It's official. The Catholic Knight is retired. I'm hanging up the helmet and passing the torch. There will be no more articles, no more commentaries, no more calls to action. THIS BLOG IS CLOSED. I've spent a very long time thinking about this, I believe the time has come, and is a bit overdue. I want to thank my readers for everything, but most especially for your encouragement and your willingness to go out there and fight the good fight. So, that being the case, I've spend the last several weeks looking for bloggers who are fairly active, and best represent something akin to the way I think and what I believe. I recommend the following blogs for my readers to bookmark and check on regularly. Pick one as your favourite, or pick them all. They are all great.....
Thursday, July 15, 2010
An Open Letter to Anglo-Catholics
To our dear Anglican brethren in Christ,
Ten years ago I left The Episcopal Church USA to join the Roman Catholic Church. Back then they didn't have the apostolic constitution or the Anglican ordinariates. There was the Anglican Use Pastoral Provision, but no such parishes existed in my area. I was forced to join the Church through the general Roman Rite, but I was glad to do so, because what I sought was unity through orthodoxy and Catholicism provided that. I was received into the Catholic Church on the Easter vigil of 2000.
For ten years I watched and waited, keeping my ear to the ground as to the developments of Rome's relation to Anglo-Catholics. Then in late 2009 it happened! Pope Benedict XVI issued the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus (or "Groups of Anglicans"). Oh, how I would have given anything for that document to have been issued ten years prior in 1999. Perhaps I could have had my cake and eaten it too. Perhaps I could have not only been received into the Catholic Church, but I could have brought my Episcopalian customs with me. For years I searched Catholic book stores for something comparable to the Book of Common Prayer that I could use for private devotion. In the end, I settled for the Book of Common Prayer, which I have kept on my dresser for years, and still use regularly for devotion. Actually I have two versions, the 1979 American edition, as well as the 1928 American edition. They sit right next to my Roman Missal - 1962 edition.
My reasons for leaving The Episcopal Church were significant but not uncommon. I was previously an Evangelical, but found myself on the Canterbury trail after reading the Church Fathers. I wanted to get in touch with Christianity's Catholic side. I figured The Episcopal Church would be a good "safe" environment for that to happen, for as a former Evangelical I still feared and distrusted the Roman Catholic Church.
After getting quite comfortable with the Anglo-Catholic way of doing things, my fear of Roman Catholicism subsided. I started to become more aware of church politics within the The Episcopal Church. Back then we had been given "moral assurances" from Lambeth that a consecration of an openly homosexual bishop would never happen, and gay-marriages would not lawfully be condoned. However, as I began talking to fellow Episcopalians I came to realize the writing was on the wall. I predicted these "moral assurances" would crumble within a decade. Little did I know at the time, my prediction would come true within just four years. By then however, I was long gone, having reunited with Rome for the better.
I may have removed myself from Anglo-Catholicism, but I could never remove Anglo-Catholicism from me. There is still a big part of me that yearns for that high-church Anglo-Catholic worship, fiery homilies and old English hymns. I still use the Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer, and occasionally use my Anglican prayer beads interchangeably with my Roman rosary. I insist on receiving the Eucharist on the tongue while kneeling, and while this is permitted in ALL Catholic masses, I find it is easier in the extraordinary-form Latin liturgy, which is why I usually attend mass there. In everything I have tried to be a good Catholic, still I can't help but remember how I got here. The Canterbury trail led me straight to the Tiber River. In those days a convert such as myself had to swim the Tiber to get to the other side. Thanks to the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, the pope has now built a bridge. Anglicans today just don't know how easy they've got it!
Today I'm looking forward to the future. A friend of mine is starting an Anglican Use group in my area, and I've been helping him with that. Perhaps someday we will have a new Anglican Catholic ordinariate parish in town. God willing.
What amazes me is how quickly all of the political rancor from my Anglican/Episcopalian days became a distant memory. Immediately after being received into the Catholic Church the debate about women clergy was over. The same went for homosexuality and militant feminist issues. Oh sure, the Catholic Church has it's problems, and I've discussed them at length on this blog. However, none of them threaten the survival of Catholicism for anyone interested in practicing it, and none of them have threatened to alter the Catholic Church beyond recognition. Today we quibble about such things as reverent liturgy, quality of catechesis, and wimpy bishops. That's about as bad as it gets. This isn't to say there aren't Catholics today who subscribe to the same nonsense going on in the Anglican Communion. They're are plenty. However, the nice thing about that is in the Catholic Church, they're very frustrated, having never gotten to first base with any of their so-called "reform" nonsense. The best they can hope for is a wimpy bishop who lets them get away with it at the local parish level. Thanks to the leadership of both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, they have never gotten it much further than that. For both Catholics and Anglicans the war against Modernism is a war of attrition. On the Anglican side it is the conservative traditionalists that are retiring while liberal modernists take over the church. On the Catholic side it's the exact opposite. Liberal modernists are going the way of the dinosaur, while most of the young seminarians today are orthodox and traditional. The pope is making advances every day into modernist strongholds, and it's actually gotten to the point where the liberals are about to break away from Rome. It's the only way they can survive for the few years they have left before retirement. I suspect if they actually do muster the courage to make the break, most of them will probably end up going over to the Anglican Communion.
