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CBS discovers the Catholic priest shortage: Get Religion, November 26, 2013 November 26, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Get Religion, The Episcopal Church.
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I am reaching back a bit into my guilt file — stories I want to cover but for one reason or another have not touched. But the recent flurry of news stories about women priests and the Catholic clergy shortage led me to pull this item out of my bag.

The CBS Evening News reported earlier this year that there is a shortage of Roman Catholic priests in the United States. This may be news to some, I suppose, but the story has been getting a bit long in the tooth. However, the news “hook” CBS used in its segment was that the church was using Anglicans to plug the gap — hence the title: “Catholic Church turns to Anglicans to fill U.S. priest shortage.”

Yes, there is a shortage of Catholic priests in the United States.

No, the shortfall is not being met by using Anglicans.

Catholic dioceses in the U.S. and Europe are importing priests from India, Africa and Asia to meet pressing pastoral needs — this story has been told hundreds of times over the past few years in the secular press. A recent example of such stories is this well written piece in Der Spiegel reporting on an Indian priest’s acculturation to Germany.

The article begins with a recitation of the problem, profiling a Milwaukee priest who has the pastoral charge of seven congregations.

Sunday is anything but a day of rest for Father Tim Kitzke. On the Sunday we followed him, the priest said Mass at three different Milwaukee churches, held a luncheon for dozens of parishioners and baptized a baby. Kitzke and one other priest are in charge of seven churches in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. There used to be a time when 14 priests covered the seven churches. “It’s not only — maybe not the old model … but it’s the old reality,” he says.

The number of Roman Catholic priests in the United States has steadily dropped from nearly 59,000 in 1975 to just under 39,000 last year. But the number of Catholics in the United States has increased by 17 million. Asked if he worries, Kitzke says, “Definitely, yes, we obviously need more priests — that goes without saying, we need more vocations.”

The segment offers facts and figures on the priest shortage and then transitions to a former Episcopal priest who joined the Catholic Church and has since been ordained a Catholic priest.

(more…)

Catholic call to support the ordinariate: The Church of England Newspaper, September 27, 2013 October 15, 2013

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The Archbishop of Westminster has written a pastoral letter to English and Welsh Roman Catholics celebrating the “beauty” of Britain’s Anglican heritage and urging their support for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

In his letter of 22 September 2013, Archbishop Vincent Nichols stated: “The ordinariate is the canonical structure set up in 2011 as the result of a generous initiative of Pope Benedict XVI. Under this structure, Anglicans who wish to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church, bringing with them some of the traditions and beauty of the Anglican heritage in which they were nurtured, may do so.”

He urged Catholics to “welcome and support the clergy and faithful” of the  Ordinariate “both for the part they play in the life and mission of the Catholic Church in this country and for the particular gifts they bring which add to our rich diversity.”

He also commended a second letter prepared by former Anglican bishop, Mgr. Keith Newton, the head of the ordinariate in England and Wales. It was “a small step towards healing one of the most damaging wounds of our history: the dividing of Christ’s Body, the Church in this land.”

The ordinariate had been an answer to prayer for some former Anglicans, but it had had a rough start.

“The ordinariate was a personal fulfilment of those prayers. It has been an incredible and uplifting journey for us all, full of grace, joy and blessings. Of course, we have experienced hardship and sacrifice as well. For many, especially those of our priests who are married with families, there has been great financial uncertainty; for us all it has meant leaving friends and familiar places of worship in the Church of England. We ask for your encouragement, your support and your prayers.”

Anglican ordinariate to evangelise lapsed Catholics: The Church of England Newspaper, July 21, 2013 p 7. July 19, 2013

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Msgr Keith Newton, ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham and Pope Francis

The Anglican ordinariates have been given permission by Pope Francis to evangelize lapsed Catholics. On 31 May 2013 the pope amended Article 5 of the ordinariates governing Norms, widening its base for evangelization from ex-Anglicans to include those Catholics who had fallen away from the church before being confirmed.

The new Article 5 §2 of the ordinariate’s Norms states:

A person who has been baptised in the Catholic Church but who has not completed the Sacraments of Initiation, and subsequently returns to the faith and practice of the Church as a result of the evangelising mission of the Ordinariate, may be admitted to membership in the Ordinariate and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation or the Sacrament of the Eucharist or both.

In a statement released on its website, the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham explained: “This confirms the place of the Personal Ordinariates within the mission of the wider Catholic Church, not simply as a jurisdiction for those from the Anglican tradition, but as a contributor to the urgent work of the New Evangelisation.”

Roman Catholics “may not become members of a Personal Ordinariate ‘for purely subjective motives or personal preference’”, the statement said as “enrolment into a Personal Ordinariate remains linked to an objective criterion of incomplete initiation”, when baptism, eucharist, or confirmation are lacking.

The “new evangelization” is the Roman Catholic Church’s campaign to bring the Gospel to formerly Christian nations in Europe and the Americas and includes outreach to people who were baptized as Catholics but who never completed the process of Christian initiation.

Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson – the former Episcopal Bishop of the Rio Grande and ordinary of the Chair of Saint Peter, in North America welcomed the clarification from Rome. “Particularly in North America, with large percentages of ‘unchurched’ peoples, it is inevitable that we will encounter those who have no formal ecclesial relationships but who are seekers of truth,” he said.

Put not your trust in Huffington Post headlines: Get Religion, June 18, 2013 June 18, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Archbishop of Canterbury, ARCIC, Church of England, Get Religion, Press criticism, Roman Catholic Church.
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I know a maiden fair to see,
Take care!
She can both false and friendly be,
Beware! Beware!
Trust her not,
She is fooling thee!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s advice about women — especially blondes …

And she has hair of a golden hue,
Take care!
And what she says, it is not true,
Beware! Beware!
Trust her not,
She is fooling thee!

… is also good advice in reading headlines. As your GetReligionistas have stressed many times, seldom does a reporter get to write his own title. Yet when a sub-editor makes a mess of a headline the blame is laid at the reporter’s feet when the claim made in the title is not substantiated in the text. There have been times when stories I have written appear under a title that implies the opposite of what I reported.

Sometime back I was commissioned to write an article on a lecture given by the literary critic and philosopher René Girard at Oxford. I gave the story my all and … when I opened the paper after it came off the truck from the printer I found my article nicely displayed on page 5 with a beautiful photo of Girard scoring a goal in a World Cup match.

Too bad René Girard the philosopher and René Girard the soccer player are two different people. Perhaps my readers thought I was being droll, commenting on the élan vital of Girard’s latest book on mimesis by reference to the 1982 France v Poland match. Or they thought I was an idiot.

These meditations on my less than glorious moments in journalism are prompted by a Reuters article on the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s visit to Rome to meet with Pope Francis. The Huffington Post headlined the story: “Pope And Archbishop Of Canterbury Meet, Note Differences On Women Ordination, Gay Rights”.

While I was not in Rome for the press conference at the Venerable English College where Archbishop Welby and Vincent Nichols the Archbishop of Westminster spoke at the end of their day at the Vatican, this headline indicated I missed a major event. Until now Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby held near identical views on gay rights, same-sex marriage, and civil liberties of persons with same-sex attractions. Oh to have been a fly on the wall at that meeting! What had they said to each other?

I dove into the Reuters story looking for details. But there was nothing there. I could quibble here and there with some of the language and editorial asides made by the author:

It was the boldest step by the Vatican to welcome back Anglicans since King Henry VIII broke with Rome and set himself up at the head of the new Church of England in 1534.

An Anglican would say Henry made himself Supreme Governor not head — the head of the church is Christ (there is a difference) and there was nothing “new” in a Church of England in 1534 — “new” implying a discontinuity between the pre and post 1534 church. A frightful papistical canard. Or:

In January this year, the Church of England lifted a ban on gay male clergy who live with their partners from becoming bishops on condition they pledge to stay celibate, deepening a rift in the Anglican community over homosexuality.

A celibate person is an unmarried person. A chaste person is someone who refrains from illicit sexual behavior. I assume Reuters meant to say chaste, meaning conforming to the church’s teaching that “in view of the teaching of scripture, [the Anglican Communion] upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage”. The working assumption is that clergy in civil partnerships are celibate, because they are unmarried, and chaste as they are to abstain from sexual relations outside of (traditional) marriage.

And it is the Anglican Communion, not community. Community implies an ashram in the woods somewhere, or a collection of sensibly dressed nuns in their cloister. (True there are such Anglican communities — religious with pearls and twin sets) but this is not what Reuters is likely to have in mind — but perhaps this is the “women” link to the headline?

Or:

The Church, struggling to remain relevant in modern Britain despite falling numbers of believers, published a plan in May to approve the ordination of women bishops by 2015, after the reform narrowly failed to pass last November.

It was the bishops — not the church — who published the plan. It still must be approved by the General Synod, which if the plan goes forward as currently written will likely be turned aside once more.

Anything about gays in the Reuters story? Nothing at all.

I looked about the web and found The Chicago Tribune had run the same item, but with a different title: “Pope Francis and new Anglican leader meet, note differences.” Rather a where’s Waldo headline — written for a bored seven year old. One is in purple, one in white. One has his wife with him (in the background) one has cardinals, etc.

I looked on the Reuters web page to see if the Huffington Post had shortened the article for space reasons, but found they had lengthened the title instead. The suggested title read: Pope Francis and new Anglican leader meet, note differences.” The gays and women bits came from the Huffington Post’s scribes — not Reuters.

Checking further I found I had not missed a major ecumenical story by staying home as La Stampa and the Guardian reported these comments by Archbishop Welby at the press briefing. La Stampa wrote:

Questioned whether he and Pope Francis had discussed the question of marriage and the debate over gay marriage, Archbishop Welby said “we are absolutely at one on the issues” by which he meant on the question of marriage (understood in the traditional Christian sense as between a man and a woman). He revealed that the Pope told him that he had read the speech he given recently to the House of Lords in which he opposed the British Government’s bill to introduce marriage between persons of the same sex.

