and in a ...'s eye

The following is from the blog that goes by the misnomer, The Anglo-Catholic. Here we call it the Former Anglican blog. First we see Mr. Campbell's own take on the piece that follows. Editorial comments by me will be posted in red.


Mr. Campbell's intro: BAr. Stephen of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank has written to commend the following piece, which, doubtless, will provoke much debate here on The Anglo-Catholic and elsewhere.
Br. Stephen’s aim is to underscore genuine personal conversion as the proper motivation for an individual’s participation in the anticipated personal ordinariates, and, in doing so, he takes a deliberately modest view of the scope and significance of the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution.
The great weakness of the ethnic parish metaphor, it seems to me, is its failure to account for the breadth and depth of the Anglican Patrimony, which far surpasses the significance of the cultural eccentricities of Polish, German, or Italian Roman Catholic communities. Though Anglican churches may in some sense be “defective,” the treasures of Anglicanism are genuinely ecclesial contributions to the Universal Church which the Holy Father (Known to us as the Bishop of Rome. We reserve the title "The Holy Father" to God) has recognized “as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.”

As we hear long over due honesty, the phrase "from the horse's mouth" seems appropriate. To that end we include music to help get you in the mood.


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Ethnic Parishes for Anglicans: A Provocatively Modest View of the Ordinariates

When I worked with prisoners and their families, I learned the importance of expectation management: Never excite extravagant hopes based on wishes if there are too many unknown factors that could line up to produce despair when a more measured initial response might have produced only slight disappointment. I begin to worry, in the case of the Anglican Ordinariates, that too many hopes are being excited in the absence of many facts and a wishful reading of those that are known such that, when all of the details are eventually known, the failure of these more optimistic readings to have been the case may cause some people to despair or even to feel that they have been actively misled by the Holy See. I sensed a bit of this sort of disappointment in the Internet reactions when yet another well-placed Catholic official made it clear that celibacy would be the norm within the Ordinariates during the recent Anglican (?) Use conference in Newark.
I am not saying that all or even any of what follows is the way that things will fall into place for the Ordinariates, but I do think, based on official documents and statements to date, that the following are all plausible interpretations of how the Ordinariates might function within the larger Church. My purpose here is to paint a minimalist vision of the Ordinariates so that people can ask themselves if they would still want to be a member of such a body. Obviously, as a former Anglican turned Roman Catholic monk, I think that the answer should still be yes, but I think that it may be healthier to assume the minimalist scenario and then to be pleasantly surprised if some things turn out differently rather than to be cast into despair if the rosiest possible picture fails to materialize.
Let me start with a quote from Fr. Basil Maturin, the great Anglo-Catholic convert of a century ago, who, unlike most of his fellow converts of that era, never tried to stampede Anglicans who were looking Romeward to cross the Tiber. Instead, in The Price of Unity, he encourages people to convert only when their conscience will not allow them to do otherwise. He says,
Go and live where the Church is at the lowest and the scandals are real; if you cannot keep your faith in Rome in the face of all such things you do not really believe in her.
I already know that I don't believe in her, so watching the scandals from this safe distance seems the wiser course.

And here, I expect, I will meet my first objections. Some will say, “But we’re not converting, we’re entering Communion.” My reading of the documents says that conversion is what is being asked. It is being asked as pastorally as possible and with all due respect for the riches of the Anglican patrimony, but members of the Ordinariate are being asked to enter full, visible communion with the Universal Church from bodies that the Holy See does not recognize as properly constituted churches. To enter an Ordinariate is to believe that you are currently a member of a body that is defective in some way that the [Roman] Catholic Church is not (And, we are not defective in ways that the Roman Catholic Church is defective. I'll take our faults over clergy riddled with child sex abuse scandals, clergy shortage due to a destructive dinosaur rule about clerical celibacy, and false doctrines that obscure the Gospel, any day). True, this is a package tour with a protected enclave waiting on the other side with many familiar furnishings, but it remains a new ecclesiastical address and you can only get there by the narrow gate of conversion or, in the traditional idiom, which we current and former Anglicans love, by making your submission to the Holy See.
And here, I expect I will meet a second set of objections: “But we’re not becoming Roman Catholics. The Ordinariates are for Anglican Catholics.” To this I would say, based on my reading of the official documents issued to date, it depends on what you mean by “Anglican” or, perhaps better still in this case, “Anglo-.” If one uses the term as it would be used of a “Greek Catholic” or a “Ruthenian Catholic,” clearly that is not the case, though generous provisions have been made. If, however, you are using the term “Anglo-Catholic” in the same way as one might say “Polish Catholic” or “German Catholic,” meaning, in the U.S. in particular, a group that has been granted parishes in which special safeguards have been enacted to protect a cultural and linguistic patrimony, I do think it is fair to speak of “Anglican” or “Anglo-” Catholics.

