When facts give way to feelings


Two things occured this week that convinced me that we in the West have truly entered the age of Aquarius; a politically correct era in which only feminine virtues are valued whilst masculine virtues are demonised. The first was when a healthy debate was deleted on Facebook because one side felt hurt by the argument put forth. The second when I read about a highly respected American theologian and philosopher having his knuckles rapped by his seniors- again for hurting feelings with considered and reasonable argument.

How difficult to talk sense, or encourage free thinking, when virtues are turned into vices within the vox populi. Holding a strong opinion, for example, is now deemed a sin, something socially unacceptable, whilst toleration at all costs, even of the morally questionable or plain wrong, is upheld as only good. It creates a confusing topsy-turvy narrative in which fact must give way to feelings, and truth opened up to personal interpretation, that ‘me and my story’ need never be threatened. Else I scream and scream and stamp my foot! So there!

It is pathetic. If you doubt that consider how young men in 1944 heroically took to the beaches of Normandy to fight for our freedom on D-Day whilst today’s young people, in American Universities, require “safe spaces” – zones where those with hurt feelings can retreat without fear of being questioned- should viewpoints other than their own dismay them. Clearly academic challenge is no longer desired. Actually the situation is beyond pathetic. It is sick; a symptom of an over indulgent, narcissistic culture. One that has clearly abandoned truth in favour of massaging bruised egos. One that has abandoned God for self. Why should the natural law and divine law govern the meta narrative when my personal feelings could dictate?

And alas the virus has infected the church. In fact it is particularly manifest in ecclesial circles. Meaning that whilst the Saints and Martyrs of old were celebrated for being strident in defence of the faith, we might consider St. Catherine of Sienna or St. Nicholas, today’s clergy are pressured at all costs to be “nice” and inoffensive. Clerics need not fear bishops if they denounce doctrine or preach heresy..but woe betide the person whose “tone is wrong” or who is “rigid” in upholding the truth of the Gospel and thereby rocks the boat regarding modern sensitivities! They will almost certainly be cast to the margins, to serve on Craggy Island, whilst vanilla middle manager types become the golden boys;  the wetter the better it seems.

It is a truth I discovered courtesy of this blog. Never has anybody pointed out doctoral error but I have been ticked off before now for causing offence! What happens is that somebody (almost always a high Anglican who did not embrace the Ordinariate) reads a viewpoint they do not like. Instead of simply avoiding the blog, which is after all an opt-in medium, or debating in civilised but robust manner, they go running in tears to a hierarch. “That nasty man hurt my feelings”. The hierarchy inevitably attempt to placate the sore loser of debate and give a friendly warning- “It isn’y your message but your tone”, which, when you unpack it, boils down to the point above: ‘by all means state your case but please ensure you give credence to all argument”. That is don’t uphold the old fashioned notion of truth which, by its definition, puts someone in the wrong and thereby could hurt their feelings!!

it happened again this week when a healthy  debate on social media was closed down and deleted. Why? Because an ex-Anglican became “hurt” when I insisted, politely I should add, that the creation of the Ordinariate, coupled with decisions made by the Church of England’s General Synod, mean that the argument of a via media is defunct. One might choose with integrity to be high church protestant but any suggestion of authentic Catholic life residing within 21st Century Anglicanism is spurious. The post was deleted lest it  “offend” which thoroughly depressed me- I mean what hope the ordinariate of succeeding, in the face of stiff opposition, if its leadership is frightened of debate? If we do not go into those places where we actually challenge in love then we are doomed. It is a serious problem and not only for the Ordinariate but for all.

Now please note this isn’t an attack on the decision in that instance. The cleric involved is a good priest whom I admire, as were all who took part in the debate. And there was arguably wisdom in ensuring bridges are maintained not burnt. But, nonetheless, there is an issue at the heart of this matter worthy of consideration. Should we be afraid of offending others on the path to seeking the truth?

