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There are still many people (mostly Anglicans) who preach the Catholic faith but who aren’t yet Catholics. We need to respect their beliefs

Anglo-Catholics have one important pastoral opportunity that Roman Catholics don’t

By on Monday, 14 November 2011

Ordinariate clergy being ordained earlier this year. Don't despise those who choose to stay behind CNS photo/Marcin Mazur, Bishops' Conference of England and Wales)

Ordinariate clergy being ordained earlier this year. Don't despise those who choose to stay behind CNS photo/Marcin Mazur, Bishops' Conference of England and Wales)

From time to time, one blog leads on to another. Here’s one which leads on from two of my recent efforts. Firstly, from my recent post pointing out that the secular press, in their obituaries of Sir Jimmy Savile, totally ignored what he himself would have said was one of the most important features of his life, his Catholic faith. I mentioned in some sorrow among these a paper I first came across some 50 years ago, the Irish Independent. Back in those days, it was a very definitely Catholic paper, and would certainly have mentioned Jimmy Savile’s regular attendance at Mass during the week. “Truly”, I commented, “since the long-ago days when the Irish Independent published a series of booklets on the Catholic faith for children (my favourite — one of which I remember vividly since I much later based a children’s sermon on it in my days as a clergyman, to the fury of a very Protestant churchwarden—was entitled “Tales of the Blessed Sacrament”) there has been a great falling away from that faith, which makes me very sad indeed.”

I have been asked about that story by a correspondent: do I still remember it? What was it about? And why was the Protestant churchwarden so annoyed? Well, yes, I do remember it, very well as a matter of fact; I was reminded of its details once more quite vividly when I wrote my last blog, the one about the Pope’s bees; for this was a story featuring precisely the behaviour of a hive of bees, very Catholic bees, as you will see: if the Pope gets bees like these at Castelgandolfo, they should do very well.

An old woman was in desperate straits: her only livelihood, the honey from a single hive of bees, the one thing she owned, had dried up: the bees had for some reason just stopped producing honey. At the end of her wits, she resolved to do the one thing that she thought might make a difference, something she would never normally have dreamed of doing. At mass, instead of consuming the host, she hid it in her bag, took it home, and in great trepidation placed it in the hive. Within a few hours, there had been a miraculous effect on the bees, who immediately started producing honey in such quantities that it began to ooze from the hive: the old woman could scarcely bottle it fast enough.

After a time, she became frightened: she went to her priest and confessed what she had done. With an altar party, the priest went to the old woman’s home to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament she had abstracted. As he drew near to the hive, he saw to his astonishment that from its entrance light was emanating. Looking inside, he saw that the bees had constructed, in wax, an altar on which was a wax monstrance containing the host the old woman had placed in the hive. In front of the altar, bees were flying up and down in adoration. The priest gingerly retrieved the host, and placed it in his own monstrance; it was then taken back to church in procession, with lights and incense. Around the montrance flew the entire swarm of bees, who accompanied it as far as the church door. The old woman was shriven; and, though she had done something of which she was always ashamed, her faith nevertheless had its reward; the bees never again failed to produce enough honey to give her a modest livelihood.

Well, that, in my own words, was, as far as I remember it the gist of the Irish Independent story. Today’s children are not told such stories, of course, and I do see that it was hardly in the Spirit of Vatican II (which had not happened when it was written).

But what was I doing, as an Anglican clergyman, telling such a story from the pulpit to a congregation of children? Well, the children concerned were preparing for their Confirmation, which in the Church of England meant also first Holy Communion. As one of those Anglicans who firmly believed in the real presence of Christ in the sacrament (naturally I also believed that we had valid sacraments) I was anxious that they should understand that in the Eucharist something real and not merely symbolic actually happened, that there was at the words of institution a real change in the elements, that Christ wonderfully became present in bread and wine.

It was probably a forlorn hope. That’s the kind of thing a child needs to hear consistently, not just in a single sermon. And of course, afterwards there was trouble. For, though the parish in which I was a curate had the reputation of being rather “High”, not everyone who attended it was: it was very far from being a hardline Anglo-Catholic parish. And that emphatically included one of the two “churchwardens”, a very definite protestant evangelical (an Anglican churchwarden is by way of being something of a big cheese among the laity; if a parish clergymen is unlucky, the churchwarden can cause him a great deal of grief). He was waiting at the church door. “That”, he said in fury “was transubstantiation! You were preaching transubstantiation from an Anglican pulpit!”

