Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Of Ordinariates and Societies

Cardinal Levada (right) and Arcbishop Di Noia OP launching the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus"

I was in need of time to reflect after the meeting of clergy convened by a number of Anglican Catholic bishops last Friday in London. Sadly, time is in short supply and the weekend was crammed with various exciting events.
On Saturday morning, we had the “Fan the Flame Week” follow up day where over twenty people met in the school hall to reflect on the experience and start flagging up ideas about our life in the coming years. Mrs Barbara Robinson led the day for us brilliantly. We looked at four main areas: the Loving Church, the Worshipping Church, the Learning Church and the Mission shaped Church. The suggestions in these four areas will be discussed by the PCC.
That same day we had the wedding of Beverley and Craig, two members of our congregation. It was a joyful occasion supported by a full choir, a good number of us and their family and friends. We wish Bev and Craig the very best. Photos of these two occasions will be uploaded later.
Monday and Tuesday was taken up by Heythrop College. I am starting some studies there so Monday evening and my day off on Tuesday I spent acclimatising myself with the institution and resources and started writing some essays too. The last formal studies I did were ten years ago, so there is some adjustment to be made. So far, I have found my time there refreshing.
This hopefully explains why I am posting my reflections about the clergy meeting that took place last Friday today.
I am sure it is no surprise to anyone that the Anglo-Catholic house is divided. I have said and written many times that this for us is a time of prayer, reflection and decision-making. We need to do all these on our knees and with our eyes fixed on the Lord. We must follow our consciences after we have heard all the arguments, and studied all the details. Whatever decisions we make we need to embrace them hopefully and joyfully and once more repeat myself in saying that we need an environment of deep respect, mutual love and genuine support. Wherever people might be heading off we need to ensure that they have the necessary for their journey. Short of this, we do not deserve to be called Christians. I know that there is a lot of pain and a lot of uncertainty which leads people to uncomfortable places and there find it easy to say what should rather be left unsaid, but when we find ourselves there we need to realise that our place is only in the presence of the Lord.
It seems that there are now three options for Anglo-Catholics, especially priests.
The first is to remain where one is and do nothing or do what always has been done. For priests this means to ignore what is going on in the wider Church and carry on as usual until retirement or resignation. It may also mean that the priest will respect and accept the decisions of General Synod and live with the innovations as best as he can. This means that no big decisions will be needed and that the income and domestic arrangements are assured which give the necessary stability on which to perform a solid ministry.
The second option is the newly formed (forming) society of St Wilfred and St Hilda. So far, what the aims and objectives are is not clear so while some are joining it already others will want to wait and see. For a priest this means a few more years with honour in the CofE without accepting any of the innovations. The society may or may not secure some sort of provision or stronger code of practice. It may also be an honoured vehicle for those who for personal or ecclesial reasons cannot be part of the Catholic family. If General Synod gives no juridical strength to this institution it might carry on based on the continuing models in the States. However, this might bring back problems of buildings, finances etc… in a few years time.
The third option is the generous and loving offer from the Holy Father: the Ordinariate. Although it does not yet exist, we are told that it will in the next few months. We have the Apostolic Constitution to go by as also the complementary norms and the official commentary. Some are saying that the UK RC bishops are not looking forward to welcome Anglican priests, but as this is hearsay it is wise to wait and see. A priest with a group of faithful will be received in the Catholic Church and can have an honoured life there as Anglicans in full communion with the Holy See. There will be a first wave of people who will work hard to chart these unchartered waters and as things become clearer others might want to follow.
At this time, we need to allow people to reflect on these options, and maybe others that I cannot now see, but we need to urge each other to pray and wait on God whilst tenderly caring for each other. Those going in any of the above categories have been hurt and abused by the CofE and in that pain it is easy to reflect the disappointment on one another. Keeping our eyes on the Lord of healing will enable us to stand to any temptation and walk forward in faith, hope and love; especially as we have the added pain of realising that the parting of friends is drawing near.
Wherever we are called to go and be let us go with joy, confidence and love knowing that our time together has formed and shaped us and equipped us for the journey ahead.


Fr David Clues said...

Fr, at last, given the bile and vitriol being outpoured elsewhere in blogland, yours is a considered, panoramic and entirely appropriate contribution - for which thank you. It would have been excellent but for the omission of the fourth (perhaps the first) option - conventional reunion with Rome which as some of our colleagues have already demonstrated is the only live option. If the antipathy of the English Heirarchy proves true, I trust there will be a genuine compassion for those who have given vent to their fear and contempt towards friends who have been more honest in their anxiety.

David said...

As Father David has said, a most measured and sane contribution to the current confusion. It desrves a wider readership. There must be waiting and seeing - but I do hope that the seeing will be clear and the waiting not too long.