Deal Hudson and Father Z respond to David Mills

Deal Hudson responds to David Mill’s “converts should stop talking so much” piece at Crux in a response also at Crux.  Hudson writes:

There are quite a few cradles I have learned from experience just to ignore. Catholic wisdom is hardly recognized by the date on your baptismal certificate.

Mills even suggests that a convert’s knowledge of Scripture and theology is “naively” overrated, but adds, “that’s another article.” I look forward to seeing it, but just who does he have in mind?

The late Father Louis Bouyer, himself a convert from Lutheranism, told me his seminal book, The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, was started when he was a Lutheran but was a Catholic by the time he finished it. Is Bouyer one of those converts whose theological knowledge is overrated?

Finally, we come to Mills in the garden. In an attempt to make his argument concrete, he posits a garden with flowers – a convert does not stand amidst the garden, he says, but sees it “through a bay window.”

“He has to spend many years outside to know what life in the garden is really like,” Mills writes.

Am I mistaken in believing that I was received into the Church on the day I was confirmed at the Hawthorne Sisters’ Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta, Georgia in February, 1984? That puts me inside the garden, does it not? If not, at what point is a convert admitted?

And Father Z had this response on  his site:

It astonishes me that people keep going to back to this third rail and jumping up and down on it.

I think all these people grumbling about converts are concerned because of the more conservative positions held by many visible converts who are well-known for speaking and writing on Catholic issues.

Let’s turn the sock inside out.  How about this:

  • Cradle Catholics should learn something about their Faith.
  • Cradle Catholics should go to Confession before Communion.
  • Cradle Catholics should stop shacking up and get married.
  • Cradle Catholics should stop contracepting at same rate as non-Catholics.
  • Cradle Catholics should speak less, listen more.

I don’t have stats at my finger tips, but I’ll wager that the converts the libs want to silence are more faithful in these matters than most cradle Catholics.

Back in the days after Anglicanorum Coetibus, when there was a lot of uncertainty about what would happen, what the Ordinariates would look like, how we in the Traditional Anglican Communion would fare, and so on, I remember my inner sense of offense when I was told we would have to go through RCIA.  And later, we heard, our clergy could not conduct it because “they weren’t Catholic.”

“RCIA!!!???   RCIA?????!!!!   Are you kidding me?” I thought to myself, when I heard a bishop musing about this.  “I know someone who teaches RCIA in your diocese and she isn’t even a Christian, never mind a Catholic.”

We chose to do the Evangelium Course, that Our Lady of Walsingham used.  And our then Bishop Carl Reid taught it, though we had our priest mentor in the audience available to correct our non-Catholic bishop should he fall into error.   Interestingly, at one point during the catechesis,  Fr. Carl, now Dean of the Deanery of St. John the Baptist of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, said of something in the Evangelium Course:  “That’s wrong.”  Then he explained why it was wrong.   And, lo and behold, our mentor priest, a canon lawyer, agreed with him!  Sorry, I can’t remember the particular doctrinal point.

Yeah, maybe like David Mills, we already thought we were already catholic, and more  catholic than many cradle Catholics, but certainly not more catholic than dear Papa Benedict XVI!  So the response of the hierarchy seemed to be, “Oh, you think you’re catholic?  Well, let’s move the bar up higher.  How about this?”

But no, interestingly enough, we did not have our faces rubbed in Apostolica Curiae, except by some traditionalists on blogs.  Our clergy did have to go through long periods of becoming lay men and wearing civilian clothes –a painful time of stripping of identity and uncertainty whether they would ever be ordained as Catholic priests.

So, when our people signed on the dotted line that we believed everything the Catholic Church teaches as revealed to be true, we had it drummed into us every difficult teaching that most cradle Catholics these days reject, such as the evils of artificial contraception.

The Evangelium Course proved to be a good refresher for our people, kind of like the way an Alpha Course can be a good refresher on the basics.

When I shared this story with a cradle Catholic friend, she told me we were lucky to have this rigorous training before entering the Catholic Church.   She laments that so many cradle Catholics do not know their faith and that little seems to be done to make sure they are taught.



David Mills, speaking for himself

David Mills, a former Anglo-Catholic, who crossed the Tiber 17 years ago has a piece up at Crux entitled Newcomers to the Church Should Listen More and Speak Less that continues what many perceive as the “convert bashing” that began with this piece by Austen Ivereigh, for which he has apologized.