“Well”, I replied, “it wouldn’t have been the first time that has happened. And in any case, I wasn’t”. “Yes you were!” he almost shouted. “All right, then”, I replied, “define it. Define the word transubstantiation”. Of course he couldn’t, so I was able icily to extricate myself.

In the end, of course, I came to see that believing what I did, there was only one course of action open to me. I became a Catholic. But I have never forgotten those who gave me my beliefs, many of whom didn’t become Catholics (though many are now doing so, through the Ordinariate). The point about the Anglo-Catholic clergy is precisely that unlike Roman Catholic priests, they have the chance to preach the Catholic faith in a cold climate, to congregations many of whom have never heard it. And many of those who hear such preaching do come to realise that what they are hearing is true. That’s one reason why in this country so many lay Anglicans “cross the Tiber”: because of what they have heard from their clergy.

So never despise the Anglo-Catholic clergy. Maybe it’s true that, as a very stiff and very splendid old Catholic lady said to me when I tried to explain to her what I believed: “You can believe in the real presence until you are blue in the face. You don’t have priests and you don’t have the Mass.” All the same, I do believe that these men had and still have their place in God’s economy of salvation. My prayer for them is always that they will know when it is time for them to come safely home.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone who has the Catholic faith should have a burning desire to belong to the Catholic church, and be discontented in the Church of England whose clergymen, including Dr Oddie, have all assented to the Thirty Nine Articles which among other horrors calls the Holy Mass a “blasphemous fable and dangerous deceit”. Is it not rather odd that after the supremely generous act of Pope Benedict when he created the Ordinariate to make the transition into full communion as easy as possible, that only 0.1% of practising Anglicans have decided to join it?

    I wonder how many of the 99.9% of Anglicans who go to church on Sundays but have not joined the Ordinariate really do possess the Catholic faith. What they are waiting for? What more could the Pope possibly do? How easy has it got to be to “cross the Tiber” before they are willing to come across?

  • Anonymous

    Maybe OUR HIERARCHY could be a little more welcoming?
    Maybe provide them with a central Church and Headquarters in London?

    Or Patrick – are you going argue ‘why should we?’ as many Tabletista have argued?

    Let’s face it – in the Cornac ARCIC-era it wasn’t about the return of Catholics to the fold it was inidfferentist, homogenising, relativising, syncretism where we were all  ‘separated brethren taking all means to move towards union’ – hence the scandalous farces and travesties of shared masses, ‘concelebrations’ and shared tabernacles.

    All too often the members of the Ordinariate are treated as if they’re enemies of oecumenism.
    How many in print [think the Tablet again] have deemed them as counterproductive and treacherous to the cause for the relaxation/abolition of clerical celibacy and the ordination of women?
    Tina Beattie considered them as an affront to the celibate priesthood when they ‘paraded’ their wives in their  reception ceremony [Yeah - right! As if she wants clerical celibacy and an all-male priesthood!]

    Why Archbishop Nichols allows this ongoing antipathy towards the Ordinariate is beyond me – especially considering the amount of time he spent flying to the Vatican for secret meetings with the prospective members of the Ordinariate to prepare the way for them.

    Now that the Ordinariate is here and they’re almost bereft of any central hub [despite His Holiness' request for them to be welcomed with all grace & favour] – one begins to think that the decades-old oecumania of Our hierarchy and Conference has led them to be far-from-welcoming to their brother and sister Catholics?

    If you wonder why so many ‘Anglo-catholics’ are reticent to cross the Tiber home – maybe you should look around you – petition your local Priests, Bishops or even Archbishops to make their welcoming more public and warm?

    …or suggest to +Vin that the easiest way to get a red hat is to re-affirm his ostensibly open-armed welcome to the Ordinariate

  • Confusedof Chi

    ……’small’ matter of the Holy Spirit, maybe?

  • W Oddie

    I never assented (nor was I asked to: you obviously know nothing whatever about this subject) to the thirty-nine articles. And i never said that most Anglicans accept the Catholic faith; obviously they don’t: not only do you know nothing about this, you haven’t even read what I wrote. 

  • Anonymous

    “That’s one reason why in this country so many lay Anglicans “cross the Tiber”: because of what they have heard from their clergy.”

    You’re quite right, of course: I became a Catholic at least in part due to the influence of my rather Anglo Catholic cathedral school chaplain and his liturgies which were basically the Novus Ordo.

