Not just an Anglican ritual enclave

One year after Anglicanorum Coetibus was published, but before any Anglican ordinariates had actually been stood up, Claudio Salvucci wrote about them over at New Liturgical Movement, and his remarks are worth recalling seven years later.

He was responding to those seeking to sow doubt on what Pope Benedict had done by suggesting they’d be and forever remain “a tiny, negligible enclave of Anglo-Catholics” that would be lost in the sea of “the giant megalith that is Roman Catholicism” and that it wouldn’t expand much beyong “the handful of parishes that now comprise the Anglican Use in the United States”. Yet Salvucci clearly saw the potential of the ordinariates and correctly understood that size wasn’t the real indicator of their success.

“Size matters not… Judge me by my size do you?”
– Yoda

yoda-memeSalvucci then reviewed some of the different ritual traditions in the Catholic Church and pointed out how tiny so many of them are. We minority communities in the Church can’t all be the UGCC! He mentioned the Albanian Byzantine Catholic Church (3845 members, 9 parishes, 1 bishop), the Greek Byzantine Catholic Church (2525 members, 4 parishes, and 1 bishop), the Bulgarian Catholic Church (10,000 members, 21 parishes, 1 bishop), and the Georgian Byzantine-Rite Catholics who “number perhaps only 500”. There is also the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church, also known as the Russian Orthodox in communion with Rome, but they too are one of the smallest of the Catholic Churches and have been without an exarch for decades now. Yet their existence is a great sign of hope for Catholics of the Russian tradition.

Similarly, the continued existence of such tiny communities as those of the Mozarabic or Iroquois traditions is a great sign of the universality of the Catholic Church. (He even mentions the Hebrew vicariate in Israel, which brings to mind the idea of a Jewish ordinariate that some have called for.) The loss of any of these legitimate and dignified rites or traditions, including our own, would be a major loss for the Church.

The Church’s dignity is such, that for her to be monolithically of one rite only would contradict her nature. The plurality of rites beautifes and glorifies the Church and shows forth her inner nature as truly universal. The Church is not contingent on any one particular culture, not even the Roman. (Peter himself was Jewish, after all.)

This is a reminder that we have to be diligent and work hard to preserve our Anglican way of being Catholic. Salvucci continues:

“These little ritual enclaves have struggled, in many cases, against great odds and sometimes the hostility of priests, bishops, and even popes, to survive. Some others, unfortunately, weren’t so lucky.

“The church in my mother’s Albanian-speaking town in Italy originally had an iconostasis and was bi-ritual (Latin and Byzantine). It ceased to be so, however, in the mid-1700s, apparently due to mounting hostility from Latin bishops…

“Whatever their numbers, these little enclaves are, in their own way, evidence of the Church’s universal nature. Catholicity is defined not only, as we sometimes tend to think, by the mere quantity of membership but also by the way it crowns each and every culture with which it has come into contact. That the Church can speak not only in Latin but also in Iroquois, Hebrew and Malayalam is a different kind of universality than mere numbers–and it is no less important.”

At the end of the day, “The Church is a family of unique individuals all tied together by love. And in every family worth the name, it is always the case that the littlest members are the most precious and dearest of all.”

We in the Anglican family who are now full members of the Catholic Church are witnesses to the rest of our Anglican brothers and sisters of the vitality of our Anglican tradition in the fullness of Catholicism.

So yes, we have work to do to evangelize, to expand and promote the ordinariates, and to ensure the preservation of our Anglican way of worshipping and being Christian, but we should also keep in mind that our small size and slow, organic growth in no way means we are failing. Rather, our continued existence as a Catholic Church of the Anglican tradition is a sign for all whom we come across of the truth and universality of the Catholic faith.

Anniversary of ‘A Pledged Troth’

Anyone who follows closely news about the Catholic Church knows there has been much controversy regarding the interpretation of Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation  Amoris Laetitia ‘The Joy of Love.’   Some bishops’ conferences have gone to far as to say it opens the way for Holy Communion for those who are divorced and civilly remarried without having obtained a Decree of Nullity for the first marriage.

Bishop Steven Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, was among the first to come out with an interpretation of the Holy Father’s teaching in continuity with the teachings of previous popes.  He also beautifully ties in our Anglican/English Catholic heritage in A Pledged Troth.

Shane Schaetzel over at his Catholic in the Ozarks blog marks the first anniversary of Bishop Lopes’ A Pledged Troth here.  Here are some excerpts, but there’s a lot more, so read the whole piece.

Rather, he did exactly what a pastor should do. He taught the faith, both with charity and clarity. A Pledged Troth remains the official interpretation of Amoris Laetitia within the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, the North American Ordinariate set up by Pope Benedict XVI back in 2012 to preserve the Anglican Patrimony. If you want to know what Amoris Laetitia means in the North American Ordinariate, you must read A Pledged Troth.

For a man who was never officially an Anglican himself, he showed that he is quite familiar with the struggles that former Anglicans have endured under the Anglican Communion, and writes as a man joined to us not only juridically, but in spirit as well. He writes as if he had lived through it, and this is likely because he is surrounded by those who have. Anglicanism was founded over a conflict concerning marriage.

Continue reading

LOUIS XVI, Requiescat in pace

January 21 is the anniversary of the judicial murder of Louis XVI by the French Revolutionaries. All over France, and in a few other localities, Masses are being said – and shall continue to be said until next weekend – for the repose of his soul, who in the private opinion of Pope Pius VI died a martyr for the Catholic Faith (this because of his refusal to accept the Civil Constitution of the Clergy). The resemblance to Charles I is obvious, of course; the more so because the night before the King faced the guillotine he read from two books: the official prayerbook of the knightly order of the Holy Ghost (of which he was Grand Master), and a biography of the Royal Stuart who preceded him to the scaffold.

