Monday 31 January 2011

Objectivity in short supply?

Oh dear, the BBC seems to have shot itself in the foot again over Ed Stourton's less than impartial interview about the Ordinariate with Prof. Tina Beattie on the execrable Sunday programme (7.10 a.m. on Sunday mornings - thank God for early masses) - see here, here and here.
Just why the Corporation has to be seen as a player in these debates, instead of performing its legitimate (and tax-payer funded) task of balanced reporting, goodness only knows. But in an increasingly competitive media world it is doing itself no favours by posing as the broadcast edition of The Guardian (or the Tablet or whatever fashionably left-leaning periodical springs to mind.)

Sunday 30 January 2011

Is the problem really political interference, or is it something more fundamental?

Today's Sunday Telegraph has this:

"A group of influential MPs will tomorrow call for Parliament to intervene over the historic reform as fears grow that the Church will reject plans allowing female bishops.

The cross-party group, including former ministers Frank Field and Stephen Timms, and Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, is concerned that the General Synod, the Church's parliament, may not pass legislation designed to end the glass ceiling for women clergy."
It seems, then, that Parliament, which intervened so decisively twenty years ago to protect traditionalists in the Church of England, is now likely to use its powers against them.
But the problem is not so much that of political interference in the life of the Church, but the continued existence of a State Church itself which makes such interventions to force the Church to conform to contemporary post-Christian secular values not only possible but inevitable.
It is in the Anglican DNA. Even in Anglican provinces now disestablished and separated from the Church of England (and in others never so attached to the parent body) there is a marked reluctance - a psychological aversion, even distaste - for anything which seems to put a distance between the Church and the prevailing values of society.
For quite a few of us there now seems only one way to free ourselves from this modern 'Babylonian captivity.'
I understand the project is already under way.

Me, me, me.....?

A revealing article here on the attractiveness of "liberal Christianity."
There has been a lot of comment about Theo Hobson's view of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. (TEC. )
I won't add to it by very much, only to say that the problem with much of contemporary 'liberal' Christianity, wherever we find it, is that it seems always to be we who are questioning the Tradition and the Scriptures in the light of our own personal desires and wishes. There is little sense that Tradition and Scripture (and through them the Lord himself) are interrogating us, or (am I being unfair?) of that renunciation of self which the call to holiness of necessity involves. Ultimately that's what makes me so uneasy about the direction the theological liberals want to take us, which seems to be influenced more by the intellectual arrogance of modern culture and its smug acceptance of its historical insularity than by the imperatives of the Gospel. Where is the cross? What is the meaning of  redemption and salvation? Or is religious faith simply about being able to feel comfortable in our own skins?
Isn't that what really divides us?

Friday 28 January 2011

Weekend round-up

The Tablet (clearly no friend of the Ordinariate), in the person of its deputy editor, Elena Curti, stirs things again, accusing Rome of having "an obsession with the conversion of England." [here]
"....Rome loves this idea. A knowledgeable source tells me there is an obsession there with the conversion of England and hope that the ordinariate will pave the way for it....."

Egypt erupts in violence [here] and [here]
But we should be in no doubt that the worst possible outcome - for the stability of the region, for the west, and for the Copts (a substantial minority in Egypt) and other Egyptian Christians - would be an Islamic republic or any regime intent on imposing Islamic law, or one in any way friendly to the appalling regime in Tehran.

Another excellent piece [here] from Fr John Hunwicke on the relationship between baptism and confirmation (and the need to separate the latter from adolescence.)
"There has been a most unfortunate tendency among some in the Roman Catholic Church to follow a deplorable Anglican mistake: of regarding Confirmation as a sort of Christian Bar-Mitzvah, an adolescent Rite of Passage. In my view - I did spend 28 years teaching 13-19 year-olds - nothing is more misguided than mixing up the Sacraments of Initiation in this way with the hormonal problems which thirteen-year-olds are having to face. Moreover, Confirmation is a Sacrament, not a Rite of Passage.

I think this is the time to resurrect a persistent argument of Dom Gregory Dix; that Confirmation is in fact that Baptism in the Spirit of which Biblical and Patristic texts speak......" 
Read it all
He also reports on the decision of the Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool that confirmation be celebrated at the age of eight, before first communion.
In fact, that's exactly what we did here in the days before we were (by archiepiscopal diktat - an indication of exactly how much we are respected) deprived of an orthodox (flying) bishop to look after us.
However, Fr Sean Finnegan at Valle Adurni raises some interesting questions about the practical difficulties in Roman Catholic parishes  of the 'Liverpool approach' and the need for confirmation to be an episcopally-conferred sacrament.
As they say, discuss......
This one will (and should) run and run.

Pope Benedict on social media and the digital age [here]

Bishop Edwin (sorry, old habits die hard) on trees and forests and the proposed government sell-off [here]

Some more Ordinariate news from Tunbridge Wells  and the Anglo-Catholic

More Anglican Communion unpleasantness here - thanks to TitusOneNine
From the latest meeting in Dublin we can expect lots of briefings  like this on quasi-theological subjects, giving us even more evidence of a disintegrating religious body whose western 'primates' (the only ones who can now be bothered to turn up to meetings?) are increasingly preaching to the like-minded and increasingly unconcerned with things eternal.
Wouldn't it be gloriously liberating not to have to concern ourselves any longer with all this? Just a thought!

