False Start For The UK Ordinariate

False start: Bishop Burnham

After today’s announcement of five bishops of the Anglican church, that they will cease every function within the Anglican church at the end of the year and join the Ordinariate when such one is created I am supposed, I think, to be satisfied and see the future of the Ordinariate with some optimism.

Then why I am not?

I am not because it seems to me that, so to speak, the new blood coming within the church is – at least judging from the still scarce information – not really good.

Let us take this interview to the BBC of Mr. Burnham, one of the five swimmers.
If you listen from 0:25 onward, it appears very clearly to me that Mr. Burnham announces his conversion to the Only Church, but still doesn’t have the slightest problem in continuing to consider the Anglican so-called church “part of the one universal Church going back to the time of Jesus”. His problem is not with the Anglicans NOT being part of the Church. His problem is that in recent times the so-called cofE has started “making his own rules”. The several centuries from Edward VI to 1992 don’t seem to be a problem, the very legitimacy of the so-called church of England a given. It is only when the so-called coE started with the novel ideas of priestesses & Co. that he was forced to choose between the “two Churches” and he decided for the “older body” (clearly meaning, make no mistakes, that both “bodies” are “Catholic churches”).

Furthermore, he sees his conversion as a way “for the churches to move closer together”.
Pardon me, Mr. Burnham, but a Catholic cannot, absolutely cannot see “two churches coming together”. There is only the One Church – which is right – and an ecclesial community – which is wrong – and no other decision than the one to leave the wrong community and join the Only Church.

All this talking of the “two churches”, of continuing to see Anglicanism as a part of the Church, of wishing a union between two supposed churches is the explicit confirmation of what many had feared: that the new “converts” do not bring any Catholic orthodoxy with them, but rather introduce an element of heresy within the organisation they want to join.

It would have been very easy and very beautiful and very orthodox for Mr. Burnham to say that the events of the last decades have started in him a painful but necessary process of discernment; that at the end of this process he has come to the conclusion that the Only Church is.. the Only Church; that he has come to recognise where is the truth and where is the error; and that he hopes that many other faithful still within the Anglican so-called church would reach, in time, the same conclusion.

Nothing of the sort. Not one word. From one who is publicly announcing his conversion. On the contrary, explicit legitimation of a heretical body as “church”.

If the UK Ordinariate is going to work along these lines I wish it a painful death, from the heart.
This is not conversion; this is invasion.


Posted on November 8, 2010, in Catholicism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. You have, I think, misrepresented what the Bishop Burnham says. What he actually says is “its a question of whether the Anglican church is as it says it is, part of the universal church going back to Jesus Christ, or whether its going off in its own way” – and the answer is the latter. The Church of England does make this claim, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet does not. Indeed, it is quite clear from what he says that by going off in its own direction (and he doesn’t specifiy when, so it could be 1534 as easily as 1992) it has shown itself not to be fully part of the universal Church.

    On the other hand, the Catholic Church teaches that ecclesial communities separated from communion with the successor of Peter nevertheless contain many elements of sanctification and truth, so it would have been uncharitable for Bishop Andrew to have given the sort of outright condemnation you suggested. Nothing Bishop Andrew said is incorrect, and if there were things he left unsaid out of charity, his actions speak louder than words.

    I make no apology for referring to Bishop of the Church of England as such out of ecumencial courtesy. I do as the Pope does.

    • mj,

      There is only One Church, and this is the church he has chosen to belong to (or so he says). He can’t convert without making this clear. Particularly when he wishes other people to go down the same road.

      The so-called anglican Church is a protestant ecclesial community, period. Two churches, my aunt. He is NOT charitable if he doesn;t make this very clear.

      Furthermore, it is VERY clear from the context that he sees the so-called church of England going in the wrong direction since… there has been a change of direction, and this can only be bishopesses and priestesses.

      Already from the words you mention, “it’s going off in its own way” is clearly referred to a new development, not to an ecclesial community heretic he considers heretic from the start. Had he wanted to be ortyhodox, he’d have said “or whether it has been going astray from its very start”, or such like.

      The “elements of sanctification” do not make an heretic ecclesial community less heretical. You are confusing charity with truth here. He should have been charitable and should have said the truth.

      The truth is charitable, the convenient lie isn’t. I’m afraid Anglicans truly don’t get this.


    • You can call a bishop of the so-called church of England as such, following a media use and for the sake of simplicity. But this doesn’t mean that you can consider both of them “churches”. It is very evident in Burnham’s words that he does.


