rush from theology to sociology". Exactly so. This is not an issue of equality as so many of the Liberal Tendency in the Church of England seem to think.

There is much anguish over this vote with more to come, and I hope that generosity will be the order of the day over those that choose to go to Rome. If handled correctly it could be an instant boost for the Roman Catholic Church in England. Would anyone like to develop this line of thinking?

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