There's a persistent urban myth that April 1st has been set aside as a holiday for atheists see here
Unfortunately, there's no truth in it, but having seen some of their happy smiling faces during last year's Papal Visit, for an atheist protester obviously every day is a holiday.

And, finally, from First Things (always worth a read) this article on apologetics and culture

The future is the real issue

Fr Ray Blake on his blog [here] gives as good an explanation as I have read recently as to why those of us who are sympathetic to the Ordinariate have no qualms whatsoever about Anglican clergy being (re)ordained to serve in the Catholic Church: (my emphasis in bold type)
"It seems to be that all the Church is saying now, is that there is a deficiency in the Orders of those ordained in the Anglican Church who now seek ordination as Catholics. They might have worked in the CofE, they don’t work in for RCs. I can’t help but see a parallel with how the Church speaks about unbaptised children nowadays. Today we acknowledge the necessity of baptism but we avoid mention of limbo and instead we speak about the infinite mercy of God, simply because we know about and can be certain of Grace of the Church in the sacraments but in the dark world outside of the Church we simply do not know, we only know there is a problem.

Our big problem with Anglican Orders is not the past so much as the future, as far as Catholics and Orthodox are concerned every Ordination in the future will be invalid not just because of the involvement of female “bishops” but simply because the intention is to do precisely the opposite of what the Church intends, bishops and priests will be ordained, not for the Church catholic – I use the term in its broadest possible sense- but for those Christians who accept their particular orders, in that sense Anglican Orders are divisively anti-ecclesial."
Read it all.

Thursday 27 January 2011

An inability to see the wood for the trees?

It's the time of  year when many priests seem to make more than the usual number of trips to their local crematorium. Our nearest here is in the middle of the Forest of Dean, just over the border  in Gloucestershire. It's a simple timber-framed and glass-fronted chapel in what looks at first sight like a woodland clearing - so not the somewhat industrialised, even distressingly impersonal ending which cremation can bring to so many Christian funeral rites. Sometimes I can't help thinking burial is a far more natural end to a life, although if my recent experience were of burying people in huge, equally impersonal, municipal cemeteries, rather than small well-kept rural churchyards, my opinion might be different.

But the approach roads to the crematorium, through the centre of the forest, presented a strange sight on Monday and Tuesday for two reasons. Firstly the verges were churned up as if they had been attacked by an army of termites, and many of the trunks of the ancient oak trees at the side of the road were tied with yellow and gold ribbons.

Remarkably, the damage to the roadside had been done by the increasing numbers of wild boar now naturalised within the boundaries of the forest - a return to "Merrie England" with a vengeance - after being hunted to extinction by the end of the eighteenth century.
There is a web site dedicated to them [here]

But the yellow ribbons on the trees have been left as a protest against government plans to sell off Britain's publicly owned and managed forests to the highest bidder. Now I can understand objections to an over-mighty state; public ownership on the whole isn't noted either for its efficient management or its profitability. But the forests and woodlands, many of them donated and held in trust for the nation, seem to be an exception to the rule and are for the most part models of good management and of the encouragement of public access. We are constantly being reminded by the "nanny state," including ministers in this coalition government, of what sedentary and unhealthy life-styles we lead. For the same government to put in question the use of our woodlands as public amenities seems inconsistent to the point of idiocy. In fact the money raised for the exchequer by the sale of the public forests is quite negligible and will be balanced out by the public subsidies which will have to be offered to private owners in order to maintain an element of public access and to encourage the conservation of natural habitats and wildlife.
So why proceed with a policy which is clearly not going to save the taxpayer a great deal of money and which, opinion polls suggest, is opposed by some 84% of the population? It begins to look as if this has been proposed for ideological reasons alone, on the basis that private ownership is always, without exception, better than public ownership.
Of course, there would be more justification for that view if those likely to profit by the sale of our forests were the owners of large private estates who believed in the conservation of our natural heritage and were prepared to make management decisions which looked forward several generations rather than to the short term fluctuating fortunes of the market in timber. The likelihood is, however, that prospective buyers will mostly be large and impersonal forestry businesses, quite likely foreign owned, who would have no stake in the quality of life enjoyed by those living in the local areas concerned and no real interest  in the future of the British countryside.

I'm sufficiently conservative (or is the word I'm really looking for 'Catholic' - surely the Faith demands more of us than the economic determinism found on both the left and the right of the political spectrum?) to believe that there are factors other than economics and the short term profit motive which are important in determining the quality of our lives. Like their mirror-images on the left, many of the more extreme apologists of the liberal free market seem at times to be motivated by a grimly "Calvinistic" ideology which is promoted above the genuine needs and concerns of human beings.
It would be good sometimes to see conservatives who truly believe in conserving something and liberals who actually know something about living in the country and the lives of those of us who are fortunate enough to be able do so.

Two suggestions (only one of which is made tongue in cheek):
If the objection to publicly owned woodlands is on the basis of economic ideology, then rename the Forestry Commission the 'Royal Forestry Commission,' stick a crown on its logo and return us to a kind of medieval solution - forests not owned by the 'State,' but by the 'Crown.'
Failing that, given that the sell-off is likely to raise a derisory sum for the exchequer, and as it seems the vast majority of us want to keep the status quo and not sell off those woods in common ownership, give us the chance to 'own' what is, in fact, already ours - for the price we now pay in taxation in order to maintain them. I for one would be ready to contribute.

