Thursday, January 20, 2011

Musings On The New Anglican Ordinariate

Oooops, wrong three bishops--my bad.

Three Anglican Bishops Ordained As Catholic Priests
By Al Webb - Religion News Service

LONDON (RNS) Three former Church of England bishops, disaffected by their church's ordination of women, have been ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church under a new special section created by the Vatican.

Their ordination as Catholic priests at London's Westminster Cathedral was confirmed Saturday (Jan. 15), two weeks after they were formally received into the Vatican's ranks.

The three -- former Richborough Bishop Keith Newton, former Ebbsfleet Bishop Andrew Burnham and ex-bishop of Fulham John Broadhurst -- quit the Anglican Church in protest over women's ordination and the likelihood of women becoming bishops.

The Catholic Church created a new religious home for the rebels in a special section called the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, intended specifically for Anglicans who want to become Catholics while still retaining aspects of their Anglican heritage. (Nothing like catering to the mind set of the middle ages in the twenty first century.  There has sure been a lot of that lately.)

Newton, whom Pope Benedict XVI named as leader of the new ordinariate, suggested to journalists that as many as 50 other Anglican clerics and members of as many as 30 congregations might become Catholics in the coming months. (He also had a few thoughts on housing and financing for his expected 50 other Anglican priests. The British Catholic bishops are kicking in some money, but probably not nearly enough to avoid a certain amount of down sizing.)

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, conducted the ordination of the three men, whom he conceded had experienced "some parting of friends" in their decision to abandon the Anglican Communion.

But he described their switch as "a unique occasion marking a new step in the life and history of the Catholic Church." (It might be a new step for their version of Catholicism, but it doesn't change anything at all for any other Catholic.)

Under the new rules, the three men will be allowed to stay married but cannot be elevated to bishops in the Catholic Church. (They will wind up getting everything but the title.)

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the global, 77-million strong Anglican Communion, had already accepted the resignations of Newton, Burnham and Broadbent "with regret."


I've been avoiding posting on this topic.  Of all the recent decisions made by the Vatican, in some ways this new ordinariate irritates me the most.  It's been interesting  along these lines to see just how little press this recent ordination ceremony has received.  Maybe it's gotten more in the British Isles.  Perhaps this lack of  attention is because no matter how it's spun this is more or less like rewarding grown men for throwing a tantrum.  Which is exactly how I see it.

We've been down this road before and I wasn't impressed then either.  At that time, back in 1982, I was irritated that priests crossing the Tiber could keep both their wives and their jobs, but Roman Catholic priests who married were tossed out like so much garbage.  It was  like a double whammy of good old misogyny.  Now we get to add a heavy dose of gay bashing to go with the misogyny.  This is really not a particularly inspiring message to send or swallow. 

I actually have a difficult time understanding how conservatives and traditionalists can be excited about this move.  All these Anglicans have demonstrated is that their given word in a sacred context is meaningless when it comes to conflict with their personal 'opinon'.  They left their flocks in the lurch even though the Anglican Church had bent over backwards for decades to accommodate their 'issues' with women clergy.  The American Episcopalian Church is a different ball game.  In England, there were real attempts made to placate the anti women clergy crowd--to no better success than the more aggressive approach taken by North American Episcopalians.  This says when it came to women clergy, the only acceptable position for traditionalists was none and this has now been extended to include  gay clergy.

Speaking of which, I seriously wonder how these suddenly Catholic Anglicans with their suddenly found love for the papacy are going to deal with all the closets full of gay clergy in the Catholic hierarchy.  I imagine not very well.  On the other hand I can also imagine that given the theological mindset of this grouping of Anglican clergy they most likely have their share of sham marriages.  And all of this leaves me wondering about the maturity level of any of the male participants in this whole charade of a new Ordinariate.  It doesn't look like ecumenical Christian love to me.  It looks like one more method for dragging the Catholic priesthood through the mud. 


  1. The clerical faction within the Church of England that these three former bishops emerged from is predominantly gay and accepting of gay priests. I knew Andrew Burnham, personally, 20 years ago when he was still a parish priest. I'll give him his due, although straight himself, he was very caring of the gay clergy of the diocese and told them he would "take care of them" after the ordination of women measure was past. He then went on to be vice principal of St. Stephen's House, a seminary well known for being accepting of gay ordinands. Bishop David Hope, himself gay, was the principal there and his conversation with Jeffrey John about his love life is public knowledge. He then became a flying bishop with pastoral responsibility to a constituent led mostly by gay clergy.

    To put it bluntly, the careers of these three men have been built on the support of gay priests. These three men are fully aware of this and I am sure they love those who made their promotion possible. This makes the hypocrisy of their public condemnation of homosexuality and their alignment with homophobic elements within Anglicanism as bad as anything the Roman Catholic hierarchy achieves on matters of human sexuality. So they should feel very comfortable in their new home.

