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Vatican prefers tanks to talks to achieve unity


TankWhen the idea of an Anglican Ordinariate was announced in September 2009 in the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Times of London ran the headline 'Vatican Parks Tanks on Rowan's Lawn'.

It seemed an apt image at the time, for all sorts of reasons: one was the spectacularly undiplomatic character of the act, which was opposed by some in the Vatican and by very senior English Roman Catholics; another was the personal affront to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, whose progressive leanings have never hidden a genuine admiration for the wider western catholic tradition of which his own Anglicanism is a part.

But the other implication of the image was one of a serious and lasting shift in power, a re-drawing of boundaries or movement of populations. Three years later it is more as though the Pope had, uninvited, sent over a Fiat cinquecento or two to pick up some stranded friends and their bags. As they leave the Lambeth Palace gates there is probably relief on both sides.

The agenda was ostensibly Christian unity; Anglicanorum Coetibus cited Vatican II's decree on ecumenism to the effect that 'such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalises the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching the Gospel to every creature'. The tanks were there to unify the Church.

The Personal Ordinariates established this year in the UK, the USA, Canada and Australia have in fact been important mostly to individuals — a few thousand in total world-wide, a mixture of high-Church conservatives who found themselves ill-at-ease in Anglican Churches that now ordained women, and others of similar mind who had already left Anglicanism to form splinter groups driven by the same issue. A structure that provides them with a happier ecclesial home can be welcomed, even by those who differ from them.

However the stated aim of the Ordinariates, to accommodate whole groups of Anglicans who might come together as existing communities or structures with Anglican patrimony in tow, and thus to promote unity, is a failure. In just a few cases — ostensibly including one in Melbourne — congregations have moved en bloc; generally the new parishes of the Ordinariates will be precisely that, new bodies made up of disaffected individual Anglicans from various communities, gathered afresh around re-ordained clergy.

The Anglican parishes from which they came and even the 'Traditional Anglican Communion' itself remain, the structures of disunity as evident as ever, with a few extra cuts and bruises to boot.

As for Anglican patrimony, embodied in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, it remains to be seen how much this really becomes part of the life of the Ordinariates. Anglicans of high-Church leanings had often abandoned that eucharistic liturgy for theological reasons, even before Anglicanism's own version of Vatican II's aggiornamento, and were often using more or less the whole Roman Rite.

When Anglicanorum Coetibus was issued, one bishop in the Church of England quipped that the likely departures would have to go out and buy copies of the BCP so as to have a patrimony to take with them.

So statistically at least, the impact of the departures on Anglicanism itself is minimal; Anglicans have more serious things to worry about than the outbound trickle of remaining opponents of women's ordination. By implication, Roman Catholics might have even less reason to notice the new arrivals, given the scale involved.

Yet the appearance of a decent handful of new clergy not imported from far afield may be more significant. So far at least the Ordinariates are more about these than about parishes or groups of lay people.

The departing clergy now have some prospect of pursuing their vocations with more support and encouragement than they will recently have felt in an Anglicanism where they were a shrinking minority.

There have been costs to them. One will be somehow reconciling the immediate past of their sacramental ministries in Anglican orders, pursued even while publicly preparing to join and accept re-ordination in a body which still does not recognise that they had ever had any orders or sacraments at all.

This is not quite Newman's profound journey of conscience.

There must also be some curiosity about future clergy; the fact that the Ordinariates can accept married men as candidates for ordination, for instance, could be of wider significance for a Roman Catholicism struggling to identify local vocations in English-speaking countries.

This story has underscored the unpromising future of ecumenism itself. Agencies such as the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity do continue to work with Anglican bodies on bilateral dialogues, and many Anglican and Roman Catholic individuals and communities find their ways to bear common witness.

Yet the fact of the Ordinariates suggest that the real position of the Vatican on Christian unity is about absorption rather than convergence; the tanks, not the talks. 

Andrew McGowanAssociate Professor Andrew McGowan is Warden of Trinity College, The University of Melbourne. He blogs at Andrew's Version and Royal Parade Diary


Topic tags: Andrew McGowan, Anglican Church, Rowan Williams, Personal Ordinariates



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we have a lovely priest in our parish in NOttingham England who used to be an Anglican priest. he is a most welcome member of the diocese and parish God bless him. there is no prejudice against him

irena mangone | 21 August 2012  

What tanks? The Anglicans who wanted to convert were free to do so. There was no compulsion in this as there should not be in any conversion. Each convert can choose how and when to convert. I am profoundly moved by the events and think that the Pope has acted with graciousness and love. I know many such converts and there is nothing but freedom and joy in their choice.

Skye | 21 August 2012  

The imagery is, I feel, ill-suited for what historically has been more a constant trickle of passengers joining either flight: from catholicism to Anglicanism and viceversa.