    The old Catholic lady is nonetheless right: notwithstanding some ambiguity over some Anglican clerics’ orders due to Old Catholic input, most will not be priests.

  • Anneg16

    Yes Mr Oddie.  We do have to respect our Anglican brothers and sister’s rights to believe as they wish, but we do not have to respect their actual beliefs, only their right to have those beliefs!

  • Anonymous

    The doctrine of the Church of England is established by Act of Parliament, so it is quite easy to find.

    A5  and the wording of Section 5(1) of the Worship and Doctrine
    Measure 1974

    doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures,
    and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the
    Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures.

    particular such doctrine is
    to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book
    of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.

    According to the Canon 15 of the Anglican Church 1974 all ordinands had to assent to this:


    The Church of England
    is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church worshipping
    the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It professes the
    faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in
    the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to
    proclaim afresh in each generation. Led by the Holy Spirit, it
    has borne witness to Christian truth in its historic formularies,
    the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer
    and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons. In the declaration
    you are about to make will you affirm your loyalty to this inheritance
    of faith as your inspiration and guidance under God in bringing
    the grace and truth of Christ to this generation and making Him
    known to those in your care?


    A B, do so affirm, and accordingly declare my belief in the faith
    which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the
    catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church
    of England bear witness; and in public prayer and administration
    of the sacraments, I will use only the forms of service which
    are authorised or allowed by Canon.

    I suppose my post must have been ambiguous when I talked about the 99.9% of Anglicans who have not joined the Ordinariate. If there are roughly a million people who go regularly to Anglican services only about 0.1% of the people who were attending such services last year have joined the Ordinariate. How many of those remaining in the CofE possess the Catholic faith? I would put that proportion as very small indeed.

  • Anonymous

    So Patrick – a very small proportion possess the Catholic Faith ? Well that’s a bit like the south coast Catholic diocesan professional laity then eh?

  • Michael

    Patrick, reread the text you yourself copied. The declaration of assent says nothing about agreeing with the 39 articles, but it talks about Holy Scriptures and catholic creeds. At most, you could argue that the declaration of assent requires an Anglican ordinand to acknowledge that the 39 articles exist and they in some way bear witness to the faith. Anglo-Catholics have, over the 150+ years since the Oxford Movement began, worked out exactly how to square all that is (or was) required of them in the CofE with the Catholic Faith. You can choose to disagree with their logic, as Blessed John Henry Newman came to, but you cannot just say that they ever signed up to the 39 Articles.

    Now, of course, such intellectual gymnastics are being rendered increasingly difficult (not that it was ever straightforward) by changes in the CofE.

    You will need to do a bit more reading and a little less straight cutting and pasting before being convincing on a subject that is so close to an Anglo-Catholic understanding of what the CofE has been.

    I write as a member ot the Ordinariate.

  • Anonymous

    Can you give me an example of this antipathy to the Ordinariate? All I can see is a very warm welcome being given to them from both the hierarchy and people. They wish to remain separate from the diocesan structure, so they are going to need to finance themselves and buy or build their own churches. This is analogous to what every religious order has done over the past millennium. That is their choice. Their present difficulties are nothing compared to the sacrifices made by the hundreds of English martyrs who gave their lives so the Catholic faith could be preserved in this islands.

  • Anonymous

    > What they are waiting for?

    A difficulty for many is that Anglican bishops or priests are still officially regarded exactly as they always have been - as nothing more than unconfirmed laymen whose entire past ministry has been a delusion. This is a bitter pill for some to swallow.

  • Peter

    Well said, Dr Oddie.  It is not often that I find myself in agreement with you but here you are spot on! 

     I have great respect for those Anglo-catholic clergy who have decided, at least for the time being, to stay in the Anglican Church.  Many of those commenting don’t seem to realise how difficult it is to swim the Tiber as many of those who joined the Ordinariate have discovered.  A friend of mine, the retired Dean of Kimberley and a member of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd which used to be very strong in South Africa, always tells me how lucky I am to be a Catholic but adds that as much as he would like to cross the Tiber he wouldn’t do so at the expense of denying his priesthood and what he has stood for all his adult life.  I empathise with that and a Saying “Oh I did it!” doesn’t help.Anglo-catholicism has produced many holy people with a great love of the Sacraments and who are we to say that Christ doesn’t work through them, both the people and the Sacraments?  We pray that all maybe drawn into full communion with the See of Peter and the Catholic Church but we must admire their tenacity for things catholic in a difficult situation and the fruits of Anglo-catholicism are there for all to see.

