An old priest friend sent me a very moving card today, in which he wishes me well but said that, for himself, he would "remain in the Church of my Baptism". That sentiment is echoed by many who at present feel unable to join the Ordinariate. We all owe so much to the Church of England; she taught us the catholic faith, she supported us when we sought Ordination, she has been, for many, a good Mother.
Yet things have changed. As I have confirmed Candidates in recent years, I have wondered where they would end. Would they always be able, as some of us have done, to find a good catholic church in their neighbourhood? Would it be a place where the Eucharist was regularly and faithfully celebrated, the daily Offices prayed for the whole parish, the people visited when they were sick or dying? Such churches seemed to be the rule forty years ago; now they are exceptional, and their priests reckoned oddities. Yet when Forward in Faith said "A Code of Practice Will Not Do" it was because we wanted a secure catholic future for our children and grandchildren.
When the parish where we live was last vacant, I wrote to the bishop and said that since it was likely that the new incumbent would see me out, I hoped he would be a priest who would have a care for the dying. We have, I think, done pretty well in that regard; our parish priest is a dear and loving man, who cares for the people in his cure. That the question had to be raised though, indicates how the Church of England has lost its catholic moorings.
Those who are committed to SSWSH are no doubt going to try to reverse this, and bring the C of E back to her roots - they believe that the newly elected Synod will make this possible. Those who are committed to the Ordinariate are sure that this is a lost cause, and that the only hope for a catholic future is within the Roman obedience - the best any Synod could achieve is a stay of execution. We all, though, have a duty to respect one another, pray for one another, and continue to work for the Unity which Our Lord wills.
Oh, and about my Baptism - it was at Holy Innocents, South Norwood, which at that time was in the detached part of Canterbury Diocese. GF Bodley was its architect, who also built St John's, Iffley Road in Oxford, the last church for which I had direct responsibility. Holy Innocents always seemed to me a good dedication for a church welcoming one into the Church of God. Now it is in Southwark Diocese, Nicola has been its incumbent for the past five years, and Anna is her curate. One day, it will be easier for me to relate to them ecumenically than, as at present, within the same ecclesial body.
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