Monday, 30 January 2012

Do not go gentle.....

"Civilisations which go gently and willingly into extinction, as Winston Churchill once rightly pointed out, disappear forever. Those that go down fighting have some hope of rebirth."

I have to admit after recent conversations with friends that I've changed my mind - if only just a little.
I'm not for one moment rowing back from the point of view consistently expressed in these pages that the Ordinariates (worldwide) offer the best - in reality the only - chance for the long-term survival of an authentic form of Catholic-compatible Anglican patrimony and tradition, and for a theological healing of at least some of the deep rifts of the English Reformation.
But I now think it's also necessary for some to stay and face inevitable defeat with all its attendant risks (not only in terms of financial and employment security, but as regards cynicism, bitterness and loss of faith in anything) just to order to fight, where they are, for what they believe.

The reason? Simply that the theological / cultural 'war' taking place both within the Christian tradition and in the societies in which we live won't come to an end with the triumph of secularist thought in Anglicanism and in the other bodies which trace their independent existence from the upheavals of the sixteenth century. We are clearly deluding ourselves if we think that the proponents of equality at any cost will halt at the banks of the Tiber. The fight will follow us wherever we go.
As we are seeing both in the United States and in Britain, in Church and State alike, nothing is immune from its effects, in ecclesial terms largely because of the massive influence the aggressively secular mass media has on the lives and opinions of the faithful. The limited influence of those who teach and preach the faith is only too clear.
In the Western Church we have been richly blessed with two steadfast and articulate defenders of orthodoxy in the present Holy Father and his predecessor. We have to pray that the ancient highly conservative role of the Papacy and the Roman Church will continue to resist the inroads of liberalism to the end, even at the risk (as Pope Benedict has indicated) of shrinking drastically in terms of size and influence.

Anglo-Catholics were often accused in the nineteenth century of being a kind of 'fifth column' (I'm aware of the linguistic anachronism)  undermining the culture and polity of the Church of England. To court self-conscious irony, this is our last chance fully to embrace that role by resisting the current Anglican trend towards the abandonment of apostolicity and credal orthodoxy even in the face of 'persecution' and ultimate extinction.
The Ordinariates are necessary. I have nothing but admiration for those who have been able to make the move, risking much to help establish something which we hope and pray will be of increasing significance and influence in the years to come. But also necessary, I now believe, is the willingness to face certain defeat - to go down fighting - for the sake of the signal it will send out. Anglicanorum Coetibus plainly states that the Ordinariates are not for this moment or for this generation only.
It's not 'either or,' but 'both and.'
And, at the risk of appearing naïve, the recent signs of mutual antagonism between those who have gone and those who have stayed can only help those who oppose the 'Catholic' faith in all its forms.* Surely, even for those who now wish to make exclusive claims, 'he who is not against us is for us.'
Or, to coin a phrase (!)  'we are all in this together.'

* One very important addition / correction: from a correspondent:
'Surely “the recent signs of mutual antagonism between some of those who have gone and some of those who have stayed”? I can only speak for myself, but I’ve not given up any of my friendships.'

Memo to myself - don't write in the middle of a 'flu bug.


  1. Quite so.
    'Fight, fight and fight again...!'
    is another quote that springs to mind.

  2. 'Never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never give up'. W L S Churchill, speech to Harrow School, 1941.
    'God did not send John Keble inyto the pulpit of St Mary's Oxford so that I could switch off the lights in St........ and lock the church after a last Mass.' Anglo-Catholic Priest, Sermon at Shrine of OL of Egmanton 1996
    'Hand over the Church of England to a group of people who do not understand her basic grammar, sod that for a game of soldiers'. Me this morning.
    Way to go Father, way to go.

  3. No matter how hard you try, it's impossible to build a catholic house on Protestant shifting sands, rather than on the rock of Peter. Isn't it a mortal sin to know that the Catholic Church is what it says it is, but still not join into full visible communion with Her?

  4. Tu es petrus asked: "Isn't it a mortal sin to know that the Catholic Church is what it says it is, but still not join into full visible communion with Her?"



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