Sunday, 16 January 2011

This is unity: there should be no complaints

Thanks to Fr Mark Zorab on his blog All Gas & Gaiters [here] for his eyewitness report on the extraordinary events at Westminster yesterday, keeping the flag flying for Wales (or is it just St Arvans?) while I was at home nursing a cold bug and, as it turned out, we were also nursing a sick St Bernard dog.

There has been a remarkable absence so far of adverse comment on the ordinations and the setting up of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Apart from the (predictable) Peter Stanford in the (equally predictable) Observer today* [the leading article is even worse], the Catholic response has been a warmly welcoming one and, for others, scepticism has given way at least to curiosity about this new ecumenical initiative.
Anglican reaction has, naturally, been rather muted, except from the usual suspects.
But there really should be no complaints from more liberal Anglicans who will in the future be much more free to remake their church in their own zeitgeist-friendly and admittedly unapostolic image. They can hardly complain that those they have systematically disparaged and excluded have decided that enough is enough and that Anglicanism cannot now be "re-catholicized" from within.
And from those who will leave, either soon or at some later stage, there should be no complaints either. Yes, over the years we have been treated shabbily, and coldly and deliberately marginalised within the church of our baptism, but the offer on the table from Pope Benedict - the existence now of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham - is an invitation to return, with much of our spiritual and liturgical heritage intact, to our true home, a home from which we have been exiled for nearly five hundred years. Can anyone doubt that this is a wholly better option than remaining in schism and having to accept the increasing unorthodoxy and doctrinal chaos of a disintegrating communion which has rejected all forms of consistent and agreed authority? The one "concession" Anglican authorities could not offer "disaffected" Anglo-Catholics was the one thing many of us have longed for, and that is reunion with the Successor of Peter.
As the Unity Octave begins, surely this is something to celebrate. As a result of the Ordinariate there will ultimately be less division within Christian traditions than there has been previously. The boundaries have been redrawn.
Anglicans, minus their "catholic party," will then have to decide whether their communion is more than a convenient historical accident - whether there is, in fact, a theological unity around which they can cohere, and then go on to focus their attention on exactly how important the ecumenical journey is to them and on the nature of the ecumenism to which they are prepared to commit themselves.

* A correspondent has sent this link - a glorious demolition of the Stanford article by Caroline Farrow.

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