by Father William P. “Doc” Holiday

This ominous forewarning was oft declared by the malevolent science fiction characters, the Borg, in Star Trek: The Next Generation. In our day, and unfortunately in real life, the same admonition is with seemingly equal frequency being proclaimed by those who are opposed to the unity of the Church by means of the Apostolic Constitution (AC), Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Notice that the accusations have begun already. Those of us who have pointed out inconvenient facts from the text of Anglicanorum Coetibus are "opposed to the unity of the Church." The idea of genuine concern based on knowledge, reason and honest dissent are swept aside by this accusation of malevolent purpose. They need to read some C.S. Lewis: "The modern method is to assume without discussion that [one's opponent in debate] is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly."1

The emphatic caution of impending assimilation is a common, if not the common thread that runs through the media outlets that specialize in the critique of the AC,...

i.e., those of us who post here.

...and it is usually flagged by various forms of the word “absorption.”

No, actually we have used the correct Roman Catholic word: "conversion." Furthermore, we have explained our reasons over and over again. "Absorption" has been Abp. Hepworth's word, trying to explain what he, himself, promises his followers could never possibly happen.

The contention is that the Roman Church lies in wait, something akin to an ecclesial Venus flytrap, for the approach of the unwary Anglicans who would avail themselves of the provisions of the AC. Well, isn’t that true? Isn’t that the way Rome works, consuming and digesting everything in her path, absorbing all to serve the monolithic entity? I would submit to you that these assertions are not true, and as a matter of fact, fly in the face of the reality that exists in the context of Holy Church’s desire to embrace variant forms of spirituality, liturgy, and even governance.

(That's the stuff, "Holy Church" exclusively used for the papal Communion. That'll win over the wary Anglicans-please keep it up). Actually, we have not accused Rome of any such thing. Rather, we have simply drawn out the obvious and clear meaning of the constitution and its norms.

Nonetheless, concerning this Borg analogy, the Borg said they would assimilate their victim's distinctive culture and knowledge and make it to serve their own. We contend that this is not the case here. Rome's constitution gives former Anglicans (and that is what they are always called, former Anglicans) special liturgical practices that would be in some ways a little more Anglican than the general liturgy of the RCC, and one generation of married clergy based on the same rules (adding only the Ordinariates to prevent obstruction by local bishops) as the Pastoral Provisions that apply only to former Anglican clergy, and no possible existence beyond that first generation apart from converts who may come from among the married Anglican clergy. The constitution is absolutely clear about this, as is the set of Norms. They have made it clear that the door remains closed to men who are already in the denomination they call the Catholic Church. That is not a hopeful scenario. It is no mystery: All we have to do is read the thing-for crying out loud!

A prime example of the pastoral considerations that Mother Church has for novel elements can be found in the history of Opus Dei. Opus Dei is a Catholic institution that has the mission of leading people to the knowledge that everyday life and work are opportunities to grow closer to Jesus Christ. This institution was founded in 1928 by St. Josemaria Escriva. St. Josemaria and his followers exhibited a unique charism that did not fit within any established organization then currently in the Church. Consequently, for over 54 years the Church proverbially “bent-over-backwards” in order to create an environment in which Opus Dei could flourish. During this time these efforts were hindered by such circumstances as the handing off of the issue from Congregation to Congregation in the Roman Curia because it could not be determined which had the authority or understanding to deal with the matter, to an aggressive and coordinated campaign of defamation carried out against Opus Dei and the Founder by an established religious order. Despite over half of a century of obstacles, the Magisterium overcame them by ultimately instituting the first personal prelature, declared in the AC, Ut sit. All this being said to show that the Holy See will go to great lengths and pains to ensure that those who hold to a distinctive charism will be able to exercise their gifts for the betterment of the Church, even if it means developing an absolutely original organization. This was done in the case of Opus Dei for those who were already part of the Catholic Church, and it is unarguable that it would have been much easier for the Church to order these folks to adjust their way of doing things and ”be assimilated” into something already in place. However, due to Her pastoral consideration and love for Her children, the Church amended canons, established new canons, and even declared the formation of a previously unheard of administrative structure. Sound familiar?

Pope John Paul II endorsed Opus Dei in no uncertain terms. But, this entire example amounts to nothing by way of an argument that the constitution is something other than what we have seen. Because Opus Dei has finally been sanctioned by sheer papal power (which may be good or bad, as I am not sure that Opus Dei is entirely sound), the argument seems to be, Anglicanorum Coetibus does not mean what it says, but what Abp. Hepworth wants you to believe that it says, and what Abp. Falk has so inaccurately portrayed.