Archbishop Welby added that he and Pope Francis are “equally at one in the condemnation of homophobic behavior” and “our sense that the essential dignity of the human being is where you start, and that is one of the absolute root foundations of all behavior, and the moment you start treating people as a category rather than as human beings with this essential dignity you have begun to lose the plot”.

What is the moral of the story?

Read the article, not just the headline. Though I will admit the Huffington Post editor who wrote this headline succeeded in his job, which is getting me to read the article. That is a different task than the reporter’s job of fairly presenting the news. Beware! You’ve been warned.

First printed in Get Religion.

RNS blames Catholics for Anglican ecumenical ills: Get Religion, June 14, 2013 June 14, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Archbishop of Canterbury, ARCIC, Church of England, Get Religion, Roman Catholic Church.
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Opinion presented as fact dominates several stories in the run up to today’s meeting of Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Some of the stories are crafted as news analysis pieces. This BBC story begins with fact and then transitions into the analysis, using the phrase “our correspondent said” to demarcate the line between the two. The reader may choose to accept the reporter’s interpretation, or not.

Some stories like this report from the Religion News Service as printed by the Washington Post combine fact and opinion but do not disclose to the reader what they are reading is not news.

This is a problem of the contents of the package not matching the label. In this case the problem is compounded by false information and faulty analysis.

The lede in the RNS story reports this will be the first meeting between the new pope and the new archbishop before turning to a statement from the Vatican official overseeing that churches relations with Anglicans.

Welby’s visit to Rome will be “short but very significant,” said the Rev. Mark Langham, the Vatican’s point man on dialogue with Anglicans. While its primary purpose is to allow the two leaders to get to know each other, he noted that they share the same concerns about poverty and the global economic crisis.

I’m not familiar with all different stylebooks out there: Associated Press, Times of London, New York Times, etc., but I’m quite sure all would agree that on first reference a full title is provided. Mark Langham holds the rank or office of Monsignor. This difficulty with labeling extends to a description of the second person quoted in the story.

On the issue of an “economy for the people,” they have “many ideas in common,” said Archbishop David Moxon, the Anglican representative in Rome.

Archbishop Moxon, the former primate of the Anglican Church in Aoteroa, New Zealand and Polynesia, is not the Anglican representative in Rome. There is no such office. Archbishop Moxonn is the director of the Anglican Center in Rome and may have a quasi official/unofficial commission from the Archbishop of Canterbury to facilitate communication between the two churches, but he has no authority to speak on behalf of the Anglican Communion or does he hold a commission akin to a papal nuncio or ambassador.

The article then moves into opinion and gets into trouble. The question of labeling is merely a quibble and is excusable given the shorthand reporters must use to convey as much information into as small a space as they can. But the account of the troubles between Anglicans and Catholics offered by RNS places the blame on the Catholics.

With new leadership on both sides, the relationship between Anglicans and Catholics could be primed for a reset after several years of tension following Pope Benedict XVI’s controversial initiative to woo back disgruntled Anglicans. For years, the Catholic Church has been critical of the Anglicans’ decision to ordain women priests in the Church of England, and is unhappy over steps to allow women bishops. Relations between the two churches were strained in 2009 when the Vatican announced a special structure, called an “ordinariate,” to allow conservative Anglicans to convert to Catholicism while retaining bits of their Anglican tradition. When he was still in Argentina, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio’s Anglican counterpart recalled him saying that he thought the special structure for Anglicans was “unnecessary,” and that the Catholic Church “needs us as Anglicans.”

But both Moxon and Langham stress that the tensions are now past, pointing out that an official dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics that had been suspended in 2007 over the ordination of an openly gay bishop by U.S. Episcopalians had been recently restarted.

In principle, I would prefer the Anglican or Episcopalian side to be presented in the best light. But the argument that the Catholic response to Anglican innovations in doctrine and discipline is the problem, not the changes themselves, is extraordinary. And the facts presented in support of this contention are incorrect.

Since the project began in 1969 there have been three sessions of the Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC): 1970-1981, 1983-2005, 2009 to present.  In the early days of ARCIC there was hope that a series of agreed statements would emerge which would uncover a common faith, on the basis of which corporate reunion might be possible. Statements on Ministry, Sacraments and other topics were produced but they were never officially accepted by the Vatican as being an adequate representation of Catholic belief.

Nor were other statements accepted by Anglicans. The second ARCIC commission studied the doctrine of salvation, communion, and the churches’ teaching authority and produced a paper on the role of Mary. I attended the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham in 2005  and recall the vociferous objections to the paper from evangelicals, who rejected the report out of hand.

The Anglican decision to ordain women further divided the churches, while the Anglican civil war over homosexuality has ended hopes for corporate reunion. A review of my notes and reporting from the 2008 Lambeth Conference — the every 10 year gathering of Anglican bishops —  recorded Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect for the Congregation of the Evangelisation of Peoples, speculating the Anglican Communion was suffering from “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and was in danger of forgetting its apostolic roots as it followed the spirit of the age in determining doctrine and discipline.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster said there was little point in pursuing theological dialogue when Anglicans failed to live up to their side of the agreements.  “If we are to make progress through dialogue we must be able to reach a solemn and binding agreement with our dialogue partners. And we want to see a deepening not a lessening of communion in their own ecclesial life.”

Anglicans must decide who they are and what they believe before any meaningful dialogue can take place, he argued as “these discussions are about the degree of unity in faith necessary for Christians to be in communion, not least so that they may be able to offer the Gospel confidently to the world. Our future dialogue will not be easy until such fundamental matters are resolved, with greater clarity,” I reported him as saying.

And Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity chastised the Anglican Communion for its disorder and lack of theological seriousness. He urged Anglicans to embark on a new “Oxford Movement” to revitalize the church, but he also warned that moves by the Church of England to introduce women bishops and its laxity over gay clergy had effectively ended the quest for Roman recognition of the validity of Anglican orders.

Contrary to the assertions made in the RNS piece, Pope Benedict’s formation of an Anglican Ordinariate did nothing to harm Anglican-Catholic relations, apart from embarrassing the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. And this embarrassment was due to his not having been in the know, not because a group of Anglicans were convinced of the truth claims of the Catholic Church. This embarrassment was not enough to derail the third round of ARCIC talks that began under their watch in 2009.

Anglican clergy who have entered the Catholic Church and have sought to be re-ordained as Catholic priests may have been horrified by Anglican events of recent years, but they became Catholics because they believed the truth claims of the Catholic Church. Gay bishops and blessings, women clergy and inclusive language liturgies may well have sharpened the mind, but the Catholic Church is not a girl picked up on the rebound from a bad break up.

I do not know what talks were suspended in 2007 as reported in the RNS piece — perhaps a local dialogue? — but there were no ARCIC talks to be suspended in 2007.

When RNS advances an argument that the Catholic recalcitrance to accept changes made by some Anglicans to the faith and order of their church is the cause of friction between Canterbury and Rome, that is called an editorial.

First printed at Get Religion.

Anglican Ordinariate secure, leaders say: The Church of England Newspaper, March 24, 2013 March 24, 2013

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Leaders of the Anglican Ordinariate urged patience and restraint in light of statements by the Bishop of Argentina that Pope Francis did not favor the creation of a home for Anglicans in the Catholic Church.

In a note released after the election of Pope Francis on 13 March 2013, the Bishop of Argentina and former primate of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables, said Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was, in his experience, “consistently humble and wise, outstandingly gifted yet a common man” who had been a friend to Anglicans in Argentina.

Bishop Venables said Cardinal Bergoglio “called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the church needs us as Anglicans.”

He later clarified his statement noting the cardinal’s comments were more an affirmation of Anglicanism than criticism of the Ordinariate.

The report from Bishop Venables sparked controversy in the British press and speculation Francis might adopt the different tone than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. A spokesman for the English Ordinariate denied any change was in the offing telling the Telegraph the comments were Bishop Venables’ not the Pope’s.

Following the resignation of Pope Benedict last month, Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary of the Chair of St. Peter, said: “We members of the Ordinariate are in a particular way the spiritual children of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.  Throughout his years as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and especially as Pope, the reconciliation of Anglicans to the Catholic Church has been one of his principal tasks.”

He noted that “when Pope Benedict issued the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus in November 2009, he laid a permanent foundation for the Ordinariate, to be the means to reconcile Anglican groups to the Catholic Church and that this Anglican patrimony might be shared with the Catholic Church.  While the Ordinariate has been a special intention of Pope Benedict, it is now firmly established in the Catholic Church and will continue to serve as an instrument for Christian unity.”

Msgr. Steenson said the transition between Popes “should not greatly impact the work of the Ordinariate.  We should probably expect that the ordinations of our candidates could be delayed slightly, as the Pope must approve these petitions.”

Following the publication of Bishop Venables’ remarks Msgr. Steenson said he had received a number of inquiries from those “who are concerned about what our new Pope’s attitude may be toward the Ordinariates, occasioned by an anecdotal report from an Anglican bishop in Argentina.”

He reaffirmed the “real permanence and stability” of the Ordinariate within the Catholic Church, and added “but it is even more important to remember what it means to be Catholic, to have the full assurance that faith brings. Christ the Good Shepherd entrusted the governance of the Church to St. Peter and his successors. To be in communion with Peter brings a confidence we never knew as Anglicans. Pope Francis understands the pilgrim character of our communities and will be a wise and caring pastor to us,” Msgr. Steenson said.

Invincible ignorance on the Anglican Ordinariate: Get Religion, March 22, 2013 March 22, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Get Religion, Roman Catholic Church.
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In this age of citizen journalism, blogger news, free content and PR driven stories there still remains a place for professional religion writers — reporters who know the topic they are covering and understand the rules of the journalistic craft.

This story from the Huffington Post highlights the journalistic shortcomings of the new media. Entitled: “Catholic Church, Facing U.S. Priest Shortage, Now Using Anglican Converts To Serve Parishes” begins with a false assumption that distorts the story, while missing the real news taking place.

The article begins:

Facing a priest shortage, the Catholic Church in the United States has started turning to former Anglican leaders to fill empty parishes.

The number of Roman Catholic priests in the U.S. has dropped by about 20,000 since 1975, while the number of Catholics has increased by 17 million, CBS reports.