Tony | 21 August 2012  

As an Anglican in a community I view as "kind of high-church" (in the Sydney Anglican diocese) this article is of interest to me. I would describe my congregation as being of traditional bent, with the use of the Australian Prayer Book as integral to our worship. But I would hardly describe it as a congregation leaning towards unity with the Catholic church. As an individual I am (I think) of a more progressive hue, in some matters, than the vast majority of my fellow congregants but it is the whole person I attempt to look at, not necessarily whether they are pigeonholed as 'conservative' or 'progressive'. We are all individuals and stereotyping, in my experience, doesn't work. I believe we can gain much from respecting each other, talking and laughing with each other and forgetting about who we are supposed to be. My faith is a personal journey walking (and stumbling) with a God who loves all of humanity. And I am heartened and humbled that it is God who makes the decisions about whether we are doing the right thing. Left to the priesthood we'd have no hope!

Pam | 21 August 2012  

Anglicanorum coetibus is not and cannot be about absorption. In the past the only means for Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church was to become Catholic in the Latin Rite ,normally, and abandon all that they had experinced and known in the Anglican communion.Like Bl John Cardinal Newman. Now because Vatican II taught that Anglicans and others are in communion with the Catholic Church to some degree but not fully in communion the way was open to accept Christians from other communities without absorbtion. That is, groups of Anglicans or others could bring with them the gifts that they have nurtured within their ecclesial life and enrich the Catholic Church through this means. That is precisely what Anglicanorum coetibus intends to do. The initiative for corporate communion came from the TAC and some other Anglo-Catholics and it was not initiated by the Holy See. It is too early to tell yet what gifts the Spirit will open to the Catholic Church through the Ordinariates and how or what distinctive features will characterise the life of these communities.

Anthony | 21 August 2012  

Good article. Underpinning all of this is the issue of what God's love actually means for each of us. Inclusivity ?, Acceptance ? a myriad of other things - or not. That is the difference to me between RC and Anglicanism because the meaning of LOVE in our daily life is the work of a lifetime. I want to be an intelligent adult in the religious life - not a child. Rowan Williams embodies all that as I can question what he and Anglicanism says, and discuss it openly - and that's OK. That feels like love to me. Let's also not confuse love with Theology and religiosity. It is the pious and devout Christians who hold "the truth" in their hands that disturb me the most.

Joe45 | 21 August 2012  

Addendum to my first comment: I'm married to a Catholic. Life's pretty interesting!

Pam | 21 August 2012  

The Vatican II decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, also states (Chapter II, 11) "Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism (attempt at peace) in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded". What you say Prof McGowan is true. Ecumenism is not about convergence, it is about welcoming home those who, caught by historical circumstance, find themselves in a genuine commitment to Christ's word, but isolated in a sacrament-depleted Christianity instituted not by Christ but by a few men.

john frawley | 21 August 2012  

There really is no hope for ecumenism when the whole basis of church politics is to wave about our tickets to salvation. If Catholics truly believe Anglicans are on a path to salvation, then I don't think "conversion" is in the right spirit. As a faithful Catholic myself, I have many things in my life I wish to convert to - and I also think the Catholic Church needs a conversion back to its Christian purpose and try to win over the lost souls of our materialistic and spirit hungry world.

AURELIUS | 21 August 2012  

Agreement and union of minds is the necessary foundation of a perfect concord amongst people, from which concurrence of wills and similarity of action are the natural results. Wherefore, in His divine wisdom, Our Lord ordained in His Church Unity of Faith; a virtue which is the first of those bonds which unite man to God, and whence we receive the name of the faithful - "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. iv., 5). That is, as there is one Lord and one baptism, so should all Christians, without exception, have but one faith. And so the Apostle St. Paul not merely begs, but entreats and implores Christians to be all of the same mind, and to avoid difference of opinions: "I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms amongst you, and that you be perfect in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Cor. i., 10).All who profess Christianity allow that there can be but one faith. It is of the greatest importance and indeed of absolute necessity, as to which many are deceived, that the nature and character of this unity should be recognized. And yet this is not to be ascertained by conjecture, but by the certain knowledge of what was done; that is by seeking for and ascertaining what kind of unity in faith has been commanded by Jesus Christ. "It is for this reason that so many who do not share 'the communion and the truth of the Catholic Church' must make use of the occasion of the means of the Catholic Church, which received in Her bosom their ancestors, proposes [further] demonstration of profound unity and of firm vital force; hear the requirements [demands] of her heart, they must engage themselves to leave this state that does not guarantee for them the security of salvation. She does not hesitate to raise to the Lord of mercy most fervent prayers to tear down of the walls of division, to dissipate the haze of errors, and lead them back within holy Mother Church, where their Ancestors found salutary pastures of life; where, in an exclusive way, is conserved and transmitted whole the doctrine of Jesus Christ and wherein is dispensed the mysteries of heavenly grace. All the Christians from whom we are separated, with which we exhort them warmly and beseech them with insistence to hasten to return to the one fold of Christ; we desire in fact from the depths of the heart their salvation in Christ Jesus, and we fear having to render an account one day to Him, Our Judge, if, through some possibility, we have not pointed out and prepared the way for them to attain eternal salvation. In all Our prayers and supplications, with thankfulness, day and night we never omit to ask for them, with humble insistence, from the eternal Shepherd of souls the abundance of goods and heavenly graces. And we await with open arms the return of the wayward sons to the Catholic Church, in order to receive them with infinite fondness into the house of the Heavenly Father and to enrich them with its inexhaustible treasures. By our greatest wish for the return to the truth and the communion with the Catholic Church, upon which depends not only the salvation of all of them, but above all also of the whole Christian society: the entire world in fact cannot enjoy true peace if it is not of one fold and one shepherd." The True Union between Christians is that which Jesus Christ, the Author of the Church, instituted and desired, and which consists in a Unity of Faith and Unity of Government. Let, therefore, the separated children draw nigh to the Apostolic See, set up in the City which Peter and Paul, the Princes of the Apostles, consecrated by their blood; to that See, We repeat, which is "the root and womb whence the Church of God springs," not with the intention and the hope that "the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" will cast aside the integrity of the faith and tolerate their errors, but, on the contrary, that they themselves submit to its teaching and government. Would that God our Savior, "Who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,"[29] would hear us when We humbly beg that He would deign to recall all who stray to the unity of the Church! Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. "For in one spirit" says the Apostle, "were we all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free." As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And therefore, if a man refuse to hear the Church, let him be considered - so the Lord commands - as a heathen and a publican. It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit.

