The A.C. Society’s role in ‘Healing the rift’

On social media this morning,  I discovered news of an Episcopal minister, Canon Andrew Petiprin, who is entering the Catholic Church in Nashville, Tennessee in the New Year.   This is a reason for great rejoicing and I trust he and  and his family will receive the same warm welcome we did when we became Catholic nearly eight years ago.

I see among his Facebook friends a number of Ordinariate members, but you’ll see in Petiprin’s testimony, there is no mention of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

I have highlighted some parts that I will comment on below

On Facebook,  Andrew Petiprin writes:

Personal News: On January 1, 2019 I will conclude my ministry as Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of Tennessee. Amber, Alex, Aimee, and I will be received and confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church here in Nashville.

We are thrilled that the Lord has called us to the Catholic Church after a long time of discernment. When we came to Nashville we did not expect anything like this would happen, and it has been an honor to serve a fine man like Bishop John Bauerschmidt and to be among such fine people as the Episcopalians of middle Tennessee. And of course, before taking on my current duties, it was among the greatest joys of my life to be a parish priest at St. Mary of the Angels, Orlando. Becoming Catholic does not mean running away from all these good things, but rather running towards the call to the fullness of faith that we hear so clearly now from God. I leave the Episcopal Church with no bitterness, and only gratitude for these many years of formation and service.

Please pray for us. I do not yet have a job to jump to, and we expect that in the short term we may have financial hardship. But as Scripture teaches everywhere, obedience to the Lord can be risky, but we have complete peace in doing his will. Our long term prospects are very good in every way! I take completely to heart what St. John Paul II said many times with courage to an uncertain world: “Be not afraid!”

As I sort out what I will do next for a living, I will also be writing and speaking about our conversion. I know that not everyone reading this will understand or agree with what we are doing, but I trust that most will be interested to learn more about our journey. For some of you this move will come as a shock. For others it will make perfect sense. In either case, know that it is the Lord’s doing. In recent months the question for me has not been whether becoming Catholic was right or wrong, but rather whether we would have the strength to obey the Lord’s command. It turns out you really can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. The prayers of many saints have been the wind in our sails.

I am especially grateful for those in whom I could confide over the last few months, both inside and outside the Catholic Church. My old friends have proven their mettle, and I have made many new ones whose prayers and support have been so powerful. My mom and sisters and other family members continue to bless me in the most extraordinary ways with their encouragement.

May God bless us all!

I feel like saying Amen! after each sentence I highlighted!

Andrew Petiprin has a book out Truth Matters: Knowing God and Yourself, and I hope it does well, and contributes to building a new kind of ministry within the Catholic Church as a speaker, writer and apologist.   And maybe someday, as a Catholic priest?

Then, I came across this piece entitled Healing the Rift on the Atonement Online by Fr. Christopher Phillips, who writes:

Christ founded the Church to be One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic – and so it is. But our sin has caused division, and that’s a clear contradiction to the Divine Will of our Lord. While there may well be an invisible spiritual communion deeper than we know, especially through the bonds of baptism, nonetheless there is to be a visible communion, too, because that’s the Will of Christ, and the constant invitation from God is that we work and pray to build up both the spiritual and visible unity of Christ’s Body.

It’s this purpose – the building up of unity – which is outlined at the very beginning of the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus. In fact, this stated purpose is sometimes glossed over in the search for the particulars of the Personal Ordinariates. People tend to look at the details of how they’re established, and of who can belong, of the liturgical use, and of who can be ordained – indeed, any number of other details.

But all that neglects the reason for Pope Benedict XVI’s great generosity, and that is to help bring about the prayer of Christ “that they all may be one.” It’s not accidental that the first three paragraphs of the Apostolic Constitution speak of the Church as “a people gathered into the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” and that the Church was instituted by Christ as “a sacrament…of communion with God and of unity among all people,” and that this Church is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. Then, recognizing that there are “many elements of sanctification and of truth [which] are found outside her visible confines,” he says that these “are forces impelling towards Catholic unity.”

What had been broken, the Personal Ordinariates invite us to repair. The communion that has been impaired, we are asked to restore. The fellowship which has been strained, we are bidden to strengthen.

God’s Incarnate Love came into this world by Our Lady’s “yes,” and it would gladden her heart for her children to be one again. She, who stood beside the Cross and saw her Son in agony, would be comforted by us taking away this pain of separation. There are few things that touch a mother’s heart more, than to see her whole family together at one table. This is why we have been given the Apostolic Constitution: so that we can put division behind us, and join together with one voice and one heart in “that most holy cause, the preaching of the Gospel” to the whole world.

“Lord Jesus, make us one, as you and the Father are one.” Amen.

These two posts got me thinking about the role the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society can play in “healing the rift” in concert with the Ordinariates, but not as part of their formal structure.

We don’t know if Andrew Petiprin has approached Houston or his local diocese about the possibilities of becoming Ordained as a Catholic priest.  Let’s leave aside the personal details of his particular case and zoom out to some bigger questions.

