All that fuss over a motorcycle got me thinking. Recently, I was directed to a blog where someone commented that he was unhappy with The Continuum, and that was because we did not do editorial cartwheels in delirious joy over the "historic occasion" of Anglicanorum Coetibus. In fact, the statement was made that we were "negative" about it. The truth is, we saw it in perspective. With numerous trumpets blaring about a "historic occasion" that was going to change the world, the reality seemed much more like his excellency's car, or like finding out that the long awaited answer to "the question of life, the universe and everything" is 42.
So, the Roman Catholic Church has expanded the Pastoral Provisions to make it easier for former Anglican clergy to take their wives with them into the really big denomination. So what? Even though our lack of enthusiasm for the new Roman constitution was expressed in no uncertain terms, let us get one thing very straight: We never criticized it; we analyzed it. The difference is quite important. We explained accurately what it is and what it is not, to clear up misinformation that continues to be spread.
In analyzing it, we put up a defense for Anglicans who still believe in The Affirmation of St. Louis, who want to be Anglican, and, (for many) whose TAC bishops don't. Those TAC bishops seemingly want to be Roman Catholics already! So, who is stopping them? Go for it. But, stop telling Anglicans that the Anglican way of living the Catholic faith is a failed 450 year-old experiment. We like our way of doing things, and we believe in it. If our fathers were such a bunch of numb skulls as the Tiber Swimmers believe, then what are they waiting for?
But, we have not criticized Rome or their constitution. After all, it is only right for Roman Catholics, if they really believe all that One True Church stuff, to try to bring people into their fold. But excuse us if we notice the following things.
1. Our fathers were not heretics; and
2. Though it is difficult for some to translate 16th century English into modern English, and to read their works in historical context, they were faithful Christians trying to teach the Catholic and Evangelical Faith in their country in their generation, under the pressures of that time, and
3. They did a good job of it, even if modern polemicists pervert and twist their words and their meaning.
Also, though we love and respect the See of Rome for its honorable place in Antiquity, and for its place of leadership among millions of our Christian brethren, let us be honest about their elephant in their living room. I know it is not polite to say anything about the large gray animal that takes up most of the room's air, and threatens to sit down on you if you go to sleep; but it may become necessary. We respectfully suggest that it would have been more diplomatic of Rome not to send a man with the baggage of Cardinal Levada, as if it had not been bad enough to make Cardinal Law, before him, the main man for the wannabe former Anglicans. The song "When will they ever learn?" comes to mind. More seriously, it makes us wonder if Rome really understands even now just how much of a scandal such men represent, and makes us question why anyone wants, at this point in history, to hand over the reins of leadership to them. They still need to get their own house in order; and we hope they will.
Nor does it seem polite, I suppose, to notice that Rome's recent letter to the TAC bishops, quoted only in part by their Archbishop in public statements, is not much of a big hurrah either. The way it was announced, and what it really turned out to be, is another "his Excellency's car!" scene. In a nutshell, Rome, having caught wind of certain people announcing and promising a "special deal" with new and improved "special norms," decided to ask the TAC bishops to rein in the rumors. There is no special deal. Anglicaorum Coetibus is all there is, and what you see is what you get-if you want it. That was the gist of the letter, and it merited no fanfare from Adelaide, Australia via Orlando, Florida, as if it was anticipated, or part of the plan. (One would think it was the answer to tonight's big question. But, never fear. Our leading contestants will get to answer that question, which is worth 230,000 dollars.)
Although some folks who call themselves Anglo-Catholics choose to label us "negative," in fact a whole blog calling itself The Anglo-Catholic, the truth is we are very positive about the future of Continuing Anglicanism (which is easy for me, having found a home in the Anglican Catholic Church). Our mission work is reaching many people across the world, and we see growth and vitality at home and abroad. I see it around me every day in the parish here.
But, for those whose enthusiasm over Rome's gesture has yet to die down to a reasonable level, and who want to be Roman Catholics, we wish them all the best. Nonetheless, we will continue to view things realistically. Anglicanorum Coetibus is merely Rome's newest policy for the same old opportunity that has been there all along, namely, to swim the Tiber. Go ahead, blow the trumpets over Rome's constitution, do cartwheels, jump up and down, and announce the biggest news in the history of mankind. But, in fact, "His Excellency's car!" is a motorcycle.