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The Anglican Church (Roman Rite)

October 28, 2009

The generous gesture by His Holiness Benedict XVI in offering to set up an Anglican Rite within the Roman Catholic Church has inspired the Archbishop of Canterbury (so I am told) to make a reciprocal gesture. His encyclical  on the subject (carried, as is the Anglican way, by a letter to the Times) is expected at any moment.

For a long time, it has been clear that there are a large number of Roman Catholics who have been dismayed at the direction their Church has been taking, and who have cast envious eyes on the freedoms enjoyed by their Anglican brethren.

These Roman Catholics are distressed by the increasingly reactionary conservatism within their own Church. They see great efforts being made to accommodate the Lefevrists who split from Rome after the Second Vatican Council, some of whom have even said that the papal throne is vacant and that the modern version of the Mass is protestant and heretical. One of their bishops is a neo-fascist who claims that the German persecution of the Jews has been greatly exaggerated by the Jews for their own purposes. These people decry the removal of the prayer for the conversion of the “perfidious Jews” from the Good Friday prayers.

The likely converts to the Anglican form of Catholicism watch with sadness as Catholic theologians are condemned by the Roman Curia for daring to speculate that some of the latest definitions of dogma such as Papal Infallibility might be a hindrance to the unity of all Christians which Vatican II proclaimed as a vital goal for the Church. Or that poor Paul VI was bullied by conservatives into refusing to recognize contraception as a God-given answer to an over-populated world.

Many of the Roman Catholics who may well be expected to take advantage of such an offer from the Archbishop of Canterbury will be divorced and remarried, homosexuals, young couples who practise contraception, people who believe that abortion, while always a tragedy, is nevertheless sometimes the lesser of two evils, and that celibacy, while a fine life-style choice for some, is by no means necessary for parish priests.

Then there are the many Roman Catholics who are tired of the modern Mass in bad English, tired of balloons and nuns on guitars, tired of scruffy priests who appear in polyester vestments at the card tables that have taken the place of the marble High Altars. They will rejoice in the beauty of Anglican Evensong in English Cathedrals, Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings College, Cambridge, and most of all (of course) in the glorious Tridentine Mass offered week by week in St Clement’s.

When Lambeth makes this world-shattering announcement, I expect that the great majority of the thousands of priests who have left the Roman Catholic priesthood to embrace the sacrament of matrimony  will ask for reception into the Anglican Church (Roman Rite). Unlike the Anglican priests joining the Roman Catholic Church (Anglican Rite), these priests will not need to be reordained.

Of course, as we are beginning to hear from Forward in Faith and other Anglo-Catholic organizations, many of those who welcome the Holy Father’s generous offer would really rather not use the Anglican Prayer Book, but would prefer to be ordinary Roman Catholics. So it may be with some of the RC’s who become Anglican: they  might prefer just to use the normal Prayer Book.

But for those who will want to continue to use the Roman Rite while coming into visible communion with the See of Canterbury, St Clement’s stands ready to help his Grace of Canterbury make the converts feel welcome. As I write, videos of the Roman Mass in sixteenth century English (as celebrated in St Clement’s) are being stock-piled in factories, ready to be shipped to the many faithful RC priests and congregations who will be swimming the Thames.

They may find living as Anglicans a bit of a culture shock, and we will want to help them preserve much that is good and fine in their own tradition. I can already hear the Archbishop of Sydney calling on us to be generous in permitting the converts to maintain the Mass in all its fulness; Bishop Schori will soon weigh in (in her intuitive feminine way) with kindly words on the necessity of maintaining the new Anglicans’ love for our Blessed Lady and the Saints; and no doubt the Protestant Truth Society will find the new converts some relics of St  Charles Simeon, St Florence Nightingale, and other Anglican stalwarts.

And of course none of this pastoral care for Roman Catholics who have decided that “enough is enough” and that conscience compels them to join the Anglican Church must be allowed to stand in the way of the search for that complete and visible unity which scholars and churchmen have been labouring for over the last century. Nothing else will do in the end. But no one should see Archbishop Rowan’s pastoral provision as anything but a timely help to fellow Christians in distress.

The fact that his announcement may be seen as a little rushed and taken without consultation with the RC church and ecumenical experts (except of course with those of us at St Clement’s, who will be intimately involved) should not be seen as insensitive. Of course as Anglicans we are not so absurd as to believe that anyone’s immortal soul is in danger of hell-fire according to which Church he belongs to, but as an early (and comparatively unknown) version of the Prayer Book puts it: “What’s sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander”.

