Saturday, April 10, 2010

Anglicanorum cœtibus

There's been some degree of negative press, too often from those ordinarily of an inclusive sensibility I fear, about the recent papal bull on Anglical personal ordinariates. The Archbishop of Canterbury has (I think not fairly, as some even over at the highly-informative Anglo-Catholic agreed) been accused of sharing this sentiment. I think it's important to remember that the groups involved are Anglo-Papalists of the old school, a large proportion of whom found themselves unable to continue in altar fellowship with us long before this development. The rest are largely Anglicans, primarily in the provinces of Great Britain, who have been in functionally impaired with their diocesan bishops for over a decade. Affirming-minded Anglicans have been known to grumble about the cadre of Papalist-minded clergy "holding things up." We can hardly turn round and condemn them for embracing the Magisterium of Rome. They have fulfilled the great Anglo-Papalist dream, which was thought dead not long ago. Their decision is perfectly appropriate for them. Meanwhile, the Papacy, often regarded with suspicion by liberals over a combination of real and perceived inflexibility, has extended an offer whose intended audience regards it as being on highly advantageous terms.

Moreover, no one is hurt. We continue to remember the Lund Principle, whereby we do apart only that which conscience requires (sometimes taken to some highly innovative extents). Why should not Anglicans congregations in communion with Rome and Canterbury join together for, say, services of Solemn Evensong & Benediction? There would admittedly be an asymmetry in the standards of practice required on either side, but it is not canonically impossible. Roman Catholics, meanwhile, will benefit from the Anglican patrimony in their midst as they do from their Byzantine brothers and sisters, and we from the Mar Thoma Church.

When I was in Hamilton (for those from elsewhere: the next city over from Toronto), I visited the local Reformed Episcopal church for their monthly north-ender. They were engaged with an ecumenical consortium of churches in the area in outreach to nearby McMaster University students. All of these opportunities for ministry (dare we say Fresh Expressions?) will continue to be available and ill-will is really unnecessary, even though I will miss being able to make my communion at the Cathedral of the Annunciation when in Ottawa. The Continuum blogosphere is relatively low in content related to its estranged bodies of origin, in contrast to the Realignment-wave separation, which feature a high editorial emphasis on the evils of "Mrs Schori" and the Bishops of Niagara (theologically conservative correspondents in Niagara hailed his election as the choice of the most fair-minded in a pool of liberal candidates) and New Westminster (who ratified his diocesan synod's third resolution calling for a local option for the blessing of same-gender unions). Here again, however, I cannot see why communities with two viable congregations could not arrange to share the "physical plant," or to negotiate mutually profitable terms of sale where it would otherwise go unused. Here in Toronto, the church of St Clement, Riverdale, goes unused as far as I know, while the congregation of St Clement of Rome meets for Morning Prayer & Holy Communion from the Reserved Sacrament in the hall of a United church in Leslieville, with a deacon from the Independent Anglican Church Canada Synod (which uses a redaction of the 1549 prayer book as its official liturgy).

So while the secular press enjoys trying to dissect the vagaries of ecclesiastical polity, and as we of all confessions continue to engage in self-reflection over the ethical character of our church leadership through our history, I hope that for those of us within the Church life will continue to go on more or less as it has, and perhaps even start to look up if recent signs of opportunity for rapprochement are indicative.


Anonymous said...

The interesting thing is that many of the most notable 'Anglo-Papalists' in England, at least, show no signs of taking up the Holy Father's offer . . .

Geoff said...

Well, those who do not avail themselves of the Pope's invitation will effectively relinquish any claim to a) the appellation Anglo-Papalist and b) any provision from General Synod re: women in the episcopate.

JCF said...

The best I can say, is that I honestly have mixed feelings.

Generally, for groups (won't call them "Anglicans") that have their OWN property (that is, not hijacked from the Anglican/Episcopal diocese) and want to join Rome, I shouldn't feel any more antipathy to them, than I do towards any other Popoids! (which is plenty!) [FYI: I distinguish "Popoids"---who enthusiatically (violently) share the recent Popes' homophobia and misogyny---from RCs (who merely belong to/Eat Jesus at their local "Brand RC" parish---and many of whom are WONDERFUL non-homophobic/non-misogynist Christians!)]

I do NOT give such a pass to thieves, however! Any group of pseudo-Anglicans who make the slightest pretense/efforts to steal diocesan property---OUT the Red Doors, and good riddance!

["Share space with"? Fuhgeddaboutit! We shall not let Anglican worship-space, endowed by faithful generations of Anglicans, become a base of operations for schismatics!
I know the case of (former) "Good Shepherd, Binghamton NY" is getting a lot of play (because the building was sold to a Muslim group). Frankly, I just don't know enough of the details to say if I agree w/ this particular sale or not. I do NOT reject it out-of-hand, however (the idea that, automatically, we should always and everywhere choose a "Christian" and/or "Anglican" group for such a sale, over a non-Christian group. It all depends on whether a group actually DOES "the work of the Father", NOT merely on their say-so! (Matt. 21:28-32)]

Geoff said...

I believe it's been suggested that the Vatican would not permit the congregations to engage in litigation for their former buildings. But of course, at this point the main petitioners are TAC, who are quite free to do whatever they like with their buildings, up to and including taking them into submission with them.