Firstly, some background information for the readers. When you have your own blog you have the possibility of seeing, from a “background page” not available to the public, which other internet pages have linked to you causing readers to land on your internet site from the site who carried the link. Every now and then, one clicks to see what is going on and is then carried directly to the internet site that has posted a link to one’s own site.
It was thus that I landed, some days ago, on this site. As you can see, this is not a very liberal site and is actually far more on the conservative site than yours truly; it appears to be either very near, or a mouthpiece of the SSPX (or FSSPX, if you prefer the abbreviation of its Latin name) itself. In particular, on this same thread another post was placed, equating the possible “peace proposals” of the Vatican to the Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes (“I fear the Greeks, even when they are bearing gifts”) many of us will remember from our schooldays.
I found the comparison indelicate, as whilst I do not think that along the corridors of the Vatican everything is made in a spirit of disinterested saintliness I do believe that the attempt to reach a reconciliation with the FSPPX is a sincere one, and a great concern of the Holy Father. If memory serves, I saw this “Greeks fearing” comment (possibly also posted elsewhere) mentioned in Rorate Caeli, with reactions generally not far away from mine.
It turns out now from Messa in Latino that:
a) the Timeo Danaos comment is lifted from here and therefore clearly from Williamson himself.
b) that, coming from Williamson, this would be a clear indication that, however concrete or advanced, some form of proposal is really in preparation.
What Messa in Latino is thinking is that possibly on the 14 september we will not have the official announcement of an agreement with the FSSPX, but the presentation of a proposal, that would be examined by the SSPX in all tranquility, particularly in view of the unfortunate Assisi-III gathering still scheduled for October.
Messa in Latino finds the events momentous enough to justify the title “Rome-FSSPX: decisive moments ahead”. I am obviously pleased, but cannot avoid noticing that if no agreement is being finalised, the (mere) proposal of a structure similar to an Ordinariate for the SSPX and other traditionalists would not be anywhere near the historical moment perhaps hoped by many within the SSPX (and dreaded by the liberal troops), but rather the beginning of a painful – if hopefully salutary – phase of conflict within the SSPX itself, with the likes of Williamson refusing a priori every kind of contamination with Rome’s “Greeks” whatever the gifts, and the coming Assisi “event” not contributing at all to the serenity of the discussion.
Please also note that, in an unprecedented move, a religious sister from New Zealand has been authorised to be transferred to a convent dependent from the FSSPX. I can’t imagine such a decision unless if dictated from the persuasion that a reconciliation is not so very far away. The news relating to the sister has been published and then taken offline, but it is still available in cached version, with the link on the Messa in Latino site. Whilst I understand Messa in Latino’s reasons to publish it I prefer not to do it for obvious reasons, but take it from me.. ;).
From the outside, we can’t do anything else than pray of course. Still, one can’t avoid thinking that if such a proposal is on the table, it would have been perhaps wiser to wait until after the Assisi-III gathering – provided that such an event must really take place – and start the discussion, say, before Christmas or around Easter, in a different and less controversial environment.
I find some positions within the SSPX frankly difficult to digest, and the entire Danaos-attitude not helpful. But from what I have read around – on the internet, and from the leaflets-booklets I have picked from them on several occasions – the desire for reconciliation is very vivid among the majority of the members and supporters of the organisation, and the idea that Rome should be “converted to Catholicism” (rather than, say, persuaded to rephrase and reformulate questionable statements and attitudes of the past) rather in the minority.
Let us hope and pray for the best. Even if on the 14 September nothing should happen, this might be a good sign as it might – just might – indicate that a proposal for reconciliation is ready, but its official presentation wisely postponed to a less controversial time.
To this Catholic, it is instructive to see how the Holy Spirit works. In the Only Church, the tempest of “modern” thinking violently shakes the barque for a while; but in one or two generations the crew reacts and starts with the work of leading the barque out of the dangerous waters. This, they do with the sure instinct of the Only Church; they do it because the Holy Ghost helps His own Church, not the imitations. All the others are on their own in the dangerous waters of human frailties and sinful desires.
And so it is that the so-called (Protestant) churches, not having the help of the Holy Ghost, get into the tempest and can’t see the way out anymore; they have no invisible help at the helm; they’ll be blinded by the terror of the ship soon sinking, and start doing all the wrong things; and sink, one day, all of them will.
Good riddance, say I; and not a day too soon.
You see the Anglicans, and the Episcopalians, and the Methodists, and the Quakers, and the mainstream Lutherans all with the same problem: a secularisation from the inside that is eating them out like a slow, malignant cancer. They forgot God (which their ancestors, wrong and blinded as they certainly were, still had firmly in mind) and dedicated their attention to men; that is, to this earth; that is, to social justice and supposed “rights”. The punishment came swiftly, but in their blindness they can’t even see that they are killing themselves, and insist on pushing the knife harder within themselves in the hope that this might be what leads to their healing.
You see this from the article, curiously redolent of Father Corapi’s press office’s “fan base”. They want to “go for growth”, talking of themselves as if they were selling diapers, or energy drinks; they talk of “recruitment” as if the problem were in people not knowing that they exist, and where to find them. They can’t understand that their decline has not happened notwithstanding their feminist and secular drive, but because of it. They don’t get that in becoming a mouthpiece for social instances, they have made themselves superfluous as a religious organisation. They are terrified of drowning as their ship is violently shaken, and they can see all too clearly that the skipper is perfectly incompetent, more terrified than they are, and has no idea which route to take.