This is what awaits you in the Catholic Church my Anglican brethren, for those of you willing to accept the teachings of the Catechism and join the ordinariates once they are erected. You will be united, but not absorbed. The battles for survival you so valiantly fought over the last three decades have been lost in the Anglican Communion and cannot flourish in the continuing Anglican bodies. However, they have not been lost in you. You are the embodiment of traditional Anglo-Catholicism. You are the successors of the Oxford Movement, and in you alone is the seed of Anglo-Catholic survival, but you can't survive under the persecution of liberal modernists in the Anglican Communion, nor in the obscurity of continuing Anglican bodies. The time has come to jump ship. A new ship awaits you now, in the ordinariates, and I cannot help but appeal to your good senses. Why do you stay within a Communion that will NEVER honor what you believe to be honorable? If you think the tradition of an all male priesthood is worth preserving, than why do you stay within a Church that seems to be determined to ordain as many female priests as possible, and consecrate female bishops once they make it legal. If you think the moral teaching against homosexuality is worth preserving, than why do you (American Episcopalians) stay in a national church that has consecrated two openly practicing homosexuals as bishops, and has permitted one of them to "marry" his gay partner, as well as ordained dozens upon dozens of gay and lesbian priests? As for the rest of you Anglicans, why do you stay within a communion that will tolerate this? The list of problems goes on, but I will not go any further into it here.
The best advice I can give you is to stop believing the lies. The officials within the Anglican Communion will give you plenty of lip service, but after all is said and done, they will betray you over and over again. I speak not on speculation, but on historical precedence. The officials in the continuing Anglican bodies are valiant souls, who have worked tirelessly to preserve the heritage of the Oxford Movement. God bless them for this! However, these brave men, for all their efforts, cannot provide the one thing continuing Anglicans need the most - mainstream visibility. For all their fantastic work, the continuing Anglican bodies will always be "breakaway groups," a mere rebuttal to mainstream Anglicanism, and never the mainstream itself. There are many Christians out there who have never even heard of "Traditional Anglicans" and most likely they never will. What Rome offers is an opportunity to turn the tables. It's a complete game changer. Once the ordinariates are erected they may be small at first, but they will grow, and they will grow rapidly. They have within them the structure and capacity to spread like a wildfire. For the first time in a long time, Anglican Catholic parishes will be able to reach out to more than just traditionally-minded Anglicans. They will also appeal to many Roman Catholics, and together they can focus on bringing the message of the apostolic faith to other Christians, and to the world.
In the thirty years since the creation of the Anglican Use Pastoral Provision, the few bishops in the United States, who have allowed the existence of such parishes within their diocese, have witnessed them grow and flourish. The model works! As small as it is, it really works! What Pope Benedict has done however is much more grand than the pastoral provision. The Holy Father has set up an episcopal structure, that will allow Anglican Catholic parishes to operate freely, unencumbered by the fears and hesitations of Roman Rite bishops. Parishes can be established anywhere, and they will be established EVERYWHERE! That is the inevitable outcome of Anglicanorum Coetibus.
So I appeal to all Anglicans, both within the Anglican Communion and outside it, to avail yourselves of the pope's offer. For you traditional Anglo-Catholics, there is one big difference between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. Within the Anglican Communion they will only do the bare minimum it takes to keep you from leaving, and perhaps we could say that is only because they fear losing revenue. As it seems lately, some provinces (like the C of E for example) aren't even willing to do that. The Anglican Communion just tolerates you, and that's all. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church actually WANTS you! We Catholics actually WANT to be in full communion with you, and we WANT you the way you are. We treasure your Anglo-Catholicism, and your conservative orthodox views. We actually want to nurture it and help you propagate it.
Please think it over. This doesn't have to be a tragic time anymore. Together we can turn it into something positive, historic and good. Together we can present a united front against the forces of liberal Modernism. Together we can actually fulfill the prayer of Christ "that they all may be one." What are you waiting for? How long do you think the Anglican Communion will tolerate you? Historic Anglicanism doesn't have to die. Let's work together in full-communion with Rome, and each other, to make sure it doesn't.