Why Anglo-Catholics don’t join the Ordinariate in England

The Catholic Herald has an article by Andrew Sabisky explaining why High Church Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England do not join the Ordinariate 

First, the system of alternative episcopal oversight allows our parishes to place themselves under the supervision of a male “flying bishop” who does not ordain women to the priesthood. On both the Anglo-Catholic and conservative evangelical wings of the church, “church within a church” structures are growing and flourishing. These structures are likely to become even more powerful over time.

Second, despite the best efforts of Pope Benedict, it is an open secret that the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales has never been keen on the Ordinariate. It has become something of a disfavoured ghetto. Even if a priest or parish has a dubious relationship with the CofE hierarchy, crossing the Tiber is unlikely to improve matters.

Third, CofE clergy are allowed a certain latitude to run their parishes as they see fit. Many of the more Anglo-Papalist parishes use the Roman Rite, entirely unadapted. A few others still use the English Missal, a singularly marvellous liturgy that combines a beautiful translation of the Tridentine Rite in a 16th-century hieratic dialect with the highlights of the Book of Common Prayer. This is all almost certainly against canon law, but the bishops generally look the other way. Such freedom is generally not the practice of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, which, from the outsider’s perspective, seems rather more controlling of its priests and parishes.

Hmmmm! —  freedom!  bishops looking the other way!  doing one’s own thing.

Yeah, those are hard habits to break.

But his closing comment: “On top of all that, of course, any priest going to Rome has to sign up to Apostolicae Curae, admitting the invalidity of their previous ministry. Is it a surprise that most do not?”

This is not technically true.  No priest had this document waved in front of them and had to sign a declaration on the invalidity of their previous ministry.  Their previous ministry was not a valid Catholic ministry, but that does not mean one has to deny one’s previous ministry and declare it sacrilege, which is what this statement implies.

The standard for belief is the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Is Apostolicae Curae even cited in it?

2 thoughts on “Why Anglo-Catholics don’t join the Ordinariate in England

  1. In England, being a member of the CofE is almost a patriotic sort of thing. To some, leaving the CofE would be tantamount to refuting the crown. In addition, as long as the flying bishops arrangement remains, there is no reason for them to leave.

    However, I know two things for sure…

    The first is that Leftists are intolerant at heart. They’ll tolerate conservatives when they have to, but just barely. Once they feel they don’t need them anymore, the tolerance will end. So I am convinced the flying bishops arrangement is a temporary thing.

    The second is the UK Ordinariate is pigeon holding itself if it limits its potential new members to CofE Anglo-Catholics. That’s a terrible mistake. The Ordinariate in the UK should focus its primary evangelistic efforts toward lapsed Catholics and unchurched people (Atheists, Agnostics, NeoPagans and Muslims.) Anything less would be a sad neglect of her mission.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The biggest problem with this piece is the impression it leaves; on the contrary, while some may have been disappointed by numbers, many Anglo-Catholics have in fact joined the ordinariates in the UK, US, Canada, & Australia.

    The author makes a couple of other paradigmatic errors that we should insist on correcting:

    He says “Anglo-Catholicism has its own martyrology, a source of huge pride. Go to the great Anglo-Catholic shrines and someone will inevitable pin your ears back with the story of the 19th-century priest who went to prison for such offences as putting candles on the altar and wearing eucharistic vestments. Men such as Fr Alexander Heriot Mackonochie (the “martyr of St Alban’s”), Fr Arthur Tooth and Fr Pelham Dale fought heroically for their vision of the catholicity of the Church of England. Their successors are not likely to walk away from such a past easily.” On the contrary, their successor Anglo-Catholics who have joined the ordinariates have in no way walked away from this past. Rather, we have embraced that past and that heritage and taken it to its full logical conclusion.

    The author continues, “…any priest going to Rome has to sign up to Apostolicae Curae, admitting the invalidity of their previous ministry.” This too is not totally accurate. The judgement of Apostolicae Curae dealt with the situation in the 1890s & the validity of Anglican orders resulting from such as the former use of the Edwardine ordinal. While Apostolicae Curae remains authoritative, the Catholic Church has not only implicitly recognized the possible validity of orders in a very few discrete cases (e.g. Mgr Graham Leonard) but in no way suggests the wholesale invalidity of Anglican ministry. Instead, the Church makes use of a prayer of thanksgiving for Anglican ministry at the Catholic priesting of incoming Anglican ministers joining the ordinariates.

    The Anglican ordinariates are in no way a rejection of the Ritualist heritage or the Anglo-Catholic movement but their fulfillment.


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