Why do we think tone so important? Why do we seem so afraid of strident viewpoint and rigorous debate? Why  take so personally points made theoretically? Jesus was hardly charitable when speaking with those he disagreed with; he came to bring a sword, he assured us, to divide even brother against brother. Nor were the majority of saints and martyrs agents of compromise. Rather they died for their beliefs. And historically we have celebrated that fact. So why this modern demand for honey when vinegar is needed?  When did we become so emasculated as to fear even debate? Why do we demonise those we simply disagree with- as was obviously the case over Brexit?

Somehow we have remind people that it is possible to be a gentleman yet vociferously debate. It is possible to love people but strongly disagree with them. But this modern tendency to be ‘nice at all costs’ must end for it is seriously damaging and demeaning the church and culture of our day.

Within the world it compels us to forget (or ignore) the rudimentary biological facts about Harold’s DNA and testicles the moment he chooses to ‘identify’ as a woman.  We no longer treat the delusion with gentle compassion but actually become bit- players in the delusion. The law chastising those who do not refer to him as her, or her as him, and all according to their personal whim. In the church it feeds a capitulating narrative that dare not question ecumenical partners or those who do not adhere to the faith… whilst routinely demonising, as rigid and unwelcome and uncaring, those actually attempting to live out the faith. It is a form of gushy madness. It has to end if the year following 2016 is not to become 1984.

So if you don’t like this post. Tough! By all means tell me I am wrong in the comments below. You could well be right- certainly I have many flaws. Fortunately for you I am big enough to accept such criticism so long as it doesn’t descend to personal insult. But, please, let us be big enough to disagree in love. To come to different viewpoints and yet remain friendly. Let us dare to be thought of as wrong. Let us dare to be hurt for the sake of religious freedom and genuine democracy. Otherwise philosophy and freedom will die and enforced uniformity will be all that is left to us.

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156 thoughts on “When facts give way to feelings

  1. Father

    I absolutely agree with the point about “people’s feelings are everything” – it is a real issue in lots of respects. And it is a culture that stems ultimately from an absence of belief (in a general sense) in a “higher being” and thinking oneself to be the centre of the universe.

    The problem on this blog (and I think this is an issue with the written word not being a good medium in which to debate things) is that it often comes across as a rant against anything and anyone not in agreement with you. That is not to say that all you disagree with are ‘correct’; absolutely not.

    When you rant you lose influence (so do I, so does anyone). So the challenge for you, given that you recognise the problem of an over-emphasis on ‘feelings’, is how do you influence people against this culture?

    Reflecting again – one feature of this blog in more recent times (and your feelings won’t like this so apologies in advance!) is that the spectrum of group coming under attack has widened (and are getting closer to home):

    – initially it was High Church people who did not join the Ordinariate
    – then (very quickly after being admitted to the Church) the hierarchy in a general sense
    – then (a few weeks/months ago) Catholic Priests who don’t share your view of the Ordinariate’s future
    – now – your Ordinary for asking you to take something off the blog

    The really nice stuff about parish, Rome trip etc etc has been great to read but the self-righteous (feelings-sorry!) ranting then sets you back a long way unfortunately.

    All the best


    1. Taken and noted Bill. I happen to agree that written from, especially in social media, has many pitfalls and problems as well as positive aspects.

      And whilst I do occasionally rant- are you sure you are not simply taking umbridge against the bits you dont like. What do you make, I wonder, of the perpetual criticism of traditionalist clergy by the current pontiff? Has he lost influence in this way? Is he being fair or not?

      What of Cardinal Newman? Were his tracts against the times necessary documents or rants? What of the feelings they hurt- and they did!

      Secondly some balance please- I have occasionally questioned the hierarchy but I have also praised it where it is due. I have not been asked to remove anything on this blog and I wasn’t speaking of the Ordinary- you have guessed and reached wrong conclusions there. I think your notion of progressively attacking is unfair- I simply use this forum to question and search for truth. Where I am in conflict with the teaching of the church let me know.

      And yes tone is important, sometimes it is off here, but it isnt everything. Far from it. And that, I think, was the point being made.