See this link

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Not goodbye - yet

 I was sad to see the announcement of the imminent end of the Saint Barnabas Blog.
It has been in the forefront of those writing first in fearless support of beleaguered Anglo-Catholics, and later in its unqualified welcome of the Ordinariate. We can all look forward to the blog's and its editor's new incarnation!

This blog (LNYD) has been written on a much more modest scale and is not the official mouthpiece of any particular parish, and as such will continue for the foreseeable future, hoping to give a little encouragement and support to those who for a while longer are forced to sing the Lord's song in (what has become) a strange land.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

News from SSWSH

The Mission Society of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda has this pastoral letter from 12 bishops of the Church of England on its website [here]
Whatever our own plans may be for the future, for the sake of our Anglo-Catholic brothers and sisters who are determined to remain in the Church of England at all costs we cannot but wish the bishops well in the task ahead of them.
They have no unrealistic hopes about their chances of success:
"We do not want to build up false hopes. Every attempt we have made so far to persuade the Church of England to make the kind of provision that would enable us in good conscience to remain within its fellowship has been thwarted. We feel, nevertheless, duty bound, once again to seek a way out of the impasse that otherwise would make it impossible for many of us to remain faithful members of our Church. We recognise the huge change of heart that would need to happen for us to succeed......"
Of course, 'traditionalist' Welsh Anglicans intent on remaining part of the Church in Wales cannot even entertain such modest hopes as these.....

Bread and not a stone

So, according to recent reports [here] the Pope's offer, say senior Anglicans, was an 'insensitive takeover bid.'
Obviously we have to repeat this until we are blue in the face: the Pope's offer in Anglicanorum Coetibus was itself a response  to a desperate plea for help and sanctuary from Anglican Catholics. The initiative came from the Anglican side.
It is to Pope Benedict's credit that  he was not prepared to emulate these same "senior Anglicans" and give his spiritually and now ecclesially homeless brothers and sisters in Christ a stone instead of bread.
The generosity of the Roman Catholic Church, coupled with the heartless indifference (some would say naked hostility) of Anglican bishops and synodical majorities towards Anglo-Catholic traditionalists, has caused many of us to think again about the nature of the communion of which we are a part.
So, exactly on whose part is the insensitivity?
Who has shown the greater pastoral heart, and who has shown himself to be the true shepherd of the flock of Christ entrusted to his charge?

Friday 21 January 2011

(Kiss and) Tell

Fully living up to her and her newspaper's reputation for a bit of anti-Catholic mischief-making, Ruth Gledhill of The Times is reporting apparently extraordinary comments made by Cardinal Walter Kasper, recently retired head of the Vatican's Council for Christian Unity.
If true (and Mrs Gledhill's reporting should sometimes come equipped with a pre-prepared pinch of salt,)  this is certainly a remarkable breach of protocol. But who, if anyone, would stand to benefit, as a result of these comments being released at this particular stage? The reported remarks about Anglicanorum Coetibus would have had substance if the Ordinariates had been set up at a time when Catholic / Anglican dialogue had been moving in anything like a positive direction. However, in the light of Cardinal Kasper's own (quite dismissively rejected) appeals both to General Synod and the Lambeth Conference about the contemporary direction of Anglicanism, they seem doubly extraordinary and out of place given the ecumenical realities. If true or if interpreted accurately....
"Retired Vatican prelate lays bare extraordinary divisions in Rome

Cardinal Walter Kasper appears to have told the Archbishop of Canterbury at a farewell dinner, the night before the ordinations of Frs Newton, Broadhurst and Burnham, that 'the day of tomorrow is not an easy one for you. It is not a day of victory for one side, it should be for both a day of penance.' Amazing. This video I shot a while ago, in Rome, soon after the constitution had been announced. But it is still relevant to this story. Below are the relevant paragraphs of Kasper's speech, attended also by our outgoing Ambassador to the Vatican Francis Campbell. Campbell's comments on the Ordinariate are among those that emerged in the Wikileaks revelations. Read Austen Ivereigh's comment on that here.

Kasper was of course meant to be among the party travelling with the Pope to Britain last year. He withdrew after his comments describing Britain as a 'third world country.' See our reports in The Times here and here.

Pope Benedict XVI and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who the outgoing Anglican bishops conducted their negotiatons with, have said repeatedly that the Ordinariate is a step forwards in the name of unity.
I had heard that not everyone in the Holy See agreed however. Apparently the first the Council for Christian Unity knew that anything was up was when a party of ecumenical visitors bumped into three - then still Anglican bishops - being escorted round the Scavi, the tombs beneath St Peter's, by prelates from the CDF, sometime in 2009.
Normally the Vatican manages to keep its internal divisions pretty much out of the public domain. But the world is changing.
For the former head of the CCU to suggest the Ordinariate requires 'penance' on both sides, just before the next round of ARCIC talks begin with Birmingham's Archbishop Bernard Longley as co-chair, is a strong indication of the level of disagreement in Rome that exists about to what extent the Ordinariate is thought to be an instrument of unity or division. It also makes public the anguish of the Archbishop of Canterbury. 'I know well, that the day of tomorrow is not an easy one for you,' Kasper tells the diners at Lambeth Palace. Misleadingly, the date on the Archbishop's website of the speech is given as the date it was posted, 20th January, or yesterday. But in fact the speech was delivered when the dinner took place last week, as I reported here. 'Tomorrow' was the day of the ordinations at Westminster Cathedral that we reported here.
Extracts from the Cardinal's address. He stepped down last year as head of the Council for Christian Unity......... etc. "
UPDATE: See comments for valuable clarifications of the Cardinal's actual comments - neither truthfully nor accurately reported, it seems. From the enemies and the unfair criticism it is attracting, the Ordinariate seems to have all the right people rattled, doesn't it?

