Five Myths about the Pope’s Anglican Ordinariates

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Myth #1 The Pope is sheep-stealing

The Pope’s alleged “sheep-stealing” been the most popular subject within the secular media. To them, the Holy Father has launched a media campaign to kick the Anglican Communion while it’s down. The poor Archbishop of Canterbury is struggling to keep things together and then “Bamm!” the Pope surprises everyone with a bid for Anglican souls. However, we must remember that it was Anglicans who pursued the matter with the Holy Father—and we’re not talking about just one or two Anglicans. We are talking about thousands and thousands of Anglicans: bishops, priests, deacons, and laity. Anglican bishops from several nations have sent private letters to the Holy See. Much of this is confidential. They want a way out. They want to become Catholic. The Pope is responding to souls looking to him for guidance. The pope is not stealing sheep—He is holding out his pastoral staff to those sheep looking for protection.

Myth #2 Rome is preparing the world for a general married priesthood

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

10 Comments
Posted October 28, 2009 at 4:17 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

Useful information from the refutation to “myth #4”

A personal ordinariate differs from a personal prelature in that an ordinariate is reckoned as a “particular church.” This means that these Anglican ordinariates will not be a ritual churches like the Eastern Catholic Churches (e.g. Maronite or Melkite). The Anglican personal ordinariates will remain under the Roman Rite as expression of its liturgical diversity.

October 28, 5:31 pm | [comment link]
2. Saint Dumb Ox wrote:

As much as I want to say this whole thing is a wonderful deal…(haven’t read the document yet), it doesn’t sit well with me that Rome may want to re-ordain the clergy.  I understand the reasoning, but I think it’s bogus.  It must also be a bitter pill for a priest to swallow to have Rome say he really wasn’t serving Christ for X-number of years and now he will take the REAL vows to do so. 

It would seem to me that a reception of some sort as opposed to a re-ordination would be the way to go.  For myself (a layman) it’s the same with “converting.”  I don’t think I have been doing anything wrong or against God in anyway that I would have to “convert” to Rome.  It may just be semantics, but if I were to walk into a Roman church and have them tell me I haven’t really been going to church all these years and that I was not really a member of a catholic body of believers for the history of my life, I would be quite put out and leave. 

I do want to read this thing when it comes out.

October 28, 8:00 pm | [comment link]
3. Fr. John Parker wrote:

Saint Dumb Ox,

This is quite the challenge, coming from the Episcopal Church.  The problem is that neither the Roman Catholic nor the Orthodox Churches subscribe to the so-called Branch Theory held by Anglicans (which states that there are three “branches” of the Catholic Church: Orthodox, RC, and Anglican), and therefore, entering into one of the two is de facto to admit that something is missing.

Officially since 1896, the Roman Church has declared Anglican Orders “absolutely null and utterly void”, and therefore, in the Roman view, it is not re-ordination, it is simply ordination.  In the Orthodox case, the issue is not so much considered from the perspective of validity, as of communion.  The Anglicans are not in communion with the Orthodox, therefore, for an Anglican priest to come into communion with the Orthodox—as a priest—ordination is required.  (There are some nuances to this, but it is generally the case.)

Again, from an Orthodox perspective, when I renounced my Anglican orders (required for my entrance into Orthodoxy *BUT* also part-and-parcel to my deposition from the Episcopalian priesthood (for abandonment of communion)) I found not that my life and my vocation in the Episcopal church were nullified (31 years, including 3 at TESM and 1.5 in parish ministry in SC), but rather that they found their fullness, their completion—same word uttered by Jesus on the Cross, poorly translated “It is finished”—tetelestai.

Again, I cannot say so much about the Roman Catholic conversion, since it is not my personal story.  But having departed ECUSA for the Ancient Church, I didn’t find annulment, I found fulfillment.  I didn’t find a hard pill to swallow; I found medicine for the soul.

Hope that helps.

Fr John Parker
Holy Ascension Orthodox Church
Mt Pleasant, SC

October 28, 8:25 pm | [comment link]
4. Priest on the Prairie wrote:

I have said this to people in my parish, to family and friends, to the press and to anyone else who has asked: no one, I repeat No One, knows anything yet about the specifics of the Apostolic Constitution.  Fr. Marshall, while debunking some myths, may be adding more to the mix.  We do not know in fact that we will need to be (re)ordained.  There is precedent for conditional ordination of Anglicans.  This option may be used again.  It may not.  I repeat, no one knows yet. 