  2. Father Ed, I think what you have written above are very valid points and unusual for me – I agree with single point you make. We must all fear satan , I am sure satan is playing a part in all this. Prayers.

  3. Fr Ed

    Okay, I don’t always share your viewpoints – but I do admire your courage to speak the truth as you receive it. So, please keep this up – any democracy is underpinned by.. reasoned discussion & debate, not what is ‘popular.’

    May I leave you with a saying from WW2: “If you are attracting a lot of flak, you must be over the target..”

  4. I am feeling very hurt and offended that you didn’t give me anything to feel hurt and offended about, father. I agree with pretty much every word but this in particular caught my attention:

    “the creation of the Ordinariate, coupled with decisions made by the Church of England’s General Synod, mean that the argument of a via media is defunct. ”

    Quite so. And at the risk of causing outrage, I was saddened to see a delegation of the remaining CofE – not the Ordinariate – given some kind of official reception on a recent jolly to Rome. Man the barricades, raise the banners and gather round the slogan: #NoMoreJunkets

      1. You’re going to have to expand on that one for me, Fr B, if you’d be so kind. In what way is it ‘not very Christian’ [capital C, for preference] to point out contradiction and misleading foolishness when it occurs? As well as the nonsense of the CofE playacting that it is really interested in unification with Rome?

        Setting aside for one moment the hostage to fortune of “fellow believers”, as Pope Benedict opened the way very clearly for Anglicans who wished to unite with Rome, in the form of the Ordinariate, it seemed that the pointless facade of ‘unification’ or ‘via media’ talks and meetings in Rome twice a year or so was going to be over. If they were really deemed to be necessary or potentially fruitful, then progress and discussion meetings could very easily have been conducted between the largely England-based clerics and officials in each others’ offices in Lambeth House and Westminster – or, if something more convivial was required, maybe in a club in Pall Mall. It would have saved a lot in travelling and accommodation expenses.

        I ask: what was the point of the last meeting? What came out of it? What is likely to come out of any future such get-togethers? They look like nothing more than junkets or boondoggles. Given the total lack of progress of ‘unification talks’ over the past 50 years, one has to ask if they would be missed if they stopped. Indeed, were they missed when they did stop for a few years, after the establishment of the Ordinariate?

        And on a more serious note: what sort of message does such a meeting and official reception give to the Ordinariate? These are people of courage; their clerics have been prepared to give up their livings, their homes and – often – their social networks and infrastructure, in order to follow their consciences to the Catholic Church. Where is their reception and lionising? Where is their high-profile reporting and exchange of gifts?

        It is reasonably well-known that the hierarchy of the Church in England, as well as the Church OF England, is not enamoured of the Ordinariate; its establishment or its continued existence. This recent event seems to be giving encouragement to exactly the wrong people.

        The CofE has made clear, by its actions, that it is not interested in unification with Rome. That’s fine – no-one is forcing them into it. The way is clear for those who do want unification. We should respect the CofE’s decision and stop encouraging them into embarrassing situations. Or pretending that the recent clerical appointments and support for unacceptable doctrinal positions are mere distractions that can be batted away.

        The route to reunification is clearly laid out and the door is open wide: it’s the Ordinariate. It should be supported and silly posturing such as the recent trip to Rome should be derided for what they are: mere moneywasting junkets.

        1. I have to agree with Ruari here. If the C of E is remotely serious about unity it must explain why it continues to act autonomously in regard to ecclesial and moral matters. It needs to explain why it went ahead with the ordination of women despite delegates sent from Rome formally warning that the move would make unity impossible. If it is not serious- well it needs to be honest and own up to being a liberalised protestant body and stop trying to play at being Catholic when it fancies it. Why behave like the person who wishes to get into bed at any opportunity but refuses to commit or talk of marriage?