The short versions of the two posts is: “converts” ought to shut up.   Why? because somehow cradle Catholics have a secret decoder ring to The Catholic Thing that newcomers lack and therefore any criticisms of the current state of play in the Church come from their “baggage” carried from their previous church.  I dunno.  When surveys show most cradle Catholics don’t even believe in Real Presence, disregard teachings on contraception, and hold many other beliefs contrary to official Church teaching, I wonder what cradle Catholics he’s referring to that seem to have grasped the full Truth of being a Catholic.

Well, David Mills speaks for himself, and it may have taken him a while to grasp from the inside such things as Mary as Mother, but does he presume all the critics described by Ivereigh  haven’t deepened their conversion as much as he has or even deeper than he has? Ivereigh wrote in Pope Francis and the Convert Problem:

Now it is quite possible that elegant commentators such as Ross Douthat and  Matthew’s boss Rusty Reno (both former Episcopalians), or, at the rougher end, writers such as Carl Orlson (ex-Protestant fundamentalist) and John Henry Westen (ex-atheist), or indeed ex-Anglicans in my own patch such as Daniel Hitchens of the Catholic Herald and Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register in Rome, are all correct in their readings.

But it is a lot more likely that their baggage has distorted their hermeneutic, and they are suffering from convert neurosis.


Do none of those listed “get it” the way he does?  Are Massimo Faggioli and Austen Ivereigh as examples of cradle Catholics who do.  What about Robert Royal?  Cardinal Burke, to name a prominent American cradle Catholic?

But of the real Catholic mind or imagination – the Catholic paradigm, the way Catholics see the world – he knows little. The new Catholic must work for many years to get that, and never will get it fully.

Most converts, as I wrote in The New Oxford Review, will never think and feel exactly as do cradle Catholics. They do by instinct what we will always do by analysis followed by choice.

For a long time, and perhaps a very long time, the convert will see the Catholic Thing as you see a garden through a bay window, not as you see it when you’re standing amidst the flowers. He sees its design and beauty, but doesn’t feel the sun or smell the flowers or enjoy walking barefoot on the grass. Nor does he know what it is like to get caught in the rain or stung by a bee, or to spend hours weeding. He has to spend many years outside to know what life in the garden is really like.

Then, this.


The second example relates more closely to Faggioli’s and Ivereigh’s concerns. Converts tend not to have a sense of the Church as a living body moving through history. Our instinctive ecclesiology is more static, more a matter of settled rules to be obeyed than a life to be lived.

Converts may believe in the development of doctrine, and in fact include it as one of their reasons for converting. I did, but for a long time I didn’t see how it works.

Converts don’t trust it, because the process includes a lot of confusion and error. It requires something more like mobs arguing in bars and battling in the street than the genteel discussion around the table in an oak-paneled room they imagine.

It includes a pope who might speak ambiguously and challenge the Church to explain and defend practices thought settled in their present form, while being the Holy Father to whom submission is due.

We will tend to react to any questioning of the boundaries and feel the hard cases dangerously risky. We hold more doctrines to be settled than are actually settled, and dislike open questions.

There is a great division among Catholic theologians about how this living Body moves through history—whether the truths of Revelation transcend history and are true for all times and all cultures (though of course may need to be explained in new or fresh ways) or whether history and some kind of Hegelian dialectic makes Revelation a process and where history or experience are right up there with Scripture and Tradition.  And, in fact, trump Scripture and Tradition.

Tracey Rowland’s book Catholic Theology was helpful for me to understand these various trends.




News on upcoming meeting in Australia

The Catholic Leader in Australia has an advance story on the upcoming patronal festival of Our Lady of the Southern Cross at the end of this month:

Monsignor Keith Newton, of the Ordinariate in the United Kingdom, Bishop Steven Lopes, of the Ordinariate in the United States, and Australia’s own Ordinary Monsignor Harry Entwistle will meet in Brisbane at the end of August for their first gathering in Australia.


East Brisbane ordinariate priest Fr Tony Iball said the meeting of the three ordinaries in Brisbane was significant for the Australian ordinariate’s fifth anniversary celebrations.

“Celebrating our fifth anniversary with the three ordinaries being present and coinciding with our annual clergy residential meeting helps us to focus on the importance of Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation in Anglicanorum Coetibus for Anglicans to come into full communion with the Catholic Church and the Holy Father,” Fr Iball said.

Fr Iball said the meeting would also be a sign of hope to groups and individuals who seek to unite with the Catholic Church.

“Our gathering and celebrations will also focus on the hope that the establishment of the ordinariates in America, the UK and Australia should not be seen as one-off experiences but should give encouragement by example to other groups seeking unity with the Universal Church and those interested in ecumenism generally to continue seeking unity among Christians after many centuries of division,” he said.

