Thursday, 25 February 2010

A prediction: but no one can really know.

Firstly, it's inevitable that the future Ordinariate will indeed, as some have forecasted, begin in a relatively small way. The first “wave,” led by several bishops, will consist of those priests who have fairly homogenous, united congregations, together with single clergy, the young, those whose circumstances are uncomplicated and unhindered by family or financial commitments, along with those who will immediately be able to earn a living in secular employment or those who will be able to withstand a period of unemployment and retraining; they will be joined by those steadfast and dedicated Anglo-Catholic laity who will not be held back by ties and affection to a particular building or failing ecclesial structure. These will be the enthusiastic and committed people who will determine the shape and future course of the new provision.
They will be joined in due course, over a period of time, and in whatever way they will be able to serve, by those who will need to honour their commitments: say, to their children’s continuing education, or responsibility towards elderly parents which they are morally bound to see through. They will be for a time, in the memorable phrase of one Bristol–based priest, be the buttresses, supporting the Anglican Ordinariates from the outside, not only spiritually but possibly also financially.
But I think that those who hope that the religious landscape will then become simpler and easier to negotiate may be in for something of a disappointment. In the short to medium term, things will become more complex, not less. There will inevitably be those who will stay put either out of duty to their people, through force of circumstances, or sheer Anglo-Catholic bloody mindedness. Their point of reference theologically and liturgically will be the Ordinariates they will one day hope to join, whatever the provision, or refusal of provision, (not) accorded them by establishment Anglicanism. There will, of course, also be those who have nowhere to go because of continuing and sincerely held theological disagreements with Rome; theirs is the more difficult situation and they will need to look for support to the East, the rump of the Continuing Anglican groups or, swallowing hard, towards the predominantly evangelical GAFCON grouping within (at least for the time being) the Anglican Communion itself.
Those who expect that either of these groups who remain behind will simply bow to the majority in terms of women’s ordination or departures from traditional moral theology will again be in for something of a shock.
It is at that point, when that realisation sinks in, that I would expect some real American-style persecution of the credally orthodox, particularly perhaps (unless I do them a massive injustice & I really do hope I'm proved wrong)  from those newly consecrated women who will have an “inclusive” point to prove and perhaps - as they may see it - the honour of their sex to uphold.
The Ordinariate itself will, despite beginning in a relatively small way, have a disproportionate influence compared to its size, not only with those who remain as “Canterbury” Anglicans, but – in conjunction with the effect of the new english translation of the Roman Missal - in terms of the “reform of the reform” within the Roman Catholic dioceses themselves. It may also act as a spur to doctrinally orthodox groups at present within other separated and increasingly heterodox ecclesial bodies to reconcile with the Holy See in a similar way. Ecumenism will take on a new form, alongside what has become the "traditional" approach of ongoing dialogue but which many fear has hit the buffers of "prophetic" theological experimentation and relativism.
I’m not a betting man and my crystal ball gazing is usually far from accurate. All this speculation may turn out to be just that - mere speculation, but it’s clear that we are in for a bumpy ride. This may not be the sixteenth century, thank God, but it will be as “interesting,” even if only in the sense of that probably apocryphal Chinese curse.


  1. It may start small, but with the Holy Spirit's nurturing, it will grow.

    Remember the old saying: from tiny acorns grow might oaks. Praise God!

  2. Yes, it's my hope and prayer that it will!

  3. Not forgetting our Anglican patrimony, "... and dost promise that when two or three are gathered together in thy Name thou wilt grant their requests..." It [the Ordinariate] will start small, but will grow - don't lose heart or faith!


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