  2. It is very evident in Bp Burnham’s words that he *doesn’t* think the Church of England is a Church in the fullest sense of the word. Langauge doesn’t always aid clarity here: the Church of England is what it is called, and therefore it is only polite to refer to it as such to do so doesn’t imply endorsement of some sort of branch theory or any sort of parity between two churches. Bp Burnham and the other four bishops have demonstrated quite clearly in their decision announced today that the fullness of truth and sacramental life can only be found in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church goverened by the Successor of Peter. I really don’t see how one can reasonably fault them on that.

    I quite agree that charity and truth are inseperable. Your comment that Anglicans don’t get this is an unfair generalisation. I was one once, I got it then, and the two of these five bishops who I know personally get it as well. I can assure you that there is no question of them bringing heresy into the Church, and that they would have no hesitation in affirming an umabiguously Catholic Ecclesiology. However an interview on BBC news (which is going to be edited) is not necessarily the best forum in which to do so.

    • mj,
      Frankly, you must decide what is what.

      You can’t say that it would have been “uncharitable” for Mr. Burnham to tell the truth and then say that charity and truth are inseparable. Burnham will be called to motivate others to make the same choices he did, and the way to do it is not talking the way he did. If the BBC’s editing has given an unfair view of what he wanted to convey, it is his duty to say so and to say things clearly; which, make no mistake, will be considered “uncharitable” by many Anglicans.

      I just can’t see the straight talking here, and this is what is most necessary if people are to be called to embrace the Truth, not Anglican doublethink.

      My comments about the Anglican thinking reflect… the Anglican thinking as seen in all these years. There aren’t many other ecclesial communities clamining to be Catholic and not Catholic at the same time, but remaining all in the same communion; this is a rather remarkable feat and I must say Anglicans have traditionally excelled in this kind of game. We see this game going on as we speak, with the unbelievable feat of an ecclesial community openly embracing bishopesses (and priestesses, let us not forget that) and the more traditionally minded limiting themselves to…… ask for “provisions” for them. What a sad show.

      It isn’t really much to ask that those who decide to convert be truly Catholic and to say so. I mean here not Catholic as they have deluded themselves they were, I mean Catholic in the true, only sense of the word, the sense which means that Anglicanism is heresy.

      One is a Catholic or he isn’t. There’s nothing like an Anglo-Catholic. Truly not. It’s time to understand this, and to say it out loud. First of all it must be said to those who still are on the other side and need to be told the truth rather than being fed the old Anglican lies and lulled into thinking they can change without changing, or make a decision without making any. This is charity, all the rest is deception.

      If the men are as orthodox as they say, they’ll have plenty of occasions to show it after this very bad start. I’ll believe it when I hear it.


      P.s. I was in favour of abortion once, before I started to really deal with Catholicism. I won’t pretend that it is easy to say to ourselves that we were wrong, big time; that people we love and admire were wrong, big time, and that in general we have gone around telling and believing things which now let us cry tears of shame. But you know what? The truth sets us free. It is infinitely better to be hit in the face by the truth than to be caressed by the convenient lies of this world.

      How I wish I had had people in years past talking to me as straight as I am talking to you now.

  3. Irenaeus of New York

    I expressed a somewhat similar comment on DT’s blog (after a good year away from it).

    “It still gives me pause that the conversion was essentially a negative one instead of a positive one. It takes the fear of being attached to outright heresy in order for Anglican Bishops to throw out their hands for whatever floats for fear of drowning. In this case, they cling to the Catholic Church, but how many will shed the ballast of false doctrines that weigh them down? Individual conversions are the most honest way to convert. Whole communities issuing an opinion that teeters pro Rome by quorum is not confidence inspiring.”

    • Irenaeus,
      you said it very beautifully, “the ballast of false doctrines that weigh them down”.
      In Mr. Burnham’s intervention here you see a prime example of ego gone out of control but, most importantly, of refusal to accept the consequences of wanting to become a Catholic.

      We complain, and rightly so, about the questionable conversion of Tony Blair. The more important is that people who want to have a leading role in converting people to Catholicism be truly Catholic. It seems to me that what is planned here is the ferrying of Anglicans to the Only church as Anglicans. You see this everywhere: claim of legitimacy of an heretical organisation, and the call of being “uncharitable” (no wait: “unchristian”!) addressed to those who tell things as they are.

      In my eyes, a person thinking about conversion should take his time and seriously reflect about what he is doing. But once he has done it, he should mean it.

      I can’t see this here. Happy to change my mind in future, but I’ll do when I see orthodoxy at work, not Anglican plays with words.


  4. Irenaeus of New York

    Of course by “outright heresy” I mean by there own standards.

