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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?

  • chiaramonti

    Therw was no “Church of England” until after the reformation.

  • Anonymous

     I’m sure that from an Anglican view point the disobedience point is valid and serious but it seems to me that with the best will in the world what is far graver from a universal as well as a (Roman) Catholic stance is the integral dishonesty in taking advantage of ignorance no matter how well meaning the motive. Anyone must surely concede that if a Pole or a Spaniard asks “Is this a Catholic Church?” then he or she does not mean “Is this an Anglican Church within the catholic tradition?” and to give them quite deliberately the wrong belief is just
    not on.It would be bad enough if it were deliberately giving them the wrong advice about local etiquette but to do it in something like this is obviously and seriously sinful. Or so it seems to me anyway.

  • Anonymous

    might it not just possibly be your responsibility if you’ve led someone up the garden path amd you know that they wouldn’t think that it’s ok even if you think it’s fine 

  • theroadmaster

    They disbelieve in the carnal realities of the presence of Jesus in His Body, Blood and Divinity as He so unambiguously stated in these words in (John 6:53-57):

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.  He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.  This is the bread which came down from heaven.” 

  • Anonymous

    It just goes to show the enormous decline in Catholic worship in the last 40 years that it has become almost indistinguishable from protestant worship.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure that from an Anglican view point the disobedience point is valid and serious but it seems to me that with the best will in the world what is far graver from a universal as well as a (Roman) Catholic stance is the integral dishonesty in taking advantage of ignorance no matter how well meaning the motive. Anyone must surely concede that if a Pole or a Spaniard asks “Is this a Catholic Church?” then he or she does not mean “Is this an Anglican Church within the catholic tradition?” and to give them quite deliberately the wrong belief is just
    not on.It would be bad enough if it were deliberately giving them the wrong advice about local etiquette but to do it in something like this is obviously and seriously sinful. Or so it seems to me anyway.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure that from an Anglican view point the disobedience point is valid and serious but it seems to me that with the best will in the world what is far graver from a universal as well as a (Roman) Catholic stance is the integral dishonesty in taking advantage of ignorance no matter how well meaning the motive. Anyone must surely concede that if a Pole or a Spaniard asks “Is this a Catholic Church?” then he or she does not mean “Is this an Anglican Church within the catholic tradition?” and to give them quite deliberately the wrong belief is just
    not on.It would be bad enough if it were deliberately giving them the wrong advice about local etiquette but to do it in something like this is obviously and seriously sinful. Or so it seems to me anyway

  • Mikethelionheart

    Hello Poppy, or John, or Steve, or whatever your real name is.
    It seems that many Anglican priests have been deliberately misleading people.
    How utterly vile and un-Christian.

  • Mikethelionheart

    Great post ML.
    You are right, it seems to be deliberate to the point of utter wickedness.

  • Mikethelionheart

    Too true.
    But the fantasists in the CofE have to find some way to justify their church, no matter how dishonest a way they do it.

  • Mikethelionheart

    All of it my little popster.

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

    This is an age old problem that Roman Catholic priests need to advise their congregations worldwide on when they come here. When we have Anglican churches which are in terms of worship ‘more catholic than the catholics themselves’ then it highlights two problems 1, that Catholics are weakly catechized and have become like sheep and 2, that Vatican II was nothing short of treason against the Holy Spouse in ever way conceivable if it now means that Catholics from abroad are deceived well enough to attend a ‘smells and bells concert.’

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

    Hit the nail right on the head !

  • struans

    I think you need to get over it that there are different uses of ‘catholic’ as you know.

    Many Roman Catholic churches in the UK use the prefix ‘Roman’, but it seems to be the current fad that Roman Catholics like to promote themselves as the ‘Catholic Church’.   If the term ‘Roman Catholic’ were used, then foreigners only need to look at the sign-board at the church entrance.

    Where does the deception originate from ?   Arguably from the use by Roman Catholics of ‘Catholic Church’ for their institution, when it is well known that other apostolic churches, not only Anglicans, use the term ‘catholic’ in it’s wider and arguably more traditional sense.

  • Jameshughes

    No, it is the universal church!

  • Jjpepe

    Mexican and Catholic. When I first started attending a Church at the USA all looked and sounded different and I did not really knew was was going on. However, I knew for sure it was a Catholic Church. There are symbols (like the xP or the vatican flag or the Guadalupe image) that tells you where you are. It is also the responsibility of Catholics to know what they are doing and where they are. On the other hand, I am sure that an honest mistake is not a sin. 

  • Gordon S

    MY my, such an awful thing.  Shall we threaten Roman Catholism on the Anglicans unless they stop.  Another Pakistan?
    It is such a sad thing to read such petty concernsl, especially when our world is in such a religious mess as it stands right now.
    Do you really think that God gives a hoot about all of this.  God is love, God is compassion and understanding and i am certain that She dosen’t really care which church the person is at, as long as they are there.  

