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Catholics are being deceived into attending non-Catholic services

Foreign visitors may be attending High Anglican services under the impression that they are Roman Catholic

By on Monday, 28 November 2011

Definitely a Roman Catholic Mass  Photo: CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters

Definitely a Roman Catholic Mass Photo: CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters

The Church Times has reported the Bishop of London’s recent pastoral letter about Anglicans using the Roman rite in its new translation, and you can read the article here.

I have already commented on this matter, so forgive me if I return to it. What I find particularly interesting about this report is the contrasting reactions to the bishop’s letter. One vicar, the Rev Paul Bagott, of Holy Redeemer, Clerkenwell, and St Mark’s, Myddleton Square, has decided to do exactly what the Bishop has asked of him, namely switch to Common Worship, which he says will involve very little substantial change for his congregation.

But then there is this:

The priest of another Anglo-Catholic parish in the London diocese, however, who asked not to be named, said that it would adopt the new Roman rite. “The PCC feel we have always done this [used the Roman rite] and it is part of the church’s tradition; in that sense we are being very Anglican. . . The Bishop occasionally has to speak ex cathedra, and there is a formality to that, but on the ground we don’t operate always within rigid protocol.”

He might well think that, but I could not possibly comment, and being a non-Anglican, it is probably best that I say nothing at all on this. But then he goes on:

The priest said that many Roman Catholics worshipped at his church, some of whom were from Continental Europe, “and they recognise it [the Roman rite] immediately.”

This last statement does require comment. If a Roman Catholic from France or Italy visits this unidentified church and sees that the Roman rite is seemingly in progress, they would not unnaturally assume that the church was a Roman Catholic Church, in communion with the Holy Father, wouldn’t they? But they would be mistaken. Such a church uses the Roman Missal, but is not a Roman Catholic church, and is not authorised to use the Roman Missal by the Bishop of the diocese (the Catholic bishop, I mean; the Anglican bishop has also forbidden it). Moreover the persons attempting to celebrate Mass are not recognised as priests by the Roman Catholic Church. In short, the visitor from France or Italy may see what looks like the Mass, but what is in fact not the Mass.

Now, a question: they would clearly be deceived in thinking that what is going on before them is a Roman Catholic Mass. But is this because they have deceived themselves, or is it because the vicar has deceived them? Does the vicar tell them that they are in an Anglican church? Or does he leave them to assume that the church is, somehow or another, “Catholic”?

Let us be clear about this: when we Roman Catholics in communion with the Pope use the word Catholic, we intend something very specific; when Anglicans use the word “Catholic” they are not using the word in the same sense. The Anglo-Catholic vicar in the Church Times report may claim to be “Catholic”, but from the point of view of the Roman Catholic Church, he is not.

I realise that suggesting that people are practising deception is a serious matter, but the fact is that the Ordinariate is now in existence, and if you want to live the Anglican Patrimony and be in communion with the Pope, you can. I welcome that. The vicar of the unidentified church has received the offer to enter the Ordinariate and he has declined it. He has refused the offer of communion from the Pope. Ergo, he cannot and must not claim to be in communion with the Pope in any sense whatever. His claim to be “Catholic” strikes me as bogus. Or am I wrong about this?

Incidentally, I have seen churches in America which call themselves “Protestant Episcopal” on their notice boards, but which also carry notices in Spanish that proclaim themselves to be “ Iglesia Episcopal Catolica”. If that isn’t deception, what is? Visiting the website of one of the churches in question, I see that they are having “Misa” (that is, Mass) on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Spanish. Are the Spanish-speakers who are warmly invited to such a service aware that it is not the Mass?

  • Apostolic

    Read up on the Rev. Nangle’s Mission to the Catholics of Achill Island in the 19th Century. He was also anticipating the mass national apostasy you dream about, poor man. You might learn something worthwhile.

  • Apostolic

    What happened to your wonderful blog, which combined sordid speculation with sugary sentimentality about Anglican divines? Why were you forced to close it down, I wonder?

  • Apostolic

    Anglicans can’t agree internally on the most basic Christian doctrines, never mind Aquinas. That is your real problem Stop lashing out at everyone else in order to cover your heterodoxy.

  • Anonymous

    Now, before you jump to conclusions about what I am going to say please read it all because I think by reading your comments, and some of the comments mentioned here by other people, that you deserve someone to throw in a little theology:

    There is absolutely no problem if you want to be in an episcopal church (or any other Christian church) because Jesus said:

    “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name
    because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward. (Mark 9:38-9:41 NIV)

    However, there is a theological difference between other churches and the Catholic Church because Christ’s Church starts with Peter, and this Church is the Catholic Church in which Peter was the first Pope.