  • Anonymous

    @Peter> A friend of mine, the retired Dean of Kimberley and a member of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd which used to be very strong in South Africa, always tells me how lucky I am to be a Catholic but adds that as much as he would like to cross the Tiber he wouldn’t do so at the expense of denying his priesthood and what he has stood for all his adult life.

    My point exactly.

  • Anonymous


    Yes Patrick – I dare say that all you can see is a warm welcome.
    Have you happened to notice by whom?
    Many Catholic organizations and clerics have welcomed the Ordinariate members with open arms – but they happen to be the ones with little affinity or connections with the powers-that-be; rather they’re perceived as ideological enemies to the Magic Circle’s/Tabletista’s status quo.

    The Ordinariate has been left out in the cold with neither a Central London Church nor a general HQ – which either Westminster or Conference could easily provide…

    …and you have the audacity to opine ‘what’s their problem?’ because their lot isn’t one of martyrdom?

    Have you thought of sending your CV to Eccleston Sq?

  • Anonymous

    Peter – sorry it’s an absolute imperative – there are no Anglican Orders and anyone returning to the Church must confess that – BUT – upon their ordination through the diachronicity of grace they were always priests – ontologically reality is rewritten and there was no time when they were not – BUT it does not bring any validity/reality to their previous consecrations as there was neither ordinary union nor intention – both their formal position and formal intention preclude any potential grace.

    It really is a ludicrous position – for they must lose their life in order to regain it – in order for their ministry to have been truly priestly [albeit scarred and disordered by being within a dissociate heretical communion] they need to abandon their false priesthood; removing the mask to discover the reality that always was.

    Who are we to say that their non-baptismal , non-marital sacrament is invalid?
    Sorry – we are the One, Holy , Catholic and Apostolic Church into which they were baptised but became immediately dissociate.

    If they truly love Truth – the Person of Christ – the True Presence within the REAL Blessed Sacrament – they really have no matter how bitter the pill, no matter what sacrifice. The price is too high to do otherwise once they know.

    I do not understand their reticence..if they believe one thing to be the truth they MUST follow – if they do not  believe it and wish the truth on their own terms? They MUST NOT cross…

  • Anonymous

    I’m trying to understand this too – because ostensibly it does make you seem renegades, fifth columnists etc.

    In other words everyone since the Oxford movement who did not/could not assent to the 39 articles – didn’t feel any moral compulsion to do anything other than acknowledge their existence; nor was their any indirect implication or coercion or presumptive recognition of them by default?
    That there was neither compromise nor dissent; nor was this an ostensible insurrection against its very nature in that the 39 artices are an extraneous non-mandatory and fungible imposition upon an underlying reality?
    You saw some underlying ‘hermeneutic’ of anglo-catholicism as a continuance of that which was present pre-reformation? Where the 39 articles either reflected that or became superfluous?

    Please correct me where I go off-track…

  • Anonymous

    I assume you know that, while he was still an Anglican, St John Henry Newman wrote Tract 90 in which he made it clear that he did indeed assent to the thirty-nine articles, but that the disputed articles (which condemned the doctrines of purgatory, invocation of the saints, the seven sacraments, transubstantiation, the sacrifice of the Mass etc) were not really directed at the Catholic faith, but at abuses of it.

    However for Anglicans who have made a declaration of assent to the doctrine of the Church of England, of which the articles explicitly are an important part, to say that they did not really assent to them, just publicly acknowledged their existence, is a bit worrying. If called up to assent to the doctrine of the Catholic Church as expressed by the magisterium would they have similar mental reservations, merely acknowledging the existence of the parts of it that they did not like?

  • Anonymous

    Like the way you ‘moralise’ on adopting the zeitgeist, justifying the abolition of humanae vitae to become gay-friendly and have few qualms considering yourself a Catholic-in-right-standing Patrick?

    Quid pro quo…If you’re allowed to excise what you don’t like – surely Anglicans must be afforded the same luxury?