Trent | 21 August 2012  

To believe The Age, a hefty number of four clergy have gone over to the Ordinariate in Melbourne. The former vicar of Kooyong claimed in the article that his parish had followed him to South Caulfield, while not qualifying this claim with the fact that many parishioners had already gone elsewhere once they saw the writing on the wall. This idea that whole congregations will follow their priests into the Ordinariate has been generated from the start by interested parties; the truth is otherwise. “They’ll be going over in droves,” is a classic piece of journalese, pity about the reality. Kooyong parish, one imagines, will now have to pick up the pieces and rebuild.

Exactly what any of this has to do with communities of faith is an open question. As others note here, if anyone wants to join the Roman Catholic Church, they can do it anytime. The rules of Rome will apply in the Ordinariate. The question of whether the next generation of Ordinariate priests will be permitted to marry, for example, is one worth asking the powerbrokers. Every generation involved in this Anglican-Catholic relationship has its own special issues, ones that it foregrounds.

Recently I have been reading the letters of the Anglican poet Gerard Manley Hopkins who, at 22, became the Catholic poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. His parents were High Anglicans who attended All Saints, Margaret Street, London. There seem to be two driving reasons for Hopkins “going to Rome”, both of them typical of the times. The first is his personal need to join a religious order. The other is theological, to be on the right side of the debates: cf. John Henry Newman, his mentor. One of the most painful letters is written to his father in which Hopkins lectures him at length on the importance of the Real Presence, and how only people who believe in the Real Presence have got the Real Religion. His parents must have been very patient and loving people. They kept on communicating with him for the rest of his short life. It was another age. This too will pass.

PHILIP HARVEY | 21 August 2012  

I am involved with eucumenism at the local level and am sympathetic with Roman Catholics who are frustrated by the activities and non-activities of the Vatican. Here in Melbourne we are encouraged by the vitality of Orthodox and Coptic communities which are both ageless and relevant to the modern age. I can recall some years ago the local Coptic community were angered by the murder of a priest in Egypt and held a protest march to the Consulate. They asked for support from the Victorian Council of Churches. They borrowed St Paul's Cathedral and celebrated a full Coptic liturgy. Despite being in unfamiar suroundings one was spiritually carried way by their enthusiasm and expression of Faith.

While Churches these days are centred on Asia ,Africa and the Americas as expressed in the World Council of Churches, The Vatican is still Euro-centric.

john ozanne | 21 August 2012  

As a progressive and liberal Roman Catholic who converted from the Episcopal Church in America 10 years ago, I am less than thrilled with the Ordinariate.

I would like to see the Catholic Church become more progressive - drop mandatory celibacy and ordain women for starters. I would like to see that.

James Ullman | 21 August 2012  

Historically there does not seem to be any doubt that the forms of Christian church bearing allegiance to Rome were not there in the first years. The church seems to have been varied as it is today. Even when doctrinal and scriptural matters were more or less agreed the western church and the eastern churches were not really one in style or administration.
But the church in the west taking on the Roman imperium arrogantly assumed it was the only true church with dubious readings about Peter and the like. But it was the example of the empire centred in Rome that , I suggest, led it on its presumptuous ways to claim it was the only true church. I do believe we have to make judgments about what is Christian insofar as we understand where Jesus is leading us. Granted there are some strange bodies out there that have appropriated the name of Christ i still believe that we can say, in contradiction to Trent, that there is one church but it manifests itself in various ways. And indeed this is the pattern of the earliest followers of Christ, starting it would seem as a group within Judaism but who came to see the wider implications of where what Jesus had done and expressed, as they had it in their hearts, was pointing them.