The shortage was stretching thin the abilities of Catholic priests, and the Catholic Church was “supersizing” as it tried to accommodate more Catholics at a dwindling number of parishes, according to a 2011 study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate for the Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership project.

Allowing converted Anglican priests to join the church was seen as a way to solve this shortage problem.

If the first and fourth sentences of this story are true, this is a major scoop for the Huffington Post as the assertion the Anglican Ordinariate is a scheme to replenish the ranks of the clergy has been hotly denied by the Vatican. The reasons given by Pope Benedict for creating the Ordinariate, to create a home for former Anglicans within the Roman Catholic Church while preserving liturgical patrimony, have never included clergy recruitment. If this were the true reason, it would paint Pope Benedict as being disingenuous — what the British press would call being “not entirely straightforward”—e.g., a flaming liar.

And the evidence of this presented by the Huffington Post– the killer quote that blows this tory wide open — there is none.  The Huffington Post makes an assumption and treats it as fact. The remainder of the article collects an assortment of quotes and statements from other newspapers but offers nothing else.

Coincidentally, the Ordinariate has been in the news following comments published in the church press and the Telegraph reporting that Pope Francis is not a friend of the Ordinariate. In the Church of England Newspaper and on Anglican Ink I reported the Anglican Bishop of Argentina, Gregory Venables said Cardinal Bergoglio “called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the church needs us as Anglicans.”

The report from Bishop Venables sparked some controversy in the British press and speculation Francis might adopt a different tone than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. A spokesman for the English Ordinariate denied any change was in the offing telling the Telegraph the comments were Bishop Venables’ not the Pope’s. Whether it meant to or not the Huffington Post story paints Pope Benedict as an opportunist and a bit of a fraud. The years of dialogue and the theological work that led to the reunion of some Anglicans with the Catholic Church is reduced to a form of clergy sheep-stealing. The article does not get religion doesn’t even seem to want to try to understand religion.

The bottom line is that this is a cut-and-paste job topped off with an unsubstantiated assertion (that happens to be untrue). And if you are going to do a cut and paste job at least try to be up to speed on the story. It may well be a consequence of the 2009 apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus is that former Anglican clergy re-ordained as Catholic clergy may help alleviate the shortage of priests in the US and UK – but a consequence is not a cause.

First published in GetReligion.

Msgr. Steenson has no worries about Pope Francis: Anglican Ink, March 15, 2013 March 16, 2013

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Msgr Jeffrey Steenson, the ordinary of the Chair of St. Peter,  has urged members the of the American branch of the Anglican Ordinariate not to fret over recent news reports the new pope was not convinced of the necessity of creating a home for Anglicans in the Catholic Church.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

No sex please, we’re Catholic: Get Religion, January 30, 2013 January 30, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Get Religion, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Women Priests.
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The perils of re-writing another news outlet’s work were on full display this week in an article that appeared in the New York Daily News. Based upon a news story broadcast by Buffalo’s WGRZ-TV,Call him ‘The God Father’: Husband and dad will become Roman Catholic priest — and take vow of celibacy” reports that a former Episcopal priest who upon his re-ordination as a Catholic priest will begin a “sex-free life”, is filled with errors of fact and false assumptions about sacerdotal celibacy.

It is not clear at what point the errors entered into the food chain. Perhaps the subject of the story John Cornelius misspoke; perhaps WGRZ-TV misstated the quotes — or it may have be the fault of the Daily News. Whatever the reason, the only trustworthy fact that I would take away from this story is that former Episcopal priest John Cornelius will be re-ordained as a Roman Catholic priest on 26 Jan 2013. Beware of everything else.

Let’s start with the lede.

John Cornelius will be ordained a Roman Catholic priest this weekend — and with the blessing of his wife they’re giving up their sex life. Cornelius, a father of three, will become the first married Roman Catholic priest in New York — and Sharyl, his wife of 33-years, has agreed to the whole celibacy thing. “We have decided to do that voluntarily,” Cornelius told WGRZ-TV. “I have always had friends that are Roman Catholic priests and I appreciate what they’ve given up to serve God and the priesthood.”

The story continues:

Cornelius, 64, is a former Episcopalian priest who converted three years ago to Catholicism. He said his old church had gotten too liberal for him. “There was the ordination of the homosexual priest in New England,” he said. “Then it came time for women’s ordination. … It may have been okay for other people, but it was just too much for me.”The article reports Fr. Cornelius retired as an Episcopal priest in 2010 and “jumped at the chance after Pope Benedict issued a directive last year aimed at filling the depleted Catholic ranks with converted Episcopalian priests.”

It closes with the news that Fr. Cornelius will serve a “flock of other former Episcopalians at the Fellowship of Saint Alban” outside Rochester and speaks briefly of his faith journey. Let’s pick the low hanging fruit first and work towards the conceptual failures in this story. The chronology offered in the quote by Fr. Cornelius is incorrect.

Women priests were authorized in 1976 by the Episcopal Church (though a group had been illicitly ordained earlier). Non-closeted, non-celibate gay/lesbian clergy were first ordained in 1979 in New York city and by the early ’90s a number of dioceses were ordaining gay clergy. And the first “gay” Episcopal bishop, the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, was consecrated in New Hampshire in 2003. The chronology offered by Fr Cornelius is incorrect. And the suggestion that the Catholic Church is free from the controversies surrounding gay or women clergy is not so straight forward.

And no, John Cornelius will not be the first married RC priest in New York. That honor belongs to Fr. Scott Caton of the Diocese of Rochester who was ordained under the 1980 Pastoral Provision. Fr. Cornelius may be the first priest ordained in New York state for the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter.

What is the difference between the pastoral provision and the ordinariate? The first has been around since 1980 and permits certain Protestant clergy who are married to be re-ordained as Catholic clergy. The second was created in 2011 as a home for Anglican communities (clergy and laity) who wish to seek full corporate unity with the Catholic church while retaining some Anglican liturgical forms and their own ecclesial structures.  The article does not do justice to these distinctions.

And, is it fair to say the re-ordination of ex-Episcopalians and Lutherans is a tool to fill the “depleted” ranks of the Catholic clergy?

And, is it fair  to say that by “giving up their sex life” Fr. Cornelius and his wife have “agreed to the whole celibacy thing”? Can abstinence from sexual relations with a spouse be considered celibacy — as understood by the Catholic Church? Is a “sex-free life” the definition of sacerdotal celibacy? Or is there a bit more to it than that?

The New Advent dictionary begins its definition of celibacy by writing:

Celibacy is the renunciation of marriage implicitly or explicitly made, for the more perfect observance of chastity, by all those who receive the Sacrament of Orders in any of the higher grades.

Are Fr. Cornelius and his wife practicing celibacy, abstinence or chastity? No questions are asked by the article about clerical celibacy, nor are comments or observations made by knowledgeable sources — a bishop, theologian, church spokesman, et al. Is this the norm for re-ordained Episcopal clergy? Is this renunciation of the marital state a spiritual discipline, a physical separation — what is going on here?

I don’t know. Do you?

Ordinariate liturgical commission meets in London: The Church of England Newspaper, January 27, 2013, p 3. January 28, 2013

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The liturgical commission created by the Vatican to prepare a Catholic Book of Common Prayer for the Anglican Ordinariate met in London last week.

In 2012 the Vatican created the Subcommission on the Liturgy for the Anglican Ordinariates staffed by canon law experts, liturgists, and prelates.  The commission is to submit proposals in 2014 to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Divine Worship on Anglican rites for the Eucharist, marriage, funerals and seasonal prayers that are in conformance to Catholic doctrine and discipline.

Shortly before the start of the 16-18 January 2013 meeting in London, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco – a member of the subcommission – told his diocesan newspaper Catholic San Francisco there was “diversity among Anglican liturgies.  We’re trying to have a more unified form. They can always use the current form of the Roman Missal, but also they’ll have a more traditional form that’s Anglican.”

Last August, Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter – the American branch of the ordinariate – stated the liturgy now in use was the “Book of Divine Worship Rite I”, while “those congregations that prefer a contemporary idiom, the Roman Missal 3rd edition could be used.”

However, the Latin mass was not to be used in ordinariate congregations. Clergy who “want to learn also how to celebrate” according to the traditional Latin mass were “certainly encouraged to do so” under the “supervision of the local bishop,” Msgr. Steenson said, so as to “assist in those stable communities that use the Extraordinary Form.”

The traditional Latin Mass, (the Extraordinary Form) “is not integral to the Anglican patrimony, it is not properly used in our communities,” he added.

Those elements of the Anglican liturgical patrimony incorporated into the liturgical life of the Ordinariate sought to balance “two historic principles — that Christian prayer and proclamation should be offered in the vernacular and that the language of worship should be sacral,” Msgr. Steenson said.

Archbishop Cordileone said among the differences to be reconciled between the Anglican and Catholic liturgies were prayers said placement of the penitential rite before the offertory in the Anglican service and the use of “The Comfortable Words” recited by the priest or deacon to the congregation.

The archbishop added that within the Anglican Church there was a diversity of opinion over questions concerning the divinity of Christ, sexual morality and ordination.  “There weren’t Christians who, before the 1960s, didn’t believe Christ was divine, didn’t believe he rose bodily from the grave,” he said.

“It really wasn’t that much of an issue. Now that it has become, I think these more traditionally minded Anglicans lament that many of their fellow believers don’t hold to these traditional Christian beliefs and they see that the Catholic Church is. So they want to be in union with the Catholic Church because of those beliefs but they want to retain their Anglican worship and spirituality.”

The Magic Circle and the Soho masses: Get Religion, January 3, 2013 January 3, 2013

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The line between criticism and carping is not always clear. A story may appear to be well written, well sourced, balanced and complete to a casual reader. The same story, however, may appear naive, incomplete or wrongheaded to someone who has knowledge or opinions on the issues.

An article in today’s Guardian entitled “Gay mass services in Soho abolished by archbishop of Westminster” illustrates this problem. Taken on its own terms, this article is very good. However, to those who have been following the Soho masses controversy in the Catholic Church in England, this story prompts a “yes, but …” reaction, as it is written in the belief that the Roman Catholic Church is a unitary structure with a common doctrine.