We do know that the “ordinary” of the ordinariate may be a bishop (unmarried) or a priest (married or celibate).  One of the big differences between the Anglican Usage parishes and the Ordinariate concept is that the former are under the authority of the local Roman Ordinary while the Ordinariates will be new geographical dioceses under a (former) Anglican Ordinary.  It looks like there is a lot of “out of the box” thinking involved in the Apostolic Constitution.  We may yet be in for more surprises.

Fr. Robert Scheiblhofer
Rector, St. Barnabas Church (ACA)
Omaha, NE

October 28, 10:33 pm | [comment link]
5. fatherlee wrote:

Actually, the usage of the term “ordinariate” precludes the whole concept of a geographical diocese.  The ordinariate is more or less a jurisdiction (perhaps limited to the scope of a local Conference of Catholic Bishops) of the ordinary, whoever that might be.

October 29, 12:50 am | [comment link]
6. C. Wingate wrote:

Fr. Parker, Apostolicae Curae relies not on the denunciation of any branch theory but upon a fairly niggling analysis of the ordination rite used on Matthew Parker; faults in the theory it presses were set forth in Saepius Officio, the reply of the English archbishops. It is an argument over ecclesiology, but it does not use any ecclesiology.

October 29, 6:25 am | [comment link]
7. Priest on the Prairie wrote:

re:#5
Assuming our information is correct (and again, this is an assumption since none of our people have yet seen the actual document) the ordinariates will follow our TAC diocesan structures which are set up, loosely speaking, geographically (Eastern USA, Southeastern USA, Midwest USA, Torres Straits, etc.).

October 29, 6:52 am | [comment link]
8. Fr. John Parker wrote:

C Wingate,

You are correct, it would have been better for me to clarify that.  What I am intending to say comes from two directions, the RC and the Anglican.  The RC Church does not accept Anglican Orders, per Apostolicae Curae, and the Anglican Church suggests the Branch Theory.  So, (re)ordination from an Anglican perspective is the “hard pill to swallow” as mentioned by the second commenter—since it is based on the supposed branch-theory, but it is not re-ordination from the Roman view, specifically due to the Papal Bull.

Thank you for the clarification.

October 29, 7:00 am | [comment link]
9. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

#7, assuming your information is correct, would the TAC then disappear, to be completely subsumed by the new ordinariates? Or would there be substantial holdouts?

October 29, 7:09 am | [comment link]
10. Peter dH wrote:

The liturgies found in the Book of Common Prayer [of 1549] and subsequent editions reveal a careful blend of medieval Catholic piety mixed with subtle Protestantism.

This is a not-so-careful rewrite of history. In actual fact, the BCP of 1549 was quite firmly Protestant in content. This was even more true of the more explicitly Reformed 1552 revision. Perhaps familiarity with Protestant thought and form, not to mention gradual reform within the Catholic church itself, has blinded mr. Marshall to the fact that the BCP’s Protestantism could not possibly be described as “subtle”. Darmaid MacCulloch writes (A History of Christianity, p630):

Archbishop Cranmer [...] led a thoroughgoing destruction of the traditional devotional world in England. His Reformation owed most to the example of Strassburg and the Swiss, though in his vernacular liturgy for the English Church, the BCP of 1549, revised in more uncompromisingly Reformed style in 1552, Cranmer was ready to draw on any useful precedent. Those included the more conservative Lutheran forms of worship recently devised in Germany [...]

Nor can one say that “Queen Elizabeth fully realized this compromise between Catholicism and Protestantism”. She reverted some of the 1552 revisions for the 1559 BCP, but judging by what we know of her personal piety, that was arguably more political expediency than religious conviction. She was simply trying to keep her country together. It had been swinging from the fickle Henry through the firmly Protestant Edward to the deeply Catholic Mary, with bloodbaths and unrest at every swing of the pendulum. That had to be stopped, and the divisions had to be healed. It was a political compromise, and quite an uneasy one from a theological point of view; one only has to read the 1559 words of distribution to realise this.

If anyone achieved a religious compromise, it was Hooker, but even so it was a distinctly Protestant compromise. Of course, a fondness for ancient, more colourful and ritually expressive form of worship has been part of Anglicanism’s heritage from the start, at tension with the more Puritan elements also present, but it wasn’t until the Oxford Movement that distinctive Anglo-Catholicism became part of Anglican life. Despite such gradual drift, the Church of England was an essentially Reformed denomination from its historical roots. Anyone tempted to take up the Pope on his offer today has strayed quite some distance from that already.

October 29, 10:08 am | [comment link]
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