  5. andrewebbsfleet

    Mundabor: your mistakes are not, I think, ecclesiological nor theological. Your mistakes are, first, in the use of language, and, second, in good manners, and, third, in assuming that you know that which you do not know. If one were to refer to ‘the Church of Latter Day Saints’ one would not be endorsing Mormonism. Calling officials of an organisation by their title is no more than simple politeness. A Republican would not be betraying himself or his principles by referring to the monarch as ‘the Queen’. You and I have not met and for you to try to encapsulate my position and attack it – under the cowardly cloak of anonymity – is as impossible as it is unchristian. Time for penitence and penance is my guess – though since I do not know you there may be extenuating circumstances – and an apology. I shall remember you at Mass later: don’t worry it will be an Oratorian offering it, in Latin I hope, and I am not yet a communicant.

    My prayers on this holy feast

    Andrew (‘Mr’) Burnham

    • Mr. Burnham,

      I see that whilst you do not have the gut to talk Catholic, you do have the effrontery of complaining about my “bad langauge” and “bad manners” whilst calling me a coward.

      In doing so, you show all the petty spirit of people of your ilk and persuade me even more (I might change my mind in future, and I think that people do change, and you might be emotionally vulnerable today; still, your start couldn’t have been worse) that you are simply a fake penny.
      Just notice how childishly attached you are to a title given to you by an heretic organisation – a title which you will by the way soon lose anyway – to get the full extent of your vanity. This is the same vanity, mind, which leads you to heresy by talking of the so-called church of England the way you did in the BBC interview; an interview whose content you obviously do not seem to want to retract.

      On your accusation that I be “coward”, you may want to instruct yourself by reading here. I doubt that this will persuade you but believe me, it will not be my fault.

      And so there we are, that a person announcing his conversion to the Only Church writes around in blogs to complain that he is not being addressed as “bishop” as per the heretical organisation he is leaving. Beautiful and very much indicative of things to come.

      Yes, I think that apologies are in order, Mr. Burnham.
      Feel free to use this board to make them.

      I shall remember you in my prayers, too.


  6. I don’t want to go round in circles so I will simply state once more that you have nothing to fear from these five men, two of whom I know. Rather than judge Bp Burnham, and by extension the whole ordinariate project, on the basis of one BBC interview, I urge you to reflect on the significance of the action itself. No-one leaves the church (or ecclesial community if you prefer) in which they have come to faith, received baptism, and exercised a ministry for several years lightly. It is not a decision based on convenience. The only basis for such a decision is the conviction, which these men have often spoken of, that one can only truly and authentically be a Catholic in communion with the successor of Peter. Leaving the Church of England to join what they know to be the one true Church is a prophetic act on the part of good men of integrity who have long sought unity with Rome, and this act rather than an interview with the BBC will inspire others to follow them.

    The Holy Father has in my opinon shown considerable wisdom and charity in making this invitation to separated brethren in the Anglican Communion, without in any way compromising truth.

    • mjb,
      first of all, the inordinate reaction of Mr. Burnham on this very blog draws a very dark cloud over his real motives. It might be that his reaction was due to a momentary loss of nerves. Still, it shows what seems to be a very petty man, more interested in being called with the title given to him by an heretical (should I repeat this? Heretical. Not enough? Heretical!) organisation whilst wanting to call himself a Catholic than to defend Catholic teaching, and this on the very day he announces his conversion.
      Go figure. Give me a Wiliamson any day.

      Your assumption that the decision be not based on convenience is something which, in the simple world where I live, must be proved and the way to prove it is with the orthodoxy of the message transmitted.
      Cardinal Newman spent years reflecting on his conversion. One understand that this is a process, long and possibly painful. But when Newman decided to convert, he became a full-fledged Catholic. I can’t see this being the case, mjb.

      To become a Catholic means to embrace all of Catholicism, not to pick and choose what suits us from the old shop (the title, say).
      Mr. Burnham still has all the bad habits of Anglicans: he calls those who tell him what is what “unchristian”, because that’s what Anglicans do all the time, and he shows a rather pathetic attachment to the title given to him by an organisation whose legitimacy he should have, by now, refused.

      I say it once again: it is for Mr. Burnham (“Mister”, by the way, is not an offence in any conceivable way) to now prove that to become a Catholic, menas to cease to believe in the legitimacy of the so-called church of England and in the validity of his orders. It seems to me that the contrary is the case here.

      You know what we say in Italy?: “Il buon giorno si vede dal mattino” or, “you see the good day from the morning”.
      The morning of the UK Ordinariate looks rather bleak, with “converts” spending their time on petty quarels on the internet about the title given to them (let me repeat it once again) by an heretical organisation.

      What kind of Catholic is that, for crying our loud.


      P.s. you might not know father Cumanus. He was skeptical about the initiative from the start, basically fearing the lack of real conviction of the new entries. I thought him wrong, but I am rapidly changing my mind at least as far as the UK Ordinariate is concerned.
      Again: early days, and the other converts might be a bit better than people coming here to bicker because they haven’t been called “bishop”. Still: truly not a good start.

