Thursday, October 02, 2014

St. Clement's epilogue and life in the Catholic Church

The heart and soul of St. Clement's are now at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Philadelphia.

It was just a matter of time. St. Clement's IS an Episcopal church. But it's like watching someone leave the Catholic Church; wrenching, even though I wish Fr. Alton, Mother Takacs and their friends no ill. (But he's obligated by our teachings to come back.) "What would Pope St. Clement say?" And the Articles attack just about everything St. Clement's historically does; it was would-be Roman Catholic, the Episcopal Church's only such parish. Anyway, this move to theological liberalism, begun under the previous rector, has brought most of the people at St. Clement's who did so much to promote traditional Catholic liturgy, when next to nobody else in the Philadelphia area was, (back) into the Catholic Church, where they are now Holy Trinity Traditional Latin Mass Community, "St. Clement's, Jr." The Episcopalians enforce their teachings and get their building back; we get another Tridentine Mass, St. Clement's Catholic destiny after all. Win-win.
And jumping the Tiber is not the solution.
It makes perfect sense given what St. Clement's used to profess and since Pope Benedict made the local church hospitable. We're not bucking Protestant Articles and our teachings aren't subject to change by General Convention vote.

Jumping the Tiber sure worked for me and I am very happy! What solution would you propose? Western Rite Orthodoxy: the Orthodox don't really want you as you are. The Continuum: sectarian; same problems as vagantes. Vagantes: really? Remain Episcopal and hope the semi-congregationalism still protects you (Keble: the last bastion of the Church of England will be my parish): don't count on that.

"Unless you want a congregational organized polity there isn't much left of organized Protestantism that isn't unraveling or splitting into a thousand fragments."
And so is Rome.
Not per se, vs. in practice. I'm the last person to claim life in the Catholic Church is perfect. In '80s and '90s America, if you were a traditionalist, it sucked. But there's only one church.
I never said I had the perfect solution. No one does. Enjoy Rome until they turn on you. Even if you completely compromise they can turn on you. But that's when one holds to Faith, Hope, and Compromise.
If "they" turn on me, I'll keep my head down, my mouth shut, my nose in my missal, and my hands on my rosary. I'm not there for social or business reasons. As things are, I don't tell the priests how to run the parish. If "they" REALLY turn on me as in turn heretical (Catholic Defcon 2 or 1), I've got the SSPX a short drive away. No SSPX or available priest? Bible, catechism, rosary, office, and God's love and mercy.
A priest: I had a severely bumpy road in the Pastoral Provision process. We called it the un-Pastoral Provision and it was a dark process at times so I do understand how painful a dysfunctional institution can be personally. However, I had a few people that believed in me and through the Blessed Virgin's intercession made it through.
I think it's because the native Catholic priests are envious of the married, plus the liberal Novus Ordo doesn't want a bunch of conservative Anglo-Catholics coming in (cf. Thomas Day on American Catholics being anti-high church).
John, for me it's a question of trying to get another job at 54.
I don't work for the church; I just go to Mass. The teachings are true; I don't get involved with the rest. Laid off this year at 47; I relate. Still working, by the grace of God.


  1. I remember hearing that St. Clement's didn't want to become St. Mark's, so I thought the appointment of Fr. Alton was surprising. But having a woman preach at his installation seems like a real thumb in the eye to anyone left with any Catholic sense.

    1. Classic St. Clement's didn't want to become St. Mark's. The change happened under the previous rector, Canon Gordon Reid from Scotland, who turned out to be a liberal. Episcopal parishes hire their rectors; it seems the vestry didn't vet him enough. He was from the Church of England's Diocese of Europe, long under Anglo-Catholic management; seemed to know the right people; is the right age so he actually started as an Anglican priest saying the Tridentine Mass, even in Latin; and I guess they were snowed by a big dose of old-school British charm. I used to know Canon Reid slightly; he's always been nice to me. St. Clement's has long been mostly male homosexuals including the clergy but with a big difference: it professed Catholic teachings; it wasn't a "gay parish." Enter Reid, who is gay: he changed all that. Hired an openly gay curate, driving out the would-be Roman Catholics who had made St. Clement's what it was for 40 years. He replaced them on the vestry, etc., with his liberal gay friends. Now, because of that, there's Fr. Alton, an ex-Catholic and married, unlike the classic St. Clement's rule that priests there were celibate, anticipating union with Rome (in practice a haven for gays, but anyway). And Mother Takacs, in choir habit, preaching from the same pulpit from which Fr. Laister declared certain Episcopal sees vacant for attempting to consecrate Barbara Harris a bishop. (A novena there once prayed "for reunion with the Holy See, and that the scandal of the attempted ordination of women be removed from the Anglican Communion.") A thumb in the eye to what St. Clement's was, but old-school St. Clement's left a few years ago and is now Catholic at Holy Trinity in Old City.

      St. Mark's as far as I know is 1979 Prayer Book with some traditional high-Episcopal trimmings, not the Tridentine Mass and trappings that St. Clement's still has, with a congregation more mixed: the gays but also yuppie couples rich enough to live in Center City for whom high church is a hobby. (Episcopal liberal high church is NOT like Catholic liberals; they are credally orthodox and love our liturgies.) Probably both legacy institutions living off endowment money.

    2. So what does the timeline of liberalization at St. Clement's look like? To this outsider it seems roughly contemporaneous with Anglicanorum Coetibus. That is, at the very moment Pope Benedict made reunion with Rome possible on Anglo-Catholicism's terms, St. Clement's backed away from Anglo-Catholicism. But I could be wrong.

    3. It is roughly contemporaneous. I don't know if Canon Reid (who despises the Roman Catholic Church despite affecting its trappings) intended that or it was a coincidence. Also, note that St. Clement's, Jr., Holy Trinity, is not in the ordinariate. It wouldn't belong there. Classic St. Clement's wasn't about "Anglican patrimony" such as the 1928 American Prayer Book like other high-church Episcopalians. It was Anglo-Papalist; its no longer identifying with Rome is sad to us of course. No hard feelings to the Episcopalians (they have the right to their parish), but it's still a loss.

      Reid became rector 10 years ago and just retired. My guess is the change became obvious starting around 2010 and ramped up when he hired Fr. Ethan Jewett, civilly married to a man, around 2012. Looked it up: Fr. Jewett came on board in February 2012; the Catholic faction at St. Clement's was gone by 2011, when Reid actually did the hiring.

  2. Alan K.7:34 am

    Why should anyone care? I don't follow Zoroastrians; why should I bother with the Episcopal organisation?

    1. In a sense true, Alan, but for a long time St. Clement's did much to preserve traditional Catholic liturgy when next to nobody else in the Philadelphia area did, and it was a close-knit community, so it was a big part of my and others' lives once. I couldn't care less about the Episcopal Church. The classic St. Clement's stance was much the same.


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