The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


“An Anglican petting zoo”?

posted by jmcgee

Not everyone is  enthralled with the remarkable new bridge that Rome has built across the Tiber.

Deacon Eric Stoltz notes:

The Vatican proposal appears to closely follow the old practice of “uniatism,” which is not–or up to this point, was not–considered the proper approach to ecumenism. “Uniatism” is a method despised by the Orthodox, who are wary of Roman control. This new outreach to disaffected Anglicans will no doubt strike the Orthodox as the Catholic Church returning to the uniate model despite decades of assurances we would not. That would certainly cool enthusiasm for Christian Unity among some Orthodox, who rightly maintain that Christian Unity should not mean that patriarchs of Churches will be subjected to the minute regulations of the Roman Curia.

My second concern is that this creates a new body within the Catholic Church to which only “conservatives” need apply. There will be no diversity of thought within the new structure, which will either (a) become calcified and rigid, a museum-piece, or (b) become balanced and vital only after several generations of faithful have grown up within it and can create a more inclusive environment. Of course this new outreach to “conservative” Anglicans may become a new strategy extended to other groups, like the Society of St. Pius X, which will most likely not be required to change anything about their practices, teaching or dismissal of the Council, but merely be given their own little corner of the Church to do what they like, occasionally lobbing bombs into the wider Church. 

I’m very interested to see what the Apostolic Constitution actually says. I hope the outreach bears good fruit. I hope it does not set back the cause of true ecumenism, increase rigidity in the Catholic Church or create a sort of Anglican petting zoo where we can see neat Anglican things as curated by “conservative” museum-keepers with a curial imprimatur. I hope my concerns are unfounded.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(24)
post a comment
kenneth

posted October 20, 2009 at 9:28 pm


To me the whole thing looks like a cynical old politician’s trick rather than any true conversion/desire of coming into communion with Rome. It’s the same game nations play all the time – divide your enemy’s camp by luring its dissidents with all sorts of favors/special status etc. It’s certainly an effective strategy in war and politics but it doesn’t speak very highly about the vatican’s priorities. It says to me that the only bottom-line element of Catholic identity is one’s position in the Church’s internal culture war. Swear featly to the conservative’s agenda and you can go on praciticing whatever it is you fancy and still be one of the club.



report abuse
 

Shawn

posted October 20, 2009 at 9:37 pm


I see no basis for the rather lurid speculations offered by Deacon Stoltz. The difficulty with ecumenism between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion is that the latter group (or at least its leadership) has increasingly abandoned the tenets of Christian faith that might once have served as the only possible basis for reconciliation. Also, you can’t know much about the Anglo-Catholic tradition, and you have a very mistaken view of the intellectual depth of converts to Catholicism from the Anglican Communion, if you believe that “there will be no diversity of thought within the new structure.” The idea that an Anglican rite would be some kind of club to which “only ‘conservatives’ need apply” also seems rather silly, because it equates the basic matters of the faith–the divinity of Christ, the Real Presence, the regenerative nature of baptism, and the indissolubility of the sacrament of matrimony–with political positions. Contrary to what has been reported ad nauseum today, many Anglicans are deeply distressed with their church for reasons beyond the ordination of women and active homosexuals. Some Anglicans hold essentially Catholic beliefs regarding the nature of God and man, the sacraments, and, yes, morality, which are openly despised by much of the Anglican leadership. Those sheep without a shepherd deserve a home, and it is a wonderful thing that Pope Benedict is removing the obstacles to their full communion in the Church.



report abuse
 

Mike L

posted October 20, 2009 at 10:09 pm


Shawn, If Anglicans hold essentially Catholic beliefs then I fail to see what obstacles there were to their full communion in the Church. After all, many have already made that move and not faced any obstacles that I know of. I would be interested in hearing what you think some of they are.
While you say that many are deeply distressed for reasons beyond the ordination of women and active homosexuals, these two factors seem to be the two most often mentioned. Actually, I am deeply distressed by the homosexual actions of many of our priests, but I am not about to leave my church because of it.



