"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Pope's offer to Anglican converts does not allow them to pick and choose which doctrines they accept

Avril Ormsby, writing for Reuters (click on title to this post to read), reports that the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, has stated that, "Nothing is envisaged in this provision that the Pope has put in place is a kind of minimalist approach to picking bits of the Catholic faith that I like and then seeing myself as it were contained as a quasi-Catholic, not a real Catholic, under the umbrella of this constitution." The archbishop notes that a "buffet approach" to the Faith will not be acceptable.

Archbishop Nichols further stated: “I clearly want to say unambiguously that anybody who seriously wants to perhaps take up the initiative that Pope Benedict has put in place needs to do it out of a conviction that this is the context in which they desire, long to live their Christian discipleship. ...

It therefore must be a positive desire in their heart, and one that centres around not questions of the ordination of women to the episcopate, not questions of sexual ethics, but must centre around an understanding of the role of the office of the Bishop of Rome…in the ongoing life of a Christian.

So a person must be embracing of that concrete aspect of Catholic life which is the authority of the Holy See in the person if they are hoping to make this journey with integrity.”

RWF resumes: I, for one, am glad that the Archbishop has pointed this out. One really ought to make a change of this magnitude because one is drawn by the firm, positive conviction that Rome possesses the Truth in a way that Anglicanism simply does not. It should be a movement toward the fullness of Faith, not merely a journey away from a few particular flaws that the convert finds unacceptable in the Anglican tradition. Unless the prospective convert truly is convinced in his or her heart and mind that all that the Roman Catholic Church teaches is true (including Apostolicae Curae's teaching on the invalidity of Anglican orders and their Catechism's affirmations on Papal infallibility, the Immaculate Conception, and the universal ordinary jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome, among others), I would urge them to pause and reflect deeply before moving forward. That noble Church deserves a membership devoted to the truths of the Faith as it has consistently presented them.


Blogger 1662 BCP said...

These statements stand in rather stark contrast to compromised teaching of many Roman Catholics themselves. Will there be doctrinal purges within the Roman Catholic Church? The American Church in particular pays lip-service to the Vatican, but millions of American Roman Catholics consistently indulge in buffet-style catholicism. What will become of them?

9:46 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

I've asked a Roman Catholic friend about this very issue -- I'd be, on a relative scale, a very observant RC in the US. They wouldn't be out to get rid of me. But the bar to get in is, while it takes a lot to get kicked out if you're born there.

I agree that, although it is quite tempting in our present situation, one shouldn't join Rome or the East simply as a protest against problems in Anglicanism (or Lutheranism or whatever), but as a positive affirmation of one of these bodies as Church.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Texanglican (R.W. Foster+) said...

I agree, Robert. It is one thing if one is "born into it" and comes to hold some positions at variance with the declared teachings of the RCC as one develops as a person. In that case one might justifiably "stay put" in deference to 1 Cor 7:17-20's instruction to "remain in the condition in which he was called."

If one's views came sharply to diverge from the Magisterium, however, I do think one ought to consider making a change for the sake of truth. But that is a matter for our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters to work out for themselves. I doubt there will be any efforts to weed out the non-compliant from among the laity. The Vatican can always hope that they will come to see the light one day if they stay inside the barque of Peter. :-)

It is another matter entirely, however, for those to choose to enter into full communion with Rome as intelligent, thoughtful adults. It does a disservice to the RCC and to oneself to join a Church in which you will be a dissident and disobedient voice from the very beginning. The Apost. Const. makes it clear that the Catechism of the Catholic Church will be the doctrinal standard of the new "Anglican" Ordinariates, and unless one accepts the whole of its contents in good faith I would urge extreme caution in availing oneself of this option. Personally, while I probably agree with 90% to 95% of the material in the CCC, I would certainly not consider accepting the Vatican's gracious offer so long as I disagree with clearly and infallibly defined dogmas of their Church. I respect Rome--and Truth's claims on the believer's conscience--too much to do that.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Jakian Thomist said...

I remember listening to Nuala O'Faolain, a famous Irish Journalist, being interviewed when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was agnostic and the interviewer, her friend, asked her why wouldn't she believe? Nuala replied that she really wanted to, but couldn't. She just didn't think that God was true, even though He could have given her great comfort.

Perhaps this is similiar to the scenario of some Anglicans. They may want to join the Ordinariate but for whatever reason find it impossible to do so.

As a Roman Catholic who's interested in my faith, when I find an area that I find problematic, I ask myself is what I'm expected to believe (i) logically impossible or (ii) scripturally impossible. I'm not interested in probabilities, just possibilities. As I studied more, the areas I first found difficult soon became very important and central to my faith. No better doctrine than the Immaculate Conception ensures the protection of the divinity of Jesus. Newman in his Mother of God testifies to this.