  2. Thanks for the info madpriest. I just find it incredibly sad that clerical careers are made on the backs of gays clerics but for some reason the hierarchies of both churches can't be mature enough to publically treat their brothers the same manner they do privately. The public crucifixion of Bishop Gene Robinson made me sick.

  3. Colleen, you said you don't understand conservative excitement with this move, and of course, you really do. If the One True Roman Church, Jesus' own, is where unity must take place, then all of these little moves are helpful. That includes bringing Anglicans in with their own traditions until they learn the one true way. It includes keeping our prejudices against others strong (because God obviously wants it that way and His ways are above ours). It precludes our own thoughts as selfish if not aligned ("properly formed"). And it includes the protection of the simple faithful from the knowledge that priests sin, sometimes egregiously. Protecting the many who would be hurt - leave the faith, go to hell - allows one to cover up and prolong child abuse, leaving the souls of the children in the hands of the God who allows evil, after all. And so it goes.

    I keep coming to the same conclusion, simply that we are blessed when we try to be selfless and evil despite ourselves when we use ulterior motives. Your recent posts, especially the placebo/nocebo conversations, have been mind bending and eye opening. An atheist could take what you've stated as proof that humans are all that are and will be, with spirituality just a means to unlock the secrets of the mind. Still, your touch with the beyond is palpable, and your sense of humility and mystery before God remains intact. If I'm learning my lessons correctly, the reason I don't experience these things is because I don't want to or won't allow it. And if I want this for my own benefit, it's ultimately tarnished. Beautifully prayerful. Thanks.

  4. Wait. These priests are married men? Meaning they have actual women as wives?! What does this say about the value of those wives? I shudder to think it. I know I could not stay 'married' to such a man.

    I suppose it is great and all that the Catholic bishops are going to kick in some money to support these priests. Are they also going to use that money to support those wives? What happens if those wives become widows?

    The more I think about it, no matter what 'reassurances' given by my spouse or his new bosses... I'd be filing for divorce so fast it would make heads spin. Because I would NOT care to be working along side my husband-priest for years only to be found suddenly disposable - as some Catholic nuns and sisters have found themselves.

    PS: I don't suppose your picture, Colleen, was of the wives of these men? ;)

  5. The news about the bishops is especially enlightening in the face of the vocations prayer we have been saying in our parish this month. The hierarchy wouldn't have to cope with a priest shortage if they welcomed back the Catholic priests who left the active priesthood to marry, to say nothing of women who feel the call to serve as priests. I include after my prayer a silent prayer for the hierarchy to start heeding the call of the Holy Spirit, but so far there is not much sign of them doing that. There are a lot of inactive priests who would return in a heartbeat if the hierarchy would let go of the clerical control system and end the artificial priest shortage.

    As far as the Episcopalians are concerned, I commend them for having the courage to admit openly gay clergy. We Catholics ordain gay men as priests, but then we turn around and pretend that we are not, thus forcing them further into the clerical closet and denying the charisms they bring to the ministry.

  6. As far as the Episcopalians are concerned, I commend them for having the courage to admit openly gay clergy.

    My guess is that the Roman Catholics would see a lot more than just a few misogynist, natural born trouble makers joining their denomination if they were to take a similar attitude. In fact, true universal catholicism would be a lot nearer to becoming a reality because there will never be church unity until we all desist from being gatekeepers.

  7. "In fact, true universal catholicism would be a lot nearer to becoming a reality because there will never be church unity until we all desist from being gatekeepers."

    Well stated madpriest. Keep this up and we'll have to start referring to you as 'sanepriest'.

    mjc, What I've actually found is when atheists start down the 'mind over matter' path, they soon run into the fact it is really the 'spirituality' path. At that point, at the very least, agnosticism becomes the new mental approach.

    I like your last couple of sentences because it is a matter of permission, but that permission does not always come from the conscious ego self. As a person progresses you begin to understand what Jesus meant by 'dieing to self'. It means taming the self aware ego to stop the nonsense of organizing it's world around it's own psychological survival needs--and that means dealing with it's existential fears. Until a person gets past these types of fears, love is a very hit and miss propostion. I think that's why Jesus said 'peace be with you' and not love be with you. His chosen boys weren't quite past the ego fears stage, hence the need for the Holy Spirit and the conversion at Pentecost. Even then it was a starting experience, not a finished experience.

    The problem we have in the west is we understand unity as a function of conformity which is why we can't seem to stop the kind of thinking which separates and makes others of our fellow humans. This is one of the core unstated messages in this Anglican ordinariate. It furthers this silly notion of unity through conformity. Angers me, it does.

  8. Catholic convert and Crusades admirer Erik Prince, Blackwater founder, is back in the news:

    How did converting to Catholicism change Erik Prince? Did he learn anything? It seems like he just joined an exclusive club.