It is also reliably reported that it is almost impossible to catch swine flu while swimming either the Tiber or the Thames.

(Now I can remove my tongue from my cheek!)

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Little Black Sambo permalink
    October 28, 2009 2:10 pm

    If you actually immersed yourself in the Tiber you would risk something much worse than swine ‘flu.

  2. AMM permalink
    October 28, 2009 4:30 pm

    Granted a formal structure will never be put in place, but certainly there is a reverse flow today.

    Many of the Roman Catholics who may well be expected to take advantage of such an offer from the Archbishop of Canterbury will be divorced and remarried, homosexuals, young couples who practise contraception, people who believe that abortion, while always a tragedy, is nevertheless sometimes the lesser of two evils, and that celibacy, while a fine life-style choice for some, is by no means necessary for parish priests.

    Absolutely the case today, and in my experience in particular in regards to the issue of divorce and remarriage. I think that issue in and of itself will limit the appeal of the personal prelature for Anglicans for many considering moving to Rome.

    The priest at the MOTR parish I used to belong to was himself a former Catholic, and had been divorced and remarried. I can think of several other people I knew in that parish or from other places who were in similar situations. Divorce and re-marriage is a little less easy to keep out of open view than perhaps some of the other things on your list.

    Then there are the many Roman Catholics who are tired of the modern Mass in bad English, tired of balloons and nuns on guitars, tired of scruffy priests who appear in polyester vestments at the card tables that have taken the place of the marble High Altars. They will rejoice in the beauty of Anglican Evensong in English Cathedrals, Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings College, Cambridge, and most of all (of course) in the glorious Tridentine Mass

    I think such Catholics are few, and could probably find outlets for this expression of faith within their own church already if they desired it. Probably more easily and readily accessible than among Anglican parishes now as well. Here in the states, the middle of the road style of most parishes that are using the 79 BCP is going to be completely easily accessible and familiar for those coming from a background of the Pauline mass and its aftermath.

  3. October 29, 2009 9:55 pm

    I’m not at all convinced that the number of Christians looking for a traditional Catholic sacramental, prayer, and spiritual life without the laundry list of proscriptions presented by Rome is insignificant.

  4. Jeremy Stevens permalink
    October 30, 2009 10:10 am

    And, of course, such paragons of ecumenical sensitivity and Anglican goodwill as ex-Catholic priest Bishop Larry Provenzano will be waiting on the Episcopal side of the river to give all arriving ex-Romans an up close and personal experience of the Good Shepherd.

    Puh-leeeeeeze!

  5. October 31, 2009 3:04 pm

    Very funny, yet so true. I have several former Roman Catholics in the congregation for precisely those reasons.

  6. rev. dan hesko permalink
    November 2, 2009 2:08 am

    The only Roman Catholics who would take advantage of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s generous soon to be made public arrangement are the ‘bad english mass types, the guitar sling nuns, and all the people who helped dismantle for the past 40 years the beauty of the Roman rite; Pray they do not come, for they will wreck your altars, and destroy your liturgy. There are very few St. Clement types ready to dive into the Thames. I wonder what Father Laister would have done????

  7. Chris Bates permalink
    November 3, 2009 5:11 pm

    Thank you so much for all that you do!! This post has given voice to what I have been struggling with. I was raised in the RC, but disagree with many of Rome’s pronouncements regarding human sexuality. It has only been in the last 11 yrs that I discovereved the Tridentine Latin Mass and I have fallen head over heels in love with it. I am presently discerning a call to the priesthood and can’t thank this website enough for its sermons & podcasts during ths time. Anglo-Catholicism is proving to be more attractive with each passing day.

  8. Sem.Michael Angelo L. Estorpe permalink
    August 24, 2010 8:49 am

    It’s nice that you have preserved the treasure of the catholic church which have been used for more than two thousand years and basically sanctified many faithful. As a Roman Catholic seminarian, the liturgical changes is timely. In some other dioceses of our churches many have desired to some renewal of the celebration due to the language that cannot be understood. Besides, it hinders the participation of faithful who are also part of the body of Christ. Moreover, Jesus preached using the language that can be understood by the people.He used aramaic. St. Paul used greek in preaching to gentiles because this the language of the people. In other words, language is very important for unity. It is the vehicle from which graces flow through. However, I admit that the Renewal of the Mass during the Vatican II have lead to extremities. This a challenge for us. Anyway, the Holy Father Benedict XVI issued a Motu Proprio that permits the used of the Latin rite as revised in the 1962 Missal.

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