report abuse
 

Ryan

posted October 20, 2009 at 10:12 pm


I appreciate Deacon Stoltz’s desire for authentic Christian unity, but I think his analysis is wrong in this case. As Catholics, we should be celebrating the Holy Father’s generosity in making it possible for Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Church. The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church clearly states, “In explicit terms [Christ] Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. ***Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved***.” An increasing number of Anglicans are recognizing that the Catholic Church is the Church founded by Jesus Christ, even while their own communion drifts further and further away from the apostolic faith. These Anglicans should not have to wait for their own leaders to reconcile with the Church before they themselves do. To quote again from the documents of the Second Vatican Council: Christ “established here on earth” only one Church and instituted it as a “visible and spiritual community,” that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted. “This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic… This Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him”. Again, as Catholics, we should rejoice whenever separated sisters and brothers return to the “one Church of Christ.”
In terms of one of his main concerns, I think it’s a bit misguided to play up the fact that those who return will be “conservative” Anglicans. In the case of the Traditional Anglican Communion, they have signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church, explicitly stating that they agree with all that it teaches, and have promised fidelity to the See of Peter. These actions do not make them “conservative”; these actions make them Catholic. Yes, this group is perceived as conservative in contrast to other Anglican leaders, who have abandoned certain doctrines and practices of the apostolic faith. But, again, I don’t think it’s fair to construe them as conservative reactionaries on these grounds. As an example, rejecting the innovation of ordaining women is not a conservative position; it is a Catholic position. In short, we should not fault this group for upholding ancient practices of the Church, especially in the case of practices to which we, as Catholics, are bound.
Along these lines, unlike the world, the Church does not celebrate diversity for its own sake. Yes, there is a legitimate diversity in the Church. An obvious example is the diversity of venerable liturgical rites (e.g., Ambrosian, Latin, Byzantine, etc.,). But, diversity is not in and of itself a positive good. For instance, in Sacred Scripture, Saint Paul writes to the church at Corinth, “I appeal to you, friends, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” So, again, there are legitimate forms of diversity within the Church: ethnic diversity, socioeconomic diversity, liturgical diversity, etc., But, we should not yearn for or applaud diversity on doctrinal and moral questions. As Saint Paul says elsewhere, there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism…” In this particular instance, Anglicans are actually bringing themselves into unity of doctrine and practice with the Catholic Church, thereby manifesting the kind of unity that Christ prayed his followers would have (Jn. 17:20-23). Ut unum sint! Soli Deo gloria!



report abuse
 

Ceile De

posted October 21, 2009 at 12:51 am


What is conservative about these Anglicans? Like any other Catholics, they oppose women priests, women bishops, actively gay clergy, etc. Catholics cannot condone these things and so conservative Anglicans who do not accept what has become of their communion will find themselves in the Catholic maintsream.
Deacon – what is it about these Anglicans you find conservative? If there is anything about them you find conservative yet which is in line with the Magisterium you have no grounds for fear or complaint.



report abuse
 

Bob

posted October 21, 2009 at 1:04 am


I very much appreciate Shawn and Ryan’s take on this matter. I, too, am disheartened by those who see Church matters always in political terms of “conservative” versus “liberal.” The ordination of women (especially how it came about) and the acceptance of homosexual lifestyles are only symptoms in a community whose creed is compromise. The Episcopal Church seems no longer to find guidance in the gospel, but in the tumults, contentions and movements of popular culture. See John Shelby Spong’s recent rant as an example.
Let’s remember, too, before we regard this as a Roman conspiracy to undermine Anglicanism that the groups who initiated this process had virtually separated themselves from the Anglicans already and approached Rome for this favor, not the other way around. And Rome didn’t say “yes” immediately, but took years to consider the matter before granting this glorious and gracious provision.
Thanks be to God!



report abuse
 

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted October 21, 2009 at 6:37 am


This is a comment that I just left at Deacon Eric’s blog and I will leave it here as well. Deacon Greg is always clear about how big our church is and I agree with him completely. I am not sure that what we are talking about here is a big church, thus my concerns.
Catholic means universal and I think that must be held in view at all times. I believe that Pope Benedict XVI has a vision of a restored church that is essentially good. The execution of reaching this restored church however has been difficult at best. Not that I would think it would be otherwise; things being born always bring pain combined with the force of new life.
It strikes me that these actions are potentially far more divisive than they are unifying; that concerns me as I hear voices from all sides cry with joy or pain.
My own view is not far from Deacon Eric’s regarding diversity. I find all this scurrying to be with the like minded in disheartening. If our faith practice as “catholic Catholics” means anything, it means the pursuit of unity in diversity, which is at the heart of our Trinitarian faith. Catholic with a big C and little c are really important to hold together here.
As someone who very much wanted to be in the comfort of arms that held like mine, eyes who saw like mine, hearts that loved like mine and minds that…. minds that agreed with *mine* I really found that I was indeed in an impoverished ghetto.
Politically as well as in the faith world, all this circling our own wagons is destructive and disheartening.
We are many parts – we are called to be One Body. That means I have to put up with stinky feet, gassy intestines, dirty fingernails, runny noses and more.
We are so conditioned to eliminate what ails or disturbs us, rather to to enter into wisdom it might provide. (My use of body parts etc is deliberate – we practice an incarnational faith and all of this messy body, fleshy business matters.)
That does not mean putting up with the untenable. It does mean crying out for and discerning the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
This comment grows long. I’d like to say some other things about the history of the Reformation in the context of these actions, but I will refrain.
To get back to the main point, exactly how is the unity to be achieved here? By gathering us all in or by splintering us out?



