Affirming Catholicism and Society of Catholic Priests PR on Vatican Proposal

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The current debate about the implications of the offer made by his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to make provision for Anglicans who wish to join the Roman Catholic Church ignores one important fact. The majority of catholics within the church are in favour of women’s ministry and wish to remain loyal to the Anglican tradition within the Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchWomen* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

25 Comments
Posted October 26, 2009 at 4:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. A Senior Priest wrote:

This first statement *really* makes a lot of assumptions… like is a person who affirms the ordination of women a Catholic or not? To my mind that is a matter of debate. My own answer to that question is ‘...not quite.’

October 26, 5:18 pm | [comment link]
2. Franz wrote:

I also expect that Rome is not especially concerned about the absolute numbers.  Those who like the smells and bells aspect of the Anglo-Catholic tradition, but have problems with traditional catholic teaching on WO and sexual morality, aren’t likely to be terribly upset with the C of E (or ECUSA), and probably aren’t the people BXVI will have in mind when he extends the invitation.

October 26, 5:26 pm | [comment link]
3. rugbyplayingpriest wrote:

But we are catholic, we are, we are, we are!! These guys need to realize that wearing a chasuble doesn’t make you catholic any more than sitting in a chicken coop makes you a hen.

Truth is when everything you passioantely defend (women’s ordination, gay weddings et al) leads you away from Rome and Xonstantinople then you surely must question what catholiciry it is that you espouse. fact is the pope sees in Forward in Faith what he can accept into the universal church. I do not see that same offer being made to this liberal pressur group

October 26, 5:26 pm | [comment link]
4. advocate wrote:

How do you affirm what the “Affirming Catholicism” does when it contravenes what the greater/majority church Catholic believes? Explain to me how this is “catholic” or universal? Being high church doesn’t make you catholic, and saying it is don’t make it so.  I’m reminded of Inigo Montoya in Princess Bride “I don’t think that means what you think it means…”

October 26, 5:44 pm | [comment link]
5. Rev. Patti Hale wrote:

#4   LOL   Thanks for the Princess Bride chuckle.  Very good.

October 26, 7:07 pm | [comment link]
6. tjmcmahon wrote:

OK, I see that here the “Society of Catholic Priests” which is the “affirming catholic” parody of the SSC, is shown in its true colors.  The US arm must, as the #1a of its rule of life, swear fidelity to KJS.  Some Catholics.

Closer to the truth would be “Society of Priests who like to dress up like Catholics and ignore the 39 Articles and rule of St. Vincent, and think the Pope is a misogynist”

October 26, 9:05 pm | [comment link]
7. rob k wrote:

What do the 39 Articles have to do with the Rule of St. Vincent?

October 26, 10:43 pm | [comment link]
8. tjmcmahon wrote:

“What do the 39 Articles have to do with the Rule of St. Vincent? “

Not much, but that was my point.  Here you have a group that wants to ignore BOTH the “Anglican” 39 Articles AND the Catholic Rule of St. Vincent.  The arguments against high churchmanship, and Anglo Catholicism in particular, have always centered on Anglo Catholics violating certain of the 39 Articles (transubstantiation, “parading” the Sacrament about, patron and intercessory saints, etc.).  The main Anglo Catholic defense has always been the Rule of St. Vincent-
“Now in the Catholic Church itself we take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all. That is truly and properly ‘Catholic,’ as is shown by the very force and meaning of the word, which comprehends everything almost universally. We shall hold to this rule if we follow universality [i.e. oecumenicity], antiquity, and consent. We shall follow universality if we acknowledge that one Faith to be true which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is clear that our ancestors and fathers proclaimed; consent, if in antiquity itself we keep following the definitions and opinions of all, or certainly nearly all, bishops and doctors alike.”

In what they are doing, they have rejected the Vincentian canon, while at the same time maintaining the outward practices of Catholicism that violate the 39 Articles. 

One might say that their “sacraments” are an “outward and visible sign, of an outward and visible sign” rather than “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.”

A more “Anglican” way of looking at it is that they have replaced Scripture, Tradition and Reason with Inclusivity, Appearance and Political Correctness.

October 26, 11:04 pm | [comment link]
9. driver8 wrote:

Of course words signify by convention so anyone may call their grouping “catholic” should they wish. One should of course be thoughtful about what reality “catholic” is being used to signify. Affirming Catholicisim was more or less created to group together folks who wished to be known as “catholic” and affirm women’s ordination so there are no surprises here.