Change...of all kinds

I have just received notification from the diocese that 21-27 March is 'Climate Change Week.' I'm not against anything which will make Lent more penitential than usual, but perhaps this isn't the way I would have chosen. Let's hope we're not snowed in at the end of the coldest winter for 100 years.
I'm not guilty of out-and-out climate change denial (a more heinous fault these days in certain circles than out- and-out heresy) just of a mild scepticism; having said that, what we should all be agreed upon - and perhaps as a way of directing our Lenten almsgiving - is support for the poorest of our fellow Christians in areas hardest hit by shifting climatic patterns, however they are caused.

The momentum behind the Ordinariate seems to be gathering pace, not only as regards the news of the establishment of Ordinariates in Australia & Japan, but - as I discovered to my delight in Bristol yesterday - in the genuine enthusiasm and support seen at a local level in Britain. [see this report from Fr Paul Spilsbury at the Field of Dreams blog]
Most commentators are agreed that it won't begin as a huge exodus from the Anglican provinces, but will grow as it quickly becomes apparent that this is an idea (and a form of ecumenism which brings clear, lasting and visible results) whose time has come.
See here for the decree setting up the Ordinariate in England and Wales

Here's an interesting article from Andrew Carey, originally in The Church of England Newspaper, comparing the "fantasy" (his word) of Anglican comprehensiveness with the generosity displayed by Rome in the provisions of  Anglicanorum Coetibus - thanks to Anglican Mainstream

And [here] from the Ordinariate Portal a typically double-edged and snarky piece on the Ordinariate from Jezebel's Trumpet

It would seem - largely as a result of less than honest reporting by the media and of politicians anxious to preserve their parliamentary majorities (who, after all, wants to be accused, however unfairly, of racism?)  that Islam and its various cultural accretions is subject to rather less scrutiny than that accorded to other faiths and cultures in an increasingly socially diverse Britain.
It's not surprising that in an established culture which has rejected its ancestral Christian faith, "tolerance" (critics might say too often used in the non-traditional sense that anything goes so long as it doesn't frighten the horses) should become in itself the new unchallengeable orthodoxy. But it does now seem to be the case that even where there is very clear evidence that such tolerance is not always reciprocated, in order to preserve that multi-cultural orthodoxy those breaches of respect for "liberal" ( in the good sense of liberality) and representative traditions are being deliberately overlooked and played down. This turning of a blind eye is presumably in the hope that time and "inculturation"  will result in the emergence of a moderate and westernised form of Islam which will pose no threat to the traditional values of mutual respect and toleration which now prevail in most western societies. The indications are, however, that wilful blindness to the facts on the ground is counter-productive and likely to both undermine (majority) moderate Islamic opinion here and also throughout the world and encourage the very fundamentalism most feared by the proponents of multi-culturalism itself.
Here is Bishop Michael Nazir Ali's take on the "elephant in the room" of modern British society:
"Diversity cannot be mere diversity. It must be consistent with the best of British values, such as human dignity, freedom and equality, which derive from the Judaeo-Christian tradition of the Bible.
I know from personal experience that extremism as a mind-set is spreading throughout the Muslim world. We do not want it to spread here through the teaching of hate and the radicalisation of the young.
That is why we must distinguish between those Muslims who want to live peacefully with their non-Muslim neighbours and those who wish to introduce Shari’a into this country, restrict freedom of speech and confine women to their homes, not to speak of introducing draconian punishments such as death for blasphemy recently awarded to a poor Christian woman in Pakistan.
If relations are to improve between Muslims and other people in the world, these are the kind of issues that must be tackled."

Thursday 20 January 2011

Dialogue...... or not

So, it's not only liberal Christians who view "dialogue" as part of the process of getting their own way.
"Top Muslim academics in Egypt have announced they are suspending all dialogue with the Vatican to protest Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks about anti-Christian violence in Egypt." See the full report in the Catholic Herald here
So, the Holy Father, regrettably almost a lone voice in this respect, speaks out about violence being inflicted upon his brother and sister Christians in Egypt and this is the response from Islamic scholars?
 From the OED's definition of dialogue: "discussion between two or more people or groups, especially one directed towards exploration of a particular subject or resolution of a problem"
Obviously if there isn't a problem, there's no need for a dialogue.
And before someone uses the the words "lslamophobia" (See Baroness Warsi's recent remarks) - a phobia is an "irrational" fear. There is nothing irrational about the fear of the Christian communities under persecution in the middle east and beyond.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

"Conservative cassandras...?"