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted October 21, 2009 at 6:49 am


Wait – Deacon Stoltz worries about a lack of diversity of thought in one sentence, and then in the next worries that the SSPX will ‘occasionally lob bombs into the wider Church’ – in other words they might express diversity of thought? I think the Deacon should not be concerned – just rejoice that the Church is making it easier for people to enter.



report abuse
 

Gen X Revert

posted October 21, 2009 at 6:52 am


The above comment is mine, I don’t know why my info did not show up.



report abuse
 

Jason

posted October 21, 2009 at 8:38 am


Anyone of good will who desires full communion with the Holy See ought to be welcomed, and the Holy see ought to take, and is taking, extraordinary steps to facilitate this reunion. Still, I wonder how much of an impact this will really have. While these “disaffected” Anglicans may agree with many positions of the Roman Church, opposition to Petrine Primacy has roots in England almost as old as the Sarum Rite, the predecessor to the Anglican liturgy. There are still a great many “conservative” Anglicans who have no interest in submitting to papal authority.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted October 21, 2009 at 9:19 am


I read this from Richard Rohr this morning and it seems to have some application here. All of us with our collective handwringing, myself included have something to gain in being for something rather than against, whatever the against is, we must be for the church.
“Both/and” is a lot harder than “either/or.”
New structures that can make the emerging church possible cannot be in opposition to any existing church structures; they cannot be against anything but merely for Something. “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better” is one of our core principles at the Center for Action and Contemplation.
Don’t waste the next years of your life being against anybody, anything, any group, any supposed sin, or any institution. Just go ahead and do it better yourself. It’s so common sense when you hear it. As Mohandas Gandhi put it, “Be the change you hope to see in the world.” And in the church!



report abuse
 

Mike

posted October 21, 2009 at 9:51 am


Catholics cannot condone these things and so conservative Anglicans who do not accept what has become of their communion will find themselves in the Catholic maintsream.
Those who cannot condone or accept these things are in no way Christian. You take the homophobes and haters and give us the real Christians.



report abuse
 

Jason

posted October 21, 2009 at 10:14 am


Here’s a long but interesting article on the “Uniatism” mentioned by Deacon Stolz: http://www.saintelias.com/ca/theologic/anamnesis.php



report abuse
 

Deacon Greg Kandra

posted October 21, 2009 at 10:26 am


Mike…
Think about what you are saying, please. You suggest that “those who cannot condone or accept these things” — which includes sexually active, openly gay clergy — are being un-Christian.
I’m speechless.
Dcn. G.



report abuse
 

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted October 21, 2009 at 11:02 am


The Your Name comment at 9:19am was from me, I don’t know why my name did not take and I do not comment anonymously.



report abuse
 

Bill Wilson

posted October 21, 2009 at 11:15 am


Unfortuntely, this pope seems determined to create a number of enclaves for the traditionalist wing of the church, without leaving any room for those who seek fundamental change in issues such as freedom of conscience and speech, an open attitude toward theological research, equal rights and equal opportunity for women, reproductive rights, married clergy, etc. An interesting question: If a man in the Roman right feels called to ordination and marriage, will he be permitted to join the Anglo/Roman bloc and receive both sacraments?



report abuse
 

Bill Wilson

posted October 21, 2009 at 11:17 am


I agree to the above.



report abuse
 

Deacon Greg Kandra

posted October 21, 2009 at 11:22 am


Bill…
Good question.
I was chatting with another deacon last night and we both agreed: this move could well be another nail in the coffin of the unmarried priesthood. (Two other big nails being the restoration of the permanent diaconate, and the original pastoral provision of the early ’80s.)
One thing seems clear: following the custom of Eastern Rite Catholics (and married deacons), if this takes hold a man will have to be married before becoming a priest, and priests will not be allowed to get married after being ordained.
Dcn. G.



report abuse
 

robroy

posted October 21, 2009 at 12:44 pm


The ramifications for the U.S. will be minimal. The program is already in place and there have been some but not many married Episcopalian priests that have taken advantage of it.
Where is important is in Great Britain where is will now be implemented (and perhaps Australia and New Zealand). The Anglo-catholics have played an important role in the struggle for power for the Church of England. This summer, the synod approved women bishops with no provisions for the Anglo-catholics. They have pulled back somewhat but the writing is on the wall. The exiting of the Anglo-catholics in the CoE will lead to an eventual complete liberal takeover. The results will be cataclysmic decline into irrelevancy seen in other state churches in Northern Europe.
The importance in Great Britain is also there will be an influx of conservatives into the Roman Catholic Church of Great Britain. One recalls that it was the influx of conservative Anglicans in the late 19th century that lead to the first Vatican Council.
There is also importance for the Anglican Communion. What will happen when the mother church, the CoE, becomes a post-Christian liberal sect? What will happen if the next Archbishop of Canterbury is a radical lesbian? Certainly, the Global South provinces won’t put up with it.