  1.  How well-known is the Ordinariate among Episcopal and Anglican ecclesial communities?   What role can the A.C. Society play in getting the word out that we exist?
  2.   While we have communities in the Ordinariate that need priests, how many of them can afford to support a priest with a family, particularly a young family with children?  Thus, when an Episcopal or Anglican minister knocks on the door of one of our chanceries, he might find he’ll have to find other work to support himself, possibly with the local Roman Catholic diocese.  In other words, we are not at the stage where someone who had a good salary working for diocese in the Anglican Communion can expect to find a life raft of financial security.  How much is this a good thing or a bad thing, i.e. does it help separate the potential priest who embraces the project of evangelization and is willing to radically trust in God from those who put a priority on financial security?  What role can the A.C. Society play in encouraging, supporting those from the Anglican Communion, Continuing Anglican and other denominations who may share an interest in our project of promoting Anglican tradition and common identity within the Catholic Church,  (or in maintaining it in their own bodies where it is being jettisoned) and who may be considering becoming Catholic?
  3.   What if these potential new Catholics are in a city or town where there is no Ordinariate community?   What can the A.C. Society do to help encourage a former Episcopalian or Anglican clergyman from starting one up and getting their community on the map as a patrimonial community?
  4.  A number of former Anglicans have become successful writers and speakers once they became Catholic.   I’m thinking of Fr. Dwight Longenecker;  Fr. George Rutler; and Dr. Taylor Marshall off the bat.  The former two are Catholic priests serving as diocesan priests.  Marshall is an apologist and teacher.   I can’t help but be proud of these men as former Anglicans who are now doing great work as Catholic apologists.   What can the A.C. Society do to try to reach out to men like this who may not have any official links with the Ordinariate but who somehow share some of that same traditional ethos with us as former Anglicans?   What if the A.C. Society invited them to be speakers at a conference?
  5.   What are your thoughts on how the A.C. Society can “Heal the Rift”?  What suggestions do you have for your community and for others in reaching out, promoting unity, and ever deeper conversion?

12 thoughts on “The A.C. Society’s role in ‘Healing the rift’

  1. “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ Let all who hear say, ‘Come!’ Let all who desire it come forward; accept the gift of life-giving water.” — Rev. 22:17

    Let’s back up a step in this discussion. Unfortunately, a relative handful of people, or even whole congregations, “crossing the Tiber” does not heal a rift, nor does it fulfill our Lord’s wish that all may be one (ut unam sint). Rather, it simply moves the rift from one side of those people to the other. The rift still exists.

    We need to resist the temptation to confuse proselytism with authentic ecumenical action. It might seem advantageous to poach another body’s members to strengthen our own ecclesial unit (in this case, an ordinariate community and even an ordinariate), but such action actually is harmful to the real goal of healing the schism: it not only breeds distrust of our motives among the leadership of the other organization, thus thwarting legitimate attempts to engage them in dialog and other action that will someday bring about real healing of the rift, but it also tends to strip other organizations of members who are most likely to be willing to engage in this effort. Thus, the magisterium of the Catholic Church is happy to welcome those who ask to join us of their own accord, but strongly discourages solicitation of members of other ecclesial bodies to abandon the bodies to which they belong and come into the Catholic Church.

    That said, the ordinariates have a vital role in ecumenism simply by their very existence: they give witness to the sustainability of how legitimate western Christian traditions different from that of the Roman Rite can thrive within the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is the proverbial element in the room when one discusses Christian unity simply because she is over twice the combined size of all other Christian denominations combined, so it’s not surprising that many smaller bodies sense that they will vanish in any sort of reconciliation. The ordinariates provide a credible witness that such is not the case. It probably will take a while for other denominations to recognize this witness, to which Catholic participants in official ecumenical dialog now can point, but it is a very powerful witness indeed!

    Now, ordinariate members and congregations can be very proactive in authentic ecumenism in at least four ways.

    >> 1. The stability and growth of ordinariate congregations through evangelism is critical to ensure their stability and viability for the long term. I highly encourage all members and congregations of the ordinariates to be active in ministerial outreach especially to the unchurched and to those who are not Christian.

    >> 2. It’s very appropriate to engage in ecumenical dialog at the “grass roots” level with our peers in other denominations so that they gain personal understanding of what the ordinariates are and of your experience and spiritual life as members thereof. By all means, tell them how wonderful you think it is — and you can even invite friends who are members of other denominations to significant events in your spiritual life!

    >> 3. It’s also appropriate for ordinariate congregations to make themselves publicly visible so that those who are not members become aware of it. It’s quite appropriate to hold an annual secular festival on or near a liturgical feast that’s of particular importance to the congregation, to erect a prominent illuminated sign in front of an ordinariate congregation’s church, to be active in works of charity in the larger community, and to make itself known to the surrounding community in other ways.

    >> 4. The ordinariates and their congregations also obviously need the financial means to pay their clergy and to cover their legitimate expenses. Thus, monetary contributions and participation in fund-raising efforts, both for the ordinariates and for their communities, is also critical.

    It clearly is also appropriate to invite other members of the Catholic Church who are eligible to join an ordinariate to visit an ordinariate congregation and to consider the option to join. Of course, this typically will be limited to those who previously belonged to denominations that are of the Anglican tradition (including “continuing Anglican” and Methodist bodies).

    Norm.

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      • About twenty men ordained for the OCSP have no involvement with any Ordinariate group. Some have been excardinated to local dioceses. This is before we get to those ordained via the Pastoral Provision. I think it is naive to think that being a former Anglican equals being interested in the aims of Anglicanorum Coetibus.

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