An interesting article here from the religious sociologist, Peter Berger under the title "Virginity, Polyamory and the Limits of Pluralism."  Many of us have been saying for a very long time that the diffficulty with the kind of a-historical, unrooted, pluralism we now see in western societies (and in the secularised religious protestant mainstream?) is precisely that it has no limits.
This excerpt will give a flavour of what Peter Berger is saying:
"Conservative cassandras (please note: I am not one of them) are turning out to be empirically correct, even if one disagrees with their philosophy: once you legitimate same-sex marriage, you open the door to any number of other alternatives to marriage as a union of one man and one woman: polygamous (an interesting question for Muslims in Germany and dissident Mormons in Arizona), polyandrous, polygenerational – perhaps polyspecies? Our Hamburg trio may well be correct in their expectation that polyamory may be the wave of the future. (Actually, the term could be expanded to cover all the above poly-arrangements.)"
Speaking, I suppose, as one of them, there's only one problem with the term 'Conservative cassandras.'  I'm sorry for being classically pedantic here, but isn't the main thrust of the myth that Cassandra herself turned out out to be "empirically correct" in her own original predictions? The curse laid on her by Apollo was that no one believed her.
Does that ring any bells?

Monday 17 January 2011

The historical context

".......The task before Andrew and the others in the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham is to translate into terms of Christian life, thought and worship, what that ‘not little’ grace has done, in the history of the Church of England – what it is that can be placed on the paten, put into the chalice, not for propitiation, in a spirit of repentance, but for the praise of God’s glory, in a spirit of thanksgiving. And this is the second sense in which we stand now on a cusp or boundary or threshold.
It will entail a very great deal of hard work. It is nothing less than the reconfiguring of Anglicanism by union with the Petrine centre and its criteria of orthodoxy....."
".........But there is more than that. There is bringing this new ecclesia particularis, this new ‘particular church’, into the movement for renovating the whole Church which we associate with the mind and heart of Pope Benedict, a movement which respects the Second Vatican Council but places it, by a hermeneutic of continuity, in the great Tradition as a whole. It is a movement towards the fullness of Catholicity, in which the fathers of the Oxford Movement can take effortlessly their place.

So, Father, let me leave you and this congregation with one final citation from the Blessed John Henry, ‘I have a work to do in England’ "
from the homily preached by Fr Aidan Nichols, O.P., at Fr Andrew Burnham's " first Mass in full union with the Catholic Church"  on Sunday, 16 January [the emphasis is mine]
Read it all here

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.

Saturday 15 January 2011

We praise thee, O God.....

I know that in some church circles the very worst thing of which to be accused is triumphalism, but surely, after decades of marginalisation and despair about the future, today has to be worth a Te Deum. Given the occasion, here's one in English!
Updates: We are grateful to Fr Ivan Aquilina of the Sevenoaks Blog [ here ]  for posting on his blog regular updates on this morning's events as they happen
Our congratulations to Fr (Mgr?) Keith Newton on being appointed the first Ordinary, and we have confirmation that the Ordinariate is indeed under the patronage of Our Lady of Walsingham.
And, of course, our congratulations to Frs Keith Newton, John Broadhurst and Andrew Burnham who are making history as the first priests of the Ordinariate. As we prepare for the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, may our ecclesial separation not be a long one!

The VIS report is now here and Archbishop Nichols' homily, Fr Newton's statement as Ordinary and Cardinal Levada's message can all  be found, with other reports, at The Anglo-Catholic

Eternal Father, we place before you the project of forming the Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans seeking full communion with the Catholic Church.

We thank you for this initiative of Pope Benedict XVI, and we ask that, through the Holy Spirit,
the Ordinariates may become: families of charity, peace and the service of the poor, centres for Christian unity and reconciliation, communities that welcome and evangelize, teaching the Faith in all its fullness, celebrating the liturgy and sacraments with prayerful reverence and maintaining a distinctive patrimony of Christian faith and culture.

Drawing on that heritage we pray:

Go before us, O Lord, in all our doings
with thy most gracious favour,
and further us with thy continual help;
that in all our works, begun, continued and ended in thee,
we may glorify thy holy name,
and finally by thy mercy obtain everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

V/ Our Lady of Walsingham.

R/ Pray for us as we claim your motherly care.

V/ Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus.

R/ Pray for us as we place this work
     under your patronage.

V/ Blessed John Henry Newman

R/ Pray that Christ’s Heart
     may speak unto our hearts.

V/ Saints and Martyrs of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

R/ Pray for us and accompany us on our pilgrim way

[the Ordinariate Portal]

Friday 14 January 2011

Momentous events

Momentous events are happening around us. We are anticipating the setting up of the first Ordinariate to coincide with the ordinations to the Catholic priesthood of John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday.

I was hoping to be able to slip into the congregation on Saturday morning, but it seems that a 'flu bug will prevent me from being present at something which is really an historic event -a much abused expression, but on this occasion absolutely justified. I believe this will come to be seen as one of the most significant events in modern church history
 To answer a question asked by another blogger,
"Where were you when.........?" 
"Staying at home, feeling very sorry for myself, overdosing on Beecham's cold and flu remedies."
As they say in places other than clergy houses and rectories, I am "gutted" not to be able to be there.