Brian Poidevin | 21 August 2012  

Yet, despite all this, Jim Stynes could not be buried from the cathedral of his faith.

Frank | 21 August 2012  

Brian Poidevin understands his church history. There has been claim and counter-claim ever since the term ‘many mansions’ first found expression. ‘Anglican’ was a term of amused annoyance used by that Scot King James VI and I to describe the difficult Englishmen under his rule who wanted his church run their way. The term never gained any meaning until the middle of the 19th century when someone had to explain the Communion and it is only now that ‘Anglican’ stumbles from the tongue as common parlance. Indeed, one curiosity of history is that the Sydney Puritans are now making claims to be the one true group of Anglicans, when their spiritual forbears in the 17th century were the one group trying to tear apart anything remotely ‘Anglican’. It’s a funny old world, which also contains the Roman Catholic Church. This title would have been well-nigh meaningless to any member of the Latin Church of the West before the Reformation. ‘Roman Catholic Church’ is an invention of the Council of Trent. Indeed, to call it ‘Roman’ only revealed that the bishops at Trent had conceded there was a major division in the European church. The jig was up. It was a Roman assertion of Rome after the horse had bolted, the bridges had been burnt, whatever. All of this ought though to make for lots more constructive conversation into the future as all of the people in these churches come to the astonishing discovery that they agree on most of the details. We could be here for quite a while discussing what Jesus really meant by ‘rock’ at the mouth of Pan’s Grotto at Caesarea Philippi.

PHILIP HARVEY | 21 August 2012  

Brian Poidevin mightb note re early papal primacy: In the year 96, Pope Clement of Rome, wrote to the Corinthians. His letter was official, written in his capacity as successor of St. Peter, and it gave not only advice but definite commands. After his instructions he wrote, "If you obey what we have written by the Holy Spirit, you will be our joy and consolation. But if some do not obey what God has said by us, let them know that they will be involved in no small sin and danger." Harnack, the German Protestant scholar, admitted that this letter of Clement proves that the primacy of the Bishop of Rome was an accepted fact even in the first century. Again, we have the testimony of St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch from 69-107 A. D. He writes that the Church at Rome "presides over the whole assembly united in charity." And he asks for prayers for the Church in Syria confided to him subject to Christ and the supreme authority of Rome. This testimony of St. Ignatius has particular value, for St. Peter had been Bishop of Antioch. If St. Peter had remained and died at Antioch, the Bishop of Antioch would have obtained the supremacy. But St. Ignatius expressly rejects the idea that he has authority over the Christians at Rome, and admits that the Bishop of Rome is the principal and presiding bishop. Thirdly, St. Irenaeus, 130-202 A. D., Bishop of Lyons in Gaul, wrote as follows of the Roman See: "On account of its supremacy it is necessary that every Church in which is the tradition of the Apostles should be in harmony or unity with this Church." Fourthly, St. Cyprian, 210-258 A. D., an African bishop, writing of certain heretics, says, "They even dare to invade the See of Peter and the principal Church whence the unity of the priesthood has its source." Again he writes, "We exhort all to acknowledge and hold that Rome is the mother and root-source of the Catholic Church." [Doctor L. Rumble msc "Radio Replies"

Father John Michael George | 21 August 2012  

Father John Michael George has rumbled out a lot of quotes without once disproving Brian Poidevin's original claim. Also, it is not surprising that a pope would assert his primacy, which is part of Harnack's reasoning. Harnack is not surprised, he is simply observing what the Bishop of Rome said.

OCCAM'S RAZOR | 21 August 2012  

Mr Harvey may note a slim historical etiology of Anglican in 6th century CE[though whimsically rejected]: Non Angli, sed angeli – "They are not Angles, but angels". Aphorism, summarizing words reported to have been spoken by Gregory when he first encountered pale-skinned English boys at a slave market, sparking his dispatch of St. Augustine of Canterbury to England to convert the English, according to Bede. He said: "Well named, for they have angelic faces and ought to be co-heirs with the angels in heaven." Discovering that their province was Deira, he went on to add that they would be rescued de ira, "from the wrath", and that their king was named Aella, Alleluia, he said.

Father John Michael George | 21 August 2012  

Mr Harvey may note another history of term 'Roman Catholic' "ROMAN CATHOLICISM The faith, worship, and practice of all Christians in communion with the Bishop of Rome, whom they acknowledge as the Vicar of Christ and the visible head of the Church founded by Christ. The terms "Roman Church" and "Roman Catholic Church" date from at least the early Middle Ages, but the stress on these terms became prominent after the Protestant Reformation. The reason was to emphasize the distinctive quality of being not only a Christian, because baptized, but of being a Catholic, because in communion with the Pope." ]From 'Servant of God' Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary].

