Monday, 15 November 2010

Spots and measles

In a deeply unpleasant piece in The Guardian,  Stephen Bates (self-confessedly, "someone who is pretty lapsed these days"- so yet another 'candid friend' of Christianity a la MacCulloch) raises the old canard about potential recruits to the Ordinariate being little better than misogynists, and repeats that tired liberal prediction about the next- Pope-but-one who will be shocked into WO and any other fashionable nostrums by falling priestly vocations.
Well, speaking personally, if in the more than highly unlikely event of that happening (impossible, given the statements of successive Popes? [see comments]), questions of the validity of WO would then, for me, resolve themselves - at least ex post facto - but not, of course, in any sense as regards the actions of the adherents of the 'new religion' (pace C.S. Lewis) which Anglicans in the west appear to be begetting - or perhaps 'giving birth to' is the better analogy.
But when will these people realise that the issue of authority looms larger and larger for all of us, and has to a great extent changed our view of the Anglican Communion to which we now belong? I'm afraid, such is our disillusionment, that Fr David Houlding's recent re-statement in an interview with Ruth Gledhill here of the C of E as being "the ancient Catholic Church of this land" isn't one which many of us would now be able to recognise as bearing much relationship to reality. Such claims now tend to elicit hollow laughter rather than even emotional agreement.
But 'Factionalism' is something most of us long to be able to leave behind: it doesn't come naturally and, as we know well, one Anglican's 'factionalism' is another's sturdy defence of the Catholic Faith. Accusations of factionalism (even if here they were aimed at us - they're not: I suspect Mr Bates & co have one far more highly placed - and very Catholic - target in mind) only arise out of the utter impossibility of 'Catholics' ever being merely one party in an ecclesial polity which pretends to transcend differences in churchmanship and theology. But in some ways it's hardly an exaggeration to say that factionalism is what Anglicanism is about - it's built into the fabric. There is within contemporary Anglicanism no universally acknowledged source of authority to which one can refer, unless we can bring ourselves to accept the malign and often theologically ignorant and self-contradictory decisions of synodical majorities.  Anglican factionalism goes with the territory and is not the same thing at all as "dissent," in the Catholic sense, from a clearly identifiable magisterium.
As to misogyny, it's an article of faith with them; they simply cannot accept that for us the ordination of women and ethical revisionism are rather like the spots which herald an attack of a contagious disease - not at all the most significant issue for the sufferer.


  1. So Rome will change its position on WO because of clergy shortage, huh? Let's see.... the CofE ordains women and there is still a clergy shortage with priests being overworked caring for 2, 3, even 4 parishes and missions. Where are all the womenpriests??? Wasn't that one of the arguments to ordain them was to alleviate the priest shortage? Ooops, guess they forgot to sent out the memo to all the college females.

  2. Precisely! Yet this is the argument which is trotted out again and again by those (Anglicans and Catholics)who wish to pigeon-hole the 'orthodox' as reactionaries and misogynists. I suppose we have to accept that this has nothing to do with theological exploration, biblical exegesis or rational argument but based on an a priori secularist ideology which will simply brook no contradiction.
    And, in case there is any doubt about this, I do not believe there is the slightest possibility that Rome will change its mind on WO. As Pope John Paul II stated, even the Successors of Peter do not have the authority. Anglican provincial synods believe they do. QED


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