          As for Rome we see her own tensions at play. The new evangelisation and voice of orthodoxy offered us the Ordinariate and it is the next logical step in the ecumenical process. And we might note how it achieved more for the cause of unity within a fortnight of its inception than ARCIC delivered in half a century. It actually re-united in practice those who now live out their Anglican patrimony in fidelity to Rome – it wasn’t just hot air and waffle as so much debate has proved over the years. Yet it also challenged those who were wedded to the ARCIC way and enraged those who were not consulted or involved in its inception- those being yesterdays ecumenists. So they continue to do business as normal and refuse to embrace what Rome has actually done.

          When I asked Cardinal Nichols why Mgr. Keith Newton was not being made the main steer for relations with Anglicans and placed on the Arcic committee at a meeting in London- I was given bluster in response. Bottom line- so very pertinent to the article I wrote- is that the PR opportunity is still wanted by many even though the horse has bolted the stable.

          Serious question in love- what is the point of ARCIC now? What realistic achievement could it bring about in the next decade? If the C of E wanted it could sign up to the Ordinariate lock, stock and barrel. It clearly doesnt. So why engage in talks of unity?

          We enter the exact situation at the centre of this blog post. An uncomfortable truth that might offend those who want to have cake and eat it. Who want to be allowed to refuse unity but look as if they care about it at the same time. Feelings get hurt when truth is spoken- but the alternative was the vacuousness of what transpired in Rome. A meeting devoid of any real substance or hope but presented as good news- well because that would be vanilla and nice.

  5. I’m not sure I understand your concept of masculine virtues. Is it the rugby talking?
    Surely Catherine of Sienna was not being masculine when she demanded the pope return to Rome, or Margaret Clitheroe being butch when she harboured priests. Was Our Lady at all mannish at the foot of the Cross?
    When women are in throes of childbirth is their endurance of pain maternal or paternal?
    Come on Father, don’t link strength to masculinity or you may hurt some lady’s feelings!

    1. The notion of masculine and feminine virtues is an ancient one. And the common understanding is not that the masculine are for men and the feminine for women- we all need to embrace aspects of them all. That said a man has more need of the classical masculine virtues like clarity, firmness, hardiness, rationality, missionality or a black and white view of the world if he is to provide for his family and live out his God given call as a man. Meanwhile the more graceful feminine virtues will help women embrace their femininity and nurture in accordance with God’s will. Compassion, mercy, thoughfulness, kindness, cooperation, discretion, flexibility, gracefulness, peacefulness, sensitivity, unity, tranquility, tolerance, innocence, hopefulness, consideration, helpfulness, care and prudence.

      I would again want to cement in bold that God calls men and women to be equal but different- a difference that needs celebrating within the created order. He did not make us to be androgynous and the same. However much popular culture and the sexual revolution might wish it were so. And deep down this is accepted. Nobody would cast Frank Spencer as James Bond….

      To conclude then, because I think this is important stuff in danger of being neglected, while all virtues are valuable and desirable, it is also desirable that they are held in certain proportions within a person. While a man should be developed in all of the virtues, it is especially needful that he possess a sufficient amount of masculine virtues. If he is lacking in some areas of the feminine virtues it is not nearly so dangerous and unattractive as if he is deficient in one of the masculine virtues. For example, if a man is more peaceful than he is bold and courageous, such that he lacks assertiveness concerning things that are important and vital, he would rightly be perceived as a wimp and a coward. While it is desirable for a man to both be bold and be peaceful, it is more desirable that he be bold than that he be peaceful. It is more of a vice if he lacks assertiveness than if he isn’t as agreeable as he should be. Similarly, while it would be preferable for a man to be both dependable and flexible, if he is to lack either virtue, it is preferable that he be lacking in flexibility, rather than being a man who is unreliable. For a man, he must primarily emphasize the masculine virtues in his own personal and spiritual development. Development of the feminine virtues, while wholesome and worthwhile, must always rest firmly on the foundation of the masculine virtues. We can then reverse this for women.

