Sunday, October 25, 2009

What is going on at the Forward in Faith Assembly?

The website for Forward in Faith offers podcasts of the proceedings. The most useful site I have found to keep up with what is going on and how the assembly is reacting to the offer of an Anglican Ordinariate is on Br Stephen`s Sub Tuum blog. Here is his report on what bishop Hind, archbishop Hepworth and some of the younger clergy had to say:

First, it has been reported in the Telegraph that John Hind, Bishop of Chichester, is practically at the doorstep of St. Peter's. This was not at all how I heard his speech yesterday, which I didn't report on individually. The money quote in his speech to my mind was, " Everything points to the wisdom of holding steady just at the moment." From there he went on to raise his concerns about whether the ordinariates would be a real ecclesial community or merely a place for nostalga. He described the prospect of being merely a "religious movement" within the Roman Catholic church as "bleak." From there, he went on to defend the ARCIC vision of the Church of England as arriving at full communion with Rome as a worthy ecumenical partner. In short, he has stated that he's willing to be reordained, but he did not seem eager to do it tomorrow.


Archbishop Hepworth made a very successful speech praising the Holy Father's generosity, assuaging doubts and taking naysayers. He actively put the best possible face on the future for the delegates saying that they had be assured that they would be treated as Anglican Catholics, just as there are Roman, Ukranian, and Maronite Catholics--that while the ordinariates were not a rite, they looked an awfully lot like one. He said that they had been offered an ecclesial body for Anglicans that protects those crucial elements of spirituality, liturgy, theology, history, and discipline, that are part of the distinctive Anglican patrimony. He says that TAC national synods will be asked to begin voting their acceptance of the Holy Father's offer immediately.

Most importantly, Archbishop Hepworth assured the assembly that they would continue to be able to have married priests by way of dispensations which would be given generously. The early statements on this point were less clear than this. Obviously, this is a bombshell, not just for those gathered but for the entire Latin Rite. Progressive analysts had already seized on this point after the initial announcement of the apostolic constitution and we can count on much, much more being said in days to come.

Archbishop Hepworth had to reassure the assembly and those listening that this was what they had asked and prayed for for decades and now it had been generously given to them. To Catholics and to especially my fellow converts, since we often carry the biggest chips on our shoulders, who want to rage about the evils of Anglicanism and want people to come crawling, chastened, and cowed, remember that it is the Holy Father himself who has chosen to kill the fatted calf. It seems that the least we can all do is make merry. Reviewing the parable of the wages of the laborers in the vineyard might do us all some good.

The session with young priests and ordinands was the most heartening. Naturally you have to temper this a bit given that those who are yet to start their careers and those near the end have the fewest issues to deal with in joining the ordinariates, but it was still incredibly heartening.

Here are a few quotes:

I am in absolute awe of the Holy Father.

First I am a Christian, then I am a Catholic, and then I am an Anglican. I look forward to the day when I can fully be a Catholic Christian.

It is time we said thank you to the Holy Father. I look forward to the day we can say 'our Holy Father. Pope Benedict, thank you for all of us.

Archbishop DeNoia asked the Dominicans to pray for this intention ... now it is time for us to pray and ask for grace and humility to see beyond our agendas.

Wouldn't you be happy to have them as your priests?

The reports from the members of Synod were less encouraging and more in favor of working through the Church of England legislative process until there's truly no hope. That's been the agenda these folks have given everything but their lifeblood for over the last few years. Don't judge them too harshly.


So here is some information for those who ask what is distinctive enough about Anglicanism to justify setting up a ordinariate.

Other reflections of interest are those of the recent convert priest Jeffrey Steel who is in Durham.

Maybe this week we will hear more of the details of what is involved.

7 comments:

Norah said...

Most importantly, Archbishop Hepworth assured the assembly that they would continue to be able to have married priests by way of dispensations which would be given generously. The early statements on this point were less clear than this. Obviously, this is a bombshell, not just for those gathered but for the entire Latin Rite.

If the Holy Father is going to permit the Ordinariate to ordain married men to the priesthood then it logically follows that he will have to abandon the requirement for celibacy for the Latin Rite of the Church.

A bombshell indeed!

David Lindsay said...

"what is distinctive enough about Anglicanism to justify setting up a ordinariate"

Plenty.

Anglo-Papalism, on the other hand...

It is quite comical to imagine them all being told that they must stop using the Novus Ordo and instead adopt some variation on the Book of Common Prayer.

1569 Rising said...

David,

Talking to a Churchwarden from North of the Tyne the other day, from a FinF parish. One of the most important facets of the Apostolic Constitution, the idea that vicars could "come over", taking their congregations with them, may not actually happen. He said that his priest would possibly "convert", but my friend doubted very much whether any of the congregation would follow. He gave several reasons, including the rather crucial one, that the congregation in his parish would accept any priest appointed to the parish, and that they were Anglicans first, and followers of a particular priest very much second.

If this view is common among High Church congregations, and it may well be, since we have heard very little from the folk in the pews, and plenty from some of the clergy, then the whole point of having Anglican Rite Catholic Priests collapses, since there will be very few Anglican Rite Laity for them to minister to.

My own initial enthusiasm is beginning to wear a bit thin on the edges, not just because of my friend's reaction, but because I can see so many problems arising. Also, the average Anglican, even FinF Anglican, knows little of the subtleties of Transubstantiation and Valid or Invalid Orders.

I hope I am wrong, but at the end of the day, it will be down to the Holy Spirit.

Peter Porter said...

1569 Rising

I am afraid you are right in thinking that it will largely be clerics who will accept the Holy Father's invitation to be part of an Ordinariate. It is likely to be a body composed of too many chiefs and not enough Indians. In which case the well-trodden parh of individual submission remains the best point of entry into the Church.

I was an Anglo-Catholic layman for half my life and can confirm that the majority of the Anglo-Catholic laity are Anglican first, Anglo-Catholic second and see no reason to become Catholics. Indeed, many repudiate the Church's claims to be the One True Church, asserting that the Church of England is the true Catholic Church in these islands.

My fear is that the Holy Father and the officials in Rome do not know or understand the people they are providing for. As in the Malines Conversations of the distant past, they have been influenced by individual Anglicans who have given a false impression of the potential for unity. This is not a confidence trick, but a question of wishful thinking that bears little relationship to reality.

A considerable part of me wishes that the Holy Father's invitation will become a reality, but Anglicanism, in whatever form, is a strange beast, and behaves in unexpected ways, not least in its Anglo-Catholic manifestation. Those who truly saw the Catholic Church as the body founded by Jesus Christ and the Papacy as the divinely instituted centre of unity entered years ago and the stream continues. Few, if any, saw Anglicanism as a credible alternative.

Fr Michael Brown said...

I think we should keep in mind that this provision was not primarily intended for the Church of England but the 400,000 strong TAC. I`m sure what you say about Anglican congregations is true but I`m sure we will see some outposts of this new ordinariate in England.

Peter Porter said...

I would like to say, Father, that I greatly hope that an Ordinariate will be founded in the UK but I suspect that it will be different from what many expect and others hope for.

Michael said...

True Anglo-Catholics had their own missal, Tridentine in English, prior to Vatican II. They were evident in the miningh villages of Northumberland and Durham, some using Latin extensively. Newcastle has one Anglo-Catholic church which has had an audience with JPII. They could be found in the poor and dockland parishes as well as the well-to-do areas of London. As has been stated, not to be confused with High Anglicans - users of BCP including 39 Articles.