Thursday, 5 November 2009

The first generous response? Flying a kite.

On his diocesan website, the Bishop of Monmouth, the Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS, an Anglican canon lawyer, discusses - in a question and answer form - the implications of the Apostolic Constitution. Link here:

I include this somewhat intriguing reflection: (the emphasis is mine):

“What will happen in Wales?
It may be that some individual priests and lay people will ask to be received into the RC Church but I think it is unlikely that whole congregations will wish to accept the Pope’s offer. If they do, it may be possible for the Representative Body to lease a church to them and to allow them to rent the vicarage and pay their own priest. They will need to be financially self-supporting. How it will develop in Wales remains to be seen and will obviously depend on how many decide to make the change, but I am not anticipating a great exodus!”

Now obviously, we have little idea as to how representative the bishop’s views are, either of the episcopal bench itself or of majority opinion on the Governing Body
(the "General Synod" of the C in W) or the Representative Body (the structure responsible for finance and property) of the Church in Wales or, for that matter, what that phrase “whole congregations” which he uses might mean in practice. A sceptic might reflect that the bar could be set rather high for congregations to qualify.
But this is not a time to be churlish: the detail of the Personal Ordinariates has yet to be unveiled, and the reaction to the Vatican’s offer of refuge from Anglican Catholics in Wales is as yet something of an unknown quantity. But this is the first “official Anglican” response of this nature to the declaration of the Apostolic Constitution and we should at least welcome these ideas with the same spirit of generosity with which they have been floated.

Those who wish to accept Rome’s initiative should be prepared to run with this; there may be some mileage in it. The Church in Wales, by common admission, has far too many churches, and the latest “membership” figures for the Province are giving us huge cause for concern. To make a certain number of churches in Wales available for the use of a personal ordinariate would make a great deal of sense – financially certainly, but also in terms of the future of inter-church relationships in Wales: a generous response from the Church in Wales itself would help dispel the perception that damage has been done to ecumenical relationships (not only by the recent announcement itself, but also by the developments which made the offer necessary) and it would inevitably result in a reciprocal generosity of approach on the part of those who wish to leave and also the wider community of the Catholic Church which they would be joining. It would be ecumenical credit in the bank and a truly charitable response to those Christian brothers and sisters who are unable to accept the changes brought about in Anglicanism in recent years.
It would also give the lie to those of us who have publicly questioned the commitment of the province to the pastoral care of those previously shepherded by the Provincial Assistant Bishop. I would gladly eat my words if something along these lines developed. It could be a win – win situation for all concerned.


  1. Shouldn't a good shepherd be looking to rescue his sheep rather ponder the technicalities of unnecessary exports? Our only 'sin' is to have kept the faith. Do we deserve less love and compassion than is (rightly) accorded to homosexuals by the Church in Wales? Check the speeches on this subject and substitute our plight. The hypocrisy is manifest.

    On TV recently expert opinion demonstrated that the Archbishop had his head buried firmly in the sand regarding the decline of Anglicaism. Is a little humility too much to ask? Keeping faithful Anglicans would at least help maintain what we have.

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  3. I can't disagree with anything you say! But the difficulty I have is that it is very clear that the only place the Church in Wales is now prepared to accord us is one of "terminal care." We have to recognise, too, that our opponents do actually believe that it is adequate pastoral provision for people like us! We have seen one report approved by the Governing Body which has recommended that anyone holding an orthodox catholic view of the sacred ministry should not themselves be accepted for ordination in the Province and another report on human sexuality which was, to put it charitably, conspicuously unbslanced in its approach. We have to face the fact that the Church in Wales, almost as much as the TEC in America, is now firmly and irreversibly in the hands of the theological revisionists.
    My worst fear is that traditionalists in the Province could be reduced to a state of impotent bitterness, unable to live a fully Catholic sacramental life because of a lack of a bishop with whom to be in "full communion" and unable to influence church life in any way outside a few ever-shrinking enclaves and fighting a war in which there was no hope of victory. We are not there yet but the warning signs are all around us.
    We don't as yet know the detailed provisions of the scheme of persoanl ordinariates which Rome is offering so it is not possible to make any firm decisions as to our future direction.
    Yet those who are able to take part in what is an excitingly historic development will not so much be leaving the Church in Wales with reluctance as in hope taking their Catholic Anglican patrimony with them into unity with Peter and into the larger world of the Catholic Church - it's an important distinction and it should never be regarded as a second best option!
    But I suppose the basis of my post was that after the experience of the recent past any even half-generous response from establishment circles seems welcome and that the specific suggestion that was made should be explored.

  4. The CinW attendance figures are truly shocking. Of a population in Wales of 3 million less than 1.3% regularly go to a CinW service. This has been allowed to happen despite the formation of senior management committees, clergy schools, the decade of evangelism, the dumbing down of theological colleagues, etc. +Barry no longer has a constituency in Wales - he is not the Archbishop of Wales, but the rather Archbishop of 1.3% of Wales.

  5. Perhaps that is part of the problem.
    As the pool shrinks the big fish look ever bigger but in the end they are left floundering with nowhere to go unless they can leap into a bigger pool. Hence the accusations of political obsession. And where has political correctness brought us? In England ripples from the Revision Committee have members of WATCH threatening to become Methodists or Lutherans if they don't have their own way. So much for their view of sacramental religion in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

  6. There is also the bunker mentality of the archbishop and the other diocesans. They behave like WWI generals sat cozily far away from the front line action with no idea (or interest?) about the hardships of frontline ministry. Could any of them run a parish? I doubt it, because they have achieved high office by avoiding such hard work, but have got there by sitting on committees and mission initiatives (all of which have failed, hence the 1.3% attendance figure). I still can't believe we have six bishops with six diocesan offices and a provincial office to run such a small outpost of the church. The black humour of the situation is further compounded by the archbishop recently being awarded an international pastoral prize in New York! Obviously the award committee didn't interview anyone who has been on the receiving end this pastoral care.


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