But if, as a rather different understanding of “catholic” suggests, one sees the “catholic” witness in the COE as pointing to the teaching of the unidivided church then one will need to look elsewhere than “Affirming Catholicism” to find it.

October 27, 12:41 am | [comment link]
10. ReinertJ wrote:

Never mind the matter of women’s ordination, Affirming Catholicism, has long been one of the prime gay lobby groups in the cofe This has been a great shock to those overseas anglo-catholic clergy who expected much more from it.  I still remember the shock experienced by good friend of mine (now a TAC bishop) after he attended a AC conference.  Like many anglo catholic organisations they lack any substance.
regards,
Jon R

October 27, 8:33 am | [comment link]
11. Sarah wrote:

A priceless line, TJ .. .

RE: “One might say that their “sacraments” are an “outward and visible sign, of an outward and visible sign” . . . “

; > )

October 27, 8:48 am | [comment link]
12. Pageantmaster ن [Repent Justin Welby] wrote:

Well hello - someone has woken up then.  Of course Affirming Catholics have been at the bottom of much of the division of the Communion.

Started I believe by Rowan Williams and Frank Griswold, it was Griswold who did an about face on the truth front by telling the Primates one thing and then returning to the States to consecrate Gene Robinson.

And in the UK, I have commented before that the Affirming Catholics seem to delight in kicking their sibling Anglo-Catholics whenever they can.  It was they who ganged up with WATCH at Synod ‘08 to put the boot into them.

Affirming Catholics are usually institutionalists who do not initiate the trouble, but have been more than willing to join in when they have thought they could get away from it.  What a shock it must have all been - Windsor, GAFCON and now the Pope intruding.

Is there an air of panic around?  Seen what the consequences of your actions are have you?  Finally got around to think about protecting the Church of England?

Well it is to be welcomed as better late than never I suppose, but you still can’t avoid having another pinch of the Anglo-Catholics can you:
“To suggest that the departure from the Church of England of those who hold more conservative views will remove the catholic wind and tradition from the church is entirely wrong….We welcome the offer made by the Pope to those of our brothers and sisters who no longer feel that the Anglican Communion [thanks to our efforts] is their spiritual home”.

Go on….why don’t you jump?  You know you want to.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Bz7fcWOvmY

October 27, 9:06 am | [comment link]
13. rjhend1 wrote:

“Take delight in the Lord… be still before the Lord… refrain from anger, leave rage alone…”

The SCP has spent much time reflecting on the first nine verses of Psalm 37 with its message of joy in the Lord, patience and stillness as God’s purposes unfold and its call to a non-reactive, non-anxious calm which seems to speak precisely to the unfolding nature of the Society at this point.

Frankly, too many have made an idol of their anger. On both sides of the false dichotomy, there is too much love of rage, too much rage for love, and too little time for silence.

The Society has received letters from self-described liberals literally cursing that we are not being aggressive enough. We have received letters from so-called traditionalists raging that we are somehow watering down Christianity. The liberals seem to have little tolerance for much beyond their version of inclusion and the conservatives seem to waste little time before degrading all that which does not pass their purity code.

These are seemingly stark terms. But, for many of us, too much time is being wasted on self-important irrelevancies, trifling theatrics, risible theologies, and halcyon reminiscences.

We accept the Church as it is with its glories and its deficiencies in plain view. It is a wounded Church. Our goal is to be some part of the confession, the healing, and the renewal. We do ask our members to affirm that they are part of the Episcopal Church for that is where we are, where we are called to ministry, and where our work is needed.

The SCP is composed of priests, seminarians, deacons, bishops, and religious who are, quite simply, looking for more from their Church. More than neutered theology. More than sputtering anger. More than well-trod arguments. More than cacophony, legalism, polemic, and invective.

The Society has priests across the range of catholicity who have committed themselves to growing in faith, trust, and hope with one another in a risen Christ. We do not agree on everything and do not seek to. Our goal is to be there for one another in pain, grief, joy, and service. Spreading the Gospel Truth is not a liberal or conservative agenda item. We are committed to supporting one another as we share the Good News of Christ crucified, risen, and ascended.