report abuse
 

jh

posted October 21, 2009 at 4:32 pm


“The ramifications for the U.S. will be minimal. The program is already in place and there have been some but not many married Episcopalian priests that have taken advantage of it.”
This in reality is incorrect. Many Bishops have flat out refused to implement the Pastoral Provision we have had for over two decades. This is one reason the Pope has taken it out of their hands
Further this new structure will not Anglo Catholics are the “mercy of the local ordinary” that might not be too thrilled with them anyway



report abuse
 

jh

posted October 21, 2009 at 4:44 pm


I think many are missing the big picture. A picture that Anglicans get whether they are in the reformed, Evangelical , or Anglo Catholic camp
Unless you follow the Anglican woes ona day to day basis I don’t you have a idea that basically the Anglican Communion is in defacto schism and getting worse by the day. Rome and this Pope has worked not stop with Anglicans. In fact in some ways they wanted Anglicanis to succeed
THe situation in the USA is horrific with the Orthodox of all camps down frozen out. They are shriviling on the vine here and keep splintering. As Cardinal Kasper said last year we were reaching acrisis point because Rome no longer knew who to talk too. THe final straw was basically the Aemrican Church getting off scot free.
ANd what of the Anglo Catholics. They are being frozen out worldwide. In hte reform groups such as GAFCOM that is very much a reformed evangelcal type group the ANglo Catholics could see they would be frozen out there.
So Pope Benedict thre them a lifeline. That is much more important than a decade of meeting that go nowhere as the ANglican Communion continues to spread it errors. In Africa it is a matter of life and death. At the huge Espicopal Bishops meeting in New Orleans(where the Vatican had observor) it was made quite clear that there was a point of no return by Orthodox Anglican elements. I read a speech by a African Bishop that talked about how the US church’s actions on homosexuality were actually getting Anglicans killed in Africa by radical Islamic folks. It was being used against them
Benedict is aware of this.



report abuse
 

Rev. Spreng

posted October 21, 2009 at 6:53 pm


Deacon Greg,
Yes, this will likely put the last nail into that coffin, but perhaps it is time. What amazes me about most Roman Catholics is their lack of apostolic willingness. What I mean by this is that most Roman Catholics are not willing to embrace many of the early church traditions such as married clergy. There was a time were the church needed to initiate the call of celibacy in order to protect Holy Orders and now that celibacy has given its decree we can now prosper with other traditional initiatives.
Regarding what the author says about the possibility of there not being diversity within the new churches…well, trust me, there will be plenty of diversity (not sure if this type of diversity is healthy). Many will be coming out of the liberal Anglican Church and even though these people believe they are conservative they are really, in many cases not. They will bring much of modernity with them, into the Catholic Church.



report abuse
 

Rev. Spreng

posted October 21, 2009 at 6:54 pm


Yes, this will likely put the last nail into that coffin, but perhaps it is time. What amazes me about most Roman Catholics is their lack of apostolic willingness. What I mean by this is that most Roman Catholics are not willing to embrace many of the early church traditions such as married clergy. There was a time were the church needed to initiate the call of celibacy in order to protect Holy Orders and now that celibacy has given its decree we can now prosper with other traditional initiatives.
Regarding what the author says about the possibility of there not being diversity within the new churches…well, trust me, there will be plenty of diversity (not sure if this type of diversity is healthy). Many will be coming out of the liberal Anglican Church and even though these people believe they are conservative they are really, in many cases not. They will bring much of modernity with them, into the Catholic Church.



report abuse
 

Thomas Scott

posted October 23, 2009 at 7:14 am


Rev Spring – I think you misunderstand American Catholics. American catholics – really any catholics – should not desire the church to conform to their needs and wants. They should put their own ideas aside because these almost always take them away from the word of God. It is not that the individuals don’t embrace married clergy – it is that the western Church itself has not embraced it. There are married priests in many of the other Catholic traditions and you are correct that some early priests were allowed to marry (not Bishops). That this tradition has been part of Roman Catholic culture is loved by the majority. For every vocal opponent, you will find throngs of quiet proponents. v



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives!

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below.

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The immediate aftermath of the storm for this class would be

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy.

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.