So, the process continues and the front of the "caravan"  is already arriving at its destination. It's right that the focus of all our attention and our prayers over the next weeks and months will be on those who are preparing to set up the Ordinariate and the significant task before them.

But what of those whose journey is only just beginning? There's a very sensitive post at the blog Valle Adurni about those who will be left behind. As we know, they will not only be those who have rejected the idea of the Ordinariate, those who have definitively opted to stay put, but also include those for whom the time is not yet right, for family reasons and various other practical issues which, as Andrew Burnham's recent interview with Anna Arco in The Catholic Herald illustrates, shouldn't be disregarded or despised. This is a process - the caravan will take a very long time to wind its way across the desert, and part of its purpose is to persuade others to tag along for the journey.

Spiritually and psychologically, of course, this will be a difficult time for those on the move but at a slower pace. It's not always an entirely heartening experience standing on the platform waving our friends off, even if we know another train will be coming along later. "Mind the gap" takes on a wholly new meaning.
In the interim, how honest is it possible to be - with one's people, one's family, one's present superiors, ultimately with oneself? Uncertainty can bring out the worst as well as the best in human nature.
The exodus of Anglo-Catholicism from the Anglican Communion, which we are now witnessing, is an experience of  bereavement as well as a setting out in hope. Bereavement, as we all know, passes through various phases, including those of anger and despair. At times like this we all want to be validated by people largely agreeing with us and  doing what we ourselves are doing. Differences of opinion can easily be perceived as personal threats.
But despite much talk about those who are just burying their heads in the sand, there is now a great deal of realism around in Anglo-Catholic circles. At a recent meeting in Wales, someone summed up the situation facing us as a stark choice between Rome and a form of "ecumenical protestantism;" it's hard to argue with that. It's also clear that there are those in high office within Anglicanism who are violently opposed to Anglo-Catholics being allowed even the merest fig leaf in terms of an orthodox ecclesiology.
But it's one thing to recognise the historical significance of what is happening around us - the writing on the wall, if you like -  another to be able to see our way clearly to extricating ourselves from the mess and confusion of an ecclesial body falling headlong into apostasy.
Those who are travelling in the caravan, at whatever stage of the journey, need to be welcoming, supportive and encouraging to those who have yet to get on board.
Ultimately, wherever we are now, we have to strive to be faithful and to do what we can, when we can, and then leave the rest to God and to the prayers of Our Lady and the Saints.

And above all today, our prayers for those who will be ordained to the priesthood and incardinated into the new Ordinariate in the morning!

Borodin: 'In the Steppes of Central Asia'
A caravan wends its way through the landscape.....
Reports of yesterday's ordinations can be found here  & here

This blog adds its warmest congratulations to the newly ordained!

Thursday 13 January 2011

The Portal

The Portal, 'an independent review in the service of the Ordinariate,' is online now [here}

The online magazine is primarily intended as a source of news and comment for those who are members of the Ordinariate, and for Anglicans who are exploring the possibilities of joining it - information 'from the horse's mouth,' as it were.

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Why target the Copts?

Another horror story from Egypt [here]
Why do Islamic extremists target Coptic Christians? The Coptic Church pre-dates the Islamic invasions of Egypt; the Copts have an impeccable claim not only to be indisputably indigenous but ethnically the "original" Egyptians. For Muslim fundamentalists, this is a red rag to a bull: a clear contradiction of their exclusively Muslim pan-Arab ambitions.
But the existence of the Copts and of the ancient Orthodox, Armenian and Eastern Catholic communities presents a clear challenge to the West also; how far are our governments prepared to champion the rights of religious minorities in the face of the somewhat ambivalent attitudes of the "moderate" Middle Eastern regimes they support? Who will speak up for the rights of Christians in the Middle East? Pope Benedict and ....who else?
Please pray for our our brothers and sisters in the faith in the Middle East, and also for those Muslims - genuinely people of good will - who truly believe in peaceful co-existence and are prepared to stand up in defence of it in the face of intimidation and violence.

Will this be now also part of English Catholic Patrimony? The Magnificat  & Nunc Dimittis from the St Pauls' Service by Herbert Howells, born just a few miles from here at Lydney in Gloucestershire.

"You say that approved rites of the Anglican tradition can be used in Ordinariate parishes. There are existing ones, such as employed in Anglican Use parishes in the United States. Are new ones envisaged?"
"When we’re talking about Anglican patrimony we’re talking about more than the particular Missal you use for the celebration of Mass. We’re looking at a Sacramentary which would contain a range of rites, not just the celebration of Mass but celebrations of weddings or funeral rites, house blessings, and so on, which reflect that Anglican patrimony. Another major one would be the derogation from the Roman Breviary, to make more use of traditional Anglican morning prayer and evensong. So there’s a whole range of areas of liturgy that might be accommodated in a Supplementary which reflects that Anglican patrimony. I don’t know, but I don’t envisage that this would take the form of a multiplication of rites; I imagine that there would be one rite agreed for all the English-speaking ordinariates of the world."