We know that for many the idea that there is a center to the Episcopal Church seems unbelievable, but we are there and we are at work in the Church. We also know that there is little trust, scant hope, and meager dreaming. We look to restore our delight, renew our service, and remain in witness to a God of power and might.

In Christ,

Robert Hendrickson
Communications Coordinator
The Society of Catholic Priests (thescp.org)
North American Province

October 27, 12:27 pm | [comment link]
14. Dr. William Tighe wrote:

“Started I believe by Rowan Williams and Frank Griswold ...”

And Richard Holloway and a Vicar of All Saints, Margaret Street, London, whose name I cannot now recall.

October 27, 12:53 pm | [comment link]
15. Pageantmaster ن [Repent Justin Welby] wrote:

The last nine verses of Psalm 37 are well worth contemplating with their message of faithfulness to God’s word in the face of the persecution of the wicked:

32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
    seeking their very lives;

33 but the LORD will not leave them in their power
    or let them be condemned when brought to trial.

34 Wait for the LORD
    and keep his way.
    He will exalt you to inherit the land;
    when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
    flourishing like a green tree in its native soil,

36 but he soon passed away and was no more;
    though I looked for him, he could not be found.

37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
    there is a future for the man of peace.

38 But all sinners will be destroyed;
    the future of the wicked will be cut off.

39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
    he is their stronghold in time of trouble.

40 The LORD helps them and delivers them;
    he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
    because they take refuge in him.

and how are we to be sure of this salvation from the Lord?  Well verses 30 and 31 make it all clear what we are to do:

30 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom,
    and his tongue speaks what is just.

31 The law of his God is in his heart;
    his feet do not slip.

All of this tumult in the church comes down to two questions:
[1] who do we say He is? and
[2] who will we serve?

In His Service

Pageantmaster
Nobody important really

October 27, 1:33 pm | [comment link]
16. advocate wrote:

To respond to Fr. Hendrickson,
This is not a response of vitriol but of real confusion. You say in your very name that you are affirming catholicism. Fine. But if you are, then you must affirm what the broader “church catholic” affirms, or you open yourself up to being ridiculed. As one of the posters on this site reminds us, words matter.  And catholic in this context would be that someone other than you in the church catholic (RCs, Orthodox, the majority of the rest of the Communion) agrees with you, thus universal. I don’t know how else one defines catholic, but I know that it isn’t simply people who are high church. You can define yourself or call yourself whatever you like, but a primary component of being catholic is holding to those things that are universal. And as soon as you ascribe to those things that aren’t universal in the church catholic, then you aren’t catholic - no matter how admirable your intentions.  I just don’t see the “catholic” that you are affirming.  I just don’t.

October 27, 7:03 pm | [comment link]
17. driver8 wrote:

It’s not quite true to say that Affirming Catholicism has avoided a partisan polemic. As they were created to create a public space for those who wished to affirm their “catholic” identity whilst being in favor of women’s ordination - there is a polemical edge from the very origin. (This isn’t a crique given the context in which AffCath arose - but it not quite truthful to deny it IMO. Of course the AffCaths offer all sorts of all other things - mutual support, a sequence of local and national gatherings etc. - but there’s little doubt that self consciously and purposively AffCaths occupy a particular place in the Anglican polis’ ecology). One might say, as one wit put it, catholic in everything apart from the doctrine of the church.

October 27, 9:28 pm | [comment link]
18. Sarah wrote:

RE: “The SCP is composed of priests, seminarians, deacons, bishops, and religious who are, quite simply, looking for more from their Church. More than neutered theology. More than sputtering anger. More than well-trod arguments. More than cacophony, legalism, polemic, and invective.”

One has to giggle here.  For in the response of the “Communications Coordinator” he engages in cacophony, legalism, polemic, and invective in describing all of those other Really Bad Episcopalians.

; > )

Rich Irony.

October 27, 9:36 pm | [comment link]
19. rjhend1 wrote:

Maggie C, your post does open up some vital questions in the life of the SCP.  We are actively engaged in conversations across our chapters and our inaugural conference about what does it mean to be catholic.  There is a way of being “catholic” that we are engaging that is based on spiritual discipline, sacramental devotion, creedal and apostolic Christianity.

I completely agree that simply “high church” is not enough.  Those things are the indicators of more but cannot be the substance of faith or tradition.