    “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church,
    and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you
    the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall
    be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in
    heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19 RSV).

    Now, if you wish to be in other churches that is fine because they are Christian. However, if you wish to be in the specific church that Jesus set up then you have to be Catholic.

    Now, as you quite rightly know there are many problems in the Catholic Church and many people fall away from the church because they do not agree with things. However, being Catholic is all about obedience. This obedience is no different to the obedience of a Catholic nun who is obedient to her Mother Superior. That nun may not agree with the mother superior’s instructions but her obedience to those instructions shows her love and obedience to Christ. It is no different to a lay person in the Catholic Church. They are not actually being obedient to the Church but to Christ. By being obedient we demonstrate our love and obedience to Christ, even when we know that things are not right in the Church. (Note though that people normally complain about the clergy, not the magisterium of the church).

    Now, if you don’t believe me then one of the world’s leading theologians Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch at Oxford University (who is actually an Anglican) states that the primary problem with the protestant church is that at it’s very foundations can be found disobedience i.e. protestant Churches were set up at the reformation due to an act of disobedience. Hence, at their very heart lies a disobedience to Christ which can not be denied.

  • Anonymous

    Thought I would drop in some theology. Please read on till the end because don’t assume that I am going to state the obvious. Make sure you read the last two paragraphs.

    There is absolutely no problem if you want to be in the Anglican church (or any other Christian church) because Jesus said:

    “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name
    and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop
    him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next
    moment say anything bad about me for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name
    because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward. (Mark 9:38-9:41 NIV)

    However, there is a theological difference between other churches and
    the Catholic Church because Christ’s Church starts with Peter, and this
    Church is the Catholic Church in which Peter was the first Pope.

    “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church,
    and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you
    the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall
    be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in
    heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19 RSV).

    Now, if you wish to be in other churches that is fine because they are
    Christian. However, if you wish to be in the specific church that Jesus
    set up then you have to be Catholic.

    Now, as you quite rightly know there are many problems in the Catholic
    Church and many people fall away from the church because they do not
    agree with things. However, being Catholic is all about obedience. This
    obedience is no different to the obedience of a Catholic nun who is
    obedient to her Mother Superior. That nun may not agree with the mother
    superior’s instructions but her obedience to those instructions shows
    her love and obedience to Christ. It is no different to a lay person in
    the Catholic Church. They are not actually being obedient to the Church
    but to Christ. By being obedient we demonstrate our love and obedience
    to Christ, even when we know that things are not as we would wish them to be.

    Now, if you don’t believe me then one of the world’s leading theologians Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch
    at Oxford University (who is actually an Anglican) states that the
    primary problem with the protestant church is that at it’s very
    foundations can be found disobedience i.e. protestant Churches were set
    up at the reformation due to an act of disobedience. Hence, at their
    very heart lies a disobedience to Christ which can not be denied.

  • Scyptical Chymist

    You make good points. However I wonder what impact Pope Benedict is having on the English hierarchy. While the Pope is addressing the issues you mention, it  seems that precious little is happening in the English Catholic Church on the music front. I understand he has requested a more fitting form of music in the Mass. Certainly some priests seem to be re-introducing hymns from the pre-1960s with organ accompaniment but this is not very common. Nor can I understand the visceral dislike of the Latin Mass (both in its Low and High(sung)) forms, among many priests. I can only surmise that this is due to their ignorance of the language. It is revealing that Latin is making a comeback in the secular world in some comprehensive schools as well as elsewhere. Certainly the main parts of the Mass in Latin are comprehensible with a bit of effort from both clergy and laity but it seems that the once universal language of the Church, is despised by by its servants. There is no reason why a monthly Latin Mass should not occur in every parish.

  • Emma07

    I’m an Anglo Catholic because i have to be.  I came to Christianity after being married a second time. I therefore cannot partake in RC Masses  because through no fault of my own (ignorance of RC rules) i’m unable to take communion in your church.  What else am I to do?  My Anglo Catholic church provides me with the only option I currently have.  My heart’s definitely with Rome but I can’t join you.
    Please therefore don’t be too judgemental on Anglo Catholics some of us have no choice.