We do not object at all to such frank admission of the facts. We have been trying to tell them this from day one: Rome will consider you to be converts, and instead of inter-communion, or a "uniate," you are being given the "generous"- in a certain animal's eye- offer to submit yourselves totally to the Bishop of Rome.
And here I expect I will meet a third objection: “But our bishops are being given hats and sticks so we must be something more than ethnic parishes.” In an Anglican understanding, that would be true, but that is not necessarily the case among the Orthodox or within churches under the Holy See. Perhaps someone else can flesh-out all of the implications of a mitred archpriest in Orthodoxy, but let me give three examples from the Latin Rite where hats and sticks do not a bishop make. First, we have the case of the Cardinal who is not a bishop, but is entitled to pontificals. Cardinal Dulles, who received the red hat in recognition for his work as a theologian, would be a prominent American example. Second, we have the historic example of the highest grade of monsignor, the protonotary apostolic, who until 1969 was entitled to the mitre and ring and to celebrate Pontifical Mass. The third example, and I think this is perhaps the closest, is the territorial abbot or abbot nullius, who, though not necessarily a bishop, wears full pontificals in recognition of his governing a specific territory attached to his abbey and is a member of the local conference of bishops. North Carolina’s Belmont Abbey would be a famous American example of this type of jurisdiction from the past while Subiaco in Italy would be a notable contemporary example.
Historically, hats and sticks always mean honor, but they do not always mean full or even partial jurisdiction and clearly, from these examples, hats and sticks do not a rite make. Add to this the fact that while the Apostolic Constitution and the Complimentary Norms make the Ordinary’s membership in the local episcopal conference explicit, they do not make reference to a body of these ordinaries with governing or even deliberative functions and it seems reasonable to infer that the Ordinary is more like someone with delegated authority over a national enclave of especially privileged ethnic parishes than he is like a bishop of a (forgive the term) uniate church. The Rt. Rev. Msgr. Graham Leonard, sometime Anglican Bishop of London, might be a better model for Anglican Bishops who enter the Ordinariate but are not the Ordinary than the various grades of eparchs of the Oriental Churches. That is still a great honor and an incredible act of love and respect on the part of the Holy Father.

In a you know what's eye. And, "incredible" is not the word I would choose. Personally, I think the current pope has more credibility than many of his predecessors.
Being a member of an ethnic parish (or “personal” parish, as they are now called), albeit one with some very special dispensations, is still a very generous offer. (i.e. If we may condescend to say so, to you who are about to enter "the Church" from your inferior position. Heck folks, a scrap of bread would be generous, so you ought to be grateful for so kind an insult.) As in a German, or Italian parish, there will be special safeguards that protect an Ordinariate parish’s historic patrimony from the majority culture and, as a double safeguard, these parishes will be governed by an Ordinary in sympathy with that heritage (if we can find one). (I am reasonably certain that more than one person at the Vatican and the USCCB wishes in hindsight that something similar might have been done to prevent the Polish schism in the U.S. Church in the 19th Century.-no kidding) But, like those other ethnic parishes, those in the Ordinariate will be expected to be active cooperators in the life of the local diocese (i.e., no, you don't get your own bishops. Who told you otherwise?). I worry that too many people see this as a threat rather than an opportunity ("You will be assimilated. You will become like us." Think Tomb of the Cybermen, starring Patrick Troughton). To be a member of the Ordinariate means to engage with the richness of other ethnic and historic traditions within the Catholic Church. The documents to date seem to say that there will be no standing alone or going one’s own way. In addition to the Holy Father and the London Oratory, members of the Ordinariate will be in full communion with bingo, the chicken polka, the St. Louis Jesuits, and all of the other things that some Anglicans like to look down their noses at (heck. That's our favorite past time).
To be an Anglo-Catholic of the Ordinariate will be no more or less special, in the larger scheme of things, than to be an American Polish Catholic belonging to a personal parish. In fact, it seems that those who belong to ethnic minorities within the Catholic Church in the U.S. might feel a bit slighted that they were already in full communion with the Holy See and received so little while Anglican converts are receiving so much (Name something that the former Anglicans may count on receiving. One specific thing, protected in the new constitution, will suffice. Anything at all, if you can name it. I still offer to eat the fedora Frank Sinatra left me in his will). Anglicans looking at the Ordinariates who are tempted to think that they have been given too little might do well to remember the parable of laborers who came at the end of the day and received the same wage as those who worked through its heat. (Take your penny and quit moaning, ungrateful swine!)
Some Ordinariate parishes will no doubt face mistrust and even, perhaps, hostility at various levels in the local diocese to which they will belong (Some? Ask the Pastoral Provision priests who have gotten beyond the "honeymoon period") Were that not the case, these elaborate canonical safeguards would not be necessary (What elaborate canonical safeguards? Please, elaborate). I think that it is best not to minimize this potential reality and, instead, to trust that grace and steadfast witness will make the Ordinariate parishes come to be seen as wonderful places in the wider diocese as seems to have been the case of most of the current Anglican Use parishes, which were given no canonical safeguards when they made their leaps of faith. (Parishes? Where does Anglicanorum Coetibus promise separate parishes?)
Obviously, the ethnic parish metaphor is not perfect in its parallels, both because of the generosity (what is so generous about trying to convert us?) of the provisions (What exact provisions would those be, constitutionally protected? Not general unidentified "you know... Anglican stuff...sort of," but something real and meaningful) made by the Holy See and because global Anglicanism holds within itself the treasures of many cultural patrimonies, but I think that this more modest vision of how the Ordinariates might be understood will temper the potential wind of despair (Potential? How about certain?) and allow those considering this option to weigh their choice with a most Anglican sobriety.
Let me close with a thought exercise that parallels my opening quote from Fr. Maturin. Do you agree with this statement:
I believe that to join an Ordinariate is to promise before God that, when I am traveling and not able to attend an Ordinariate parish on Sunday, under pain of mortal sin I will assist at a folk Mass with streamers and liturgical dancers, if that is all there is to be found, in order to fulfill my Sunday obligation.
("And, if we can't provide an Ordinariate service, whatever that would be, in a church near you, kiss even the sound of Elizabethan English goodbye"-which, I think, is all that they mean when saying, "the riches of Anglicanism.")

