A couple of days ago, a well-known blogger announced that his “Catholic ordination” (note the words) had been postponed, clearly sine die.
The news went around the blogosphere and I also made some comment on the site of a Catholic weekly. As it is my custom, I intervened with a string of messages and then left the matter alone, being fully persuaded that those who don’t get things right when one writes them once or twice will not be able to get them right if one keeps writing them again and again.
The discussion tended about finding the reasons why the blogger’s ordination was put on ice. Some believed that an element might have been that the blogger in question can be, at times, rather abrasive. Some others – including your truly, and at least one Catholic priest blogger – tend to think that the reason might well be that said blogger gives at times a rather strong impression of either not accepting Apostolicae Curae (about the nullity of Anglican Orders), or of “accepting” it the Anglican way, that is: interpreting the way he pleases.
The elements that led me to believe that the second reason might be the right one are as follows:
1) one commenter explicitly said that said blogger had in the past repeatedly showed his failing to accept Apostolicae Curae.
2) the blogger refers to himself as “Father”, but is not ordained a Catholic (only for the sake of clarity: it means “Roman” Catholic) priest.
3) the blogger refers to his “ordination as priest” and his “43 years of priestly ministry”, in both cases talking of Anglican so-called “orders” as if they were valid orders.
4) on his blog, a well-known Catholic blogger priest went explicitly on the matter, opining that the problem might have originated by his calling himself “father” and candidly saying that he (the priest commenter) had thought that he (the blogger) was a Catholic priest.
I have written in the past on several occasions – here, about when conversions go wrong, or here, about the many Anglicans who seem to want the roast without the trimmings, or here, with a little vademecum for Anglicans thinking about conversion – about the great danger that Anglicans desirous to convert to Catholicism may have – in best Anglican tradition – an attitude of refusal of what they don’t like, and acceptance of what they like. This is, I am afraid, so ingrained in the Anglican way of doing things – and without which the Anglicans would have long split many more times than they already did – that it was very much to fear that in many cases – and without taking anything away from those sincere convert who sincerely accepts Catholicism in its entirety – this would be the case in occasion of their conversion, too.
What is truly worrying, though, is that the comments left on the comment box of said blogger left no doubt whatsoever that this Anglican mentality of accepting what is convenient, and talking away what isn’t is rather spread among his followers. This would suggest, at the very least, that said blogger should feel the opportunity – nay: the responsibility – to properly instruct his followers about the nullity of Anglican orders, with no ifs and no buts.
I want to think that said blogger is – albeit this might have been, or must have been painful to him – aware of the nullity of his Anglican orders; of the fact that he therefore hasn’t any; of the fact that he will only become a priest the day he is ordained a priest by the only Church; and that his calling himself “Father”, & Co. are merely unlucky ways of expressing oneself; ways perhaps due to force of habit and, say, needs of internet name recognition.
Still, it would not be good if, of all people, those prominent members of the Anglican clergy who are swimming the Tiber would not help those following them to do things properly, that is: believing all that the Church believes and professing all that the Church professes.
I have in the past only been an irregular reader of the blog in question; I have found most of what is written there intelligent, instructive and – with the exception of the seeming attitude towards his own “priesthood” – very orthodox. I sincerely think that the man will be – if he is orthodox about Apostolicae Curae – a great asset for the Ordinariate, and an effective weapon in the Catholic armoury.
But this makes it, in my eyes, the more necessary that former Anglican clergy like him be a shining example of orthodoxy, irrespective of his seeming attitude towards Apostolicae Curae having been the cause of his problems or not. Anglicans are such experts of ambiguity, that they must be above every suspicion of abandoning themselves to it again once they have become (notice the word: become) Catholics.
We are all human beings, we all have egos and we all have, so to speak, an affection towards our past. It is understandable that, here and there, our ego may offer some resistance and perhaps even play us some bad tricks. But it is then the more important that, at the beginning of a new life, a last effort is made to remove all obstacle remaining to the beginning of this new phase of existence.
I sincerely hope that we will, sooner than not, welcome this blogger as a new, fully orthodox Catholic priest.
At which point, by the way, we will all call him “Father” anyway.