  9. "But he described their switch as "a unique occasion marking a new step in the life and history of the Catholic Church." (It might be a new step for their version of Catholicism, but it doesn't change anything at all for any other Catholic.)"

    This "unique occasion" is in my opinion not so unique in the history of the Catholic Church in the sense that the leadership is taking a political or theological stance which is contrary really to their own teachings, especially regarding married priests.
    It is more of the same hypocrisy and divisiveness and fear driven politics that has moved the Church from being fully Christian & following Christ, to being afraid of Christ, not in reliance upon God, just as when the Church became Roman under Constantine.

    This "unique occasion" inspires a lot of Catholics to give up any notion that the RCC truly reflects the teachings of Jesus Christ because the politics buries the real teachings under layers of rationalizations aka canon laws that keep Jesus afar and in darkness. The RCC is driving most Catholics right out of the RCC, and in disgust. It seems the intent of the RCC current leadership is to drive any true follower of Christ's teachings right out of the Church, since the Beatitudes and the Gospels truly do not really matter for those in leadership in Rome. The political battle for souls to conform to elitist authority has taken precedence & priority for this Papacy which is truly against freedom of conscience or in enlightening itself about its own hypocrisy and life-deadening misogyny and ignorance of human sexuality. The message from Rome is conform, conform, conform instead of reform, reform, reform which it truly needs and which it refuses to take that step, just as it did during Luther's time.

    I keep thinking that if the leadership could be honest and objective about the Church's history and true to Jesus' teachings, the world could live in peace. But they refuse and the consequence is we all suffer due to their refusal. This makes me angry and disgusted with the RCC.

  10. Sy Hersch claims many top US military officers are members of Opus Dei:

  11. I'm glad to find some people talking about this, other than Catholic and Anglican traditionalists, who are naturally delighted. This whole story leaves me wondering if what's good for the gander is also good for the goose. If they can leave their church over the ordination of women and gays, why shouldn't I do the same, in the opposite direction? In Anglican circles some worry about how many people they will lose to the Ordinariate, but if only a tiny fraction of the Catholics who believed in ordination of women & gays joined the Anglican/Episcopalian Church, they'd be bursting at the seams. I think Catholics just don't know the Anglican church, and the Anglican Church has too much grace to go poaching (*ahem*).

  12. Sylvia,

    I think you are on to something that may indeed pan out in the longer run. The Episcopal Church in the United States is packed with former Catholics already that left because of the R.C. Church's teaching about contraception. But until recently, the RCC has not been blatant about this teaching as almost all Catholics use contraception that has a good chance of working at some points in their marriages. Now with this teaching "being more enforced" by the current group of hollow miters, there likely will be more who drift toward the Episcopal Church. With more than 50% of American Catholics believing that women should be allowed in the clergy (and they already use contraception,) I think this will (is already) leading thinking catholics to make a change.

    Some will likely go to the Episcopal Churches. There are two other communities likely to draw many more people and they are the Lutheran and Methodist commentates. I think it may depend on the strength of the individual parishes in the location of thinking People of God that can no longer think and tolerate these and so many other issues in the RCC. One woman commented to me that she is becoming a Lutheran because this community had a strong community in her area. The Lutherans also have their progressive and conservative wings, but they continue to have some degree of working together for common goals. The Unitarian Communities will, of course draw some former members of the RCC.

    The Seventh Day Adventists seem to be the group that is taking up Christ's corporal works of Mercy by their ever increasing numbers of hospitals that are not so controversial in the communities as are the RCC hospitals. Recently after the debacle of Phoenix St. Joseph Hospital with Bishop Olmstead, a good Gynecologist friend remarked to me,"what is with all these Catholic ladies that now want to go anywhere but a Catholic Hospital to birth their babies? I have had to get staff privileges at the Adventist Hospital because so many of my Catholic patients now want to go there. I recall a recent incidence of a still born in which a Catholic patient when asked if she wanted to see a priest or the Adventist Minister chose the latter because he was already there."

    Mad Priest, What you are describing comes straight from Sigmund Freud, It is in fact a mixture of Oedipal victory and loss. These Bishops whose mentors were gay may well have a sense of male dominance that I have seen in the RCC clerical psyche. I have also seen some of this in Episcopal clerics as I served on an Episcopal school board for 2 years as my niece was attending an Episcopal school. Every time one particular gay member the Episcopal clergy was criticized particularly by women, he blamed it on gay bashing.

    On the other hand, these three Bishops made themselves oedipal Victors when they were able to leave the Anglican's for the misogyny in the RCC. Oedipal victory usually leads to further personality destruction as a personality usually can not afford to tear down so much of the mentor-father figure. This is not of course true if the mentor-father were abusive but I doubt that is substantially the case with the departing bishops.