From Austen Iverleigh's interview yesterday with Fr Marcus Stock in America Magazine. Read the full interview here
Let's not lose sight of the reason for the Ordinariate. It's not a bolt-hole for disaffected and (so-called) 'Romanising' Anglican clergy. This is the repatriation into its true home of all that is beautiful, valuable and enduring in the Anglican tradition. It should not be left to the mercy of those who now do not value it and are increasingly ignorant of its riches.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Establishment of Ordinariate confirmed

Confirmation that the establishment of the Ordinariate in England and Wales will take place later this week was made today. See here for the full statement from the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales and here for the statement from Archbishop Vincent Nichols
Read them both - there may be details concerning the Ordinariate of which many will not already be aware.
Please continue to hold in your prayers the former bishops of Ebbsfleet, Richborough and Fulham who will be ordained this week.
"The three men ordained on Saturday will be the first priests of this Ordinariate.

This is a unique moment and the Catholic community in England and Wales is privileged to be playing its part in this historic development in the life of the Universal Church.
We offer a warm welcome to these three former bishops of the Church of England. We welcome those who wish to join them in full communion with the Pope in the visible unity of the Catholic Church. We recognise the journey they are making with its painful departures and its uncertainties. We salute their depth of searching prayer and the desire which leads them to seek to live within the community of the Catholic Church under the ministry of the Bishop of Rome. This is the faith we share."
from Archbishop Nichols' statement

"The decisions taken by those Anglican clergy and faithful to leave the Church of England and seek full communion with the Catholic Church have been the fruit of much prayer and a long reflection on their personal and communal spiritual pilgrimage. Pain will be felt by those leaving the Anglican Communion and by those with whom they have shared an ecclesial life. Our resolve to continue to work and pray for the unity of Christians therefore must not diminish.

The establishment of the Ordinariate is something new, not just in the life of the Catholic Church in England and Wales but in the universal Church as well. As such there will doubtless be more questions that will arise and challenges to be met as Ordinariates are established and grow. It is important therefore, particularly for those who will form the first groups within the Ordinariate in England and Wales, that our welcome is warm and our support is strong.
Please pray for all those who are trying to discern what path the Lord is calling them to follow, for those who are preparing to be received in to the Catholic Church and for those who are preparing to begin their ministry of service to the Lord as Catholic priests, deacons and religious."
        from the statement on behalf of the Catholic Bishops
       by Fr Marcus Stock

Monday 10 January 2011

Pope Benedict speaks out on Pakistan's blasphemy laws

Pope Benedict in his new year address to assembled diplomats at the Vatican spoke out in favour of religious freedom throughout the world and the need for governments, particularly in Iraq and Egypt, to take urgent steps to protect religious minorities. Following his plea before Christmas for the life of Asia Bibi, he also had this to say about the situation in Pakistan:
"Among the norms prejudicing the right of persons to religious freedom, particular mention must be made of the law against blasphemy in Pakistan: I once more encourage the leaders of that country to take the necessary steps to abrogate that law, all the more so because it is clear that it serves as a pretext for acts of injustice and violence against religious minorities. The tragic murder of the governor of Punjab shows the urgent need to make progress in this direction: the worship of God furthers fraternity and love, not hatred and division."
But the Holy Father also takes western societies to task for their failure to live up to their own declared pluralism and respect for human rights and religious freedom:
"Turning our gaze from East to West, we find ourselves faced with other kinds of threats to the full exercise of religious freedom.
I think in the first place of countries which accord great importance to pluralism and tolerance, but where religion is increasingly being marginalized. There is a tendency to consider religion, all religion, as something insignificant, alien or even destabilizing to modern society, and to attempt by different means to prevent it from having any influence on the life of society."
Thanks to Sandro Magister. Read it all here

Sunday 9 January 2011

The end of the Season of Christmas

"Get we up to Jerusalem, the holy city; enquire we there of the word of God, and at "the mouth of the Priest," (which God hath said "shall preserve knowledge" for others' good, whatever for his own;) - ask, I say, and enquire there how we shall find our Christ; rejoice we ever in the light of heaven, walk by it, make much of it, of all holy motions and inspirations; continue in it; and let neither the tediousness of the way, nor the frailty of our own flesh, nor any stormy or tempestuous weather, any cross or trouble, nor any winter coldness of our own dull bosoms, nor sometimes the loss even of our guides, those heavenly and spiritual comforts, which God sometimes in his secret wisdom withdraws from us,) nor any carnal reason or interest, deter us from our search after this Babe of heaven, after Christ the Saviour; but go on constantly and cheerfully through all these difficulties to the house of God, to the Church of Christ: then shall we be sure to find Him "with his mother" - our souls find him, our affections embrace him; then will he be exalted in us, and exalt us from this house, the Church militant below, to that above, the Church triumphant in the heavens; this Child make us grow from grace to grace, till come to the perfect stature of himself, here of grace, and hereafter of eternal glory."
          Mark Frank [1613 - 1664] 1st Sermon on the Epiphany

& to mark the end of the Christmas Season:

Saturday 8 January 2011

If we were in any doubt...

