More thoughts on Anglican Patrimony

The papers delivered at a recent Anglican Patrimony conference at Oxford are now up at this website.

What is interesting is this conference included both Catholic and Protestant perspectives on Anglican Patrimony. For example, I’m told different views of Mary and of the intercession of the saints were discussed.

Some of us here in North America would like to replicate such a conference that would include thinkers from the Catholic Church, the Continuing Churches and maybe the Episcopal Church and/or the Anglican Church of Canada.   Would something like this be interesting?

Also, I had some thoughts in response to Fr. Seraiah’s post Working on the Patrimony.

Of course defining Anglican Patrimony is difficult, after all, we are speaking about something that was formed without the moorings of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Yes and no.

The worst aspects of Anglican patrimony —that have led to schism, to greater and greater novelties in doctrine and practice; to a synodal approach run amok so doctrine is made up by “democratic” processes; congregationalism; and “experience,” i.e. the latest social science pet theories trumping Scripture and Tradition—I am pleased to cut loose as a Catholic.  I am rather sad to see, however, similar trends working on the inside the Catholic Church to de-centralize decision making on moral issues  to national bishops’ conferences.  We know how that kind of devolution works out.

As many of my conservative Catholic friends told me before we came into the Catholic Church,  “We need you on the inside.”

Which brings me to my second point.  The beautiful, good, and truthful Anglican patrimony we wish to preserve, while developing unmoored from the Catholic Church, at least in a juridical sense, never lost its rootedness in the faith of the Church or its Catholic DNA, otherwise, Pope Benedict XVI would not have made a provision for it and called a treasure to be shared with the wider Church.

For example, the high sacral language we have preserved in our liturgy was rebellious at the time, but one thing about Archbishop Cranmer—-he knew his Latin and he knew how to translate it into beautiful, poetic English.  He understand the importance of having prayers that could also be chanted.

When the decision was made by the wider Catholic Church to use the vernacular in the liturgy, translations were done in an era where dynamic equivalence was all the rage.

In the ecumenical wake of the Second Vatican Council, the Anglican Communion followed suit with their own “contemporary English” translations of liturgies.

Dynamic equivalence; teams of translators with tin ear for poetry; a minimalist approach in liturgy that either ignored or was ignorant of Old and New Testament resonances made for a pretty banal new Mass.  Thankfully, some of the deficiencies were corrected in the English translation of the Ordinary Form of the Mass in 2011.

Those of us who retained a Catholic sacramental theology and preferred the old-fashioned Book of Common Prayer language, the Cranmerian collects; the English missal tradition for Anglo-Catholic Masses were staying in a sense more true to the Catholic sense of the Mass as sacrifice rather than a meal, Cranmer’s personal views notwithstanding.

I think our Divine Worship: the Missal is and example of what the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council intended for the reform of the liturgy, far more so than the kinds of liturgical innovation that occurred in the 1970s.

Because of all the turmoil in the Anglican world on faith and morals, on sacraments, and so on, those in the Anglo-Catholic side of things had to temper their arguments and firm up their faith.   As Bishop, now Msgr. Peter Wilkinson said to me years ago about the Catholic Church’s Magisterium, “We have no other Deposit of Faith.”

So the Anglican patrimony I was introduced to was already aligning itself with the Church’s teaching.  I remember being awed by the reverence showed to the Blessed Sacrament by the priests and the faithful, and scandalized by the lack of reverence I would then see in Catholic parishes.

As traditional Anglicans we had kept up the regular praying of Morning and Evening prayer, with many lay people also praying the offices either at church or at home.  And we have beautiful translations of the canticles most of us know by heart.

I have attended evening prayer, or vespers at a rare Catholic event, and no one knows the Magnificat translation in English, so everyone has to rely on a hand-out.  Most of us know the canticles such as the Magnificat and the Te Deum by heart.

These are aspects of Anglican patrimony that were seeded by the Catholic Church before the schism and preserved there that retained a catholicity and beauty despite being unmoored.

We have work to do to unearth more of the treasures of our patrimony, including our English Catholic patrimony that preceded Henry VIII as well as the legitimate the beautiful patrimony that developed afterwards that retained Catholic faith.

We have our beautiful hymns and music; our tradition of choral singing.  All kinds of things we can be proud of as part of Anglican Patrimony, now given a home in the Catholic Church.

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Working on the Patrimony

After hearing an Anglican critic complain that the Catholic Church will never understand Anglicanism, and therefore the Ordinariates will fail, I was forced to think a bit deeper about what we are trying to preserve in the Ordinariates. In a moment of weakness, I had the thought, “if this Anglican Patrimony thingy is so important, then why does it sound like we still don’t have a clear definition of it even after six and a half years?” And then, in “blinding flash of the obvious”, the light in my head went on. Of course defining Anglican Patrimony is difficult, after all, we are speaking about something that was formed without the moorings of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

I am not trying to state any disagreement with what has been said about Anglican Patrimony in the many posts, conferences, articles, etc. (of which, I am only aware of a small portion) that have shown up over the past few years; especially any of the things said by my own beloved Bishop, Steven Lopes. I have heard many good things, as well as many things that I wish I knew more about so that I could acknowledge the goodness in them as well. For that matter, maybe this has already been said somewhere else, but I believe that it should be stated in these specific terms.
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Nooooo! Not a new English Mass translation!

Saw this article in America Magazine via Twitter calling for the American bishops to re-open the latest (2011) English translation of the Mass.

All I could think on seeing the tweet and retweets, is “Thank God, I’m in the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.”

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A Great Martyr’s Day Book

Forgotten Shrines by Dom Bede Camm, O.S.B.  is an excellent entry into the shadow world of the English recusants, and its surviving remnants at the time he wrote, back in 1910. Himself a product of Keble College and a convert, Dom Bede became a monk and developed a strong devotion to the English martyrs. Apart from writing about them, he was instrumental in the founding of Tyburn Convent. The man and his work, as well as the Saints he loved, popularised, and venerated, are an important part of the Patrimony worth thinking about to-day.

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The New Evangelization Summit

In my work as a journalist, I am usually extraordinarily busy in the spring and the fall, when the House of Commons is in session and many organizations hold conferences.

Thus, please excuse my light blogging.  But I thought some of you might be interested in my coverage of the New Evangelization Summit, an annual event here in Ottawa carried by satellite to more than 40 host sites.

George Weigel gave an interesting talk about how the Church is in a period of transition from the Church of the Counter-Reformation to the Church of the New Evangelization. This makes it  “exhilarating” but also disorienting.  In a conversation afterwards, I told him about the Anglicanorum coetibus Society and asked whether he saw any danger of the Anglicanization of the Catholic Church with current tendencies to decentralize decisions on discipline regarding the sacraments to bishops’ conferences.  Weigel is optimistic this will not happen.

Here’s a link to my story on his talk.

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Archbishop Di Noia’s talk at the Anglican Patrimony Conference April 25

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Here is a link to Archbishop Augustine Di Noia’s talk Apr. 25 at the Anglican Patrimony Conference at Oxford.

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News of the Anglican Patrimony Conference

31129390_10104406553563620_3834307408981655552_n (1)Christopher Mahon, a director of the Anglicanorum coetibus Society, attended the Anglican Patrimony Conference at Oxford, and will provide a full report when he returns.  He is shown here with Msgr. Robert Mercer, and our former president and Society director David Murphy on the right.

Meanwhile, he sent me this link of a talk by Fr. Gavin Ashendon, an Anglican clergyman who was Honorary Chaplain to the Queen until 2017 on a matter of urgent importance not only to Christians but the entire western world. Continue reading

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