by Rev. Canon John Hollister
This morning, I took a gander at an article on “The Orlando Anglican” entitled Someone Understands Us by a Fr. Michael Gollop, apparently a Roman Catholic (RC) or R.C.-leaning priest in Wales. It comments on a post by a “Pastor in Valle” on another blog in which P.i.V. reaffirmed the truth of what so many have been denying, namely, that those who go to Rome will have to accept and internalize the entire Roman doctrinal basket; they will not be able to tool down some theological supermarket aisle, putting into their shopping carts only the items that have eye appeal and leaving the rest unremarked on the shelf.
The specific issue that P.i.V. highlighted, and that Fr. Gollop underlined, was that all Anglican clergy going to Rome will have to accept reordination in absolute form. Fr. Gollop’s article is an apology for this Roman practice, claiming that “it really isn’t all that bad” (my words, his summary):
“For many clergy — … throughout the Anglican world — the sticking point where it comes to the Ordinariates is precisely this question of (re)ordination. It’s not a concern I share myself, having enough anxiety about the doctrinal history of Anglicanism (not exactly diminished by recent decisions) to be too bullish about the sufficiency of our orders by themselves.”
Think about the implications of that. According to Fr. Gollop, the personal views of the celebrant, if heretical (as in Rome’s eyes Anglican beliefs are), invalidate the Sacraments celebrated by that heretic. So not only were Augustine and all those other guys wrong but so is Article XXVI of the Articles of Religion. Entitled “Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments”, that Article is all that permits most of us to presumptuously climb to the footpace each Sunday and holy day.
That is, in Fr. Gollop’s Rome the Sacraments are not objective so that they are valid just so long as their celebrants “intend to do what the Church has always done” in those Sacraments. That is what Anglicanism historically has taught. Instead, in Gollopian Rome, they are subjective, that is, their efficacy depends on the internal mental disposition of the celebrant and that is what justifies such celebrants’ reordinations. It is on this basis that Fr. Gollop defends Rome’s policy of reordaining absolutely (as opposed to conditionally) such former Anglican clergy as it deigns to deem acceptable:
“From the perspective of both sides, some further act of sacramental validation is necessary to remove all vestiges of doubt. It’s the price that has to be paid for sacramental certainty (not to mention reunion with Peter) and I don't think we should complain about it.”
Quite apart from my doubt about “reunion with Peter”, who, after all, was most assuredly not the founder of the Church in Rome -- that was up and running before ever Paul wrote his letter to it, or he would have had no one to whom to address that letter -- it seems to me this subjective concept of the Sacraments hardly offers much reassurance to those who contemplate going to Rome. What happens, in Fr. Gollop’s view, if one is sitting in church one Sunday morning and the celebrant’s mind wanders? Or if that celebrant happens to be precisely what we were warned against by Pastor in Valle, that is, one of the very large number of “supermarket Catholics” who rejects what the Pope teaches, thinks do-it-yourself theology and liturgy are “in the Spirit of Vatican II”, and tunes his own moral compass in precisely the subjective, individualistic fashion, ignoring the centralized Roman magisterium, that is decried in another of this morning’s “Orlando Anglican” offerings, Fr. John Fleming’s Newman, Clifford Longley, Conscience and Contraception?
Anyone who has attended a Roman Mass in the U.S. in recent years will recognize my hypothetical scenario as not only possible but, indeed, probable. But in such a case we would have to deal with what Fr. Gollop would presumably call “the doctrinal history of Romanism” (yeah, I know he wouldn’t say “Romanism” but would instead would use that exclusivist “C” word that Rome claims to have trademarked, but I can’t bring myself to use such a fraudulent term). That is a “doctrinal history” which openly tolerates the sort of widespread abuses I have described. This, according to Fr. Gollop’s subjectivist principle, means that no one sitting in those Roman pews would have any “sacramental certainty” about, for example, the Transubstantiation to which they are all, by Roman dogma, theoretically committed.
But then, under the circumstances I have proposed, what “further act of sacramental validation” would be available to those congregants “to remove all vestiges of doubt [as] the price that has to be paid for sacramental certainty (not to mention reunion with Peter)”? After all, a suitable condiment for anserini of one sex must also be a good spice for those of the other.