    Don’t ask me – you’re the one making the judgment calls…

  • W Oddie

    WHEN I WAS ORDAINED I WAS NOT ASKED TO ASSENT TO THE THIRTY NINE ARTICLES. HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY THIS? Nobody does any more, or has done for many years. Whatever the Act of Parliament may say, none of us knew anything about it or was asked to conform to it. I repeat: you know nothing whatever about any of this. Your opinion is simply WORTHLESS.

  • W Oddie

    hat was then. This is now.

  • Peter

    Paulpriest, it is not that simple.  

    Presumably you feel that someone should say to the parish priest of St Alban’s Holborn, for example,  “You are living a life of self-delusion, you are as much a priest as my secretary, your orders have never been valid and the Sacrament in the church’s tabernacle is no better than Wonderloaf.  All those confessions you have heard and absolution granted are just a sham and not one of those people sins have really been absolved.  You have lied to them.  You have to join us in the RCC where everything you misguidedly think you have really does exist ”

    If that was said to me I would never join the RCC as that level of rudeness and bigotry would put me off completely  

  • Alcuin the Outraged

    The 99% Anglicans are smart. They haven’t been deceived by Rome.  They also have a superior liturgy, music, and magnificent churches.  Members receive the wine, they don’t have to put up with meddlesome popes,  and the clergy don’t have to be celibate.  Why would they want to give that up to settle for some much less?
    All Rome can offer is authoritarianism, papal absolutism, repeated insults against the intelligence of their members, pietistical superstition, and idolatry.

  • Anonymous

    …I suppose they’re all euphemisms for ‘All Catholicism can offer is the Truth’ – and you’d prefer to live without it eh Alcuin?

  • Little Black Censored

    I sense an assumption underlying some of the comments here which is, that Anglican clergy are somehow wishing to have their orders validated by RC approval. The fact is that Anglican clergy are (in my observation) not in any doubt about their priestly status. Saying they are not priests cuts no ice at all. It is a dialogue of the deaf. Paulpriest says “there are no Anglican orders”, and Anglican priests would agree with him. They would say they are simply priests, full stop.

  • Anonymous

    Peter – do you want polite, inoffensive, well-mannered lies?
    Fine – go and have a nice soiree with Cormac where you can both discuss your shared catholicity and roman anglicanism to your heart’s content over the canapes and chateau-neufs d’antipapes.

    So it’s rudeness and bigotry to tell the Truth?
    Impolite to tell a cleric that despite his best intentions and motives he is inadvertently scandalising Christ with his mock-consecrations?
    It’s just not cricket to say that he has no apostolic power to give absolution.

    Bigotry to tell him that irrespective of all his beliefs – his belief in a dissociate ecclesial community is unfounded and undeserved and will find its rightful home in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church?

    Peter- can I ask you a serious question:
    When you were received into the Catholic Church – did you lie to get in?

    Did you say you believed all that the Church teaches – including the invalidity of Anglican orders and sacraments outside baptism and marriage – or did you merely keep quiet on the issue and thought like that when you said you believed what the Church teaches it didn’t mean you had to believe everything?

    Just asking – because you – and a few others within the Ordinariate – seem to imply by your tone that you haven’t made any denial or repudiation of Anglican orders – when it’s a non-negotiable issue.
    They are not merely invalid – they don’t exist…and in order to get into the Ordinariate – despite what some of you may think – you DID publicly deny the validity of those orders – either honestly or…well? Go figure.

    We didn’t write the rules – we weren’t the ones who walked away.
    You could be the most saintly and wondrous of people – but we can’t rewrite reality just to make you feel a bit better.

    Nor should you ever want us to if you’re authentically here for the right reasons.

  • Anonymous

    While Humane Vitae remains part of the ordinary teaching of the Catholic church I would be unable to affirm my assent to it. Fortunately since I am not seeking ordination or appointment in the Church I am not required to make that public assent and can follow my conscience about my loyal dissent to that teaching. After all it is not (yet) part of the Creed.  In the same way the position of Anglican lay people is different from that of those who seek ordination. I remember Cardinal Heenan making it clear in 1968 that Catholic laypeople must follow their consciences on this issue.

    In Robert Bolt’s play Man For All Seasons he has St Thomas More explaining why he will not take an oath to support the King’s divorce saying, “When a man takes an oath he’s holding his own self in his hands. Like
    water.” He cups his hands. “And if he opens his fingers then — he needn’t hope to find himself again.” A Declaration of Assent before ordination is a solemn promise declaring to God what one believes. That some people think that they did not assent to the thirty-nine articles even though the articles are to this day always explicitly referred to in the question put to the ordinand for their assent is strange. To be happy to be a clergyman in a church that has as its bedrock articles that clearly repudiate essential Catholic dogma but find it impossible to remain in post if that church should ordain a woman bishop seems even stranger.