The King touches upon the history of the patrimony in several ways; most notably, his intervention in the American Revolution made the rebel victory possible, and forced the new regime to accept Catholic Emancipation in the ten United States where the Faith was outlawed. While this made the Continental Congress do a 180-degree turn from the attitude they held when the Quebec Act was passed, it also caused George III to turn against Emancipation, feeling betrayed as he did by his brother Monarchs of France and Spain. Worse still, it bankrupted France; when an Icelandic volcanic eruption ruined the country’s crops and caused the Great Hunger of 1788, the King had no money to purchase emergency aid for the starving as had been the custom, and no credit to borrow any. The result was the calling of the Estates General the following year and teh beginning of the conflict that would cost him his throne, his life, and the lives of his family. In the immediate aftermath of the revolution, however, he had managed to find the funds to rehabilitate and reopen Williamsburg’s College of William and Mary, becoming in essence that Anglican institution’s second founder.

But God brings good out of evil; as in the rest of Catholic Europe, the Kings of France had hosted a number of British Catholic monastic and educational institutions in exile,which had made possible the survival of the Church in England during the two centuries and more of the Penal Times. Among these were the great English College at Douai (whence had come the Douay-Rheims Bible), the English Benedictines of Douai and Paris, and the Scots and Irish Colleges in Paris. Louis’ murder affected George III even more than his perceived betrayal had, and in addition providing to refuge for French emigres, Britain welcomed back these longtime exiles. The Benedictines founded what became Downside Abbey, while the northern English faculty from Douai went to Ushaw, near Durham – their southern English founded Old Hall at Ware (from whence in time also descended Allen Hall, the seminary of the Archdiocese of Westminster to-day). They and the other English-speaking priests religious, and academics who returned were an important catalyst for the revival of the faith  in England in the 19th century.

The French Revolution also sparked one other partial reconciliation. James II had of course been driven from his English, Scots, and Irish thrones by the so-called “Glorious Revolution;”  he and his son, the de jure James III, continued to be recognised as Kings by the Holy See, by both their Catholic and their Nonjuring Anglican subjects in the British Isles, and by the network of exiled foundations just mentioned. When James III died, his oldest son – the by-then severely disappointed “Bonnie Prince Charlie” of song and story – attempted to assert his rights in Rome. Pope Clement XIII, however, recognised George III instead, and fired the heads of the Roman English, Scots, and Irish Colleges who welcomed the Prince with the honours due a King (ironically, although most of Charles’ Catholic adherents gradually switched allegiance after this, the Nonjurors did not). James’ younger son, Henry Cardinal York, although he protested his brother’s derecognition, retained his ecclesiastical offices -and assumed his father’s control of episcopal and other appointments in the Anglophone world, both in exile and in Britain, Ireland, and the three colonies (Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) where the Faith was legal.

In 1788, Charles III – having lost the ’45 and refused the Crown of America when it was offered by representatives of the Continental Congress – died in Rome in his brother’s palace. Cardinal York declared himself to have succeeded as “Henry IX”; the Nonjurors – whose allegiance to Charles had allowed them to consecrate Samuel Seabury legally – refused to accept a Roman Cardinal, and at at last took the oath to King George. But just as the French Revolution murdered the Bourbons and drove the emigre French and Catholic Anglophones to Britain, it swept into Italy and Rome. Pope Pius VI was led away into exile and Cardinal York reduced to penury. At this juncture, George III, moved by his cousin’s plight, conferred a pension upon him. In return, although conscious that his own claims would pass to the House of Savoy, upon his death in 1807 Cardinal York left George those remaining royal jewels inherited from his grandfather that the revolutionaries had not taken.

The Prince Regent (later George IV) contributed to the Monument by Canova to James III, Charles III, and Henry IX in St.Peter’s basilica; their joint tomb in the basilica’s crypt was restored at the expense of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1939 (in 1993 she would be present at the rededication of the Shrine of St.Alban).  On January 8, 2016, the 250th anniversary of James III’s death, Nigel Baker – British Ambassador to the Holy See at the time – laid a wreath on that same tomb with the permission of Her Majesty the Queen.

What has all of this intricate and divided history to do with us? It has made us who and what we are, religiously and politically. And ever and above that division and that bloodshed, and all that has happened since, there have been these quiet calls to reconciliation, to forgiveness, and to unity. As did Louis XVI and Charles I on their scaffolds, so too did Bl. Karl I of Austria-Hungary in exile and Tsar Nicholas II before he and his family were shot forgive their oppressors and proclaimed that their sufferings and death were for the peace of their peoples and loyalty to their God. The traditional vocation of a Christian Monarch to sacrifice all if need be for the spiritual and physical welfare of his subjects is something that is very alien to our modern mindset, used as we are to political leaders of a very different mindset. Even so, in every rite of the Church there are prayers equivalent to form II of the intercessions at Mass in our own book of Divine Worship: “We beseech thee also to lead all nations in the way of righteousness and peace; and so to direct all kings and rulers that under them thy people may be godly and quietly governed. And grant unto thy servant (N. our King/Queen) or (our President N.), and to all that are put in authority under him (her) that they may truly and impartially administer justice to the punishment of wickedness and vice and to the maintenance of thy peace and virtue.” Since we make so bold as to ask this of the Almighty, would it not be wise to honour the attempts of those – however imperfect they may have been – who strove to do so at the price of their lives? Of these, Louis XVI surely stands in the first rank. Who knows? God may one day answer our prayers.