Whenever I think that the Church in England has problems, I only need to look at the Anglicans and feel much better already. These are people able to reduce themselves to between 3% and 4% of weekly churchgoers and still unable to see what’s wrong with them. And so they continue to sail towards even more dangerous waters, thinking that in this way help will come from…. no one knows where. More modern, more “inclusive”, more “relevant” they want to be; more superfluous, more ridiculous, more ignored is what they become. Even their dying out barely makes headlines.
All points out to a continuation of this slow suicide, drifting further away from Christianity and sinking deeper into a social mentality now barely distinguishable from socialism; a very cheap “go for growth” strategy, and a rather stupid one. By introducing bishopesses and very soon, no doubt, unrepentant perverts in official position of leadership, they will further become the Disneyland of what they once were, a Las Vegas-style outfit meant to please everyone, and not needed by anyone; the tacky “made in china” imitation of the only Church, hoping to survive with a cheap theology to be flogged to those who aren’t interested in any theology. It won’t work, of course.
In the meantime, the Only Church smells the blood. The very visible decay of this now clearly ridiculous outfit opens the possibility of reaping, in only one or two generations, all that was lost almost five hundred years ago. If there’s one thing that the Ordinariates clearly show, is the Roman conviction that worldwide Anglicanism is on its last legs and it is now time to start reaping the fruits of its deadly disease. And in truth, worldwide Anglicanism now strongly resembles a small version of the Ottoman Empire, bearing the signs of its advanced state of decay for everyone to see.
Some Anglicans begin to see it, too. They’ve opened their eyes to the madness of trusting their soul to a ship shattered by the waves, with no guidance whatsoever and no security of purpose. They long for an unsinkable ship, one able to carry them safely to their destination. A ship not without problems for sure, with some awful seamen, disgraceful midshipmen and, alas, the one or other evil officer; but unsinkable nevertheless. In the coming decades, more and more of the Anglican crew are going to change ship, as the waves of feminism and “inclusiveness” shatter the vessel with all their violence whilst it heads towards self destruction.
Unless they experience a phase of true repentance and moral regeneration – nowhere to be seen up to now; the contrary is the case – the Anglicans are going to extinguish themselves whilst discussing the next wave of feminist and “inclusive” reform; which, if you ask me, is exactly the end that this heretical outfit has deserved from day one.
Born from the bastard child of a swine and his concubine, it will die as the bastard child of feminism and sexual perversion.
The important news of the imminent beatification of the late John Paul II has somewhat taken the spotlight from an important (nay: historic) event of today: the consecration of tree former Anglican “bishops” to the priesthood.
Let us welcome Father John Broadhurst, Father Andrew Burnham and Father Keith Newton into the Only Church. Best wishes to them and to all those (former Anglican clergy or simple faithful) who have already decided to take this important and life-changing step.
Let us hope that in the following years many more sincere seekers will find the courage to look at reality in the face and draw the unavoidable consequences.
There is only One Church. Accept no substitutes.
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.
It would appear that soon the Vatican is going to give us more details as to how the UK Ordinariate is supposed to work and be organised. I can imagine that savage speculations are going to mount in the next days (or weeks) as to who will lead it, how it will be funded, what provision might be offered to those Anglican clergy thinking of conversion but also mindful of a family to feed, etc.
Personally, I hope that the following will happen:
1) The British hierarchy is going to be kept out of the entire affair. If the Holy Father lets them in from the door, orthodoxy will soon go out of the window. I hope that the Ordinariate will be not only factually autonomous from the Bishops (bar a technical cooperation where unavoidable; it is not that they have to ignore each other’s existence), but that they will also be seen as such.
2) I so much wish (though I am sure that I will be disappointed) that the Ordinariate could be led by a person of undoubted, uncompromising orthodoxy. One able to explain to everyone (to the press; to the Anglicans thinking about conversion; to the other British Catholics who might see in a staunchly orthodox Ordinariate a good alternative to a Novus Ordo Mass) that the Ordinariates are not the Anglican version of the Catholic Church, but the Only Church organised in a slightly different way.
From what I have read up to now, none of the so-called Anglican bishops who have announced their intention to convert is up to the task. From what I could see to date, it is fair to be afraid that they would stress how “Anglican” the new outfit is, not how Catholic; how little things would change for the Anglican converts, not how much; what a continuity there would be between the heretical shop they leave and the authentical one they enter, not what a radical change this represents. My impression up to now (as seen on this very blog) is rather that they would accuse of being “uncharitable” or even “unchristian” everyone pointing out to the obvious shortcomings (nay: cowardice; nay: utter bad faith) of such an approach.
I see a clear danger that what could be created here is a body largely constituted of people who think that their cultural specificity authorises them to be at variance with the Church; a body seeing itself as composed of Catholics who have the right to be different in their Catholicism (just to make some example: in thinking that it is fully OK to be an Anglican; or in thinking themselves Catholics because they believe in the existence of Transubstantiation in an Anglican Mass) rather than in the way their Catholicism is organised.
A bit of healthy cynicism will make us aware that conversion to Catholicism can be wished because one desires the Truth or because one has a sacrilegious desire to continue to believe in the same old lies, but without bishopettes around.
The person appointed to lead the UK Ordinariate will have to make this very clear; he will have to be a champion of orthodoxy for the entire British Catholicism. If this is not the case, the risk for the Ordinariate to fail spectacularly and to be remembered as a source of strife rather than reconciliation will be very real.