Monday, 3 January 2011

We Must Celebrate the Ordinariate, But Be Watchful

John Broadhurst, ex-Anglican Bishop of Fulham, now a Catholic
Of course like every Catholic in England & Wales I am very excited about the conversion of Anglicans to our Faith.

As the Catholic Herald reported here the largest steps to date were taken by three ex-Anglican bishops, who converted to become, as I understand it, simple Catholics [like me - I'm a simple Catholic ;-)].

Now I have had all manner of opinions on this thrust at me by friends, but let me put my own out there.

I have to say that I am pleased at events, because it shows many Anglicans that their real home is in the Catholic Church. It also reminds more people that Anglicanism is a very strange heresy started by a Catholic king who wanted a divorce, and later taken over by Protestants (hence the Heinz 57 Varieties of Anglicans available!).

At the same time, my worry is that 'liberals' (maybe quasi-Catholics or media hirelings) who are always trying to nibble away at authentic Catholicism, will try and use these events to apply pressure for a married clergy, planned family mentality, etc. - in short to move the Catholic Church closer to the former Anglicanism of the converts, than bringing all the Anglican converts over to Catholicism as outlined in our catechisms (which kind of undermines the point of them converting in the first place!).

Of course we all know of the Eastern (Greek, Russian, Ukrainian) Uniat Churches that keep their own liturgies but moved back to recognise the Pope. Do some see the Ordinariate, established by the Pope, as being a version of this? But then I believe I'm right in saying that the Orthodox Mass is legitimate, whereas no Catholic seriously believes that transubstantiation takes place under Anglican auspices.

So is this a clever way to get Anglicans to convert en masse (but with free will) to the Faith of Our Fathers? Or a way to try and validate Anglican liturgy in a Catholic setting?

One friend of mine has said he is worried that the conversions are being 'fast tracked' and that the Anglican converts therefore won't know their Catholicism, possibly bringing heretical ideas with them (thus bolstering heretical ideas held by a vocal minority within the Church)

Another has said that the Ordinariate is a clever move by the Vatican to keep the Anglican converts under the direct control of the Vatican, and thus free of the "ecumania" of the Bishops Conference.

We have to be ecstatic at the turn of events that has brought more souls to our Church, and the fact that it is women 'bishops' and homosexual 'clergy' that has pushed Anglicans in recent years into the Catholic fold should be a warning to all Catholics to keep our Faith orthodox on the issues of married clergy, female clergy, homosexuals etc. because we have all seen the damage such moves have made to the Anglicans.

As the Catholic Herald article says:
We all received Communion (five of our new brethren, including all three former bishops, on the tongue) and, lo, it was done. We are in communion.

Perhaps more Catholics receiving Communion on the tongue, together with the demand that Papal Masses can only have Communion on the tongue, might see a move for more Catholics to move away from the horrifying and unedifying sight that is Communion being placed in unconsecrated hands (which Mother Theresa said is the worst thing in the world!).

In short we as Catholics must receive our formerly separated brethren with great joy and charity, hope for many positives, yet be watchful as always, certainly against ecumaniac suggestions as this.

I think the advent of the Ordinariate will give the many millions of Catholics in Britain renewed vigour in their Faith (following on from the Pope's visit) and a sharp lesson that what GK Chesterton would have labelled as 'fads' in churches only lead to people losing their beliefs or walking out of their church. If anyone tries to use it as a fop to more ecumaniacal behaviour then it will only lead to Catholics (of the 'old' or 'new' type) losing their Faith.

These good people wanted to join the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church: not to see the Catholic Church become another variant of the liberal, all-things-to-all-men/women/transgenders mess they left behind.


  1. I can't understand why these converts have to be "ordinariate" - as opposed to ordinary- Catholics like the rest of us.

  2. I am very glad that three former Anglican bishops have become Catholics. They could always have done so, of course, and then continued both their ministries and their marriages, although things might have been different for the one who is a former Catholic, even if, unlike a leading would-be Ordinariate figure in Australia, he is not a former Catholic priest. The late Monsignor Graham Leonard was married till the day he died.

    I remain entirely baffled by the creation of an Ordinariate in England, a country for which this provision was never designed, and I must point out that, since the Ordinary has to be a former Anglican, the whole scheme has a built-in obsolescence. It will have next to no lay following here, and will be populated by clergy who have been insisting on the Modern Roman Rite for as long as there has been such a thing. Why are they not simply being appointed to existing Catholic parishes, there to continue the ministry to which they are accustomed? Why do they even want to be in the Ordinariate instead?

    Bringing us to the fact that applications for ordination in it are now to be referred to the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I think we know why. It is because of the very high incidence of homosexuality (and also of various theological eccentricities and political extremities, but mostly it is about the homosexuality) among Anglo-Catholic clergy. Both of the homosexually inclined men raised to the purple in George Carey's time, both of whom were in his Province, came from the Forward in Faith constituency. One of them is still in office, and he is still cohabiting with his very long-term male partner. A Forward in Faith lay member of the General Synod until 2007, and still a figure of note in such circles, actually gave his male partner's vicarage as his own address in The Church of England Year Book. Among the most prominent clerical figures known to be about to join the Ordinariate is one whom the late Michael Vasey once described to me as "outrageous", opining that "I don't agree with outing, but some people are asking for it".

    Bluntly, that looks like the reason to have an Ordinariate in England, since it is impossible to see any other: to preserve, as the Act of Synod and the absence of women bishops previously did, a subculture defined by theological eccentricity, by political extremism, but above all by homosexuality. That was what killed the Roman Option last time. As Cardinal Hume said, "I can cope with married priests or celibate priests, but not those in between". A generation later, here they come again, "those in between".

    When I set out all of this on my blog, I elicited a comment from the newly "poped" former Bishop of Fulham, John Broadhurst (whom I warmly welcome to the Catholic Church), which failed to answer any of my questions about the need for an English Ordinariate in general, and specifically about the fact that a very high proportion of the Forward in Faith clerical constituency, at least, is homosexual, while a very high proportion of that is genitally active. He could only point to past official statements by Forward in Faith, but those actually caused widespread hilarity, not to say more than a little distress.

    I hope that the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will ask about this, about Kenoticism and the underlying surrender to Biblical criticism, about universalism, about Marxism, about ties to the Far Right, about exactly what Anglican liturgy these new clergy have ever used or now plan on using such that they cannot simply be integrated into existing diocesan structures, about whether they would ever have left the Church of England if it had made them a better offer over women bishops, and about when, where and how the English Ordinariate plans on acquiring any laypeople.