      1. Father,
        You make an excellent and extremely well argued case for your understanding of the masculine and feminine strengths and virtues and their relationship to the male and female.
        However, I think you make your case too strongly and greatly exaggerate the differences between the sexes. The vast majority of so-called masculine and feminine virtues are held in equal measure by all of us.
        Much of what you say could best be interpreted as high Victorian and at worst low Donald Trumporian.

  6. Political correctness is a bit like health and safety. Nowadays, if someone alleges a health and safety issue is involved, no one can question it, although practically everyone can see nothing unsafe.

  7. It is something of a relief, Father, to learn even Priest struggle with this. It is maddening to be in the middle of the discussion and forced into silence because one is being “mean” by stating facts or opinions that hurt someone’s feelings.

    My goodness, how are we so weak we can’t handle a little emotional hurt? Why would anyone ADMIT they are that weak? Wouldn’t that be something one would want to work on?

    How is using emotional manipulation to silence other people better than developing a little toughness to handle adult conversations?

    Needless to say, I never get answer to those questions.

    1. I also wonder why the “hurt feelings” of the silenced and chastised person matter less than that of the “indignant” emotional bullies?

  8. I don’t think the Ordinariate was set up with the intention of being the ONLY route to unity for C of E people. In fact, there has always been a route for unity – ie – just leave the C of E and join the Catholic Church. That has existed ever since the C of E was founded.

    The idea that the Ordinariate is a realistic route to any kind of unity for the C of E other than for a marginal few is not one that many people would remotely recognise. In no way can or should the creation of the Ordinariate mean that there is no hope for something bigger (notwithstanding that that hope seems somewhat hope-less at the moment!).

    The C of E owes every element of Truth contained within it (and there is lots of that) to its relationship (and common origin) with the Catholic Church. On that basis we Catholics cannot just do the “talk to the hand” thing and disparage efforts for unity or discourse.

    All the best


    1. Er just leave the C of E and join the Catholic church is exactly what I did isnt it? If not how not?

      The Ordinariate is about establishing a healthy English spirituality within the Catholic church that recognises the true gifts of Anglican patrimony. How would it not be the most obvious route for Anglicans?

      What could be BIGGER than becoming truly Catholic whilst being enabled to retain your own distinct customs and traditions? What would this bigger thing you imagine provide that the Ordinariate does not?

  9. Just to answer your questions in order:

    Yes you did, but there is and always has been another route, which was available to you also (whether as a cleric or as a layman).

    It is not the most obvious route for most Anglicans because the brand of Anglicanism you (used to?) profess is not one remotely recognised by the overwhelming majority of C of E people. That is evident from looking at the numbers.

    Bigger would mean more than the tiny fraction that are likely to join the Ordinariate. Numbers so small that it is self evident that another approach is needed and that other dialogue must absolutely continue.



    1. Well the disciples did not number many and were written off. So too was David facing Goliath. No I dont worry about size- and anyone who has been to Pembury will have witnessed first hand the blessings we have received. What matters is that the Holy Spirit is active in it- and I sincerely believe God does have his hand on it. Most orders in history have started small. Besides are we so tiny? 11 men just announced as starting training this year for the priesthood beats most dioceses that I know….

      Who said other routes do not exist? Of course anyone can simply be received but not whilst preserving their own customs and patrimony. Name me how they do so without the Ordinariate and you might have a point of interest.

      1. The RC church has been absorbing Anglican patrimony for decades. EnglishRCs have enjoyed and valued the books of CS Lewis for yolks. The hymns of Wesley, Keble and Herbert are as widely sung in RC churches as the hymns of Faber and Caswall are sung in Protestant churches. I can name an RC church near Bromsgrove which has Hymns AMR as its regular pew hymnbook. Anglican chant and English settings of the Magnificat are used in Liverpool Metropolitan cathedral. Layfolk from the C of E are received constantly into the RC church, but not through the Ordinariate.

        Bill is right.

        1. Bill, like you, may not warm to the Ordinariate- you in fact are outright hostile. But that doesnt, in fact, mean the Ordinariate is not working. It may be humble and in its infancy but it is growing and punching well above it’s weight and has much to be positive about.