  • Parasum

    1. What is the status of the Articles in the C of E these days ?

    2. If they are no longer binding upon the consciences of C of E ordinands in even a very loose sense, what is the point of retaining them ?

    3. Shouldn’t the C of E clarify what its confessional standards are – if only for the benefit of those who are not members of it ?

    4. If the anti-Roman articles do not bind the conscience (see q.1); what is the Church of England’s current doctrine in regard to Papal authority “in this realm of England”, Purgatory, the character of the Mass as a sacrifice & sacrament, Transubstantiation ?

    It’s very confusing when a Church with confessional standards develops into a Church that does not believe what those standards say. The Free Church of Scotland, whatever one may think of it, does at least adhere to the proposition that the Pope is Antichrist – just as the Westminster Confession of Faith says he is. Ther is no gap between its theoretic creed, and that which it professes today. The same can’t now be said of the C of E.

    I would love to know how the C of E got from its former vigorous anti-Papalism, which was shared by clergy of all ranks, to its current philo-Papalism. If the Pope is no longer Antichrist, & if Jesuits are no longer viewed as corrupt & intriguing enemies of Christ & the British Empire – I want to know how come. If the Pope is viewed as the Man of Sin and the CC is viewed as the gore-intoxicated, blood-boultered Whore of Babylon upon the Scarlet seven-headed Beast, this is at least an intelligible POV. What is not intelligible, is how a Church switches from holding that POV, to holding a far friendlier one. The C of E owes Catholics an explanation on this point. Especially as there are still Anglicans, mostly Evangelicals, who hold that view. 

  • Riley

    You may not have said it explicitly but in the order of service for ordination of Anglican priests (yes, the current one, published on the Church of England website, not something from ‘many years’ ago) the archdeacon/registrar says the following of the ordinands:

    “They have affirmed and declared their belief in ‘the faith [...] to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness’.”

    Now, unless you are saying that the thirty nine articles are not one of the “historic formularies of the Church of England”, it’s hard to argue that you didn’t assent to it implicitly.

    Oh, and writing in all capitals is rather like shouting – it doesn’t give the impression of a reasonable person making a well informed argument. Neither does deriding someone’s opinion as worthless because they disagree with you.

  • Hidden One

    The most important question, of course, is whether God denies his priesthood and what he has stood for all his life. If He denies it, the retired Dean of Kimberley should too.

  • Parasum

    That was a disgraceful performance – sheer sophistry. If the Protestant Fathers of the Church of England had not wanted to purge it of what they rejected as “Papistry”, they would not have acted and written as they did. Nor would they have “given their bodies to the flames” rather than acknowledge what they rejected. It’s the worst thing he ever wrote :( The volumes of the Parker Society – a sort of C of E equivalent of the Abbe Migne’s Patrologia – show what they thought. Newman’s Mass-accepting, transubstantiation-believing Anglican Catholics had a strange way of treating Catholic priests who offered the Mass – one does not usually put to death those with whose doctrine one agrees. Newman’s Anglican life was not honest – he was a closet Nicolaitan, neither Catholic nor Protestant, who lacked the integrity to admit it until after 1841. Anglicanism was Protestant from the start. If it had been Catholic, why the rioting against Ritualist Anglican clergy ?

    That second paragraph is spot on. Newman’s doctrine of reserve is a charter for liars – that it has roots in the Fathers makes it no better, and makes them the worse. No Church can stand if its ministers are free to say one thing while meaning another – how can the rest of the Church have in confidence in men whose “Yes” may mean “No” ? What protection is left, against “I believe in One God” meaning “I believe in no gods”, or in many, or in nothing ? The sacredness attaching to solemn oaths and promises evaporates like mist, and false witness becomes a virtue. If converts can commit perjury as Anglicans, why should they  be trusted not to commit perjury when they are being received as Catholics ?  

  • Quang Pham

    There is an organization: Coming Home Network ( whose whole aim is to aide protestant, particularly the clergy, come home to the Catholic faith. They can be a great support and resource for those who see the value of the Church but are having questions, concerns, and difficulties.

