John Bruce over at his gloomy blog speculates about the future of Hollywood’s St. Mary of the Angels parish in a recent post. I am not providing a link. Many of my readers already monitor this blog, but I consider it an unreliable source of information because of the biases of the author. Therefore I’m not sending any traffic its way.
When I spoke with Abp Hepworth in April, he indicated that he is, at least in a low-key way, pursuing the continuing possibility of St Mary of the Angels entering the OCSP. Among other things, this would require the outstanding legal issues surrounding the parish to be resolved, so at this point, the matter is largely hypothetical.
On the other hand, the parish is rebuilding itself after a series of potentially cataclysmic setbacks. My wife and I visit from time to time, especially for the community outreach programs and concerts it’s been providing. These efforts are impressive.
An influential parishioner asked me this past Sunday if I thought the OCSP had a future. My answer was, “Not in its current form.”
Bruce then goes on to speculate about the Ordinariate, all in a very negative light, as is his wont.
He has an unduly dark picture of the future of the Ordinariates, and about whether they should exist at all, comparing them recently to “Obamacare.”
For the sake of the people at St. Mary of the Angels who might be contemplating joining the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, I would urge them to seek other sources of information and not judge based on the biases of a man who takes strong dislikes to people, most of whom he has never met in person, and who then finds every possible way to disparage them. And that in addition to his disagreeing with the whole principle of preserving Anglican Patrimony within the Catholic Church through the generous gift of Pope Benedict XVI in Anglicanorum coetibus. He considers the whole thing a colossal, strategic mistake.
Bruce speculates about the future of St. Mary’s if it were to become an Ordinariate parish and the Ordinariate were to fold. Dear St. Mary’s people, the Ordinariates are not going to fold. As Bishop Lopes said after Pope Francis approved Divine Worship: the Missal:
Pope Francis was enormously encouraging! It is clear to me that with his approval of a proper missal for the ordinariates and with my appointment as bishop, he is giving concrete expression to the vision of Pope Benedict XVI for the unity of Christians.
Bruce also talks about other problems facing St. Mary’s should they get their legal difficulties solved.
St Mary of the Angels has a succession problem. Fr Kelley, whose ability to persevere through enormous difficulties and rebuild the parish has been clearly demonstrated, is about 70, which is the canonical retirement age in the OCSP. He is extremely fit and in general good health, but obviously, nothing lasts forever. The OCSP doesn’t appear to have any credible replacement. If I were Abp Hepworth and the vestry, I would strongly insist on some type of assurance from Houston or its successor that current or prospective OCSP California clergy would absolutely not be considered for Fr Kelley’s replacement. But the overall disappointing quality of OCSP clergy is nearly as big a concern.
It’s surprising a man who joined the Roman Catholic Church with his wife and has written previously everyone else should do the same, and that any attachment to Anglican Patrimony is merely a kind of Continuing Anglican cult is now advising his former parish to “insist” on favorable conditions.
When our parish came into the Church we had no guarantees whatsoever. None of our clergy had so much as a nulla osta. But we realized becoming Catholic was the right thing to do—and we decided to obey and trust. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was only 4 months old when we came in—there was nothing there except an Ordinary and a document compared to what we have now–Divine Worship: The Missal, a Bishop; a Chancery; Seminarians; 42? communities and new ones sprouting up that are not official yet.
Becoming Catholic is a matter of delicate personal discernment, and not meant to be an escape from something we might be “disgruntled about” as we were so often told in advance of our coming in.
We we had our naysayers at the time, people who tried to convince us Archbishop Hepworth was lying to us, selling us a bill of goods and so on, that we would lose our building, that we would have priests foisted on us who didn’t understand us. Well, almost everything he said would happen did happen, and while it was rocky coming in because many people in our communities listened to the naysayers and bolted, since coming into the Catholic Church we have been amazed at Her generosity towards us.
I realize St. Mary’s had had a tremendously painful history, going back to the Pastoral Provision days. But Bruce is dead wrong about this:
But I think it’s realistic in trying to think two years out (or whatever) that the OCSP will not continue in its current form, and some type of renewed Pastoral Provision for the small number of surviving communities is one credible outcome.
There is no possibility of a renewed Pastoral Provision for communities. It’s over. The choices are: join the Ordinariate, remain a Continuing Anglican group, or become Roman Catholic like the Bruces did and disperse into the wider diocese.
I am glad Archbishop Hepworth has been working with the St. Mary’s people and encouraging them to become members of the Ordinariate. He always told me he would try to usher every possible community into the Church that he could, then shut off the lights and close the door and make his own peace with the Church he loves.
It delighted me to hear he had brought St. Mary’s a copy of Divine Worship: The Missal and encouraged them to start using it and that he had helped the church resolve some of its horrendous legal difficulties. I pray they will have a just outcome of the last legal battle they face coming up in November.
I urge the St. Mary’s people to go to the sources for their information. Contact the chancery of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Maintain the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity as you discern the way forward by the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember Christ’s desire for unity is not an option, and the Catholic Church has generously provided a way for you to maintain your precious Anglican patrimony. It doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get your way in everything—being Catholic is not about getting our way, or laying down conditions, but in yielding to God’s will and trusting in the mediation of His Church.