While that may be true on paper, that is far from true in practice. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (BCEW) does not and has not shared the same views on social and moral issues as Pope’s John Paul II and Benedict XVI. For those unencumbered with a knowledge of English ecclesiastical intrigue, the Catholic Church may appear a monolith — it isn’t. But is it fair to critique an article in a general interest newspaper for not telling the story to the satisfaction of those in the know?

The lede to this story begins:

The Archbishop of Westminster, head of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, has ordered that special fortnightly “Soho masses” for gay and lesbian churchgoers in central London are not appropriate and are to be axed.

The services, intended to be particularly welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Catholics, had been held at Our Lady of the Assumption church in the West End for six years with the blessing of senior clergy but had attracted criticism from traditionalists.

The story then moves to analysis, noting this will be seen as a victory for “traditionalists” within the church. And the curtailment of the Soho masses comes as the church battles the coalition government over its plans to introduce gay marriage in England and Wales.

The article gives a clear summary of the announcement made by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, reporting “the archbishop is said to believe that the pastoral care of the lesbian and gay church community should now be uncoupled from the sacrament of Mass, and that the [gay] community should not be singled out to have ‘special’ masses.”

The Catholic Church will continue to offer “pastoral care” to gays and lesbians “on Sunday evenings at Farm Street Church of the Immaculate Conception in Mayfair.” And in an interesting twist, the church that hosted the Soho masses will be turned over to the use of the “Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the body set up by Rome to cater for those who have defected from the Church of England to the Catholic church.”

The article notes the existence of the Soho masses had angered traditionalists who saw the services as a challenge to the church’s teaching on human sexuality, and then cites extracts from the archbishop’s letter that re-iterates the church’s teaching on these issues. The story closes with quotes from two conservative Catholic critics of the Soho masses, who welcome the news.

For the Guardian, this was a remarkably neutral report — that shaded towards the conservative side. No liberal voices appeared in the story attacking the church for homophobia or insensitivity to counter the two conservative voices. The article was also framed in a neutral tone, not picking sides — reporting the facts of the archbishop’s letter without comment.

Save for the absence of a liberal response, on its face this article passed the test of sound journalism — and as the story was framed about the announcement and not the reaction, the absence of contrary voices was not fatal. It allows the Guardian to come back to the issue with a second day story.

Yet, I was struck by the absence of a paragraph or clause that reported the end of the Soho masses was an about face for the archbishop. The article notes this was a victory for traditionalists, but does not go on to say that hardly any of the hierarchy are traditionalists — and that includes Archbishop Nichols.

The always readable, and quotable, Damian Thompson of the Daily Telegraph and Catholic Herald coined the phrase the “Magic Circle” to describe the liberal block that controls the hierarchy of the English Catholic Church. The Magic Circle (a wonderful phrase — if Thompson is not the author, he nonetheless has given it cachet) has safely ignored directives from Rome to conform its practices to Catholic teaching. The Catholic Herald reported in February 2012 Archbishop Nichols defended the Soho masses while the Catholic World Report had a 2011 story that noted the archbishop called for critics of the Soho masses to be silenced.

Now the archbishop has silenced the Soho masses. What happened to cause this extraordinary change? Is Archbishop Nichols shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here that the Soho masses convey false teachings on Catholic moral doctrine?

And, the site of the Soho masses will now be turned over the Anglican Ordinariate — again, extraordinary. The influx of conservative Angl0-Catholics into the Ordinariate has been fought by the Magic Circle through delay, obstruction and (I believe) a degree of venality. What has happened to produce the sea change in the CBEW?

While this article gives good treatment in 750 words to the Soho masses announcement, it does not go down deep into the story and answer the question “why”. Now, is this a problem? I would expect the Catholic Herald and other specialty publications to focus on the ecclesiastical and bureaucratic infighting that led to this announcement. But should the Guardian wade into these waters? What say you GetReligion readers? Is my critique justified or am I carping — asking that the Guardian to be something that it is not.

First printed in Get Religion.

Anglican Ordinariate expands to Canada: Anglican Ink, December 20, 2012 December 20, 2012

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St John the Evangelist, Calgary

The Anglican Ordinariate has expanded north into Canada.  On 7 Dec 2012 the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter and the Archdiocese of Toronto announced the Vatican had given its approval for the creation of a deanery of St John the Baptist as part of the Houston based U.S. Anglican Ordinariate.

Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson announced that he had appointed the Rev. Lee Kenyon, administrator of St. John the Evangelist Church in Calgary as the first dean for Canada.

“The territory of the Ordinariate in North America is enormous, and it will be a great blessing to be able to delegate many of the duties for shepherding these groups to Fr. Kenyon,” said Msgr. Steenson.  “He brings to this work a superb foundation within the Anglican tradition, and he brings this patrimony to the Catholic Church with a wise and generous pastoral heart.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Papal meeting for conservative Anglican leaders: Anglican Ink, December 11, 2012 December 12, 2012

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At the close of the General Audience of 28 Nov 2012, the leader of the Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop Robert Duncan met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, leader of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, was to have also attended the General Audience, but was delayed. Joined by the chairman of the ACNA’s ecumenical relations commission, Bishop Ray Sutton of the Reformed Episcopal Church, Archbishop Duncan spoke with the pope.  The three later met with Vatican officials.  Details of the conversations have not been released.  Claims of the significance of the meeting or of its symbolism are also premature, one Vatican watcher said, until the substance of the conversation is known.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Lutheran ordinariate proposed: The Church of England Newspaper, November 11, 2012 p November 13, 2012

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A Lutheran Ordinariate within the Roman Catholic Church might be the next step for Catholic Lutheran relations, Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, has told a Catholic news service.

In an interview with Zenit published on 24 Oct 2012 the Swiss cardinal said that since the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in August of 1999 “great step forward in the ecumenical dialogue with Lutherans.”

The present stage of the talks was centered round the “ecclesiological consequences” of the declaration.  However, “evangelicals have another understanding of the Church in regard to Catholic Christians. It’s not enough to recognize one another mutually as a Church. What is needed, rather, is a serious theological dialogue on what constitutes the essence of the Church,” the cardinal explained.

One way forward was to offer Lutherans an option akin to Anglicanorum coetibus, he said, adding that such a step, however, must be initiated by Lutherans.

In response to pleas from Anglo-Catholics, “the Holy Father then sought a solution and, in my opinion, found a very broad solution, in which the Anglicans’ ecclesial and liturgical traditions were taken into ample consideration. If similar desires are expressed by the Lutherans, then we will have to reflect on them. However, the initiative is up to the Lutherans,” Cardinal Koch said.

While dialogue between the churches has seen a softening of attitudes over the past 50 years, Lutheran-Catholic relations have not moved forward at the same speed as Anglican – Catholic relations.

In a statement released on 31 Oct 2012 for Germany’s Reformation Day holiday, Bishop Gerhard Feige of the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference said “Catholic Christians consider the division of the western Church as a tragedy and – at least until now – do not think they can celebrate this merrily,”

Noting that the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) had begun preparations to mark the 600th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, Bishop Feige said it would be “very helpful if both denominations could come to a common understanding of what happened,” before the Catholic Church agreed to participate.

 

Anglican Unscripted Episode 55, November 3, 2012 November 3, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Ordinariate, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, GAFCON, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Marriage, Property Litigation, Virginia.
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Anglican Unscripted Hosts Kevin and George talk about Gafcon II and the need for a global Anglican Congress to protect the Communion. You will also learn about Rome’s desire to bring Protestants into the ever expanding Ordinariate. AU also asks you to pray for the victims of Hurricane Sandy and we bring you perspective from skyscraper based storm landfall.

Canon Ashey talks about the dummying down of Scripture and other news from ACC-15. Peter has the latest rumors about the Crown Nomination Committee and Allan Haley discusses the second state to refute the validity of the Dennis Canon. Comments to AnglicanUnscipted@gmail.com #AU54 Please Donate to http://www.anglican.tv/donate

Ordinariate Denies Favoritism Charge: Anglican Ink, August 25, 2012 August 25, 2012

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The head of the U.S. branch of the Anglican Ordinariate, Msg. Jeffrey Steenson, has denied accusations it has given preference to former Episcopal clergy in its ordination process. However, among its first class of priests, 16 of 19 are former Episcopal clergy, with only 3 receiving their formation and orders from the continuing church.

Questions and concerns about the implementation and interpretation of Anglicanorum coetibus have met the Vatican’s initiative to create a liturgical home for Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church. In an interview with PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, Dr. Ian Markham, Dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary criticized the pastoral provision for Anglicans for sheep stealing.

“There was a perception that this was poaching by the Roman Catholic Church of Anglicans around the world. It was discourteous, it was stealing sheep, it was unecumenical,” he said, adding “It’s viewed as not recognizing the value of and integrity of our traditions.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

American Ordinariate accused of being ‘insufficiently Catholic’: The Church of England Newspaper, August 12, 2012 p 5. August 16, 2012

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The American branch of the Anglican Ordinariate is insufficiently Catholic, critics charge, following the announcement the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter will not use the traditional Latin mass – the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Clergy who had been permitted to use the Latin mass by their Anglican bishops tell The Church of England Newspaper they are nonplussed in being forbidden to use the traditional rite now that they are Catholic priests.

On 30 July, Mgr Jeffrey Steenson, the ordinary of the Chair of St Peter and the former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, released a statement clarifying the Ordinariate’s liturgical formularies after some new converts claimed he was bullying them by forbidding the use of the Latin mass.

On 29 July 2012 the Anglo-Catholic website posted a story stating Mgr Steenson had discouraged his clergy from using the Latin mass, directing them to use only approved Anglican and Catholic English-language liturgies.

Christian Campbell stated that he had it on “unimpeachable authority that there is an ongoing crackdown on those AU/Ordinariate priests who would dare to learn or celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite on the part of [Mgr] Steenson” and other Ordinariate leaders.