Our catholic tradition has to be about more than “no” though.  Defining ourselves by what we are against is simply not enough to feed our congregations or ourselves.  What I have found in the American branch of the SCP is a group of priests who are not asserting an agenda, but are seeking a deeper engagement with one another and our spirituality and tradition.

For some of us, there are deep questions about the direction of the Episcopal, while others see the church’s trajectory as in line with a view of liberation.

All of us, however, are seeking to reflect, engage, and dialogue about those things that are deeper that we share in common.  If you will notice, our first annual conference has no presentations on sexuality.  it also has no sessions on liturgy. 

It is focused squarely on working through what being essentially catholic means in our context and how that faith informs us and our parishes.

I appreciate fully the that catholicity inherently implies embracing the faith received.  It also, however, means receiving a way of being together that holds manifold tensions in balance.  When one looks across the ages of Catholicism and reflects on the writings of Aquinas, Augustine, Anselm, Bernard, Ignatius, and so many more, you find a host of theological differences that are housed within tradition.

We are dedicating ourselves to discerning the essential and living in the complexity of a tradition that is not flash-frozen in a specific moment but is still living and breathing today.

Sarah, if I come across as engaging in polemics, I assure you that I am expressing a general distaste for the tawdry episodes of the last few years and am eager to get back to the cure of souls.  I apologize if that seemed too much.

Your Brother in Christ,

Robert

October 27, 11:03 pm | [comment link]
20. Sarah wrote:

RE: “I assure you that I am expressing a general distaste for the tawdry episodes of the last few years . . . “

I know—for your group has decided oddly that sexual relations between same-genders is “adiaphora” and secondary and not something worth fighting over.  That’s fine of course.  Each group for itself and its own views.

But since there’s a whole group of people in TEC who believe sexual relations between same-genders to be “holy and blessed” [along with hosts and scads of other heresies which have led them to the “holy and blessed” meme about same-gender sex] and another whole group of people in TEC who believe it to be a gross violation of scriptural authority, the sacraments, tradition, and reason there will be conflict—conflict which again you have now described as “tawdry episodes.”

Of course, the group in which I reside in TEC thinks a conflict over the gospel is anything but “tawdry” but rather a good thing because people are defending the gospel.  You also claim that the conflict is making “an idol of their anger” and “degrading all that which does not pass their purity code” and “self-important irrelevancies, trifling theatrics, risible theologies, and halcyon reminiscences,” “neutered theology”, “sputtering anger,” “cacophony, legalism, polemic, and invective.”

So it sounds like you’re angry over the people engaged in the conflict. 

I’m not surprised—since your group has decided to say that it doesn’t matter if people promote in the church that sexual relations between same genders is holy and blessed, and your group has further decided rather officiously and pretentiously that it represents the “center” by simply declaring the conflict over sexuality bad.

Of course, in order to pretend to represent the “center” you must also express your distaste for the “conflict” over something so trifling as people promoting sexual relations between same genders as holy and blessed.  And so to do that—to express your distaste of the conflict—you must engage in “self-important irrelevancies, trifling theatrics, risible theologies, and halcyon reminiscences,” “neutered theology”, “sputtering anger,” “cacophony, legalism, polemic, and invective” in your expression of distaste as well as your own halcyon views of what church should really be which of course is your own group representing the “center” [sic].

I’m just pointing all of that out for this thread, just in case anybody has missed it and for my own edification as well.  It’s really a formality—I expect most people caught it from the beginning.

October 28, 8:42 am | [comment link]
21. rjhend1 wrote:

Hello Sarah,

Thanks for your thoughts.  To be frank, there is much that I am willing to classify as adiaphora in order to maintain the difficult goal of unity.

Speaking just for myself, this issue is simply not of sufficient gravity to make me want to leave the church.  I know that for others it is.  I think that is unfortunate.  I have very dear friends who are all over the spectrum on many issues.  To me, they are all needed in the Church and all have a voice that must be heard.

With All Saints and All Souls coming up, we have before us our models for life in Christ.  One of the things that troubles me is not calling one another out, but the willingness to doubt the character or motives of those we disagree with.  Whether it is allegations of bigotry from one side or the use of the word heretic from the other, the labels we are so quick to use are dangerous. 

All of us are moving forward in fear and trembling and seeking to follow Christ as best we understand him.  I appreciate your pointing out where my own words may not be helpful in articulating where things stand.