Father John Michael George | 21 August 2012  

Mr Harvey Wikipaedia notes re term Anglican" "The word "Anglican" originates in ecclesia anglicana, a Medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 meaning the "English Church".[11] As an adjective, "Anglican" is used to describe the people, institutions and churches, as well as the liturgical traditions and theological concepts, developed by the Church of England.[9] As a noun, an Anglican is a member of a church in the Anglican Communion. The word is also used by followers of separated groups which have left the communion or have been founded separately from it, though this is sometimes considered as a misuse."

Father John Michael George | 21 August 2012  

The Catholics have allowed married men to be ordained (the same as the Orthodox) for over 400 years. There are thousands of Eastern Right Catholic priests both here in the English-speaking world and in Eastern Europe. The issue separating Protestant clergy from Catholics and Orthodox isn't married clergy-it's clergy who marry after ordination and married bishops. The only reason Protestant clergy who are married can become Catholic or Orthodox priests is that the Catholics and Orthodox don't consider their ordinations valid. The ordination of women in Mainline Protestant churches just makes organic reunion and inter-communion between Catholics/Orthodox and the Anglicans and Presbyterians and Methodists and other Protestants even more difficult. There are more Protestants who used to be Catholic than vice versa; unfortunately, the Western former Catholics who join Mainline Protestant churches tend to have small families and what children they do have tend to drift away from organized religion altogether. Were there not a steady stream of disaffected Catholic joining, the Mainline Protestant churches would be shrinking even faster than they are, true, but waiting for ex-Catholics to stay with you for a few years isn't much of a solution to serious losses.

Fred Garvin | 22 August 2012  

Professor Andrew...nice try with mixing history and ideology. I can think of another, who started small and ended gigantic. Another who started with 12 and worked its way up to one billion. Do you know who that person is? You may have forgotten. Never underestimate the power of truth, the power of fidelity, the power of love. What the world has seen far too often are these groups that start off with thunder and lights and end like an evening storm. Your attempt to disqualify the Ordinariate is really an attempt to disqualify the Pope. Neither will be disqualified. Count on it.

Esnofla | 22 August 2012  

Mr Harvey thanks you for the last three entries, none of which are news to Mr Harvey, nor do they change the meaning of his original argument one iota. But the entries contain useful language and history for the broader discussion.

PHILIP HARVEY | 22 August 2012  

I thank and agree with Philip Harvey and Occam's Razor. Father George reminds me of certain teachers at my RC school in his love of throwing odd bits of his understanding of history around and making no particular point . Although I must say my teachers always insisted, long before vatican II that we were not Roman Catholics but Australian Catholics. And there was another who quietly said we must use our critical understanding when considering even the dogmas of the church. As for Father George's direct comments on my note I see them as confirming that he is locked into the Roman imperium. I am well aware of the words of Pope clement, Ignatius etc. Well, the Pope was striving for recognition of his authority. What else would he say when many were not accepting it? The statements by the others are their opinions certainly not infallible statements. Yes their statements have been preserved, but, then, their side won in the west. The suppression of contrary views is a very old phenomena. And the much larger Church(es) of the East at the time never seemed to have been overly impressed by utterances from Rome. In fact when i think of those early Eastern Christians moving towards China I suspect Rome never entered their consciousness. I suggest a reading of Diarmid McCullouch or even Geoffrey Blainey. For the record I grew up Roman Catholic (if you wish that term) and have never regretted the education in Christian apologetics but now manifest my belonging to the Christian Church through membership of an Anglican parish. I remember my wife and I being asked if we wanted formal admission to the Anglican Communion. Our joint reply was "no" we hadn't changed our religion only where we went to church- small"c".

Brian Poidevin | 22 August 2012  

Reforming the priesthood with married priests won't solve anything - there are many more urgent matters involving "the priesthood of the people" that need to be addressed. It's not just about providing a cushy ride for the priests.

AURELIUS | 22 August 2012  

Mr Harvey as far back as 1938 Dr Rumble MSC dealt with the issue of Roman Catholic usage IN HIS "radio replies": "498. Q/ Whence do you get the name roman catholic? A/The word Roman is derived from the fact that St. Peter established the headquarters of the Church in Rome. I am not a roman catholic in any sense of Roman citizenship. I am an Australian Catholic in communion with that Church which has its centre in Rome.… 499.Q/ What is the difference between a Catholic and a roman catholic? A/The same as between a Britisher and an Englishman, or if you wish, as that between the Jewish and the Mosaic religions. There is no real difference. The words roman catholic do not mean that there are other kinds of Catholics, but oniy that all true Catholics belong to that one great Church which has its centre in Rome. There are no Catholics apart from that one great universal Church. Those who leave that Church cease to be Catholics. At the time of the Reformation Protestants left the Catholic Church. They cannot leave it and belong to it. The only way they can be Catholic is to return to the Church their forefathers should never have left. 500. Q/Is not Catholic Church broader in meaning than roman catholic Church? Catholic means universal, not roman catholic. A/ Catholic and roman catholic are alternative expressions. The roman catholic Church is the Church universal on earth. All Catholics in Europe, America, Asia, Africa, and Australia, and in the rest of the world, are subject to the present Bishop of Rome. Were you to stop any man indiscriminately in the street and ask him to direct you to the nearest Catholic Church, he would unhesitatingly point out what you term a roman catholic Church. The average man makes no mistake in practice on this point."