The meeting of the three ordinaries will coincide with a public lecture on the future of ecumenism by Queensland-born theologian and former Anglican, Professor Tracey Rowland on August 30 and a Mass on the Solemnity of Our Lady of the Southern Cross on August 31.

If I were retired and had a big pot of money set aside for travel, or a wealthy benefactor, I would definitely go to this.

I will watch from afar and try to have as much information as I can on the event.

I highly recommend Tracey Rowland’s Catholic Theology (Doing Theology).   

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?

Our Mohawk Ordinariate community gets a mention in the National Catholic Register and on Facebook


The photo is from one posted on Facebook by Jane Hodgins, wife of Father John Hodgins of St. Thomas More Parish in Toronto after he celebrated Mass at Christ the King community’s Royal Chapel at Tyendinaga Mohawk Reserve in late July.

Jane wrote on Facebook:

Yesterday, John was privileged to celebrate Mass according to Divine Worship Mass in the Mohawk Chapel Royal, Tyendinaga with the Ordinariate Community of Christ the King assisted by Instituted Acolyte Murray O’Coin (pictured). Murray will be ordained Deacon, D.V., on April 24, 2018.

After a delicious pot-luck lunch, Chief Don Maracle, an Ordinariate Catholic, gave John and me a tour and talk about the history of the Mohawk people and their long relationship with the Crown going back to Queen Anne.

The current Chapel Royal is one of only two in Canada and six outside of Britain. The other one in Canada is also in the possession of the Mohawk people at Six Nations near Brantford.

The Chapel Royal deed is held by the Mohawk Band and the Council has authorized it for Catholic worship and the continuation of the Mohawk’s long Anglican patrimony, now in full communion with the Holy See.


Peter Jesserer Smith, an Ordinariate member and member of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society has a great article in the National Catholic Register about the importance of restoring the languages of North America’s Indigenous Peoples.

Well worth reading the whole thing, but this part about an  Ordinariate Mohawk community in Ontario is especially interesting:

Murray O’Coin, a lay administrator of the Christ the King community, which is part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, said his entire life he has looked through the Bible with Mohawk eyes and had a deep love for Jesus’ mother Mary even before becoming Catholic, precisely because the Mohawk tradition reveres their mothers. Bishop Steven Lopes has encouraged his community to continue to find ways to integrate Mohawk into the ordinariate’s Mass known as Divine Worship. Besides having the Sign of the Cross, the Our Father and the hymns and carols they have sung since St. Kateri’s day, O’Coin said his community is looking to add the Apostles’ Creed in Mohawk and considering the possibility of whether Collects from old Mohawk translations of the Book of Common Prayer (much of which is integrated into the ordinariate’s missal) could also be integrated into the Mass.

“My bishop is very supportive, and I’m appreciative of that,” he said.

For O’Coin, being able to pray the Mass parts and sing hymns in the living language of his people is a deeply powerful affirmation of what they bring to the whole Church as a people. More Mohawk people have joined the Church because they see the culture alive in their ordinariate community, where they are encouraged to be “fully Mohawk and fully Catholic” and lift up their voices in the Church.

“We have young people hearing those hymns, prayers in Mohawk, and it becomes part of their everyday,” he said.

“Even just being able to pray the Lord’s Prayer in Mohawk, it says being Catholic and being Indian is good. I don’t have to do anything than be what God has made me to be.”

An ecumenism of hate? Hardly!

Shane Schaetzel a board member and webmaster of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society has written a response to the La Civilta Cattolica article by Fr. Spadaro and Presbyterian Pastor Figueroa that closely reflects my experience of Evangelicals and Catholics working together from my perch in Canada.

It is hardly the “ecumenism of hate,” black and white “Manicheaism” like that of Islamist terrorists or ISIS-like “preparing the Apocalypse” the authors decry.

Like Shane, I am a former evangelical. As a journalist who has written for both evangelical and Catholic venues, I am well-acquainted with various communities within both and thus I found the critique by Fr. Spadaro and Figueroa woefully ignorant, trafficking in anti-Christian tropes commonly used by progressive political operatives to discredit opponents, and, dangerously marginalizing of an already marginalized group in the United States, the presence of representatives of some in Trump’s cabinet and inner circle notwithstanding.

Shane writes Spadaro and Figueroa are  mistaken if they believe Catholics and Evangelicals voted *for* Donald Trump.

Let me make this crystal clear for anyone at the Vatican who might be reading this. Speaking as an American Catholic, down here in the trenches of the political battles unfolding in America, the one and only reason why Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election is because of Hillary Clinton. She is the reason why he is the president today. She is the reason why faithful Catholics and Evangelicals turned out en mass to vote for Donald Trump and the Republicans last November.