I would hope that any potential Ordinaries would ask themselves does the RCC position have the potential to be true? If so, they have the duty to study and be open in prayer. But only if they want to believe.

For those interested, reprints of books by Newman and books about him by Fr. Stanley Jaki can be viewed at http://www.realviewbooks.com/catalog2.html

Also Anglican convert Fr. Dwight Longenecker writes about obstacles to Anglican-Catholic unity at http://gkupsidedown.blogspot.com/2009/11/obstacles-to-unity.html

You have my prayers whatever path you choice on your journey.

8:10 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

My 95% or so agreement with Rome, together with the inability of protestantism (including Anglicanism) to handle controversies without fragmentation, makes me wonder in my darker moments whether the other 5% is my fault or inability to see the truth.

Am I so proud as to think I can comprehend the the whole truth with no rough spots? I once new a RC convert from Judaism (by lengthy way of atheism) who struggled with, but did not reject, the Trinity. But he believed in Christianity. Even if he didn't understand why it had to be three-in-one, he was glad to let the Church make the decision.

I am in principle open to the possibility, as Jakian Thomist would have it, that the "extra" Roman dogmas are true. I just find myself frozen by a lifetime of being non-Roman and also doubting whether the modern Petrine office is really what Jesus intended for the Church...

9:28 PM  
Blogger Jakian Thomist said...

Hi Robert,

When I read convert stories - in all directions - a trend I notice is that 'conversion' must be of the heart and this takes a very long time. Newman and Chesterton certainly took their time and thought things through! So I think it is wise that you follow Fr. Aidan's advice not to rush and join the Ordinariate for the right reasons, if you choose to do so at all.

I remember reading about Sigrid Undset, the famous Norwegian Catholic convert and she said that after several years her own mother 'doubted her way into the faith', which I thought was a funny way of putting it. But on reflection this actually is very apt.

Even take your example about the Petrine office. Ask yourself, what is the role of Church leadership? what are the alternatives? Have they all been tried? How have they worked? Does Jesus know us better than we know ourselves?

If its any consolation several Catholics I have met have problems with the Papacy. Personally, I never have had any difficulties with it. If you've been in a management role you'll know that it is easier to herd cats than lead people, never mind a church with a very unpopular message to fallen ears.

Here's a nice quote from Leibniz
"If geometry were as much opposed to our passions and present interests as is ethics, we would contest it and violate it almost as strongly, the demonstrations of Euclid notwithstanding".

You might have noticed that the questions I posed above are mostly 'naturalistic' questions, the work of the Holy Spirit must also be considered. But I encourage you to learn more - especially know the correct use of the term 'infallible' - and then you can make an informed choice. If you want to join the Ordinarate for the correct reasons, I recommend that you also reject it for the correct reasons.

If you want to read Catholic books on the papacy, in general I recommend reading one published before the 1960's (!) or books by Fr. Stanley Jaki [e.g. And On This Rock], noteworthy and somewhat unique in Catholic circles defending the status of the Papacy in recent times.

12:52 PM  
Blogger 1662 BCP said...

You might look at this http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/ireland/article6933599.ece

10:03 AM  
Blogger Jakian Thomist said...

Hello 1662 BCP,

I would like to comment on this horror also since i'm from Ireland. I feel incredibly saddened, betrayed and incredibly bewildered by priests abusing young children and seminarians. So what should I do? I'm young, I have no 'commitments' in the church, but yet I believe what it says is true. If I viewed the church as a political party I could leave and form another without this millstone.

It makes me incredibly sad even looking at the the title of this post about converts "picking and choosing" when clearly some priests had no problems defying natural law and were 100% protected in doing so.

Clearly my belief in human wretchedness has given a shot in the arm and the NEED for Jesus is as clear as day. Though I must admit my confidence in forgiveness is somewhat shaken... "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us". That must be a bitter pill for survivors to swallow.

Are people in the church truly sorry now? I don't know. Will I go to mass on Sunday? I feel that I must, to pray. I wonder how the priest who's saying mass will feel. He's probably done nothing wrong either.

I'm sorry for going on a rant here. I know I wrote previously that I would remember you in my prayers, but now is a time I would appreciate if you would remember me (and the victims, Jesus save them) in yours.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

A timely reminder for those looking across the Tiber. This isn't the buffet line at Ryan's, its the blue plate special. After you've placed your order, you'll be receiving everything on the plate... Magisterium and Dogma not withstanding.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Jakian Thomist said...

I thought that I'd add a new comment just to thank you all for your prayers at this time.

The cries of the faithful are being heard slowly but surely and I pray that eventually people will be able to forgive as Our Savior intended.

I agree with Andy that in our communion you will get the full range of humanity - both the saints and the sinners - and from my experience it takes courage to recognise humanity for what it is - torn by strife and division yet unified in Christ.

1:01 PM  
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5:50 PM  

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