  • WSquared

    Actually, they are endangering their souls if they are attending Anglican Sunday Services, thinking that it’s a valid Catholic Mass.  For the very simply reason that because the Anglican communion does not have valid sacraments, it does not have a valid Eucharist, and it does not have a valid priesthood.  Bread and wine remain bread and wine, and is not the Body and Blood of Christ at all.  The Real Presence is not present.

    It concerns Anglicans, because Anglicans should know that Catholics understand the Real Presence differently.  For one thing, we actually *have* The Real Presence.  To deliberately not inform Catholics who mistake an Anglican service for a Catholic Mass that it is not a Catholic Mass is deceitful.

  • WSquared

    As annoying as that is, it’s still a valid Mass, with a validly ordained priest, and a valid Eucharist.  For a valid Eucharist, I will hold my nose through the banality of bongo drums (boy, have I…).  Chalk this up as opportunities to grow in patience and humility.  Offer it up.

  • WSquared

    I think it was Fr. Dwight Longenecker who once pointed out that he came across some Anglican ministers who would go on about how the last thing they would ever want to be is Catholic priests.  But they don’t like it when the Catholic Church agrees with them– in not recognizing Anglican orders, the Catholic Church is saying, “fine.  You’re not Catholic priests.”

  • WSquared

    Anglicans don’t reject the real presence for the most part.

    …except for the part that it needs to be consecrated by a validly ordained priest in order for the Real Presence to be… present?

  • Interested party

    If Anglicans as part of the Church of England, historically separated from the Roman Catholicn Church, have no right to use the Roman Rite as an expression of, let’s say, ‘Western Patrimony’, then what right has a group of former Anglicans (now Roman Catholics) to use Anglican liturgical material claiming it as ‘Anglican Patrimony’? If we’re saying you should only use the liturgy of the Church you’re in Communion with and not appropriate anyone elses then doesn’t this argument work both ways?

  • WSquared

    Also, you might try making a spiritual communion (as recommended by St. Alphonsus Liguori and others) during the Mass to help prepare you for receiving the Eucharist.  It’s amazing how doing that while focusing on the Crucifix also concentrates both heart and mind upon Jesus.

  • WSquared

    Indeed.  And mere good preaching and liturgy is not as demanding of you as properly disposing yourself to receive the Eucharist.  When our favorite sins order our lives, we will order everything else around them.  And when we go “church shopping” in order to have our spiritual needs “served,” we’re likely to choose something less demanding (and the easier we can make Jesus in our own image, the better).

  • WSquared

    But looks can be deceiving for very crucial reasons.

  • Alexander Lucie-Smith

    You are right!

  • Anonymous

    Our world is heading for disaster while Catholics of both kinds are counting the number of angels on a pin-head. God help us.  Has Tunbridge Wells had his two-pennorth yet?

  • Comment1

    I don’t use the Roman Rite in my (Anglican) Churches, but half the congregation in one of them are RC and come because they can’t bear the local Catholic Church for one reason or another. I offer no judgement on this and I do not take delight in it, but what is, is.

  • Fr James Mather

    But we have exactly the same issue with Common Worship! Foreign visitors come to us in the sadly mistaken belief that the old church building must be the RC one, rather than the shed down the road. Of course, I don’t get to see them until their way out. If they ask “is this a catholic church?’ I would reply it is the CofE. I have never seen any of them either vomit the ‘foul protestant agape bread’ or run away screaming. Invariably they comment how close it is to their own Service, and that they got more out of it.

  • Bob Hayes

    Quite so. The Eucharist is a great gift, in which we are privileged to be able to participate. We should endeavour to live our lives according to Christ’s teaching. We are part of the Catholic Church. Shopping around for the ‘best offer’ is to completely miss the essence of our faith. 

  • Bob Hayes

    What a splendidly patronising comment.

  • Poppy Tupper

    I wonder if your church has a kind of collective Asberger’s Syndrome. You seem quite unable to see any point of view but your own.

    See it from an Anglican point of view. We don’t believe we are a Mickey Mouse counterfeit church. The priest I usually receive communion from is in communion with the Bishop of Blackburn, who stands in an unbroken line of episcopal consecration stretching back to the Apostles. You might not think that is true, but have respect for the fact that that is what we believe. When I receive Holy Communion I believe like the rest of the congregation that I am reveiving the Body and Blood of our Lord. When we have exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, we are offering worship to Christ, not a biscuit. Again, you might disagree, but that is what we, as Anglicans, believe. So if Hans, Jean-Pierre, Jose, Luigi or Zbigniew turn up at our altar rail, we are not deceiving them into receiving a counterfeit, but giving them the real thing.