She is the reason why the Republicans are now the majority in the U.S. Congressional House and Senate, as well as the majority of the state legislatures and governors mansions around the nation. She, and she alone, is the one singular reason why things turned out the way they did. She was the candidate with a pro-abortion advocacy record unparalleled in American history. She was the candidate with her disdain for Evangelicals and faithful Catholics. She was the candidate with her “deep seated… religious beliefs… have to be changed” comment (see here) that scared the hell out of faithful Christians all across America.

I do not know any person who voted for Donald Trump, or a Canadian who would have voted for him, who was or is blind to the man’s obvious flaws.

Shane continues in writing about the growing bond between Catholics and Evangelicals that began in the 1980s.

Much of this current relationship came about in the 1980s and 90s, on the front lines of the American proverbial “culture wars,” particularly in the trenches of the Pro-Life Movement. Faithful Catholics and Evangelicals found themselves under fire together from hostile forces on the Secular and Pagan Left in America. (Yes, there is a “Pagan” Left in America. Just ask any Wiccan or New Ager.) We faithful Catholics watched the Left belittle and malign the very people we stood side-by-side with (Evangelicals) on the street corners of America during Pro-Life demonstrations. We all suffered the insults and profanities together by passing traffic. We all endured the egg throwing and garbage tossing by the same motorists passing by. Even our little children, who stood there with us, were subject to the same, asking “Mommy, why do they hate us so much?” Ours was an alliance forged in the crucible of soft persecution by the American Left, and we built strong relationships through it. Today, it can be said that many faithful Catholics in America feel a stronger kindred with local Evangelicals than we do with cafeteria Catholics in New York, Washington DC, Europe and yes, even the Vatican. Why? I think the Spadaro/Figueroa article speaks for itself on that. Too many of our fellow Catholics are too clueless, or too snobbish, to understand what it’s like to have raw eggs, garbage and profanities thrown at you and your small children, while you stand side-by-side with Evangelicals having the same things thrown at them, in our public proclamation of the Gospel of Life.

It was during this time that a group of prominent Evangelicals and Catholics produced a statement pledging our support for one another in the midst of this cultural upheaval. The document itself was a major source of division between Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, accelerating the rift between them, but it forged a deeper relationship with Catholics and Evangelicals on the front-lines of the battle with the Secular and Pagan Left. The name of the document is Evangelicals and Catholics Together: the Christian Mission in the Third Millennium. It’s a document that every Catholic and Evangelical should read and share with others.

Amen! Amen and Amen!

I have to testify to the positive impact Catholics and Evangelicals Together had on me, as well as that of First Things Magazine, edited by the late Fr. Richard Neuhaus, the Catholic co-author with Evangelical Charles Colson of that document.

First Things introduced me to serious thinking about the role of faith in the public square.  It’s also where I first encountered writing by Cardinal Pell and others that made me reconsider my dismissal of the Catholic Church as  not much different from mainline Protestantism except for statues of Mary.





Fr. Longenecker axes Branch Theory

Over at the National Catholic Register, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, a former Anglican clergyman but non-Ordinariate Catholic priest, takes the ax to Branch Theory, the idea the Anglican Church was a branch of One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church like the Orthodox Churches.

He writes:

When I lived in England I often heard members of the Church of England say, “We’re Catholic too; we’re just not Roman Catholic.”


The idea that the Church in England grew out of links that were independent of Roman authority suits Anglicans because they like to imagine that there are three ancient apostolic churches, Rome, the Orthodox and themselves. The Celtic-Coptic theory enables them to sustain this myth. It also helps them to defend their continued independence from Roman authority. The Anglican argument goes like this: “We are descendants of the first British Christians. They existed happily for 600 years independent of Rome; and we are simply part of that same stream of ancient apostolic Christianity.”

Unfortunately, the idea that Celtic Christianity sprang up on its own, independent of Rome, just doesn’t fit the facts.

I encountered Branch Theory in the early days of my attending Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa when it was part of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada.  It was one of those beliefs our priests and people had to shed as their conversion deepened in preparation for entering the Catholic Church.

Key was accepting that to truly be able to call oneself Catholic, one had to be in communion with the Bishop of Rome.  Otherwise, you might be able to say you were catholic, but with a small-c.

For some it was an easier “death” to an old way of looking at things than for others. Branch Theory was one of the reasons behind the painful split our parish experienced in 2011 and I am sure it is widespread among Continuing Anglican jurisdictions.