That’s the somewhat provocative crux of what I understand it to mean to join an Ordinariate and I think that this is the level of love for the [Roman] Catholic Church you will need to have or to hope to be given by grace (or a stiff upper lip) to be happy over here. You have to have come to love the idea of the [Roman] Catholic Church in its [alleged] fullness more than the reality of the Anglican patrimony at its best. You need to strongly suspect that there may be something ontologically present in a progressive, praise-band parish in a scandal-ridden Roman Catholic diocese that is lacking in Anglicanism’s greatest shrines (greatest shrines? Maybe so; but, not in Anglicanism as we Continue it), because, contrary to what may seem to be much visual evidence to the contrary, the former is a constituent member of the body in which the fullness of the Catholic Church subsists while the latter is not. ("Better to be buggered by a real priest than blessed by your Absolutely Null and Utterly Void phony baloney priest. At least it's valid when the real one does, well, whatever it is he does." )
If those words seem overly jarring or exclusivist (What Rome exclusivist? You don't say) to you (and remember I am speaking here to those who are actively considering conversion, (From Mr. Ed's mouth again. See it for yourselves: "C-O-N-V-E-R-S-I-O-N) not to Anglicans who are not interested (that's me), I suggest that you think carefully about your reasons for considering converting (C-O-N-V-E-R-T-I-N-G, you heard it here first, and I do mean here.) If it is to escape the turmoil of Anglicanism (What does that have to do with Affirmation of St. Louis churches anyway?), it will not be worth the dislocation (a dislocated member of the body) that goes with it. If it is out of a desire to validate or improve your ecclesiastical standing, I assure you that the Roman (he said it this time) Catholic Church can teach you humility in ways that you have never imagined (and humiliate you in ways that are beyond the pale). If you are entering the Ordinariate, it needs to be because you have come to believe what the [Roman-had to say it myself this time] Catholic Church says about herself (and we don't) in spite of the ten times a week you will be reminded how much the Church on earth falls short of the ideal in heaven (Hey. Just don't read the news).I know that this is a time of pain in many parishes and dioceses (except those with enough sense to bolt now). There is a great temptation to paint the best possible picture of the Ordinariates so that as many people as possible will make the journey together and the pain of separation and loss will be minimized, but I do not know that this approach will serve souls best in the long-term. The Holy Father’s offer (no not God; the real Holy Father in Rome) is open-ended (conversion always has been). It is perhaps best that some should come now and that others come later, when, like St. Thomas, they may touch and see (I can touch and see the Risen Lord by faith right where I am), rather than for those who are eager to come now to pressure friends who doubt into a disappointment that may lead them to reject the [Roman] Catholic Church permanently should it turn out that things are different after all.
I may be wrong in every word that I have written about the future implementation of the Anglican Ordinariates and will be glad if I am (no, you got it right), but I still think the exercise of thinking of yourself as a member of an odd sort of ethnic parish in a church that doesn’t quite know what to make of you is worthwhile. What I have outlined above is provocatively modest, but a pessimist can only be pleasantly surprised.

Actually, I am glad for Brother Stephen. I have inserted my honest responses to the kind of RC drivel he has long accepted, and therefore churns out without thinking about the reaction it ought to provoke. He is not to be blamed. Insensitivity to Anglicans is simply the inevitable result of embracing a position in which someone else's alleged invalidity becomes a matter of dogma underlying one's own sense of identity. But, thank God for an honest man. How long will it be before the Former Anglican blogmeister says, "oops," and takes it down?