When Pope Benedict XVI announced Anglicanorum Coetibus in 2009, news stories called this a provision for “disgruntled Anglicans” to come into the Catholic Church.
Everywhere you looked, it seemed, there was something about these “disgruntled Anglicans” who were so unhappy about same-sex blessings or women priests or whatever progressive novelty some in the Anglican Communion they wanted to escape into the Catholic Church. “Disgruntled Anglicans” was such a negative, disparaging descriptor.
Frankly, it was annoying.
And then, some Catholics patronizingly said we must not become Catholic because were were disgruntled, or because we were running away from something but we must become Catholic for positive reasons.
This was said so many times and it struck me as patronizing. Often it was said by people who nothing about us, really. Or by people who should have known better.
Of course, we did have some disgruntled people in our midst. I think every community has a disgruntled person or two or three or more. No one, however, who was a disgruntled person ended up coming with us into the Catholic Church. The process of coming in was so hard, so uncertain, with such a high bar expected in terms of commitment and faith that those who survived this culling process were a pretty docile [to the Holy Spirit], positive flock of believers who had discerned entering the Catholic Church was God’s will no matter what the cost, and who in good conscience signed on the dotted line that they believed everything the Catholic Church teaches as revealed to be true.
When we were finally received into the Catholic Church five years ago on Divine Mercy Sunday there was such joy and thanksgiving even though our clergy faced another two years of uncertainty regarding whether they would ever be ordained as Catholic priests. The day we were received about 600-700 Catholics from the diocese and beyond joined us at St. Patrick’s Basilica and welcomed us with a standing ovation. Three standing ovations if I recall correctly.
It has been worth it. There was a time of travail and suffering before we came in, but that’s all forgotten now we are finally home. Since we came into the Catholic Church, it has only gotten better and better.
We are extremely well-integrated into the Ottawa archdiocese. Our people have attended Bible studies and courses in other churches. We partner with a neighboring Roman Catholic parish in sponsoring a Syrian refugee family and in an annual joint-Corpus Christi Mass and procession through our neighborhood that Bishop Lopes is going to lead this year. One of our priests is a hospital chaplain for the diocese and fills in sometimes at parishes when a priest is needed to celebrate Mass.
All of us attend Roman Catholic Masses when we are traveling or unable to make it on Sunday morning to our own parish. We are so grateful to be at home in the Catholic Church wherever we are in the world. I’m sure similar stories could be told across North America about good relations, and positive integration.
But we are also grateful Pope Benedict XVI had the foresight to issue an Apostolic Constitution that set up a structure to preserve our beautiful Anglican/English Catholic patrimony and liturgy as gifts to be shared with the wider Church.
That we want to preserve this Anglican/English patrimony and pass it on has nothing to do with our being disgruntled Anglicans who think we are better than anyone else, nor is it an indication that, according to some, we have not fully become Catholic. Thankfully, it is only in some obscure corners of the web this kind of stuff is going on in any regularity. As far as the mainstream media goes, we are now ignored in any talk about ecumenism or Anglican/ Catholic relations.
Frankly, the people who continue to lob these criticisms at us in the Ordinariate and who scour the internet for signs some of our communities may be fragile or experiencing difficulties so they can snort that we are really no different than Continuing Anglicans and it’s high time we gave up our project and became regular Catholics are the disgruntled ones, seeing everything through a negative lens, listening to other disgruntled people who pass on bits of detraction and even calumny.
Disgruntled people cannot be trusted. It is sinful to be disgruntled. Disgruntled people are like the fox in Aesop’s Fable of the fox and the grapes. When he can’t reach the grapes, he then disparages them as sour. Most detractors of the Ordinariate and its communities seem to me like that fox.