Monday, 2 November 2009

Wait and see!

There has been a lot of somewhat sour and sinously patronising comment from establishment quarters (even on some Welsh diocesan websites!) predicting that the take up by Catholic-minded Anglicans of the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution will be insignificant, so small as to be almost unnoticed. And – watch out – look at all the dreadful things you will be expected to sign up to!
I wonder.
Of course, the details of the provision have yet to be published, but I suspect that the numbers of those prepared at least to give serious consideration to the move will surprise the sceptics. When a house is on fire – deliberately set alight by some of its occupants - jumping into a fireman’s blanket may be seen as preferable to suffocating or burning to death. For many of us the air of the modern Anglican world has become too toxic to breathe.
Time scales will differ, some of us may take longer to make the journey than others, but we should be in no doubt that something very significant indeed has taken place in terms of the future trajectory of the Catholic tradition within Anglicanism.
“Affirming Catholics” will remain, but they do so at the price of redefining the concept of Catholicism to such an degree that it becomes meaninglessly elastic, or at least synonymous with whatever theological fashion holds sway among Anglicans at any given time – gin, lace and relativism.
There will be those, too, who will continue to hope that the path of “official” ecumenism will ultimately bear fruit; but with the advent of women bishops and a further “liberalisation” of attitudes towards human sexuality, that day will recede further and further into an almost unimaginable future.
The options for Catholic Anglicans are narrowing by the day; staying put and taking refuge in a no doubt sincerely held non-papal form of Catholicism will involve having to swallow far more in the way of innovation than anything the Latin Church has been accused of coming up with. Unless, of course, those who continue to find the papal claims impossible to accept are hoping to head in the direction of Orthodoxy.
Now, a parallel offer of refuge from that source would really set alarm bells ringing in Anglican episcopal palaces throughout England and Wales.

I should probably have entitled this blog “Confessions of a Recovering Liberal” as I, too, at one time found the claims to universal Petrine oversight hard to justify.
What converted me? In a word, Anglicanism. The experience of the last twenty years has convinced me that the almost complete absence of doctrinal authority is far worse than its occasional misuse.
To put things simply; I cannot believe that the Lord has left his Church rudderless and adrift in a sea of conflicting opinions, or that He intended it to become little more than “an ethical debating society.”
In contemporary western Anglican circles to be seen to be in search of “authority” or, even worse, “certainty” is too often regarded as the worst possible kind of character defect. Yet I’ve come to the conclusion with advancing years that where the salvation of my soul is at stake (and, yes, I’m old fashioned enough to believe in all that) I need as much authority and certainty as are available this side of the beatific vision.


The Introit & Kyrie from the Durufle Requiem: one of the most moving settings of the liturgy ever written.

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