Other examples of Mother Church’s allowance for diversity are to be found in the uniate Churches that exist under the authority of the Holy See. A prime example of this being the Maronite Church. This Church maintains its own liturgy, spirituality, and governmental structure distinct from the local diocese. Sound familiar?

("Mother Church?" Who is it you are trying to convince? Anglicans, you say? Good luck.) Like "Inter-communion" this whole stuff about "uniate" churches is irrelevant. Anglicanorum Coetibus establishes no such thing at all. The language, the canons, the Norms, the entire description of what it does establish, are obviously not the same thing. In practice, it simply extends the Pastoral Provisions and Anglican Use outside the United States, and removes local episcopal obstruction. Promises of a "uniate" stand in contradiction to Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Given just these examples, I hope that an understanding is stirred that the Church has not, nor does not make it a habit of trying to make clones out of all with whom She makes contact, and the contention that She seeks to do so is unfounded.

"The Church." There is that Roman exclusiveness again. The very use of the term in this exclusive way shows that the writer is quite happy for Anglicans to admit that they have never really been in the Church at all. But, he assures us, this is somehow not "conversion," not even, using his word, absorption. (This line of argument has moved from Bulversim to self-defeating. making the transition all within one sentence; demonstrating, I might add, mastery of prose.)

In the case of Anglicanorum Coetibus, the current deliberations that continue even after the declaration demonstrate that the AC is not a “take it or leave it proposition.” The mere existence of the AC exhibits a desire of the Church to work with us as much as is possible to maintain the Anglican patrimony we seek to bring forward. If it were the case that Rome desired nothing more than to absorb us, the response to the TAC’s petition would have been, “Great, we’ll set up some RCIA classes. Have a good life.”

"As mush as possible" indeed, that is, within the Roman Catholic paradigm. You may take it, but I will leave it. Yes, it is more than setting up some RCIA classes, but not much more.

In closing folks, I give a word of warning, not about being assimilated, but about discernment.

Or a warning against discernment.

Since the submission of the TAC’s petition to the Holy See...

But, Anglicanorum Coetibus was created in response to the petition of Forward in Faith/UK that dates back to the mid-1990s. Cardinal Kasper has explained that the TAC may be allowed to participate.

...there have been nay-sayers. The remarks have ranged from, Rome isn’t even going to pay serious attention to this. This will never get past the talking stage. If anything does happen it will be in 100 years. This or that bishop is merely seeking personal gain, etc., etc., etc. All of these claims made with the caveat that the claimant “knew” someone on the inside.

The only person we know of who has claimed special gnosis is Abp. Louis Falk. He claims to know all about a secret set of Norms that he has publicly announced (I just love public secrets), in addition to the existing Norms. Either that, or he claims to be the only person living or dead who can tell us what the existing Norms really mean, and why they contradict and supersede the constitution itself. It is not clear which of these impossible things we should try to believe before breakfast. I suggest that his Grace read the new constitution carefully before promising anything else.

Well, subsequent events have proved them all wrong.

Really? Proved what exactly to be wrong? It hardly matters. What we are dealing with are the facts, namely, those things the the new constitution actually says.

Out of charity I will not judge motive, but at best it has been established time and again that the prophets were false. They have exhibited for all to see, their lack of objective information regarding the matter at hand, and an even more glaring lack of formation in the subject matter before them, i.e., Catholicity.

Is this really Doc Holiday? Not much in the way of marksmanship (or even dentistry). Does he mean this? "They have exhibited for all to see, their lack of objective information regarding the matter at hand." Frankly, this line is ironic. We have discussed nothing but the objective facts, while they have tried to explain them all away (as for not understanding "Catholicity," I will be very happy to shoot it out any time. He can even bring Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan along).

Be that as it may, instead of humbly going about their business, they began a new harangue about absorption.

Back to Bulverism.

Consequently, my admonition is that when you see a reference to being “absorbed,” proceed warily.

Oh, yes, indeed; on that we agree. When Abp. Hepworth says "unity without absorption," just remember the words from The Wizard of OZ, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!... Don't actually read Anglicanorum Coetibus for yourself; even if we post it, we say with Chico Marx from Duck Soup, 'Who you gonna' believe? Me, or your own eyes?'"

Mother Church...

O God-there he goes again.

...has proven time and time again that she is in the business of allowing her children to exercise their unique gifts and talents as much as She is able.

Yes, and only that much.

She will even go far out of her way to see that they can do so.

In Christ and His ever-virgin Mother,


For better clarification look here, here, here, and here. That is just for starters.

I am sure that Fr. "Doc" Holiday believes everything he is saying with the zealous and charitable conviction of a sincere missionary. I hope he will find peace and joy, with the fullness of God's grace, even as he enters into communion with the See of Rome. But, as far as arguments go, his essay cannot hold water. This, many of you may need to understand very soon.