Look no further than the excellent Father Z’s blog to read what happens when conversions go wrong.
The chap making such a spectacle of himself is certainly representative of the many former Anglicans who converted to Catholicism in the Nineties and then apostatised. The non irrelevant frequency of the phenomenon should – now that with the Ordinariates a new attempt is being made – cause all alarm bells to go off. Similarly, the amount of errors believed by many Anglicans (a priceless pearl, given only as an example, is one comment on the apostate’s blog: “There is no contradiction between being Catholic and being evangelical; the two are synonymous”) should make all of us well aware of the forma mentis with which many Anglicans (hopefully a minority) might approach their “conversion”.
Let us see some of the elements emerging from this disastrous example of fake conversion. But before we do it, let us call to mind a couple of very important considerations:
1) Conversion to Catholicism is not the start of a journey, but its end. Conversion presupposes than one already “got it”. That the convert will grow in faith and in his knowledge of the very complex Catholic world does not mean that he is authorised not to believe in the whole corpus of Catholic doctrine, even in what he doesn’t know or can’t fully understand yet. Catholicism is acceptance of Truth, not selective acceptance of Truth after the examination of one’s own conscience.
Similarly, In Catholic parlance belief is the acceptance of Truth because of the authority this Truth comes from, (emphatically) not the declaration that Truth has, say, passed the exam of one’s own conscience and got the relevant seal of approval.
2) This is made, by the Church, most evident in the fact (witnessed by everyone who has assisted to a Mass with a ceremony of conversion) that the convert is required to stand up in front of the entire community and solemnly declare that he believes everything that the Church believes and professes everything that the Church professes. To say these words without believing them is sacrilege. A man is, as they say, only as good as his word but many Anglicans seem to be – even in matters pertaining to their eternal salvation – blissfully unaware of the fact. The sad truth is that whilst there are still many sincere seekers among the Anglicans, Anglicanism as a religious organisation is rotten to the core and this must be considered when examining the Ordinariate’s scope and the obstacles to their success.
Let us see, then, what our apostate was able to say after having solemnly declared his acceptance of the entire corpus of Catholic Truth.
1) Papal Infallibility is not believed in.
How a man can convert to Catholicism and not believe in Papal Infallibility is beyond me. Again, Anglicans seem able to produce such a feat and even say it out loud. “Doublethink, double tongue and double face” well describes the attitude of Anglicans of this type.
2) Papal Infallibility is believed to be a dogma.
This is, initially, rather a matter of ignorance and it would be excusable, if it were not for the fact that this ignorance is used to attack the Church.
3) Transubstantiation is a) fully misunderstood and b) attacked
This is worse than not knowing what is dogma and what isn’t, because Transubstantiation is at the very core of Catholicism. Once again, how on Earth could this man make the profession of Catholic faith described above is beyond me.
4) The Immaculate Conception, a dogma of the Church, is described as: “an unnecessary and unverifiable belief, if ever there was one”).
Astonishing show of homemade catholicism. Note the typical Anglican mentality that a dogma should be: a) “verifiable” and/or b) deemed “necessary”. Priceless.
5) Assumption of Mary:
Same as point 4)
6) Affirmation that Catholicism is not doctrinally sound, whilst Anglicanism is.
This is good for comic relief. If there is a shop ready to believe in everything and the contrary of everything, this is the Anglican one. I suppose, though, that this matches Mr. Hart’s definition of “soundness”.
Very rightly, Father Z points out to the fact that this is heresy leading to apostacy. The heresy has been brought within the Church as the Catholic Truth has never been believed in the first place, and the apostacy is in time its unavoidable consequence. In fact, our apostate was merely being Anglican, that is: acting like one who thinks that he can believe the way he pleases.
Dear readers, some of you probably think that concerns about the orthodoxy of Anglican converts are exaggerated. Sadly, they aren’t. The evidence of this is in the “conversion from the conversion” already put in place by many of the Anglican clergy who swam the Tiber in the Nineties; in the astonishing Anglican inability – evident at both individual and collective level – to accept any kind of belief without changing it whenever convenient; and in the extraordinary confusion reigning in the minds of many Anglicans (see example above, only one of the many. My favourite is the Doublethink masterpiece “I don’t have a problem in becoming a Catholic, as I always was one”).
Sadly, Internet discussion platforms are full of such involuntary humour. They indicate a tragic deficiency in the basic understanding of what Catholicism is as they make clear a determined will to “show it” to the Anglican hierarchy. In this lies the real problem: thinking that Catholicism is just another shade of what they already are.
The Ordinariates are a great chance, and a great risk. If properly done, they can be a source of great blessing for all those sincere seekers ready to authentically convert, to change their system of values and their point of reference of what is True. If made sloppily as it was obviously done in the Nineties, or with the “tolerant” attitude of those who think that the important thing is to “get them in” and they’ll learn in time, this will – beside being contrary to what the Church demands from a convert – cause a huge amount of discord and confusion among Catholics. Besides, it will cause the total loss of the Ordinariate’s reputation and perhaps its demise within a couple of generations.
The Church has already gone through disgraceful phases of “circiterism”, shallowness and naive belief that everything wrong will magically adjust itself by just doing nothing. I do want to think that the Ordinariates will not become another example of this mentality; but only if vigilance is exercised, and strictest orthodoxy required.