Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A strange measure of agreement?

A blog post of one of the Ordinariate groups has these comments on the attitude of the most vocal of those now striving to introduce women bishops to the Church of England without provision for traditionalists:

"..However, if one scrapes away the veneer of the tone and looks at the underlying message, is the Revd Hudson-Wilkin really saying anything that unreasonable or unrealistic? All she is saying is that the Church of England has made up its mind about ordaining women to its episcopate, and that those who don't like it will just have to accept it and act accordingly. There is no magic solution that will be acceptable to everyone. As to the tone, well, after 37 years of debate, surely we can all (including the Revd Hudson-Wilkin) be excused a little frustration."

"....The messages sound strikingly similar, and in fact are rather simple : this is what is happening, this is what the Church of England has decided, and if that's not you, then you need to look elsewhere for something that is...."

"...The reality is, and there is no point in debating the rights and wrongs of how we got here, that the Church of England has made certain decisions.  People can either live with them or they can't.  The levels of frustration, and sadly animosity, increase on both sides when there is an inability or an unwillingness to see the new reality. As Mark Twain never said, Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt..."

I understand what is being said here and why. Much of me agrees with it.

On the other hand, I can't help thinking that the argument from personal choice and the overriding need to be where one is 'spiritually comfortable' is ultimately individualistic and, well, in a way, 'protestant.' Is the Church ours to do with as we like and to change as each generation sees fit? The Oxford Movement itself was founded on a forceful denial of that proposition.
Now, of course, if you have arrived after bitter experience and much soul-searching, like Bl John Henry Newman in 1845, at the clear position that the Anglican provinces are not a Catholic part of the Church, nor have ever been, then the above arguments constitute a wholly consistent point of view.
Those who still (even if only instinctively) feel the unfolding situation is historically just a little more nuanced than that, may have difficulties in coming to this degree of acceptance of their lot.

That time may come, theological and historical questions abound, but any process of conversion (and no one has been left in any doubt as to the necessity for that) has to be in line with the putative converts' consciences.
Until such a point is reached, given the intolerable pressures now being faced by traditionalist clergy and their families, the continued patience and understanding of those who were, until what seems like yesterday, our brothers-in-arms, will be very helpful indeed, not only psychologically, but evangelistically too.


  1. Entirely agree with everything in your post.

    Today's post on our blog could have been clearer on a point that has been mentioned on many occasions previously : we most definitely do not underestimate how hard it can be to come to a conclusion, or to pack your bags and go.

    If we were insufficiently insistent on that today, please accept our apologies. This is a horrid time for faithful Anglo-Catholics left in the Church of England and indeed in the Church in Wales. We can reassure you that we have said this many times previously on our blog!

    The fact that we have already gone ahead and are happy where we have landed is reassuring I suppose up to a point, but doesn't of itself simplify the processes ahead of you or people in your situation. We acknowledge that.

    Thanks for reading our blog, and thank you for your blog, which we continue to follow.

  2. Many thanks indeed for this. It's a tense time as you know well, so please excuse the possible over-reaction.
    Please be assured of the continuing prayers and good wishes from those who are(we hope temporarily) separated from you on this rather insecure and slippery bank of the Tiber!

  3. I was taught in my Church of England Sunday School days that indefectibility was one of the marks of the true Church. If the Church of England is now revealed not to possess that mark, then some painful conclusions may have to be drawn.


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