Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Why it is a mistaken policy for Rome to offer Anglicans converting en bloc a church within the Church

How can people who would have been content to remain within the church of Cranmer, or of Cosmo Lang, if it were still available to them, be described as Roman Catholics? Why does it take escalating extravagances perpetrated by successive General Synods to drive them into the papal flock? That is not the spirit in which John Henry Newman unconditionally converted. In more than the geographical sense, the road to Rome requires the crossing of the Rubicon.

The Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, providing for the Anglican Ordinariate, speaks of “formation in Anglican patrimony”, employs the term “presbyter” rather than “sacerdos” and provides for “the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis”. Some might see that as a Trojan horse. The claim, of course, is that this development represents simply the creation of another Uniate rite; but the analogy is inaccurate.

The most troubling section of the document is Article III: “Without excluding liturgical celebrations according to the Roman Rite, the Ordinariate has the faculty to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and the other Sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours and other liturgical celebrations according to the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See, so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.”

What on earth is that all about? If the Anglican liturgy is “a precious gift nourishing the faith”, why did the restored Catholic Church burn its author Cranmer as an apostate and heretic? The pastoral consequences of this concession could be counter-productive. Converts notoriously have difficulty assimilating themselves entirely to the Catholic faith; by encouraging them to maintain many of their old practices as members of a church within the Church, that break with past error will be made more problematic. If some adaptation of the Anglican liturgy is envisaged, to formulate a valid Mass, that, along with the old and new translations of the Novus Ordo, will mean three English versions coexisting. Read more

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