My thanks to you also for keeping engaged in the faith and in the life of the Body of Christ.

Yours,

Robert

October 28, 11:02 am | [comment link]
22. advocate wrote:

To be frank, there is much that I am willing to classify as adiaphora in order to maintain the difficult goal of unity.

Except when it starts affecting the nature of a Sacrament. Then you just put yourself somewhere outside that which is “catholic.”

Robert, just to follow up on Sarah’s point, as we all know when you start redefining marriage, you are fundamentally altering the nature of the sacrament of Marriage/Crowning. This sacrament has a particular meaning and theology in the broader church catholic (RCs, Orthodox, and the global majority of Anglicans) that is limited to sacramental bond between a man and a woman.  Once you start redefining the fundamental nature of a sacrament, there is no way that the rest of the church catholic is going to say what you are doing is “adiaphora” and secondary.  The same argument goes for WO.  It isn’t catholic if the rest of the “world catholic” isn’t with you - because your position is inherently local. I’m not questioning your motives, but rather your use of a word that has particular meaning - certainly in both the 39 articles or the Rule of St. Vincent. It seems that it would be more accurate to call yourselves something that affirms those things which you stand for, which again I’m sure is a position held with the best of motives, but would not be held to be catholic by the rest of the catholic world. It is either universal (or even held by a simple majority, which your positions aren’t), or it isn’t.

October 28, 12:13 pm | [comment link]
23. Sarah wrote:

RE: “Speaking just for myself, this issue is simply not of sufficient gravity to make me want to leave the church.  I know that for others it is.”

I understand.  And I don’t want to leave the church either.  But the issue is of sufficient gravity for the conflict to be engaged.  And engaged it will be and divided the church is—and will remain so until one side or the other is completely gone.  Because—the issue is inherently a church-dividing issue whether people wish it to be so or not.

Those who decide that it’s not of sufficient gravity or that it’s not an inherently church-dividing issue are clearly in another camp.  But I have no desire to leave the church—nor do I intend to.  I will however fight over the issue and it will continue to be church-dividing in part because people like me have no intentions of leaving and every intention of engaging in the conflict.

Hence—there will be no peace in the Episcopal Church while these two gospels—both held quite firmly by the two differing sides—are within the same institution.

October 28, 12:53 pm | [comment link]
24. Ex-Anglican Sue wrote:

Solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.

October 28, 6:36 pm | [comment link]
25. advocate wrote:

We are actively engaged in conversations across our chapters and our inaugural conference about what does it mean to be catholic.  There is a way of being “catholic” that we are engaging that is based on spiritual discipline, sacramental devotion, creedal and apostolic Christianity.

Robert, one more thing.  This statement has been bothering me since this morning and I feel it necessary to respond so that I can sleep tonight.  What do you mean that you are figuring out what it means to be catholic?  You don’t have to look very far to discover this - the Rule of St. Vincent is pretty straightforward. I know that it was posted up a ways, but I think in this context it bears repeating:

“Now in the Catholic Church itself we take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all. That is truly and properly ‘Catholic,’ as is shown by the very force and meaning of the word, which comprehends everything almost universally. We shall hold to this rule if we follow universality [i.e. oecumenicity], antiquity, and consent. We shall follow universality if we acknowledge that one Faith to be true which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is clear that our ancestors and fathers proclaimed; consent, if in antiquity itself we keep following the definitions and opinions of all, or certainly nearly all, bishops and doctors alike.”

It seems to me that your apparent difficulty with defining yourself is that you don’t like the current definition of what is catholic, so you have to find another one that fits you and your current membership. That, I suspect, will be a challenge for you. Problem is, very few in the church catholic defines that word like you do. In the Roman church they call folks who pick and choose what parts of Catholic they choose to follow “Cafeteria Catholics”. That is because if you are catholic you don’t get to say, “we like benediction, tunicles, high liturgies, and routine confession, but we’re redefining the sacramental definition of marriage and holy orders” and call it catholic. It isn’t.  Once you start deviating from the fundamental biblical and sacramental teachings held and believed by the majority of those in the church catholic (or even by the majority of ONE of the churches catholic), naming yourself as ones who “affirm catholicism” is, charitably, risible.

October 28, 11:00 pm | [comment link]
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