Father John Michael George | 22 August 2012  

Thank you Father George for further contributions from Dr Rumble, someone who was never at a loss for words. A few minutes of Dr Rumble always leaves me personally with the discombobulated feeling I have after stepping from a merry-go-round. All of this circular talk reminds me of the disciples who argued over who was number one, who would be first in the kingdom, or would sit at the best seat in the house, when the whole time the true wonder and glory of Christ was there right in front of them. All of their big words were so much piffle when faced with the truth. All they cared about was their own status and their own argument, they still didn’t get the message, they still had to have it explained to them. They would have tried the patience of a saint.

PHILIP HARVEY | 22 August 2012  

Fr George :Clement of Rome was not pope. Eamon Duffy, in Saints & Sinners A History of the Popes" writes that Clement made no claim to write as bishop and that Clement was the secretary of the Roman Church. Fred Garvin: for centuries the Church had married bishops. Skye : I know Roman Catholic priests who are now very happy married Anglican priests. They, too, experience freedom and joy. In fact, I read where, in the USA, there are, in places, more RC becoming Anglican (Episcopalian) than Anglican becoming RC.

Francis | 23 August 2012  

Frankly the primacy of papacy doesn't rest on Clementine citation though I happily uphold Rumble CITATION as quite consonant with modern prestigious scholarship within e.g.: "Clement of Rome, St." Cross, F. L. (ed.), The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005). But far more importantly is your confusion on early church discipline re celibacy of clergy, popes and all. Recent modern scholarship[Cholij/Cochini/Stickler et alii] underline the Apostolic Origin of Celibacy such that with scholarly evidence there were 'strict celibates'[as we know them] and 'broad celibates' viz clergy, married, but both spouses lived as celibates within marriage; any children occurred as with married pope peter before following Christ in celibate priesthood[all clergy marriages occurred before ordination and after ordination-celibacy was undertaken by both spouses.[priests wives needed elaborated qualities[eg actresses were forbidden as considered unfit for celibate marriage]. This written and unwritten legislation of celibate clerical marriage persisted till the 7th century oriental Council of Trullo that for first time enacted in canon 13, clerical marriage, with use of conjugal rights-the Oriental council's novel canon 13 was not approved by the papacy[it invalidly persisted in non-uniate eastern churches; and in 17th century, canonist Pope Benedict XIV declared the oriental discipline as "merely 'tolerated' as Greeks are given to schisms". Esteem in orient for celibate priesthood is evident today in bishops being celibate and widowed priests unable to remarry [a vestige of impedimentum ordinis of yore]

Father John Michael George | 24 August 2012  

Quite frankly, Father George, the crucial date is 1123. That is the date of the First Lateran Council. No one is disputing the reality of celibacy both in the history of Christianity and in the history of that larger quotient, the human race, since time immemmorial. Celibacy is something practised by most humans at some time in their lives, that is not the point. On this issue, the crucial turning point for Western Christianity is what was decreed for the priests at the First Lateran Council. The decree was one early cause of the Reformation and why Trent, in reactionary mode, had to keep with that decree.

HISTORY THE JUDGE | 24 August 2012  

I am member of congregation of parish in UK where the former priest joined the Ordinariate and took around 60 of the congregation with him. That left a number behind who have had to pick up the pieces. We have done so successfully and now have a regular Sunday Mass attendance of around 55. The previous priest and his flock have settled in to fresh surroundings sharing buildings with a RC parish. Now,only 6 months later they are being moved on to another location several miles away. And it looks as if the priest is being 'absorbed' and will be doing duty in other RC locations. I suspect this is not what they thought it was going to be.Meanwhile those of us that remained consider ourselves to be faithful Anglo Catholics and praying for God to send us a new priest.

David Warren | 25 August 2012  

History the Judge! There were many crucial dates re priestly celibacy dating from apostolic times to present, pertinent to contemporary discussion.
Trent was not 'reactionary' but merely clarified that married priests in sexual relationship was not an option.Trent and Lateran form a positive conciliar hermeneutic of the importance of celibacy and priesthood [from apostolic times].

Father John Michael George | 25 August 2012  

Thanks, a good and shrewd piece. Of course the unspoken piece here is that, in the US, the largest groups of newcomers to the Episcopal Church are Roman Catholics.

William Coats | 25 August 2012  

Must say Warren, as priest of 37 years involved in hospitals, major Sydney cemetery chaplaincy;youth groups and numerous other priestly ministries,a priest with 60 parishioners would beg for more action surely! I had 60 parishioners in just one of a number of outlying Mass centres[Nyah West; Piangil, Ultima, Lake Boga] ministered from the main well populated church of Swan Hill, Ballarat Diocese, Victoria.