  • Monty Pitts

    I am flabbergasted by your ignorance and arrogance.  The word “catholic” means Universal.  It is most certainly not a trademark of the ROMAN Catholic church.  Actually, your Roman church should consider changing its name.  Using “Catholic” in its name is highly misleading…or are you too closed-minded to see the other side of the issue?

    Rome’s failure to recognize Anglican Bishops is equally absurd.  The Roman bishops of today are no more or no  less a part of the Apostolic Succession than are Anglican bishops.  The hypocrisy and arrogance of Rome continually astounds me.

  • Monty Pitts

    BTW: All members of the Christian universal church are in communion with the Holy Father.  The Romans don’t understand that the Holy Father resides in heaven.  It’s the Pope/Bishop of Rome who lives in the Vatican.

  • Inquisator

    And why do you continue to do so; sounds a bit hypocritical to me.

  • Inquisator

    Jesus did not found or establish a church, he established the Kingdom of his Father.  Sadly the Church appears to make no distinction between the two.

  • Apostolic

    I agree.

  • Bob Hayes

    ‘Rome’s failure to recognize Anglican Bishops is equally absurd.’   —   Meanwhile, back at the beginning…..

  • Monty Pitts

    That’s just stupid.  What’s the Rector supposed to say?  “Oh by the way, if any of you are Catholics, you are welcome here, BUT Catholics want me to tell you that this is not their church.”  How would that do?

  • Monty Pitts

    What is WRONG with you?  Are you assuming that RC’s, sitting week after week in an Anglican Church in the USA are so STUPID that they don’t know what kind of church they’re in?  Good Grief, Man!

  • Monty Pitts

    Again the hypocrisy and arrogance of the Roman Church never ceases to amaze me.  I’m beginning to believe that Romans worship their church and their pope more than the Lord.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.lovelockjemmott Lee Der Heerskinderen Lovelock

    Like what exactly?

  • amfortas

    MacCulloch is a church historian. He most definitely is not one of the world’s leadin theologians and would be amazed to be described as such.

  • Konoor

    What is the difference between “2″ and “1+1″ ?

  • Anonymous

    Guilty as charged. However, I am pleased to see you did not correct the rest of the comments. Which are accurate and follow Church teaching.

  • Anonymous

    “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church…” also known as the Body of Christ.

  • Cullinrschooley

    In the words of my Anglo-Catholic confessor (to whom I confessed before “swimming the Thames”), “God will make Catholic who he chooses to make Catholic.”  You’re arrogance and self-righteousness will not make me, in the Anglican Communion, any less of a Catholic. 

  • Tridentinus

    An Anglican priest who was using the Roman Rite would believe that (a) he was a Catholic priest, (b) that the ‘Mass he was celebrating was valid in all respects and (c) would be absolutely convinced that Christ was really and substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine otherwise he wouldn’t be doing what he does. If ‘Roman’ Catholics were present at his Mass then he would naturally think that they were profiting from the fruits of the Holy Sacrifice just as much as they would had they gone to a Catholic Church and so would not feel that he was deceiving them. By turning them away he would be implying to his own congregation that he believed his ‘Mass’ to be somehow inferior.

    It would be very un-christian to imply that such Anglicans following their consciences although they may be victims of self-deception, are actually aware of it.

  • Brpeterfj

    Working among the immigrants in E London, I can tell you the Anglican deception is very real and causes real heartbreak and confusion among many newcomers. Bravo to those of our separated brethren who have the courage not to steal sheep with false labeling.

  • Bcp1549

    Not always!  Some of them are very butch.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=788846491 Marshall Kinsey

    Honestly, I doubt that any Roman Catholic accustomed to assisting at the Novus Ordo every Sunday would be fooled by an eastward facing tridentinised reverent Novus Ordo with tasteful, beautiful music perhaps with a trained Schola and people kneeling at altar rails to receive communion in an Anglo Catholic parish. I know I wouldn’t mistake it for a Roman Catholic Novus Ordo Mass. Not in 6 billion years.  Most of us could only dream of such a liturgical celebration. Most Novus Ordo liturgies I’m familiar with are what we here in Kentucky would call “Snake belly LOW”…………Minimalism taken to the extreme.  Now, to be fair here in the USA I have seen Episcopal and Lutheran parishes advertising “La Santa Misa” on Sundays and that is deceptive. 

  • Ghmus7

    Yes, i have seen this quite a lot. There is one church near me in a hispanic area that has a large statue of the Gualeloupe in front
    It is in fact a lutheran church, which is not advertised.

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