If you were in any doubt about the nature of the forces now propelling the Anglican Communion to the wilder reaches of heterodoxy, read this 
Actually, it's not the blessing of same sex unions which upsets me most, it's the lies people are prepared to tell  in order to push the envelope.
The difficulty Anglican Catholics have found is that we simply cannot do business with those who behave in that kind of way. The pity is that it is now far too late to save Anglicanism (and the future of ecumenism) from the liberal one-way street and from those who regard 'dialogue' as just another means to achieve their predetermined end, and where a 'period of reception' means just giving the bigots enough time to adjust.
It's hardly surprising that under these conditions some of us are looking to an authority which doesn't depend for its legitimacy on the latest leading article in The Guardian (or the New York Times... whatever)
Now, those who are too 'loyal' to draw the obvious conclusions from all this, how do you propose to co-exist with those who are totally impervious to any arguments from tradition or scripture and who regard those who oppose them as not only wrong but (at their most polite) psychologically flawed? And do you seriously think co-existence is on their agenda?

Thursday 6 January 2011

Early January

Photos of the parish (now the snow has gone) on a rather grey January day, some looking south west across the Severn Estuary. I noticed on a lunchtime walk today that one of the visitor sign boards refers to the area as "the birthplace of British tourism." Form an orderly queue to dispute that one.

Wednesday 5 January 2011


There's an interesting and revealing post and discussion over at the St Barnabas' Blog [here] on the subject of SSC's attitude to the Ordinariate. It will come as no surprise to hear that I agree with Fr Tomlinson both in terms of the Society's present stance (as far as we can say) and its history. There is absolutely no disloyalty in saying that in public, as there is, as yet, no agreed and declared strategy for the future.

SSC's ringing declaration, "No desertion, no surrender!" was very much born of the nineteenth century situation. It was by no means obvious that the Church of England could not be recalled to its true (as was believed) Catholic history and vocation. Conversions to Rome or capitulation to Establishment persecution clearly threatened that historic task.
But this is not the nineteenth century. We are now in an unprecedented situation - there are simply no historical parallels with what has happened recently in terms of the abandonment of apostolic order - and the difficulty with trying to remain (loyally?) Anglican, as Anglicanism has now irreversibly become,  is that in terms of the future that option looks very much like both desertion and surrender of the Catholic faith itself, which, surely we all must agree, is more important (as it is simply the authentic following of Christ) than the structures of the Church of England  (or Church in Wales) or any other province of the Anglican Communion.

The vital question, of course, is what those members of SSC who intend to stay within Anglicanism for the long term hope to achieve by so doing. Those who stay put for personal and practical reasons I can understand and even have considerable sympathy for their position, but what of those who maintain they are doing so for sound theological or ecclesiological reasons? They must speak for themselves, but from this perspective it looks perilously like the attempt to draw yet another line in the sand as the liberal tide rushes inexorably in, sweeping all before it. Is there no end to how far we are prepared to compromise? Our opponents, the liberal, revisionist majority, clearly believe there isn't.

Monday 3 January 2011


Not the middle eastern fruits people buy at Christmas for no accountable reason, but here are two upcoming 'events' which can now be given publicity:

The Dates of Ordination of Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst and Keith Newton are:
Ordinations to the Diaconate will be on Thursday 13th January
Ordinations to the Priesthood will be in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 15th January at 10.30am
All are welcome to attend

Our prayers for them and for their mission continue.

Thanks to Friends of the Ordinariate

Sunday 2 January 2011

Unutterably shocking

                                                                Photo - Reuters

As the New Year gets underway with the Feast of the Epiphany, please pray for our fellow Christians in the Middle East, especially for the victims of the car bomb targeted at worshippers at a Coptic Church in Alexandria, and the attacks carried out on Christian homes in Baghdad.
This is barbarism beyond belief.
Perhaps it is now time for those who very loudly assert that their religion is a religion of peace to denounce (without the usual nuance) the more zealous of their co-religionists. They might also consider trying to explain, to them and to the world at large, exactly how this kind of murderous behaviour is both contrary to their holy book and to the history of their faith.
Diplomatic niceities alone cannot explain the deafening silence on the part of those with political influence in the West, some of whom may even be spotted in Church on a Sunday morning.


Also, a wonderful post here from Father John Hunwicke on the subject of the ghastly 'Sunday' programme on BBC Radio 4. 
Today, and not that unusually, the content was so concerned with Islam that its producers should consider renaming it the 'Friday' programme. Yet the comments made about those Anglicans now in the process of entering into full communion with  Rome reached a nadir of bias and liberal sneering and innuendo. I cannot imagine another group of people who would be regarded as 'fair game' for the kind of comments which were made. Somehow I expected better from the BBC. I'm increasingly at a loss to explain why.


The world seems to be divided between those who love or loathe 'The Archers.'  Having been brought up with my parents as avid followers, I listened to it regularly for a while until it became apparent that there wasn't a social bandwagon its writers weren't prepared to jump on to. I find now I can't even hear the theme music without rushing to switch off the radio. I'm told today, by a parishioner who loves the programme, that something will occur which will shock listeners to the core. I would put money on a hostage-taking or someone in green wellies running amok with a shotgun. But my preference would be a mass alien abduction -  and they could take the programme's self-proclaimed (what else?) greatest fan, one Stephen Fry, with them.

Saturday 1 January 2011

Today's news

Belatedly, thanks to a very good New Year's Day lunch, here is news of the reception of three (I suppose we have to say now,' former') bishops.
Eyewitness accounts from Westminster Cathedral from the blog 'A Reluctant Sinner'  here and from Fr Sean Finnegan here
So the historic and longed-for process of 'realignment' begins.