    The Catholic understanding of calling is two parts, the discernment of the individual and the proclamation of the Church. If the Church says someone has a vocation but they do not accept it, then they are free to not accept it. If the person hears a call but the Church does not affirm it, then they are not meant to be in Church ministry. This is the fundamental aspect of Catholic vocations that are not ordinarily found in other communities as fundamental from what I understand.

    Because of this understanding of vocation, the priests and bishops that do Cross the Tiber will need to discern again and be affirmed to continue their ministry. It is their choice.

    Here is my personal take on it. If one is convicted that Christ’s Church subsists in the Catholic Church, one is obligated to come into Full Communion and learn what the Church teaches. The situation of ministerial priesthood is a second order concern. First, if you recognize God the Father, Christ his Son, and through the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Church as the true Bride of Christ, everything else is secondary until this first question is honestly brought to the forefront. 

    Not everyone is a priest, not everyone is a father, not everyone is a mother, not everyone is a consecrated virgin, but everyone of these can be a Catholic. And that’s where you start and what you are first in the Catholic Church. Being Catholic is being one of these adopted children of God. 

  • Quang Pham

    Christ is sent by God the Father, so He knows His ministry. The Apostles are sent by Jesus Christ, so they know their ministry. Their successors are sent by the Apostles, so they know their ministry.

    Who sent those in ministries outside of the Catholic Church? Can they trace their ministry back through those who ordained them to Christ?

  • Oconnordamien

    To the majority of us who don’t attend your club meetings, it started like a disagreement between two onlookers as to the colour of the emperor’s new clothes. Now amongst the comments, the pattern, cut and weave are being hotly debated. 

  • Steve Petrica

    I learned Catholicism as an Anglican. It resulted in a natural impetus toward full communion.

  • WSquared

    ” Fortunately since I am not seeking ordination or appointment in the
    Church I am not required to make that public assent and can follow my
    conscience about my loyal dissent to that teaching.”

    Er, Patrick, that’s not true.  Humanae Vitae is magisterial teaching binding on all of the faithful.  And do you know what public assent is and looks like for lay Catholics?  It’s called Holy Communion.  To receive Holy Communion is a public statement that you believe, assent to, and accept all that the Catholic Church teaches on faith and morals. 

  • Anonymous

    You mean 99.9%. But it is not that they are smart, they simply do not accept the Catholic faith as it is taught by the (so called “Roman”) Catholic Church. If they did why would they still be in the Church of England? 

  • Poppy Tupper

    Oh dear, here we go sounding forth about the Ordinariate again. The whole scheme has been a dismal failure. The numbers involved are negligible (smaller than the number of Irish Catholics returning to the national church) and it’s got no money to see it through the next twelve months.

  • Anonymous

    What on earth makes you think that? Do you imagine that everyone who has a private doubt about some of the more esoteric teachings of Magisterium is de facto excommunicated? You will not find anything in Canon Law or the Catechism to support that view.

  • Joycelen7

    No one will agree with me, but in my past association with Anglicanism, my faith was that the Host was the Real Presence. And if we ask God for Bread, will He give us a stone? Faith is the bridge where the Lord meets us. I trust in His mercy. I am Catholic now, but I know He came to me as I knelt at that altar rail. Now I am in the fullness of faith. I don’t think all this legalism does the Lord any good. Pardon the Pun, but you can catch more believers with Honey rather than vinegar. Thank you for this article.

  • Nathaniel M. Campbell

    This stalwart Anglo-Catholic is heartened by your words. (And for those who would jump on my back because I haven’t yet crossed that Roman river, it is on the wise counsel of several Roman clergymen that, until I can in good conscience pledge to the absolutes of papal authority [the one stumbling block against which I still trip], it were better for me to stay an Anglican Catholic than to abuse my conscience.)

    I should also like to point out that your delightful tale of the blessed bees comes from Book 9 (treating of Eucharistic miracles) in the Dialogus Miraculorum (“The Dialogue on Miracles”) of Caesarius of Heisterbach, a Cistercian who wrote in the first decades of the thirteenth century (yes, that means before Thomas Aquinas, but contemporaneous with Lateran IV’s official promulgation of “transubstantiation”).  The hardcore theologians might consider that some of these tales (as of the bees) strike discordant notes when compared to the “orthodoxy” that so many seem to define by Thomas’ Summa.  For example, Thomas notes that irrational creatures cannot properly respond to the Eucharist, for only a fully rational human soul, ardent with love and proper devotion, can rightly receive it (cf. Summa Theologiae III.80, 9 cor. and ad 3).  Which is really only to say that the Christian traditions of the True Presence encompass far more than the technicalities of “transubstantiation”.

