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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?

  • Poppy Tupper

    Sez you. And do I care?

  • Poppy Tupper

    Oh I do see your point. Maybe we should explain to visitors, especially ones in hats and long black coats, that its not a synagogue either, just in case they get a bit confused?

  • Scyptical Chymist

    Quite a few years ago, a cousin and his wife came over from California on a visit. After a period on the continent of Europe where they attended Mass at a couple of cathedrals they came to England. While in Chester they looked for a Sunday Mass and when they saw us later they reported that they had gone to the Cathedral  and found that the “Mass” was so much better than the “folk masses” they were used to at home. I think no more comment is necessary! Sadly we still seem to have the guitarists and banal music still with us.

  • Apostolic

    True to form, Rev. Mr. Tupper is vile, but that should be apparent to everyone on here.

  • Apostolic

    When the Muslims operated Hagia Sophia as a Mosque, I’ll be they downplayed its original purpose too.

  • Apostolic

    You are thinking of Mr Poppy Tupper, surely.

  • Apostolic

    Yes, and even then, how long have they thus venerated a reformed cookie, no more than decades ago when they began to ape the papists.

  • Apostolic

    Because they were robbed, as everyone except silly cathedral sidesman antiquarians and yourself knows.

  • Apostolic

    You are a disgrace to Anglicanism as well – whatever the invalidity – to the clerical state. What a nasty person, and to be avoided.

  • Apostolic

    Some people believe the moon landing was performed in a Hollywood studio and that Lawrence of Arabia is only sleeping, pending a call to action. Others believe that Drake’s Drum beat mysteriously when the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957. Amazing what some people will believe.

  • Apostolic

    You’ll be lucky to have the shed in exchange for our stolen church when the last Anglican spinster dies (how do these reproduce?). Most practicing “Christians” in this country would rather be in a shed which was in continuity with England’s ancient faith than one in pretend continuity. A famous former Anglican, the Trappist Thomas Merton, once described Anglicanism as a snobbish caste religion. That will be your undoing. The good people who through accident of history have found themselves in your church will know what to do, as good Anglicans always have.

  • Apostolic

    But we DO get it. We have long known this tradition of self-delusion. However else would you cope with receiving stolen property? 

  • Apostolic

    Catholicism is so vast, some are bound to fall out occasionally without being missed, but for tiny reformed congregations, the slightest infusion must indeed seem significant.

  • Apostolic

    What a theological and historical pygmy.

  • Apostolic

    Once Anglicanism can agree internally on just one item of belief, more like.

  • Apostolic

    “Look like” being the crucial phrase.

  • Apostolic

    Better vestments at Pinewood Studios, but that doesn’t make medievally RADA types valid priests.

  • Apostolic

    Yes indeed,James, Pinewood Studios would do it better, but it would still be invalid.

  • Apostolic

    Yes, vile as ever. Fr Ed Tomlinson of the Tunbridge Wells Ordinariate would testify to this, having endured his – Rev Mr Poppy Tupper’s – harassment patiently for many months on his blog. Of course, as you have guessed, he keeps changing shape..

  • Apostolic

    A “lot”? Check the statistics!

  • Apostolic

    You wouldn’t, would you?

  • Apostolic

    Haha. Self-delusion has no bounds.

  • Apostolic

    “Looks” are deceptive.

  • Apostolic

    Unfortunately, your understanding is flawed.

  • Apostolic

    Err, I think you have got ahead of yourself by several centuries. You mean 1054, and various churches have since returned to Communion with Rome, while retaining their individual characters.

  • Apostolic

    Fortunately, that is a mistake which they will always realise.

  • Apostolic

    Better than a bunch of Catholic haters living in the present.

  • Apostolic

    Much as you would be welcome to the dim – and these are prominent among the few that you poach – we do, as we should,care about these too.

  • Apostolic

    This sounds like poaching to me.

  • Apostolic

    Totally irrelevant. If an apostate Catholic priest celebrates a “eucharist”, no matter what the liturgical rite, intending not to be in communion with Rome (which SSPX in contrast have never done), then this would be objectively invalid. It would not matter what he thought, what his congregation thought, or what you think.