The “affected priests are naturally frightened, and unwilling to go on record, but make no mistake, the leadership of the US Ordinariate at present has set itself against both Summorum Pontificum and Anglicanorum coetibus,” he stated, adding: “I also have it on good authority that this intimidation, an abuse of power, is being reported directly to the Roman Authorities. And the contention that the traditional Latin Mass has no bearing on the Anglican Patrimony — this simply has me flabbergasted.”

Other traditionalist Catholic websites picked up the story, with many commentators berating Mgr Steenson. By not allowing the traditional Latin mass the ordinary was forbidding the use of the liturgy that “shaped the Anglo-Catholic movement.”

“The Mass celebrated by [Blessed] John Henry Newman is not apt for the Anglican converts of the Ordinariate,” was how one commentator characterised Mgr Steenson’s actions.

But in a statement posted on the Ordinariate’s website, Mgr Steenson responded to his detractors saying those elements of the Anglican liturgical patrimony incorporated into the liturgical life of the Ordinariate sought to balance “two historic principles — that Christian prayer and proclamation should be offered in the vernacular and that the language of worship should be sacral.”

The Ordinariate’s “Book of Divine Worship Rite I” was its principal liturgical resource, while “those congregations that prefer a contemporary idiom, the Roman Missal 3rd edition could be used.”

Ordinariate clergy who “want to learn also how to celebrate” according to the traditional Latin mass were “certainly encouraged to do so” under the “supervision of the local bishop,” Mgr Steenson said, so as to “assist in those stable communities that use the Extraordinary Form.”

However the traditional Latin Mass, (the Extraordinary Form) “is not integral to the Anglican patrimony, it is not properly used in our communities,” Mgr Steenson wrote.

A spokesman for the Ordinariate told CEN that over the past seven months, Mgr Steenson “has undertaken the incredible task of building what is essentially a national diocese from the ground up, and with few resources.”

“Looking back, we can see all that has been accomplished, including a high quality application and formation programme for clergy; ordinations of more than 20 priests in two countries in just six months – with more on the way; new communities being received into the Ordinariate regularly, with the next one in Boston this August; and policies, procedures and a structure being put in place to ensure the Ordinariate has a firm foundation for a healthy future.”

However, she noted that “bloggers always will speculate, but the focus of the Ordinariate continues to be on building up this new community of faith, with a healthy presbyterate and healthy local communities.”

The American branch of the Anglican Ordinariate is one of three so far created in response to the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorun coetibus. In addition to the Chair of St Peter in America and Our Lady of Walsingham for England and Wales, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross was established in June for Australia.

A former Church of England clergyman who became a bishop of the Traditional Anglican Communion, the Rev Harry Entwistle was appointed as the first ordinary.

Fr Entwistle was born on 31 May 1940, at Chorley, Lancashire. After studies at St. Chad’s Theological College in the University of Durham, he was ordained a priest in 1964 for the Diocese of Blackburn.

After serving parishes in Fleetwood, Hardwick, Weedon, Aston Abbotts and Cublington, he was a chaplain in the prison service from 1974 to 1988, serving as Senior Chaplain at HM Prison Wandsworth before emigrating to Australia, where he took up the post of Senior Anglican Chaplain for the Department of Corrective Services in Western Australia. In 2006 he joined the Traditional Anglican Communion and was appointed Western Regional Bishop and Parish Priest of Maylands in Perth.

The head of the English Ordinariate, Mgr Keith Newton said he was pleased to learn of the appointment. “Fr Entwistle has a wealth of experience from his Anglican ministry in England and in Australia, and I look forward to working with him closely as we seek to articulate the vision of Anglicanorum coetibus,” he said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 47, August 4, 2012. August 4, 2012

Posted by geoconger in AMiA, Anglican Ordinariate, Anglican.TV, Church of England, Georgia, South Carolina.
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The Diocese of South Carolina is in a 25 day waiting period before Bishop Lawrence makes a decision on the way forward following the aftermath of General Convention. Plus a church from Pawleys Island and Moultrie Georgia makes plans to move foreword. Kevin and George also discuss Archbishops of Canterbury news and the Society of Bishop Murphy. The show closes with Kevin and George addressing the international boycott of Anglican Unscripted and what you can do to help.

Both Peter and Allan have the week off, but the news and a teaser continue on. Paypal donations to anglicantv@gmail.com – comments to anglicanunscripted@gmail.com – twitter #AU47

Ordinariate denies crackdown underway against traditionalists: Anglican Ink, August 1, 2012 August 1, 2012

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The Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter has dismissed claims that clergy of the newly formed home for Anglicans in the Catholic Church are being bullied by its leader, Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, for using the traditional Latin mass – the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

On 29 July 2012 the Anglo-Catholic website posted a story stating Msgr. Steenson had discouraged his clergy from using the Latin mass, directing them to use only approved ordinariate and Catholic English-language liturgies.

Christian Campbell stated that he had it on “unimpeachable authority that there is on ongoing crackdown on those AU/Ordinariate priests who would dare to learn or celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite on the part of [Msgr.] Steenson” and other ordinariate leaders.

The “affected priests are naturally frightened, and unwilling to go on record, but make no mistake, the leadership of the U.S. Ordinariate at present has set itself against both Summorum Pontificum and Anglicanorum coetibus,” he stated, adding I also have it on good authority that this intimidation, an abuse of power, is being reported directly to the Roman Authorities. And the contention that the traditional Latin Mass has no bearing on the Anglican Patrimony — this simply has me flabbergasted.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Mirfield extends a pastoral hand to ex-brother: The Church of England Newspaper, July 1, 2012 p 6. July 5, 2012

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Mgr Mercer (third from the left) following his reception into the Catholic Church earlier this year. Photo: Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

Pope Benedict XVI has honoured three former Anglican bishops now serving as priests in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.  Edwin Barnes, the Bishop of Richborough from 1995 to 2002, David Silk, the Bishop of Ballarat from 1994 to 2003, and Robert Mercer, the Bishop of Matabeleland from 1977 to 1989 were named Chaplain of His Holiness and will bear the title Monsignor, the website of the ordinariate announced last week.

The head of the ordinariate, Mgr. Keith Newton stated the pope had “in every possible way” sought to “recognise the fruitful Anglican ministry which we undertook before entering the Catholic Church; this honour for these three distinguished men is a further sign of our Holy Father’s love and warmth toward this project.”

However, anonymous complaints have been lodged by members of the Church of England over what they believe is special treatment given to Mgr. Mercer by the Anglican religious order, the Community of the Resurrection.

A member of the Community of the Resurrection for the past 49 years, Mgr. Mercer lives rent-free in accommodation owned by the Community in Worthing. “CR Brothers are meant to have no assets of their own and, if they are of pensionable age, their pensions are made over to the Community. The financial arrangements for Mercer appear questionable, particularly as Mercer is sure to be receiving expenses from the Catholic Church,” one protestor wrote to The Church of England Newspaper.

In a statement released on its website, the Superior of the Community of the Resurrection, Fr George Guiver, stated that although Fr. Mercer had been received by the Catholic Church, he remained a member of the CR.

“Some people are puzzled by this fact, and a bit of background might help,” he wrote, noting that after his election as Bishop of Matabeleland in 1976, Mgr. Mercer ceased to be a member of the chapter and became a “prelate brother”.

When he left the Anglican Communion in 1988 over the ordination of women to join another Anglican body, the CR “decided Robert should remain a member of the Community, continuing in the status of Prelate Brother.  It was felt by a majority that the ties of brotherhood were stronger than our theological differences, and that wherever possible on the question of the unity of the Church it was important not to close doors wherever they could remain open.”

“Now in 2012 he has been received into the Ordinariate and re-ordained as a priest,” Fr. Guiver said, and after discussions with the community’s Visitor the CR has decided that “the same arrangement should remain in place as hitherto as a pastoral arrangement.”

“Fr Robert is 77 and retired, and even putting aside the bonds of brotherhood, we can hardly put him out on the street,” he wrote, noting that “many brothers in the Community disagree with his stance, but we have a tradition of respecting each other’s views.”

Fr. Guiver told The Church of England Newspaper the letter writing campaign against Mgr. Mercer was misguided.  “Although much of the information is accurate, we cannot think that they know us very well, or they would know that we don’t mind criticism and there is no need to be anonymous,” he said, adding “his assumptions about the relationship between Anglicans and Roman Catholics are very narrow, and I expect this is a person with anti-Roman Catholic prejudice who is not very familiar with the ecumenical scene.”

Swimming the Trinity: Get Religion, July 3, 2012 July 3, 2012

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Do not let the small mistakes in this article about the ordination of six former Anglican clergy as Catholic priests for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter distract you — this article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram entitled “6 former Episcopalclergymen are ordained in Catholic Church” is one of the few I have seen that “gets religion” and understands the big picture being covered in this story.

And that story is — these priests are entering the Catholic Church, not leaving the Episcopal Church.

Yes, I know the six priests in question have left the Anglican world for Rome — “Swimming the Tiber” in church parlance — (but as the Trinity River runs through Fort Worth I have changed the phrase somewhat). But the real story is about a journey to something — not a rejection of their past.

Before I go to deep into this article, let me say up front that I am acquainted with some of these priests — and have known the leader of the ordinariate, Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson for 10 or so years. And, I am a priest of the church where these men began their ministries and I have written about the journey these men have taken for a number of church-related publications over the past few years. The bottom line is that I come to this story with some degree of knowledge.

This knowledge can be obscure enjoyment at times — as there are one or two points I found to be distracting in this article. Let’s get them out of the way and turn to the lede:

KELLER — Under a huge dome with images of winged angels, six former Fort Worth-area Episcopal clergymen — including a father and son — lay facedown at a marble altar Saturday and were ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church.

In what officials called a historic moment, Fort Worth Catholic Bishop Kevin Vann and other white-robed priests in the diocese laid hands on the priests at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Keller to welcome them.

It was the first ordination class under Pope Benedict XVI’s new Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, created Jan. 1 to allow Episcopal priests to be ordained as Catholic clergy and for Episcopal congregations to join the Roman Catholic Church.

The tone of the article was respectful and the story arc supportive of the Catholic Church. And, yes, they were all once Episcopal priests — but not since 2008.