    It is this wider tradition that Anglicans and (I would argue) Caesarius embrace.  Not only do the sacramental bread and wine represent Jesus Christ here on earth, in a specific time and place; they in fact are Jesus Christ, fully present, fully powerful, fully acting.  The Eucharist is not just a manifestation of Christ’s charity, but also of his power, exercised not only in love and mercy, but also in judgment.

  • Little Black Censored

    Can they trace their ministry back through those who ordained them to Christ?

  • Peter

    Absolutely right, Patrick.  The Catholic Church is not a political party where you have to swallow every policy whether you agree with it or not.  

    Correct me if I am wrong but during the First Vatican Council 60 bishops absented themselves from the vote on the definition of Papal Infallibility, 88 voted against and 62 voted requesting an amendment…about 450 voted in favour…about two thirds.  Don’t tell me that after the vote everyone who had voted against suddenly changed their minds!If it hadn’t been for Garibaldi (and my great grandfather was an English volunteer with him) hammering at the gates of Rome and the need for Pio Nono to enhance his spiritual authority as he saw his temporal authority being taken away Papal Infallibility would probably have never been defined and I am sure that the Church would be better because of it.  We don’t have to swallow these more esoteric doctrines whole and to invoke the Magisterium on Humanae Vitae is nonsense.    

  • Peter

    Paulpriest, you never get it right, do you.  I have nothing to do with the Ordinariate and personally I am not madly in favour of it for a number of reasons.  Dr Oddie is and I respect his opinion but I do watch the Tunbridge Wells Group with interest for personal reasons.  

    I find your disrespect for the Anglican Church rude and your public denigration of the Cardinal offensive.  For someone who is such a stickler for discipline within the Church I find your lack of respect for Episcopal authority a surprising contradiction.  It’s the old adage of a Pope in every Parish with you as the Pope in yours…..I presume the Hierarchy don’t count for much with you!

  • Poppy Tupper

    Quite. The theology of mojo makes God look a bit of an idiot. Surely if he is good, merciful and almighty, he can stick a bit of elastoplast on the wounds we’ve made to his church?

  • Poppy Tupper

    But you weren’t ordained, were you, though? A layman dressed up as a bishop stuck his hands on your head and said some words. Then you went off and dressed up as a priest and said more words. Or have I got it wrong?

  • Anonymous

    Really? You find me offensive and rude – although you haven’t yet said in which way I was wrong when referring to the Catholic position on the non-existence of Anglican orders etc; so I wait with breath-bated,

    I have the utmost respect and even cherish the sacrificial Apostolic office; I adore His Holiness and fervently follow the preachings and teachings of many, many Bishops.

    Where I have strong antagonism against Episcopal hierarchy it is usually not with the Bishops themselves but with the executive power they have abrogated to professional lay quangocrats who abuse that power by conspiracy with anti-Catholic forces [as in the CESEW]; but on occasion out of respect for their office I have opposed the position or the statements/activities of certain Bishops – as any dutiful Catholic should where Catholic doctrine, morality and praxis is being compromised or jeopardised.[as in +Cormac advising hiv+ serodiscordant married couples to continue to engage in lovemaking but with a condom - thus contravening the fifth commandment]

    My antagonism towards His Eminence is available on the public record for just reasons – I have no desire to re-invoke the issues involved and potentially risk the sin of detraction.

    You have nothing to do with the Ordinariate?
    Your delusions, misinterpretations and pragmatising relativisms are something they could well do without.

    You state a great-grandfather fought for Garibaldi: I doubt you could fight for a chocolate hob-nob!

  • Poppy Tupper

    How many people in your Catholic church possess the Catholic faith? The evidence of research, and the perpetual ranting of Damian Thompson, would suggest that the proportion is very small too, especially among the hierarchy…. Or should I not take too much of Damian?

  • Poppy Tupper

    The Novus Ordo brought you to Catholicism? I thought it was a protestant liturgy confected by Annibale Bugnini as part of a Masonic plot.

  • Peter

    Obviously you thought wrong!

  • Peter

    Ha ha, you now have to resort to personal insults to justify your ridiculous posturings!  

    What is a chocolate hobnob?  Is it worth fighting for?