  • Apostolic

    Manifestly not. There are none so blind…

  • Apostolic

    Catholics have been aware of this self-delusion for centuries. People believe all sorts of things – about the earth being flat, about the moon landings having been a fraud. What matters is what is objectively the case. Anglicans have never been agreed on the practices described here. Indeed, Latimer, Ridley, Cramner and Foxe of the Book of Acts and a host of other English Protestants would turn in their grave. What a myopic view of Anglican history.

  • Apostolic

    This, as has been pointed out, is irrelevant. So ostensibly were Cramner and Luther. As for the statistics – wishful thinking again…

  • Apostolic

    Pinewood Studios does it even better, if equally invalid.

  • Apostolic

    Yes, but this is the problem of being subject to some of the more vulgar aspects (I am aware of the commendably cultured aspects) of American culture, which is not in the main Catholic. The Church was ramparted against this in the English-speaking world pre-1965 or so, when these ghastly sentimental folk masses invaded. Of course, there is no such “folk” this side of the Atlantic, and the guitar, that ultimate democratic instrument which so many teenagers under trendy direction think that they can pick up and instantly play with a few chords (unlike the violin or piano etc) has much to answer for. Combined with trendy nylon Star Trek vestments with silly symbols the effect can be revolting, no matter how sincere. Such vulgarity affects/infects all English-speaking churches. Fortunately, the Benedictine papacy is addressing this at last.

  • Apostolic

    And have you any idea of what their opinion of Anglicanism is? You would find us very mild in contrast, but unfortunately you are too blinded by the ABR (anything-but-Rome) mania.

  • theroadmaster

    Carnal as in “corporeal” and not the watered-down symbolism of anglicanism. But the use of “carnal” is rather limited when one considers the transcendent spiritual nourishment that the Eucharist offers it’s recipients.  It is nothing less than the Bread from Heaven.

  • Poppy Tupper

    Have you a point to make about the subject of this blog?

  • Poppy Tupper

    So you did just make it up. It’s nice to think that we Anglicans are the true Thomists!

  • Poppy Tupper

    In that you wish they weren’t there?
    Just to remind you that attendance at Irish RC churches has fallen significantly over the last 3 years while it has risen in the other mainstream churches. Funny that, isn’t it?

  • Poppy Tupper

    The laughable thing is that you got this information from a certain “Maureen Lash” who turned out to be the very person you accuse me of being! Thicko.

  • Poppy Tupper

    The larger part of any typical Anglo Catholic congregation in London and the Midlands is of West Indian origin. How ludicrous to call us snobbish.

  • Poppy Tupper

    I think he would not, as it happens!

  • Anonymous

    How exactly would foreigners know to look out for the “Roman” since that term is hardly ever used outside this country? I very much regret the use of “Roman Catholic” by any Catholic institution. I am not a Roman Catholic, I am an English Catholic. “Struans” seems to think that the Catholic Church with a billion members and a universal presence should change its name because a small sect developed in England a few hundred years ago.

    Come to think of it though, perhaps some of the senior people at this newspaper would be happier if it were called “The Roman Catholic Herald”.

  • struans

    Hello Patrick.

    Let me answer each of your points in turn.

    (i) How exactly would foreigners know to look out for the “Roman” since that term is hardly ever used outside this country?
    I think you’ll find that you’re incorrect. ‘Roman Catholic’ is an English language term, and in those countries where the English language predominates, it is in widespread use. There is, I readily admit, no directly equivalent term in other languages, but non-native speakers of the English language who come to our country have to negotiate our language on many issues, including those matters known linguistically as ‘faux friends’.

    (ii) “I very much regret the use of “Roman Catholic” by any Catholic institution.” I note that you therefore regret the use of this term even by the Vatican which has used it on occasion.

    (iii) I am an English catholic too, as it happens.

    (iv) I think that there ought to be a name change because of a development in England some years ago? You misrepresent me. I referred to other apostolic churches, including for example those of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Assyrian/’Nestorian’ communions. I suggest that the church led by the Vatican refers to itself in a way to prevent confusion over the use of the term ‘catholic’.