  7. Mundabor-

    Are you sure that the poster above claiming to be Andrew Burnham is really him? Since the commenter doesn’t have a profile page, it could very well be a troll trying to rile you up.

    I would reserve judgment before reflecting that poster’s actions onto the real soon to be former Anglican bishop.

    • He sure talks like an Anglican, so I think it’s him 😉

      Email address (which I can see) seems rather credible. That he is thought to possibly be a troll impersonating him really says it all.


  8. I did not comment in order to bicker – as you allege – but because you entirely misrepresented my views on the Catholic Church, the Church of England, and ecumenism. You could hardly have been more wrong about all three. I took you to task for your refusal to call things and people by the names they go by – which in England is simply good manners of a sort now going out of fashion – and you assumed that that was because I personally want a title. Clearly you have never met me! I’m the one giving up the title. I picked on that – foolishly in that it simply gave un-eirenic Irenaeus and you further opportunity to muddle and misrepresent – because it was an obvious example of what was wrong in your posting.

    For the record, my ecclesiology is as set out in Dominus Iesus, the Church of England was a child of the Tudor establishment, and ecumenism, as practised this last generation, a profoundly misguided belief that future convergence between churches is possible. The only ecumenism, I have thought since i was seven, is for us all to return from that from which we have erred. For Anglicans that means returning to Rome as penitents. The divergent communities, East and West, need to rediscover the Church of the first 1000 years (and, before you make assumptions, that requires the East to accept the papal claims because the Church is built on Peter and his successors, and that was true even in the tenth century when the chair of Peter was in thrall to the Roman aristocracy).

    All of this is a bit dense for the World at One…. Furthermore I believe that priests and bishops in the Church should be called ‘father’, which is relational rather than honorific.

    Setting up and knocking down aunt sallies passes the time, no doubt, but attacking real people on the basis of very little information indeed is doing the work of the Enemy. Had you read what I have written in various places – for instance in my recent book on liturgy, for which Aidan Nichols wrote an encouraging Foreword and Alcuin Reid a favourable review – you would have realised that you were seriously misrepresenting me.

    • Mr. Burnham,
      First of all, you were bickering and you are still bickering. That you are unable to see it says it all about you.

      Secondly, you seem to look (in pure Anglican style) for the most improbable excuses. The first one was “there are things you don’t know” (I liked that; one can say whatever he pleases with this thinking; very Anglican!) and now comes anothe pearl, “If you had read my books”. No I haven’t and make no mistakes, I will not do it. First because I don’t read books written from heretics, secondly because frankly I don’t think I’d learn much anyway. Just notice this: that in order to prove your catholic credentials, you use books written whilst an heretic. This is further proof that you don’t see your conversion as stopping being wrong and starting being right, but as a continuum whereby you continue to be right.

      I will pay much attention to whatever you say and expose every Anglican doublethink you may show in the future.

      If, in future, you’ll learn to talk straight (as opposed to talking Anglican so that the very delicate ears of the Anglican fold are not “hurt”), I’ll honour that.

      What you call “good manners” I call Anglican hypocrisy and doublethink. Alas, this is not out of fashion yet but in time, I am confident that this disease can be cured.

      I assume this is a bit dense for one who wants to convert and still thinks that he was right when he was wrong, but don’t accuse me of not trying….

      I still have the impression that you are a phony convert, Mr. Burnham. I am not moved at all by your supposed renunciation of a title you never had any title to in the first place, particularly when you are so petty in insisting to want to be addressed to by it. What is rather apparent is your inability to talk straight Catholic talk whilst at the same time being very fast in using the typical Anglican weapons: “you have hurt my feelings”; “you are not nice”; “this is not how we have afternoon tea”.

      This is a problem you share with many other Anglicans: thinking that being “charitable” is the same as being “nice”, and telling the truth being “uncharitable”.

      Oh no wait, you called me “unchristian”. How very nice. More tea?

      Still, you never know: in time, you might prove yourself more orthodox than your very unfortunate BBC interview clearly indicates.
      But in order to do so, you need to start talking straight.

      Anglicanism is heresy. It has been since Edward VI. Their order are invalid. Their supposed consecration is non-existent, and it has always been. Anglicans need to abandon error and convert to the Church, of which there is only one. Truth can’t converge with heresy. There is no “older” church. There is only One Church. It is not that the so-called church of England has gone off in the wrong direction. She is wrong from the start. Her very existence is wrong, utterly wrong. The so-called church of England’s problem is that it exists in the first place.

      This is straight talking, Mr. Burnham.
      This is what Anglicans need to hear. It is good for their soul and it helps them to discern the Truth.


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