Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The ordinariates and the TAC stories
Not closely following the stories but this seems to be about claimed hard cases not being the basis of good law. The law (rule, not doctrine): ex-Catholic priests (or deacons), including ex-Catholic laymen who became Anglican or Continuing priests, can’t be ordinariate Catholic priests. Fair enough. My guess is these would-be priest returnees are extremely rare: the few such ex-Catholics tend to be liberals or Evangelicals, not wanting to rejoin! But it happens. Rome’s been extremely forgiving in one case: Fr Ivan Aquilina, a nice Catholic fellow from Malta who in his 20s seemed to do just what the church says not to, joining the Church of England to marry and be ordained. He’s now a Catholic priest in good standing. So Archbishop John Hepworth, an ex-Catholic priest from the ’60s, claims he left the church because he was molested in seminary. I’m inclined to forgive once somebody like that’s been vetted for ministry since the men wanting to come in aren’t liberals. Which is why Fr Aquilina’s case doesn’t bug me. I never thought the church authorities would waive Hepworth in, and I thought he said he’d step down and live like a layman, but it’s up to them.

The rest – that little group in Canada? – seems to be about legal issues of incorporation and property ownership (the red tape of formally dissolving to join the Catholic Church) and whether the TAC/ACCC parishes would remain together, simply being turned into ordinariate parishes. Which the church can do, like historically it’s received whole religious orders (such as Caldey and Graymoor about 100 years ago), but it doesn’t have to.

TAC means Traditional Anglican Communion, a name that makes me think of the Thirty-Nine Articles and raising muscular Christians to run the empire, but it seems to mean good American biretta-belt churchmanship (looks like 19th-century Roman Catholicism, sounds like the Prayer Book) but with British Anglo-Catholic papalism. ‘Come on in!’ The two Philly-area churches coming in are in this church. ACCC = Anglican Catholic Church of Canada.

BTW there are next to no British Continuers (yes, Fr C and Dr Munn, I know you exist :)); the English/Welsh and for now Scottish ordinariate is Novus Ordo-using papalist ex-Anglican.

As for turning down the Pope’s amazing offer, I agree with Damian Thompson (if you say no then be honest and cut out the Catholic act) or with people like Fr Bob Hart (be an old-time Prayer Book Protestant – I don’t agree with them but respect their standing on principle). I don’t tell the Anglicans how to run their church but if the Catholics shouldn’t put up with dissent from their teachings, why should the Anglicans (codes of practice etc., or Christina Rees is right... if they want to marry gays, fine)?

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