    (v) ‘The Roman Catholic Herald’? I take your word for it.

    Take care, friend.

  • theroadmaster

    Christ is present “Body, Blood and Divinity” under the species of bread and wine after the external “accidents” have been changed.  He is present Body and Soul and thus there is no contradiction in describing the physical bodily presence within a metaphysical, Divine framework.   There is no separation of these different aspects of Christ.  The Divine intermingles with the humanity of Christ.  My point was that although Our Lord is present in a corporeal way, we are nourished by the spiritual benefits from partaking in this Holy Sacrament.  It is surely is a quantum leap to associate the reformed beliefs of anglican eucharistic theology with the Thomism of the Angelic Doctor, which philosophically laid much of the groundwork for traditional Catholic teachings on the True Presence.

  • Anonymous

    John Hooper, Protestant bishop of Gloucester under Edward VI, who sealed his opposition to Catholicism by being burned under Mary I, had this to say:

    “The Twenty-eighth Article. I believe that the holy Supper of the Lord is not a sacrifice, but only a remembrance and commemoration of this holy sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Therefore it ought not to be worshipped as God, neither as Christ therein contained; who must be worshipped in faith only, without all corruptible elements. Likewise I believe and confess that the popish mass is the invention and ordinance of man, a sacrifice of Antichrist, and a forsaking of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that is to say, of his death and passion; and that it is a stinking and infected sepulchre, which hideth and covereth the merit of the blood of Christ; and therefore ought the mass to be abolished, and the holy Supper of the Lord to be restored and set in his perfection again.”

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=uGsJAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA32&dq=Hooper+stinking+and+infected+sepulchre&hl=en&ei=6QXUTs6cO4ji8QOYlLXUDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

    ## That’s clear, honest, unambiguous – it is not the faith of the Catholic Church. It is not intended to be Catholic; it is intended to oppose Catholic belief. And it succeeds. Hooper’s ideas about the Mass are good 16th-century Protestantism – but they have nothing in common with Catholicism. To call them compatible with Catholicism is an abuse of language.  To imply that he, and an apostle of Eucharistic Adoration such as  St. Pascal Baylon, belong in the same Church, is to imply what has no meaning. Men who adore the Blessed Sacrament do not overturn altars, nor do they say this:

    Article XXXI

    Of the one oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross

    The offering of Christ once made is the perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual, and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said that the priests did offer Christ for the quick and the dead to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.

    ## That second sentence rejects a Catholic dogma as a “blasphemous fable[...] and dangerous deceit[...]“.  That makes sense – what makes no sense at all, is the idea that this doctrine being affirmed by Anglicans who want to be, and be thought to be, Catholic sacrificing priests offering the Sacrifice of the Mass. BTW, there is a lot more to Catholic dogmatic teaching on the Eucharistic Presence than affirming the Real Presence.

  • Anonymous

    That’s like saying that a married man doesn’t need his wife in person, as he has recordings and memories of her. His union with her is incomplete, because there is more union in marriage than that kind of communion. Incomplete communion is less than Christ intended. Why be satisfied with less, when more is available ?

  • Anonymous

    That’s because *only* our POV is *totally* valid. Only the Catholic Church is the Church of Christ. Just as Only Christ is the Saviour: not Buddhism, or other religions & their founders. A side-effect of the uniqueness of the Catholic Church is that, other claimants to equal legitimacy with it cannot be equal in legitimacy. There is “One Church, one Faith, one Lord, One God and Father of all…” Christ has One Bride, not many. And those who say the Church can apostatise & fall away from Christ are denying to His Bride a preservation & perseverance they often claim for themselves. Those who think the Catholic position is arrogant can comfort themselves with the thought that “judgement begins at the household of God” – the Church’s Election to be Christ’s does not imply it is exempt from Divine Judgement, or that Catholics are entitled to live unholily.   

  • Apostolic

    But, to borrow your sneery and ignorant phrase, they’re not part of the “Spahetti Mission”. Merton could speak from experience. In any case, inner city Anglo-Catholic churches are not representative of Anglicanism as a whole in this country and never have been.