Sunday, October 02, 2016

"No Ordinary Fool"



I recently read No Ordinary Fool. Fr. John Jay Hughes is very nice, a WASP gentleman, understanding the heart of the Christian message. His main ministry seems to be writing sermon topics to help other priests. Primarily an academic, not a pastor, he's a retired priest of the St. Louis Archdiocese. And an Anglo-Catholic alumnus, the son of a high-Episcopal priest, spending his childhood at New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine in the '30s (and being so smart he graduated from prep school unusually young and went to Harvard when most kids are still in high school) and becoming an Anglo-Catholic rector himself. His father held a true-church claim he took as seriously as we Catholics do ours, so understandably he was as outraged by our rejection of his orders as I am by the Orthodox being allowed to believe I'm not baptized. Very Catholic but not a would-be Catholic! (You wonder if women priests and gay marriage would have changed his mind about us. But a lot of these men just changed with their denomination.) So Hughes made a big personal sacrifice when he came into the church; he never saw his father again. Part of what converted him as he was struggling with this: English "liberal" Catholics studying in continental Europe in the '50s described the papacy to him exactly as I believe in it; papal infallibility is really church infallibility. That said, he was once famous among some Anglicans and Catholics for his understandable mistake: he seems to dissent from the church on Anglican orders; trying to reconcile with his late father (who died before Hughes' Catholic ordination). So he is one of the only ex-Anglicans who's been conditionally ordained (the other being Msgr. Graham Leonard; both had claimed an Old Catholic line of succession). He buys into Anglican apologetics on the matter (so why's he Catholic?): the English "Reformers" were objecting to late-medieval misunderstandings about the Eucharist, not the teaching of the church. Michael Davies refuted this: they knew exactly what the church teaches (most of them were priests) and rejected it, making up a new version of Christianity (which in England happened to keep the church's structure), in which Christ's saving work is all in the past so no Mass, never mind good works, and ultimately, no church! (And, I dare say, their logical conclusion is no God: Unitarianism is their destiny.) His thinking also comes from the late '60s, right after Vatican II, when many people thought Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans would merge. Being in liturgical-movement Germany changed him from '50s high-Episcopal (Tridentine ethos in English) to amenable to the Novus Ordo (but he doesn't like the heretical extreme there). He's upfront about being bisexual. As far as I know, he's never used that to attack the teachings of the church, so no problem.

Update: Deborah Gyapong speaks for me: Traditional Anglicanism provided the lifeboat to bring me home to the church Christ founded.

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