  • Poppy Tupper

    “Carnal realities”? Not the words your Catechism uses. Or St Thomas Aquinas. Did you just make that up?

  • Poppy Tupper

    Um…I don’t think Dwight Longenecker is a real person though. Isn’t he another fictitious creation of a retired Anglican clergyman in Liverpool?

  • Poppy Tupper

    But you just don’t get it. From our point of view it is a Catholic church. 

  • Poppy Tupper

    Any time, Bob.

  • Anonymous

    From your point of view you can think what you want. The issue is you know perfectly well that the enquirer means something different. If you and others are content to have that kind of deception on your conscience that’s a matter for you also. I wouldn’t though.

  • Anonymous

    @poppytupper – you may believe whatever you like, but that’s irrelevant. When you are deceiving Catholics and thus in their OWN FRAME OF REFERENCE imperilling their souls, and you know you are doing it, whether you intended it or not - then it is deceit, whether deliberate or not - and we have a right to speak out.

  • Anonymous

    From the Catechism.

    “1400 Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, “have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders.”239 It is for this reason that, for the Catholic Church, Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible. However these ecclesial communities, “when they commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection in the Holy Supper . . . profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and await his coming in glory.”240 ”

    Now – it follows therefore that in taking Anglican communion which is to reject the Church’s teachings on the Mass and on the sacred priesthood – as the Anglicans have different beliefs and no valid orders, matters on which Church teaching is perfectly clear -  and in so doing if one knows and consents to this rejection then one commits grave sin.

  • Anonymous

    @Nomad – no it’s not (necessarily) sinful to attend Anglican services, unless one does so with the deliberate intent of defying the Church. Communion however is another matter as I have clarified elsewhere on the thread – disqus wouldn’t let me post under yours.

  • Alban

    When you read tripe like this from a so-called ordained priest there is no wonder that Christ’s vision of a truly universal church will never be realised. Concentrate on God and those aspects of Christianity that unite us as Christians!

  • Carlton

    Since so many Episcopal Churches in the United States are headed by validly ordained former Roman Catholic priests, Catholics should be perfectly at home in most of them, and, in fact, actually are at home in them.  It isn’t unusual to find one-fourth to one-third of Anglican churches or Lutheran churches with former Roman Catholics.

     One good turn deserves another.  If Anglicans can dismiss the bishop of London’s admonition and use the Roman Missal, there’s no reason why Roman parishes can’t return the compliment and adopt the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, or the beautiful Anglican Church of Canada’s BCP for their offices and the eucharistic liturgy. These excellent liturgical sources are far superior to  this Pell farce of missal which went into effect in America yesterday.  The Anglican Mass in English would be another possibility for Roman Catholic churches to consider as well.

  • Poppy Tupper

    No. Our rules are that Christians of ANY denomination, including the Spaghetti Mission, are welcome to receive Communion if they are in good standing with their own church. If your rules contradict that, then that’s just tough poop.

  • Carlton

    Albert Cooper,  Then you’d love the Anglican High Mass or Swedish High Lutheran Mass with all that ceremonial hocus pocus and you seem to be so attached to.  They have ad orientem liturgies. They  even have communion on the tongue as well as kneeling. You also receive both kinds.  A much better deal than anything Rome offers today.

  • Carlton

    The Lutheran liturgies are far higher than anything you’ll ever find in most RC churches. Much more use of incense, bell-ringing, and all that.  Some very nice vestments too.

  • Carlton

    I hope they stay right where they are and forget this Ordinariate nonsense. Just a gathering of woman haters living in the past.

  • Carlton

    Why should the rector tell them anything?. If they aren’t smart enough Catholics to realize it is CofE, that’s their problem, not the rector’s.

  • Anonymous

    If I didn’t know from having scanned this blog previously -first time I’ve ventured into posting though- that you are not whom you seem I could spill a bit of type face about this last response. As I think however that you are doing it to be provocative - my kids used to do this before they matured sufficiently to realise that is not big and clever – I will content myself with observing that your manners and language as well as your capacity for recognising pork pies might do with a bit of a work over. What better opportunity than Advent for all three? Now off to earn an honest bob and reflect on the many times when I have no doubt been extremely rude myself.

  • Carlton

    Any validly baptized Christian may perform a valid Mass.  The Popish clerical class fill the laity with rubbish to prop up their own sacerdotal and authoritarian power over the minds, hearts, and pocketbooks of the soporific sheep.

  • Carlton

    The difference is that the Anglicans have invalid orders, invalid
    sacraments and espouse heretical teachings. THAT is why they are not
    part of the universal Church.
    ——————————————————————————————————————————
    Perhaps true at one time, but certainly not today. Far from it.   American  Anglican churches have a great many former Roman Catholic priests as rector/vicar.  It isn’t unusual to find at least one-third of the congregants made up of former Roman Catholics.