Saturday 20 November 2010

The Church of my Baptism

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.

Friday 19 November 2010

Prebendary Houlding's Interview

As the details begin to emerge of the Ordinariate for England and Wales, there is a danger of losing sight of how other people feel. Fr David Houlding gave an interview to Ruth Gledhill. It has been on U-tube, but it is difficult to grasp an interview at one hearing - and it is not easy to hear in all its details. So I have transcribed it, in the hope that it will help others to understand just where one of the proponents of SSWSH stands. Those who have already read it on the Anglo-Catholic blog must forgive me; but it is too important to be lost. Here is most of what Fr David said:

"I am concerned by the direction the Church of England seems to be going. That's one of my reasons for staying in the Church of England. I do believe in the C of E and I love it very much.

We don’t want it to appear as though we are criticising our friends…who have decided they have to move to the Catholic Church to seek communion with the See of Peter - that it is a very honourable catholic thing to do. So I think we have not been able to say anything.

But nor do we think we are betraying the cause by staying in the C of E. We’ve still got a job to do for the church, and we’ve still got to fight for the catholic understanding of the church. And therefore that’s where we are: it’s important that we carry on and don’t just give up.

R.G. I think people well be very relieved - people such as myself for example - that the church is not losing its entire catholic wing. But yet Fr Broadhurst intends to remain as chairman of FiF?

Yes. He is. Now whether that will last I think is very difficult because Forward in Faith, whatever he says, is an Anglican organistaion; it is a political body fighting for a catholic future within the C of E. If you actually feel that is no longer achievable for perfectly good, understandable reasons. then you do have to leave it behind; I think sometimes the things that you love… Bishop John has loved Forward in Faith. It’s been his life - he probably finds it very hard to leave it behind

R.G. And of course members of FiF love Bishop John; but are you really saying that he should resign?

Yes.. because he doesn’t have any integrity by staying. I don’t think it will help him to move things forward in the CofE if he does stay.

R.G. Father John?

This is not to criticise him, this is not personal. He’s been a friend of mine for many, many years. I think for him he is doing the right thing. It is not a criticism of any of the bishops. Rather it is an endorsement that they must leave things behind in order for us to move things forward

R.G. Are they all in FiF?

Yes they are.

R.G. Do you hold a position in FiF?

I’m a member of the Council. No more than that.
We have a lot of work to do. We have to move things forward. But we can’t do it if you like with a mixed agenda.

R.G. And is it the view of the Council that they should all resign?

I think it’s the view of the Council that we need to put a new leadership in place to move things forward. I think that’s generally the overall feeling that I pick up..

(Spy cartoon of Bishop of London: and of Fr Mackonchie)

That’s Fr Mackonochie and he started up SSC. And I’m now the Master of the SSC.
Of course I looked at the Roman option with interest; for the catholic position as it were comes from the Roman Catholic church and there is obviously going to be an obvious closeness; That means that we don’t just make the rules up as we go along, that we do look for authority from the wider catholic church in the decisions that we have to make in the C of E. There is something about that Church of England its identity and the reason for its existence that is catholic; it is the Catholic Church in this land.

R.G. I know you’ve been among those working hardest behind the scenes. to try and create some sort of provision which is acceptable to all sides in this. But at the moment it doesn’t look as though it will work. What will you do if it just goes though without provision?

Well that is of course the 1000 dollar Question. I don’t know the answer I cannot believe that things will….but I agree with you. It does look very difficult at the moment. Because we don’t want to create a separate church on the one hand which is in danger of doing that….

R.G. It’s a sort of 45th diocese rather than a free Province?

Yes that’d be would be a very nice way of putting it.

R.G. We’ve seen this beautiful vicarage. What period is it?

Oh it’s 1894 –designed by the same person as the church.

R.G. Now various World war analogies have been flying around.; Wallace Benn said he thought we were in January 1939, John Broadhurst said the Church of England is fascist …. Do you believe we are in a war situation?

I think we are in a situation where we have to struggle for survival. I think when you are cornered - human being are after all only human - when you are cornered you do feel very threatened and you’re angry. I get very angry about this issue sometimes. You do say things that are a little bit too forceful.

How many do you think will go to the Ordinariate?

I think at first it will be small; because we’re still not sure what the Ordinairate is or what they are offering. Some people are ready to go; if that’s where people are I have no problem with it, they should go. But there are other people who aren’t ready to go; people like me who still feel there is still something to do in the Church of England, it is business as usual…We need to carry on doing our work. I don’t see the need to go at this particular point. And especially if you are involved in the discussions and the arguments like I am, and in the Synodical Process …I don’t think its helpful just to back out now."

There was a little more about Fr Houlding's parishioners, but above is the gist of the interviews. I am tempted to comment; but I think that is best left to readers of the interview, especially those who know Fr Houlding and heard him trying to commend SSWSH at the 'Sacred Synod'. And now, let's just be happy because we have the details of the Ordinairate for England and Wales, and what we are being offered is more than generous. Laus Deo!

Sunday 14 November 2010

Early One Morning....

So, being not quite retired but not permitted to function as a priest, and having attended a mass last evening, this was to be a morning in. Bliss. Then late yesterday I was asked to do a radio interview. I should have said 'No' at once; but thought it could do no harm, it was only local radio, at an hour when no-one would be listening. So, foolishly, I agreed.

The programme was to go out live at 7am today. I would be rung, and interviewed over the phone. Accordingly, rather than a lie-in I was up betimes, the Office said, ready for Radio Solent. Spot on 7 the phone rang. The young lady was terribly sorry, but there was some breaking news in Portsmouth - alas, the item was chopped. I might have asked what the important news might be, but decided it was better not to know; probably a cat stuck in a tree or a fire in a waste-bin.

It did make me realise how the Church's news which so engrosses us comes way down the list in the world's interests. I thought some of my readers (well, one of the two of you) might enjoy this little joke at my expense.

While I'm on, though, there was a very good letter sent to me which had been intended for publication in New Directions. They must have been pressed for space, since they did not print it. Here in part is what Fr Heans had to say:

I recently came across the following from Newman’s Certain Difficulties Felt By Anglicans in Catholic Teaching (1850). He is addressing his friends who are still hanging on in the C of E:

“I know how it will be… the news that the anticipated blow has fallen, and causa finita est. A pause, and then the discovery that things are not as bad as they seemed… a contested election, or other political struggle, theology mixed with politics… and a sanguine hope entertained of a ministry more favourable to Apostolical truth. My brethren, the National Church has had experience of this, mutatis mutandis, ... before”.

At the risk of being called unkind, I wonder if this rings any bells? Oh, and if you should be in striking distance of Beckenham you would be very welcome at St Barnabas' Church (Oakhill Rd, BR3 6NG) this Wednesday at 7pm where Fr Peter Geldard will be speaking and answering questions on the Ordinariate. Fr Geldard is Catholic Chaplain to the University of Kent in Canterbury, and was at one time Secretary General of the Church Union.