It would have been better to say that they left the Episcopal Church when the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth left the Episcopal Church in 2008. As an aside, the national Episcopal Church as since created a second Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth for the small number of clergy and congregations that opposed the decision to leave and litigation is presently before the Texas Supreme Court to determine which is the true Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

When the six left the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth to become Roman Catholics in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s offer of an Anglican ordinariate they left the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) — the conservative rival to the Episcopal Church.

I would also add that the story is not as clear as it could be on the point of the “first ordination class”.  For readers who have not been following the ordinariate story, they might have assumed that this ordination to the priesthood was the first ordination for the ordinariate — which is not true. The first ordination took place on 2 June 2012 in Mobile. The Fort Worth six were part of the first batch or class of new priests to be ordained, not the first priests to be ordained.

Those minor quibbles aside, I was impressed the Star-Telegram presented the issues properly by allowing the subjects of this story to explain themselves. And what the subjects of this story told the Star-Telegram was that their decision to enter the Catholic Church was not motivated by anger with the innovations in doctrine and discipline made in recent years by the Episcopal Church. They had entered the Catholic Church because they had become convinced by the truth claims made by the Catholic Church.

Steenson and the six men ordained opposed many of the changes in the Episcopal Church, including the ordination of gay priests and bishops.

All emphasized, however, that those issues were not central in their decisions to convert.

“Hopefully we understand that this is not just about being opposed to something,” Steenson said.

“If you were just opposed to something, you don’t want to join the Catholic Church. It’s a lot more than that.”

The Rev. Mark Cannaday said his ordination ends a long journey.

“My decision had nothing to do with current issues,” he said, adding that he has been drawn to elements of Catholicism for many years.

The younger Hough said: “For me, it’s not running away from something or saying the Episcopal Church is falling apart. My decision was going toward truth. To me, the current issues in the Episcopal Church are symptoms of a greater problem, and that was authority. There was no authority to say this was or was not part of Christian practice.”

A very common mistake made in the reporting about the Anglican ordinariate is the supposition that those who join the Catholic Church do so in protest to the actions of their former church — be it the Episcopal Church or the ACNA.

The Episcopal Church is not a monolithic nor uniform body. Those who are opposed to the recent actions of the church can be found inside the Episcopal Church or outside in the new Anglican Church of North America or other continuing Anglican groups. Some join other Protestant denominations while many simply stop going to church.

Becoming a Roman Catholic, as Msgr. Steenson noted, is a very different thing than being opposed to gay bishops or gay marriage — it is a conscious decision that the Catholic Church is the true church. (I should add that some ex-Anglicans have entered the Orthodox Churches — and while there is no Orthodox ordinariate, the faith journey is very much the same.)

As Fr. Christopher Stainbrook noted, becoming a Roman Catholic was “just a natural progression” for him.

It could be argued that the article might have been improved by the addition of voices from the Episcopal or Anglican churches commenting on the decision to leave. If this had been a contentious decision it might have made sense to do so.

However, Bishop Jack Iker of the ACNA-affiliated diocese has ruined this particular story angle by being gracious and affirming of the decision made by his six one-time priests. I’ve interviewed him a number of times on this issue — and many others — and he won’t bite. I may be cynical but adding more affirming voices to the story from the priests’ former church would be a bit to happy-clappy for me. Now if I could have found someone to say something unkind, that would have been different.

Perhaps I am too close to the story to have an objective mind on this point — what say you GetReligion readers? Would it have improved the story to have spread the circle wider to add non-Catholic voices? Or do you agree with me that the article did a fine job in stating the “coming home” theme and adding more would have not improved the story?

First printed in GetReligion.

First US Ordinary for ex-Anglicans installed: The Church of England Newspaper, February 24, 2012, p 7. March 1, 2012

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Mgr Jeffrey Steenson

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The requirement of re-ordination for Anglican priests entering the Catholic priesthood is not a rejection of Anglican orders, the head of the American branch of the Anglican Ordinariate said last week during his service of installation in Houston, but an invocation of the Holy Spirit seeking to restore a divided church.

On 12 Feb 2012 Fr. Jeffrey Steenson was installed by the Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl and the Archbishop of Houston, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, and ten other Roman Catholic bishops at Houston’s Cathedral of the Sacred Heart as the first Ordinary of the Chair of St Peter.

The former Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande was given the title of Monsignor and will be a member of the U.S. Catholics Bishops Conference. As he is married Msgr. Steenson will remain a priest and have the authority of a bishop over the ordinariate, but not be given the title.

Cardinal Wuerl, the U.S. delegate for the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus – Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic constitution that permits former Anglican groups and clergy to become Roman Catholic whilst retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and liturgies – read the document authorizing the appointment of Msgr. Steenson and presented him with a crozier and mitre as his symbols of office.

Approximately 100 former Anglican priests have applied to become Catholic priests through the provisions of the apostolic constitution.  The ordinariate reports that of these, 50 are in the process of priestly formation with the first ordinations expected in June.  An additional 1,400 lay people from 22 communities also are seeking to enter the ordinariate.  Since September 2011 two former Episcopal congregations in Maryland and a group in Fort Worth, Texas has been received into the Roman Catholic Church.

In his homily Msgr. Steenson, quoted St. Anselm in defence of papal supremacy. “This power was committed specially to Peter, that we might therefore be invited to unity.  Christ therefore appointed him the head of the Apostles, that the Church might have one principal Vicar of Christ, to whom the different members of the Church should have recourse, if ever they should have dissensions among them.  But if there were many heads in the Church, the bond of unity would be broken …”

He noted that “some will argue that the Catholic Church makes Christian unity a difficult thing to achieve.  Look at what is being asked of those who are considering the Ordinariate! – Anglicans have not only to be received but even confirmed, and their clergy ordained in the absolute form. Is this not asking them to begin all over again?”

“Certainly not,” he responded. “From Zephyrinus to Callistus to Cornelius to Stephen – these third century popes, most of whom laid down their lives as martyrs, who governed the Church at a time when it seemed as though the gates of hell really might prevail, threatening to destroy her essential unity – the Catholic Church simply asked that the bonds of charity be restored sacramentally by invoking the presence of the Holy Spirit.”

“These are brothers and sisters, returning home,” Msgr. Steenson said.

Former Episcopal bishop to lead US Ordinariate: The Church of England Newspaper, January 6, 2012 p 7. January 12, 2012

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Jeffrey Steenson

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Fr Jeffrey Steenson – the former Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande — to lead the American branch of the Anglican Ordinariate.

On 1 January 2012 the Vatican announced that Fr Steenson had been named the Ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter. The American branch of the Ordinariate will be based in Houston, Texas, and is the second national jurisdiction for former Anglicans established under the provisions of Pope Benedict’s 2009 apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus.

“Pray that we may strive to learn the faith, laws and culture of the Catholic Church with humility and good cheer,” Fr Steenson said after the announcement was made public. “But pray too that we do not forget who we are and where we have come from, for we have been formed in the beautiful and noble Anglican tradition,” he said.

A married man with three adult children, Fr Steenson will not be ordained a bishop, but will exercise a “role similar to a bishop” the US Conference of Catholic Bishops said and would be “a voting member of the Episcopal Conference.”

The 59-year-old Fr Steenson currently teaches at the University of St. Thomas Center for Faith and Culture and at St Mary’s Seminary in Houston and is an assisting priest at St Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Houston.

Approximately 100 former Anglican and Episcopal clergymen have sought to enter the Ordinariate and to be reordained as Roman Catholic clergy. They have been joined by an estimated 1,400 people drawn from 22 congregations and communities. The US Ordinariate is the second jurisdiction established by the Vatican following Anglicanorum coetibus and follows the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham formed in January 2011 to serve England and Wales.

At the September 2007 meeting of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops, Bishop Steenson said he was compelled to resign his episcopal office after three years and leave the Episcopal Church as its innovations in doctrine and discipline would require him act “apart from scripture and tradition.”

He told his fellow bishops he was entering the Catholic Church because “I believe that the Lord now calls me in this direction. It amazes me, after all of these years, what a radical journey of faith this must necessarily be. To some it seems foolish; to others disloyal; to others an abandonment.”

Cardinal Donald W Wuerl of Washington welcomed the appointment. Fr Steenson “brings to the position of ordinary great pastoral and administrative experience, along with his gifts as a theologian,” the cardinal told the Catholic News Service.

Jeffrey Steenson to lead Anglican Ordinariate in the U.S.: Anglican Ink, January 1, 2012 January 1, 2012

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Bishop Jeffrey Steenson speaking to Bishop Jack Iker at the 2007 House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans

The Vatican has appointed the former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande to head up the American branch of the Anglican Ordinariate.

On 1 Jan 2012 the Vatican announced that Fr. Jeffrey Steenson had been named the Ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The American branch of the ordinariate will be based in Houston, Texas and is the second national jurisdiction for former Anglicans established under the provisions of Pope Benedict’s 2009 apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum coetibus”.

A second former Episcopal clergyman, Fr. Scott Hurd, who was received into the Catholic Church in 1996 and is presently a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, has been appointed vicar-general of the ordinariate for a three-year term, the Vatican announcement said.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Fort Worth parish ordinariate bound: The Church of England Newspaper, Dec 9, 2011 p 6. December 14, 2011

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The Rev. Christopher Stainbrook, SSC

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

A Fort Worth mission congregation will ask its members to ratify the request of its vicar and parish council to accept Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation to enter into full communion with Rome through the Anglican Ordinariate.

On 2 December, Bishop Jack Iker announced that the congregation of St Timothy’s Church in Fort Worth will hold a meeting after services on 11 December to discuss the petition of the vestry and its vicar, the Rev Christopher Stainbrook, SSC to enter the Ordinariate.  A parish vote will take place the following Sunday.

Fr Stainbrook told The Church of England Newspaper he expected his parish would support the move. “We don’t think there will be any remnant which wishes to remain a part of the ACNA Diocese of Fort Worth.”

Two US congregations have already been received into the new Ordinariate.  In September an independent congregation in Fort Worth joined, followed last month by the members of the Diocese of Washington’s St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Bladensburg, Maryland.