Father John Michael George | 26 August 2012  

A positive conciliar hermeneutic, Father George? In 1123 celibacy stopped being a choice for priests. This was a very serious change and not consonant with church practice up to that time. We are talking about people's lives here, including many people living today that this practice continues to hurt and damage. Words like "a positive conciliar hermeneutic" are meaningless when it comes to controlling people's lives through their sexuality. As social historians will explain, including those who remind us about the celibacy rules of the Roman Army. And by that I don't mean priests but the original Roman Army of the Empire. Now what could be the connection between those two things? A more amusing side to the outcome of the First Lateran Council can be found in the Decameron, where every third story is about people in orders who discover their sexuality. Boccaccio knew what his readers knew: the clergy are human beings. But who was the joke on exactly?

HISTORY THE JUDGE | 26 August 2012  

Celibacy is still a choice for priests - if you aren't called to be celibate, don't become a priest. If it's hurting you and others, how could it be part of any life-giving divine plan? God isn't a masochist. But I'm predicting that allowing priests to marry will not result in a rush to join seminaries. I think a lot of people have lost sight of what the role of priests are in 2012.

AURELIUS | 27 August 2012  

'Judge of history' you ask re Roman Army vis a vis priestly celibacy: "Now what could be the connection between those two things?" Truly 'judge' if you don't know neither do I!! Mind you I studied 'Sacerdotalis Caelibatus', but gave Giovanni Boccaccio's 100 novellas[1350-1353] the grand flick! Me miseram!

Father John Michael George | 27 August 2012  

Hells bells! How far from the teachings of Christ of Christ has "the church" come. No wonder most people are simply not interested. Christ would have a fit, this isn't what he preached, there' no love your neighbor here.

Jill | 28 August 2012  

I think the "tanks" analogy a bit melodramatic, Andrew. The Ordinariates in Australia seem to have commenced with a whimper. Most able Anglican clerics seem to come across to the mainstream Latin Rite. Most able High Churchmen have stayed with the Anglican Communion rather than go to the Ordinariates. I suggest that Rome is not the Anglican Communion's biggest worry: its worst problems are between the squabbling Provinces. That is what will make or break the Communion long term. Rome and the Anglican Communion have had an ambiguous relationship for a long time. It will, sadly, remain, I fear.

Edward F | 28 August 2012  

Jill Jesus Himself sent his Roman Catholic Church to teach all nations,surely a doctrinal summa cum laude ;and Jesus promised the RCC to be with it always;so Mother Church is very close to Christ and his teaching; and the scandalous gates of hell shall not prevail against it.[Mt16:18f]

Father John Michael George | 29 August 2012  

Forget wishful thinking 'Judge of history' try scientific facts on celibate priest morale A recent NCR article in the USA context, noted: "Priests' morale reported high despite hurt, anger at abuse crisis by Jerry Filteau, Catholic News Service, Washington The morale of U.S. priests is high despite the hurt and anger they feel over the crisis of clergy sexual abuse of minors, a prominent priest-psychotherapist said at a seminar at The Catholic University of America. "Fr Stephen J. Rossetti, president of St Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Md., and author of the recent book "The Joy of Priesthood," led the April 24 seminar at the university's Life Cycle Institute. He reported on a survey of nearly 1300 priests in 16 dioceses that he conducted between September 2003 and April 2005 to assess the effects of the abuse crisis on priestly morale. "One of the main findings of his survey, Rossetti said, is that 80 percent of priests say their own morale is good. He said two-thirds of the priests surveyed found celibacy personally satisfying and only 17.7 percent said they would marry if they could,"

Father John Michael George | 29 August 2012  

Furthermore 'judge', the literature corroborates celibate priesthood Eg with contributions from Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M., Archbishop Allen Vigneron, and Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti, "The Charism of Priestly Celibacy: Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Reflections, a timely collection of reflections on priestly celibacy", explores its biblical, historical, and theological roots and affirms what current studies of priests reflect - that despite its challenges, celibacy has been a grace for priests personally. The value of celibacy is often questioned, yet most recent surveys of priests demonstrate that more than 75 percent of them feel personally called to celibacy and find it a source of grace in their lives.[contra factum non valet argumentum "Iudex"!]

Father John Michael George | 29 August 2012  

Father George, I have no argument against celibacy, quite the opposite actually. My argument is against celibacy being the law. Also, Edward F.: I think the melodramatic nature of the tanks analogy is exactly the point of Andrew McGowan's opening paragraphs. The analogy reveals that the ancient anxiety of London toward Rome lives on in the unconscious of London Times editors.

