Thursday, June 02, 2016

Make Britain Catholic again


"Let's make Britain Catholic again." The romantic in me has always held it's possible. (The following is old to regular readers.) The country was deeply rooted in the church; the kings and queens literally forced it out. The people remained furtively Catholic for about 50 years afterwards, and after that treated the new religion with the same reverence as they did the church, even thinking of it as "the church," the only true one. Why Anglicans and the English generally are sad and confused, which is why there was old high churchmanship and why, in the Romantic era's reaction to the Industrial Revolution, that begat Anglo-Catholicism (actually a rival true-church claim imitating the church). Scratch the surface of modern anti-religious England and it's Catholic. You can find high churchmanship there, Catholic or Anglican, if you are looking for it; I did. (The end of the rehash.) A return is unlikely but possible. That is, if the Mohammedans don't take over.
But to win souls we must focus on God and charity, not political arguments.
In a sense true; we're not Erastian and the church should remain above partisan politics. But surrendering the public square (vs. a retreat with honor, as the Ukrainian Catholic Church did under Soviet rule) is not an option, and Pascoe isn't saying it is.
The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, established in 2011 by Benedict XVI, has not seen the flood of converts from Anglicanism which many hoped for, and while the initiative responds to the decline of the Church of England, no similar initiative exists to draw home those in the Welsh Methodist churches or the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
And I wasn't expecting a flood. The ordinariates' place in the church isn't so much to rescue the few serious Anglican would-be Catholics (almost all are now in the church) as to demonstrate traditionalism in English: It's Not About Latin­™ but Latin is great. Most English people and among them most Anglicans are religiously indifferent if not hostile; arguably it's been so since the "Enlightenment." There weren't that many would-be Catholics asking to come in (among the few English churchgoers, devout Anglicans are often Evangelicals; not interested!), and the ordinariates exist because they asked us. (I could be in the American ordinariate if I wanted to but I'm Tridentine, not Prayer Book, even though my liturgical English uses the latter's idiom. I will never look at Anglicanism the same knowing the truth about it.) Also, again, Anglo-Catholicism was actually a rival true-church claim: "the church" trying to beat both "the Romans" and the Non-Conformists/Dissenters (free-church Protestants)... by imitating the Catholic Church. The A-C party line used to be conservative: "The Pope's a monster who thinks he can invent doctrine!" Now it seems to be about the Anglicans' freedom to invent or change doctrine: "I'm a practicing homosexual and proud of it." (General Synod, etc. claim a power the Pope doesn't dare, but hey, that's what the "Reformation" was really about.) Anglo-Papalism, not popular in England but largely only found there, was what people assumed A-Cism was but was actually its opposite. (Raising a toast to F.G. Lee of Lambeth, a good soul, despised by Victorian A-Cs when he changed from one of them, a ritualist parson, to trying openly to bring England back into the church. Maybe he really was a Catholic bishop not very undercover. A few A-Cs even right after the Tractarians were trying to "reconcile with honor" with the church.) So it's not surprising most A-Cs haven't come into the church.

Anglicans were a special case, as Vatican II rightly acknowledged, and good A-Cs were in ways better Catholics than born Catholic liberals. Anglicanism's really Reformed, not Catholic, but comes from a land once deeply Catholic, hence the confusion. This specialness is the point of the ordinariates in the vision of Pope Benedict the Great. There's no point protestantizing even culturally to try to bring in the Presbyterians or the Methodists. Ecumenism with them has gone as far as it will go. They know what we teach and say no; at least we're not trying to kill each other.

Anyway, Pascoe's right. Read the article.

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