While a number of Fort Worth clergy and lay members of the diocese have been received into the Roman Catholic Church in recent years – including the former canon to the ordinary the Rev Charles Hough – St Timothy’s is the first full parish to act upon the offer of the Ordinariate. By tradition an Anglo-Papalist congregation, St Timothy’s is the only congregation in Fort Worth expected to join the Ordinariate.

Late last month Fr Stainbrook and the Bishop’s committee informed Bishop Iker of their intentions to go over to Rome.  While details have yet to be worked out for the pastoral care of those who remain within the diocese and the use of the property, the transition appears to be running smoothly.

“We are grateful to Bishop Iker and the diocesan officials who are working with us on the best way to move forward,” Fr Stainbrook said, adding that as Bishop Iker “graciously put it in an email to me Wednesday morning, ‘I am grateful for the tone of last night’s meeting.  People of good will can accomplish anything they set their hearts to doing’.”

Bishop Iker said: “While we regret that many members of St Timothy’s feel called at this time to leave our fellowship for the Roman Catholic Church, we respect their conscience and spiritual discernment in this matter. We live in a very conflicted time in the life of the Church, and it is important to maintain charity and patience with one another. We wish them well, in the name of the Lord.”

Threat of lawsuit blocks ordinariate vote: Anglican Ink, December 8, 2011 December 8, 2011

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An ACNA congregation in Fort Worth has been blocked by the threat of litigation from holding a parish vote on whether it would accept Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation to enter into full communion with Rome through the Anglican Ordinariate.

On 8 Dec 2011, Bishop Jack Iker announced that scheduled vote by the congregation of St Timothy’s Church in Fort Worth had been cancelled following the intervention of the national Episcopal Church.

Bishop Iker stated that on 6 Dec “lawyers for the Episcopal Church parties delivered a letter to our legal team inquiring about the situation at St. Timothy and commenting that the proposed use of the St. Timothy property by a body from another denomination would not be a ‘normal course of business use’ in compliance with the order of the 141st District Court signed Oct. 20, 2011.”

The diocese’s lawyers were asked “to explain how the situation would be handled to be in compliance with the order to avoid a hearing before the court, or the TEC lawyers indicated they would proceed to bring the matter to the court’s attention.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

No left behind fears in Fort Worth: Anglican Ink, December 5, 2011 December 5, 2011

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St Timothy's Fort Worth

The vicar of the Fort Worth congregation that is set to depart for Rome believes his entire congregation will accept the pope’s offer of the Anglican Ordinariate.

The Rev. Christopher Stainbrook, SSC told Anglican Ink “we don’t think there will be any remnant which wishes to remain a part of the ACNA Diocese of Fort Worth.”

On 2 December 2011 the Rt. Rev. Jack. L. Iker announced that the vicar and bishops’ committee – the term for a vestry in a mission congregation supported by a diocese – had petitioned the Vatican for the congregation of St Timothy’s to be received en masse into the Roman Catholic Church under the provisions of the Anglican Ordinariate.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Fort Worth parish heading to Rome, Anglican Ink, December 2, 2011 December 2, 2011

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Fr Christopher Stainbrook, SSC

A Diocese of Fort Worth mission congregation will put to a vote of its members Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation to enter into full communion with Rome through the Anglican Ordinariate.

On Dec 2, Bishop Jack Iker announced that the congregation of St Timothy’s Church in Fort Worth will hold a meeting on 11 Dec 2011 to discuss the petition of the vestry and its vicar, the Rev. Christopher Stainbrook, SSC to enter the ordinariate.  The congregation will vote on the proposal the following Sunday.

Not all of the members of the Anglo-Catholic congregation are expected to support the decision to enter the Catholic Church, however.  The 18 Dec 2011 vote will allow Bishop Iker the opportunity to gauge the degree of support the move has in the congregation, and permit him to plan for the pastoral and sacramental care of those not going over to Rome.

The Vatican has set 1 January 2012 as the start date for the Anglican Ordinariate in America.  Created in response to requests from Anglicans seeking union with the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Ordinariate was formed in November 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI following the promulgation of Anglicanorum coetibus.  While Anglicans had always been welcomed as individual converts to Roman Catholicism, the Anglican Ordinariate provideda way for groups of Anglicans to enter in “corporate reunion” with Rome.

If St Timothy’s enters the ordinariate it would become Roman Catholic, but would retain elements of its Anglican liturgy and heritage.  The congregation would not become part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, however, but would join the new American branch of the ordinariate.

Two U.S. congregations have already been received into the new ordinariate.  In September an independent congregation in Fort Worth joined followed last month by the members of the Diocese’ of Washington’s St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Bladensburg, Maryland.

The creation of the American ordinariate follows the formation of the first personal ordinariate, Our Lady of Walsingham, established on 15 Jan 2011 for England and Wales.  Led by the former Church of England Bishop of Richborough, Monsignor Keith Newton, it has approximately 1000 members in 42 congregations.  Plans for ordinariates for Canada and Australia are also underway.

Fr. Stainbrook has also announced that he will resign as vicar and will step down from the ministry of the Episcopal Church and intends to seek holy orders within the Ordinariate.  While he trains for the Catholic ministry, however, the ordinariate will assign a new priest to serve those going over to Rome.

Late last month the leaders of the congregation sent Bishop Iker a copy of their petition to be received by Rome.  The bishop and diocesan leaders met with Fr. Stainbrook and his vestry – known as the Bishop’s Committee due to the congregation’s status as a mission – on 29 Nov and told him they were unanimous in their decision to withdraw.

St Timothy’s has an average Sunday attendance of approximately 90 and is a mission congregation of the diocese.  Founded in 1956, it reached parish status in 1960, but reverted to mission status in 1993 and has received “significant financial support from the Diocese” a spokesman noted.

Those eligible to vote are the members of the congregation who “attend church on every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation unless for good and sufficient cause prevented”; contribute to the “financial upkeep” of the congregation; have been confirmed; have received Holy Communion at least three times in the preceding year; are not under ecclesiastical discipline; and are enrolled members of the congregation 16 years of age and older.

A diocesan spokesman noted the forum and vote are intended to provide the diocese with a “clearer picture of the congregation’s wishes, once we have clarified what is and isn’t possible.”  Under the terms of a supersedeas bond agreement filed by the diocese in its on-going litigation with the national church, Fort Worth may not alienate any properties until the suit is resolved.  The diocese is determined to abide by the terms of the bond and cannot sell, give or lease St Timothy’s to the ordinariate, the spokesman added.

Bishop Iker said, “While we regret that many members of St. Timothy’s feel called at this time to leave our fellowship for the Roman Catholic Church, we respect their conscience and spiritual discernment in this matter. We live in a very conflicted time in the life of the Church, and it is important to maintain charity and patience with one another. We wish them well, in the name of the Lord.”

First published in Anglican Ink.

Ordinariate falling short in US: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 30, 2011 p 6. October 5, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The American branch of the Traditional Anglican Communion, the Anglican Church in America (ACA) has called upon Archbishop John Hepworth to resign, saying it will not follow him into the Roman Catholic Church.

Meeting at the Our Lady of the Snows conference center in Belleville, Illinois, the ACA synod released endorsed a resolution stating they would not follow Archbishop Hepworth to Rome under the terms of the Anglican Ordinariate.

“It is increasingly obvious to us and those for whom we are pastorally responsible that recent developments have made it impossible for you to continue to function effectively as Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, and that the responsibilities of that office add immeasurably to the personal stress inevitable in your personal situation.”

The American rebuff to Archbishop Hepworth and the Anglican Ordinatriate follows similar moves by the TAC’s South African and Indian branches rejecting the move towards Rome.

Archbishop Hepworth, who made headlines last month after he revealed he had been sexually abused by three Roman Catholic clergy while he was a seminarian and young priest, told ABC radio this week that he would not step down.

“Nine years ago, when I became the primate, I wrote to the then Cardinal Ratzinger who headed the CDF, which is where unity takes place, and said that if I ever became an obstacle through my personal circumstances or background, then understand that I will step aside,” Archbishop Hepworth said.

“Now, at the moment, the Vatican isn’t saying that to me, they’re saying to me the opposite, to keep going as you are.”

While the American branch of TAC had rejected the Ordinariate, “in England, Canada and Australia, we’re going ahead with some careful planning and we hope our people will become involved early in the New Year,” Archbishop Hepworth said.

“Naturally those not going in to the unity [with Rome] at this stage, would prefer a primate who wasn’t going in to it either,” he said.

Deposed bishop joins Roman Catholic Church: The Church of England Newspaper, June 24, 2011 p 6. June 28, 2011

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Ross Davies

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The former Bishop of The Murray has been received into the Roman Catholic Church. However, Ross Davies said he would not avail himself of Pope Benedict XVI’s offer of an Anglican Ordinariate and will remain a layman.

Last December Archbishop Phillip Aspinall deposed Bishop Davies from the ordained ministry, after a tribunal found the former bishop guilty of misconduct and recommended he be removed from the episcopate.

Mr Davies had resigned as Bishop of The Murray in South Australia on 24 September, 2010, one day before a tribunal met to hear nine counts of misconduct laid against him by the Archbishop of Adelaide and Bishop of Willochra. He was adjudged to have subverted the Professional Standards processes by failing to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct made against his archdeacon.

The tribunal found Mr Davies had displayed a lack of commitment to the Anglican Church and acted at times in an abusive manner “inconsistent with his pastoral role as a Bishop of the Diocese.”

This week Mr Davies told The Australian he had been received into the Roman Catholic Church three days after he resigned as bishop, on 27 September, 2010, by Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson.

“I think I am the only Anglican bishop in Australia to join the Catholic Church so far,” Mr Davies said.

However, the former Bishop of Ballarat, the Rt Rev David Silk, who upon retirement became honorary assistant bishop of Exeter, was one of five English bishops who joined the Ordinariate last year.