HISTORY THE JUDGE | 29 August 2012  

But Judge the law of celibacy merely conforms to the mind of Jesus Himself who enacted: "And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting." [Mt19:23f] Popes and Councils have wisely, canonically enshrined Jesus' injunction in law for 2000 years and wouldn't bend to your impassioned plea Judge. As I approach the evening of life a celibate priest I treasure the exhortation of Lacordaire: a paean to the law of celibacy: To live in the midst of the world without wishing its pleasures; To be a member of each family, yet belonging to none; To share all suffering; to penetrate all secrets; To heal all wounds; to go from men to God and offer Him their prayers; To return from God to men to bring pardon and hope; To have a heart of fire for Charity, and a heart of bronze for Chastity To teach and to pardon, console and bless always. My God, what a life; and it is yours, O priest of Jesus Christ. —Lacordaire

Father John Michael George | 29 August 2012  

Father George, Jesus saying about leaving "house, or brethren, or sisters, etc" doesn't have anything to do with celibacy. Married people make sacrifices for the sake of Christ. Celibacy is a promise not to marry - it's a legal thing. Chastity, on the other hand, is something we are all called to - to be faithful to our life situation - and many would say monogomous relationships are far more demanding than celibacy.

AURELIUS | 31 August 2012  

The Ordinariate was in response to the persistent requests of some Anglican groups. The Pope did not seek them out. If someone is knocking at your door to be received, it seems uncharitable not to open it. As for unity, it should be more about respect rather than any unrealistic idea that unity will be achieved.

Jim Williams | 02 September 2012  

Hey Jim! These guys are set-in-concrete anti papist, you will never win. For them, Jesus got it wrong re petrine commission versus

Father John Michael George | 03 September 2012  

Christ said, "That they all be one" not a 'pottage of respected errors'-Jesus words, exegeted by His magisterium, call for eventual doctrinal unity, not celebrations of dissent. I fully agree re ordinariates:
The Vatican protocols and decrees from 1981
onwards were a generous response to Anglican petitions-far removed from Roman unilateral intervention, one notes bilateral authoritative acceptance of ordinariates:
"The decision to institute personal ordinariates for Anglicans who join the Catholic Church was announced on 20 October 2009 by Cardinal William Levada at a press conference in Rome and by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, at a simultaneous press conference in London".[WIKIPEDIA].

Father John Michael George | 04 September 2012  

Jim Williams one ought not be dismissive about actual reunion. The RCC can wait centuries as eg re the oriental churches[RC motto: "cunctando regitur mundus"=He who waits rules the world!]
The Uniate oriental churches[reunited with Rome over centuries] comprise 16,336,000 members.
Uniate’ churches comprise Eastern Christians who either reaffirmed their never formally broken communion with Rome, or left their Orthodox mother churches to join the Catholic communion. They derive from all seven extant Eastern Christian traditions – Armenian, Byzantine, Coptic and Ethiopian and those of Syriac provenance: East-Syrian or Mesopotamian, represented today by the Chaldean and Syro-Malabar Catholic churches, West-Syrian or Syro-Antiochene by the Syrian Catholic Church (another branch of the same tradition, the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, dates only from the 1930s); and the Maronite Church of Lebanon, which shares elements of both East- and West-Syrian provenance. The last is the only Eastern church that is entirely Catholic, and only the Chaldean and Syro-Malabar churches are larger than their Orthodox counterparts. These churches are all mono-ethnic except those of the Byzantine tradition, which includes communities of Albanian, Georgian, Greek, Hungarian, Melkite or Arab, Romanian, and Slavic ‘Greek Catholics’, the name Empress Maria Theresa invented in 1774 to distinguish them from their ‘Latin Catholic’ coreligionists.

Father John Michael George | 04 September 2012  

Not dismissive of reunion. But I would expect most would agree that the Anglican communion, more the moving party with respect to recent changes in theology, discipline and practice, is traveling further away from what is likely to be accepted by Rome should efforts at unity actually gather traction. The issue is also muddied by the disparate theological views of Anglicans. One can go to the web sites of different Episcopal churches in the U.S.; some believe in seven sacraments, some believe in three (but if they all live happily under their big tent, who am I to criticize their differing beliefs?). Rome is often painted as the bad guy in these things (It's Rome's way or the highway...). But what faith is worth following if it doesn't (gently) stand up for what it believes? However, it's not just Anglican and Catholic unity. I haven't followed the Orthodox Churches' views of recent Anglican developments, but I would expect that they take a similar view to that of Rome. At some point, the gulf on matters such as women bishops is too wide to close, at least in the near future. But with charity, respect, and soft voices, that can be fine.

Jim Williams | 06 September 2012  

'Distance from doctrinal/moralmagisterium' has always been a factor in converts leading up to conversion to Catholic Church,be it from pagans to death bed conversion of murderers etc. Graces and apostolic zeal have overcame major obstacles over 2000 years,resulting in ecclesial reunions and amazing individual conversions[I,with Gods grace gave last rites and viaticum, to Australia's stand over hardman gangster, John 'chow' Hayes who ironically shot dead, 11 times at point blank range, my grandmothers cousin, in Sydney Ziegfield club. He was feared by Sydney sleazy underworld, in mid last century, but this once evil criminal converted back to his Catholic faith of childhood despite his media attested former utter contempt for religion, let alone magisterium!

Father John Michael George | 13 September 2012  

Give it time my friend. Give it time.

Augustine Thomas | 27 July 2014  

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