Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Bishop's Briefing

Comper Window and Resurrection Plaque, St James' Milton

Today was a cheering occasion for thirty or so priests from Hampshire who met with Bishop Keith to hear his take on the Ordinariate. St James' Milton in the City of Portsmouth was the place. After Mass of Timothy & Titus, we listened to our Bishop and asked him questions for an hour, then had a very good lunch, courtesy of the Vicar's wife, Mrs (Marilyn) Alby.

Bishop Keith reminded us what it was we had always asked for; the capacity to be united with the Western Church not just as individuals, but as a body. That was exactly what we are being offered. Some have misgivings about ordination; but we are not being asked to deny the efficacy of our ministry up to now; simply to accept that the ministry of the Church of England is defective - and it clearly is, with such divisions between us already, divisions which can only deepen if and when women are consecrated as bishops. Being ordained in the Catholic priesthood leaves no shadow of doubt - and this is not just about "validity" (for there are episcopi vagantes whose orders are probably "valid"). Rather it is about Communion - and the catholic movement in the Church of England has always said it looks to Communion with the wider Church.
There are those around who seek to undermine Anglicanorum Coetibus. Commentators have said, for instance, that members of the Ordinariate will only be permitted to celebrate whatever 'Anglican' rite is provided for us. That is not so, and the document itself spells out quite plainly that the Rites of the Latin Church will be available to the Ordinariate as much as to the rest of the Catholic Church.

More damagingly still, some have claimed that the only married men to be ordained will be those already Anglican Priests or Bishops. Not so; the very fact that the documents spell out that there may be exceptions for other married men makes this quite clear.
We asked about buildings; no, there was no certainty whether we could continue to use any of our churches. This would depend on the ecumencial spirit, or otherwise, of the Church of England towards us. Because the churches in which we currently worship would be idfficult to dispose of, it must be at least a possibility that we could have some leasing arrangement which would mean we could continue to use them. If that were not possible, the Roman Catholic authorities would certainly help us find other places of worship.
More than what he said, though, was the great encouragement Bishop Keith gave us by his presence and up-beat assessment of our situation. Finally, he enjoined us to pray, and especially to make February 22 a Day of Prayer, wherever possible in conjunction with our Roman Catholic neighbours. That day was not a deadline for decisions - rather it is a step on the road of discernment, a seeking for God's guidance which must engage us all.


  1. I simply don't buy Bishop Keith's reported comments about the defective nature of Anglican ministry, arising from the different understandings of ordained ministry within the Church of England. Accepting that the "ordination" of women priests and the inevitable sequel of women bishops introduce a new dimension, there have been basic differences since the Reformation - put crudely "Minister of the Gospel" or "Sacrificing Priest"? In other words, if defective now, then defective since the sixteenth century. Which of course is the official Vatican line, and if you believe that and also recognise that they have re-stated baldly that the discredited Apostolicae Curae still holds, how could you continue to minister with integrity in the Church of England?

    Edward Bryant

  2. No. It has been possible since the Reformation to hold that the Priesthoood in the CofE was continuous with that of the pre-Reformation church (hence eg the retention of the 3-fold ministry). No mattter what the private opinion of Puritan clerics, that remained the case. It is the 'consecration' of women to the episcopate which will destroy the last vestiges of 'collegiality' and 'communion' - which have been under strain ever since the ordination of women to the priesthood. It is not a metter of saying 'Yes' to Apostl; Cur., but rather NO to changes which have altered the nature of the Ministry.

  3. Fr Darryl Jordan has tried to comment but not succeeded; so here is what he said:

    That whole Null and Void smoke screen is a bit of a red herring in the end. To our credit, the nullus conclusion, if memory serves, passed L13's ad hoc committee by a margin of 5 to 4, with one notable dissenting opinion by Louis Duchesne, who thought Anglicans were as validly ordained according to the 1552 Ordinal as many are according to the Oriental Rites which also lacked sacrificial language.

    But surely with WO firmly upon us, and the wholesale apostacisation of Anglican sacraments, including lay 'presidency' at the Eucharist amongst the 'conservative Zwinglians' down under, it must be deemed prescient in hindsight, if not necessarily prudent during Leo's pontificate.

    Plus, he was the Pope. That's only a fallacious 'argument from authority' if he did not have the de iure authority to declare it, if not infallibly, then at least with ordinary magisterial weight.

    I heard Tuesday was splendid and upbeat not least because those of us on stipends, living in diocesan housing, and having families, can be reasonably optimistic about transitional arrangements.

    I look forward to learning more.