Six other bishops have so far entered the Ordinariate: the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Rev John Broadhurst; the Bishop of Richborough, the Rt Rev Keith Newton; the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham; and retired bishops the Rt Rev Edwin Barnes of Richborough, the Rt Rev Raphael Kajiwara of Yokohama, and the Rt Rev Robert Mercer CR of Matabeleland.

Second American parish joins the Ordinariate: The Church of England Newspaper, June 15, 2011 June 15, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

A second Maryland parish has voted to accept Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation to join the Roman Catholic Church through the Anglican Ordinariate.

On 6 June, the Episcopal Diocese of Washington announced that St Luke’s Church in Bladensburg, Maryland, would enter the Roman Catholic Church with the “prayerful support of Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Catholic Archbishop of Washington.”

On 24 October, 2010, the congregation of Mount Calvary Church in Baltimore became the first American parish to announce its intention to join the Anglican Ordinariate once it was formed.

Cardinal Wuerl, who will assume jurisdiction over the congregation of approximately 100 parishioners until the American branch of the Ordinariate is formed, stated that the Roman Catholic Church welcomed the congregation “into our family of faith.”

He added the Pope’s offer of an Anglican enclave in the Catholic Church provided “a path to unity, one that recognizes our shared beliefs on matters of faith while also recognizing and respecting the liturgical heritage of the Anglican Church.”

Bishop Chane noted the “transition” had been “achieved in a spirit of pastoral sensitivity and mutual respect.”

“Christians move from one church to another with far greater frequency than in the past, sometimes as individuals, sometimes as groups. I was glad to be able to meet the spiritual needs of the people and priest of St Luke’s in a way that respects the tradition and polity of both of our Churches.”

The congregation and the diocese have entered into a lease purchase agreement for the church property, and the former rector, the Rev Mark Lewis, has begun the process towards reception and ordination as a Roman Catholic priest.

“I am deeply grateful to Cardinal Wuerl and to Bishop Chane for their support throughout this discernment. We look forward to continuing to worship in the Anglican tradition, while at the same time being in full communion with the Holy See of Peter,” Mr Lewis said.

Gafcon throws down gauntlet to Dr. Williams: The Church of England Newspaper, May 11, 2011 May 11, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The formation of the Anglican Ordinariate was a natural consequence of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s mismanagement of the crisis facing the Anglican Communion, the leaders of the Gafcon movement said in a statement released on May 10.

In a strongly worded communiqué summarizing the work of their April 25-28 meeting in Nairobi, the archbishops of the Gafcon movement, representing a majority of the church’s members, voiced their displeasure with the usurpation of authority by Dr. Williams and the staff of the Anglican Consultative Council and laid upon their door responsibility for the de facto schism within the communion.

While the 13-point communiqué touched on administrative issues for the Anglican reform movement, including the creation of a Nairobi and London offices, the appointment of Bishop Martyn Minns as Deputy Secretary, and the calling of a second Jerusalem conference in 2013, the heart of the letter came in a sustained attack on the actions taken by London-based instruments of the Anglican Communion.

While Pope Benedict XVI’s offer of an Anglican Ordinariate was “a gracious gift” to those Anglican clergy and congregations “alienated by recent actions in the Communion,” it should not have been necessary, the archbishops said.

“Our own Communion has failed to make adequate provision for those who hold to a traditional view of the faith. We remain convinced that from within the Provinces that we represent there are creative ways by which we can support those who have been alienated so that they can remain within the Anglican family,” they said.

The tone of the Nairobi statement from the Gafcon archbishops: Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, West Africa, the Southern Cone, Rwanda, Sydney and Archbishop Robert Duncan of the ACNA, speaks to the mounting frustration the reform movement’s leaders feel with the course of events taken by the London-based instruments of the communion, one insider told The Church of England Newspaper.

Given the African church’s historic deference to the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and their cultural predisposition not to air their differences in public, the Nairobi letter was a remarkably frank document, CEN was told.

In their communiqué, the archbishops objected to the hijacking of the church’s agenda by Western interests in the face of natural disasters and political upheavals facing the world.  They urged all Christians to join them in “prayer for our world and especially for those who are suffering because of natural disasters as well as those who struggle to live under violent and oppressive governments.”

“We are distressed that, in the face of these enormous challenges, we are still divided as a Communion,” they said, adding that until the issues that divide the church are addressed full on “we will remain weakened at a time when the needs before us are so great.”

The bishops were frustrated and “disappointed that those who organized the Primates meeting in Dublin not only failed to address these core concerns but decided instead to unilaterally reduce the status of the Primates’ Meeting.”

Such a move was taken in “complete disregard” of the organizing resolutions for the primates conference set down by Lambeth 1978 and 1988 that gave the primates an  “enhanced role in ‘doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters’.”

Those who wrote the script for Dublin that gelded the primates “were seriously misled and their actions unacceptable,” the Gafcon archbishops said.

The modernist “promotion of a shadow gospel that appears to replace a traditional reading of Holy Scriptures and a robust theology of the church with an uncertain faith and a never ending listening process” was “troubling,” they said.

Such a “faith masquerades as a religion of tolerance and generosity and yet it is decidedly intolerant to those who hold to the ‘faith once and for all delivered to the saints’.”

The ecclesiological principle of concentrating authority into the hands of the Archbishop of Canterbury and an unaccountable bureaucracy were un-Anglican.  The basic unit of the church in Anglicanism was not a London-based curia, but the local church.  “We were mindful of the importance of letting scripture speak directly to the nature of the church and not simply let our current experience delimit our doctrine,” they said.

The Scriptural witness and the Anglican formularies held that the “local church is the fundamental expression of the one true church here on earth and is bound together with other local churches by ties of love, fellowship and truth.”

“From such networks have come denominations, national churches and global communions,” they said, adding that “we believe, however, that we are fully the church in our various settings, created and sustained by Word and Sacrament, and marked by obedience that results in faith, hope and love.”

The archbishops urged a return to the Scriptural and doctrinal principles enunciated in the 2008 Jerusalem Statement, and called for the renewal and reform of the church.  “The Lord’s call to discipline demands from us a commitment to unity, holiness, apostolicity and catholicity. All of these are aspects of what it means to be church,” they said.

Ordinariate to discourage married clergy, Vatican says: The Church of England Newspaper, April 29, 2011 p 7. April 29, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Church of England Newspaper.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Married clergy will be a temporary aberration within the Anglican Ordinariate, the Vatican’s Secretary of State declared, according to extracts published this week from his forthcoming book, “A Great Heart: Homage to John Paul II.”

Extracts published on April 24 by the L’Osservatore Romano from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s book addressed a cross section of issues from the Ordinariate to Castro’s Cuba.

Cardinal Bertone reported the Cuban strongman Fidel Castro admired the late Pope John Paul II.  Although the Cuban communist regime has persecuted Christians since taking power in 1959, “Fidel Castro showed a sincere affection for the pope,” Cardinal Bertone reported.

In preparation for the Pope’s 1998 visit to the island, the Cuban leader studied the pope’s writings and poetry, the cardinal said, adding, “John Paul II told me that perhaps no other head of state had prepared for his visit in such a precise manner.”

In the book, a compilation of interviews, Cardinal Bertone said there was a continuity of affection between John Paul II and Benedict XVI in “welcoming into the Catholic Church former married Anglican pastors, allowing them to live in matrimony.”

The Cardinal added this “welcome that still continues today and that the recent Apostolic Constitution extends to entire groups of people and parishes, albeit standing firm on the issue of celibacy for priests, asking that in the future married priests should not become the norm in these Orders.”

The Anglo-Catholic movement is dead, Catholic bishop claims: The Church of England Newspaper, Mar 4, 2011 p 6 March 7, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Church of England Newspaper, Roman Catholic Church, Secession.
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Anglo-Catholic bishops in happier days. The Archbishop of Canterbury with episcopal members of the SSC in 2005.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglo-Catholic movement within the Anglican Communion is dead, the Roman Catholic bishop overseeing the Australian Ordinariate has claimed.

In an interview published on February 26 in The Record, the newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Perth, Bishop Peter Elliott of Melbourne cautioned those who still claim to be Anglo-Catholics and yet are holding back.”

“When are you going to face realities? … there’s no place for a classical Anglo-Catholic in the Anglican Communion anymore,” Bishop Elliott said.

The Bishop chided Anglo-Catholics where were “tempted to make a desperate last stand by just staying where they are,” Bishop Elliott told a meeting of prospective converts in Perth last week.

“Permit me to suggest that it is a waste of time and spiritual energy to cling to such a dangerous illusion,” said the Bishop, a former Anglican.

“Let me quietly invite you to lay down weapons of controversies that are now pointless, to set aside endless intrigues which lead nowhere, to walk away from futile conflicts which cannot build up the body of Christ in charity. Accept the invitation of the vicar of Christ on earth.”

Pope Benedict XVI was a “gentle man” who had offered the Ordinariate with “no ulterior motives.”

“His apostolic offer is clear. There is no deception here. He calls you to peace.”

Created in November 2009 in response to pleas from the leaders of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), the Ordinariate is a structure within the Roman Catholic Church for former Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with Rome whilst preserving liturgical and other elements of their Anglican heritage.

However, the former Bishop of Quincy, the Rt Rev Keith Ackerman, in an interview published last month, noted that defining an Anglo-Catholic was not an entirely straightforward procedure. Broadly speaking, the principal Anglo-Catholic groups could be broken down into five parties: Anglo-Papalists who looked to Rome; the Anglo-Orthodox who looked to the Ecumenical patriarch and the churches of the East; the traditional High Church party; those in the Catholic breakaway groups generally called the Continuum; and the Affirming Catholic group whose members include Archbishop Rowan Williams and former US Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold.

Bishop Ackerman, who was deposed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for allegedly abandoning the communion of the Episcopal Church, currently serves the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

“The point is,” Bishop Ackerman told Virtueonline, “it is rather difficult to characterise an Anglo-Catholic. The vast majority may well agree that an Anglo-Catholic is one who believes in the reality of the continuation of a pre-1540s Church in England and as with a number of the principles of the Oxford Movement.”

However, among American Anglo-Catholics, the “vast majority” have “have always believed and taught that they are Catholics but not Roman Catholics.”

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