          I didn’t/don’t write my children off for being in their infancy- so why write off an entirely new charism of the church when it is only a few years old? Unless, that is, it niggles you and thus makes you want it strangled at birth….

          We have as many priests as a diocese, some very vibrant parishes growing up, 11 new seminarians and some already training. All looks OK to me.

  10. I will honestly have to defer to you on that one Father because I don’t profess to have any clear idea of what Anglican patrimony/customs is or are, other than that there must be many different versions of it.

    My question is: which brand of Anglicanism is welcome in the Ordinariate? And if it is “all brands”, why is only one strand (on the face of it) catered for?

    I guess to be more specific, if I have a non-practicing but baptised Anglican who is interested in the Catholic Church, what would you advise them to do? Or perhaps someone from a middle-of-the-road village church? Or an Evangelical? Who should sign up to the Ordinariate?

    All of those groups must claim Anglican Patrimony, in addition to High Church people.

    I am not seeking to make a point here: I just never seem to get a straight answer to this question whenever I ask (here or elsewhere).

    All the best


    1. The simple answer is that the Ordinariate has members from all sorts of Anglican backgrounds. Clergy trained at evangelical colleges like Fr. Andrew Starkey, central ones like myself and Anglo-Catholic ones like Fr. Woolnough. We enter Rome and pick up a distinctly English patrimony with clear links to the Book of Common Prayer and English spirituality rooted in the Sarum Rite- to recall England to her Catholic past and restore to her much of what was lost. Ergo it isnt about giving people what they want- it is about restoring to the church things lost at the reformation which were part of the English way.

      1. It might be interesting to consider what ‘English’ Catholicism would be like today if there had been no split with Rome and the Reformation had not greatly affected our country.
        I make this point because it has only just occurred to me in the context of today’s situation regarding the Ordinariate and its patrimony.
        I suspect that in such a scenario there would be very little difference between English Catholicism and that of the rest of Europe. Granted there are cultural differences between say Italy and France, but not to the extent of these countries having a ‘patrimony’.
        The split with Rome meant that what remained of Catholicism in the mainstream Church of England existed in a time warp unaffected by developments in the Catholic Church. In the fullness of time the Anglo-catholic, Tractarian, Oxford movement types were free to pick and mix from both contemporary Catholicism and that of 16th century England, whilst at the same time retaining the bits of Cranmer that they liked.
        Somewhere in all this lies the ‘patrimony’.
        Having said all that, I feel I must point out that at the Anglican
        ‘Masses’ at which I have been present they used our missal and they were just like the Novus Ordo four hymn sandwich.
        It seems to me that the present Ordinariate liturgy, however it has evolved or wherever it comes from is far superior to what goes on in both current Anglicanism and Catholicism.

        1. I think the issue needs looking at from a different angle David. The point is that in the English consciousness – because of the historical reality- Catholicism is now welcomed but often viewed as ‘foreign’ or ‘not for me’ by the average man in the street. It is not called George’s wigwam but Paddy’s which highlights the issue well. This is what is being tackled. The creation of a door into the church that feels organic not imposed in the subconscious of those we approach. And if you saw how cradle Anglicans get all emotional when visiting you would know this cultural reality exists- something about the hymnody, the harvest festivals etc…and the way we do it- is different to how the average diocesan congregation manifests.

          1. Enter the twenty first century! All religion looks foreign and ‘not for me’ to the average man. We live in the most secular country in Europe where all religious belief and practice is seen as just another weird hobby for those who like that sort of thing. If the catholic church is true and is to convert the nation it should do so by being the catholic church. The ordinariate, as you describe it, makes it seem like one of those daft ‘fresh expressions’ that the Cof E was so keen on in the last decade -‘cafe church’, ‘gym church’ and that sort of thing – adapting to meet people where they are perceived to be.

      2. “…what would you advise them to do?”
        Are we missing the wood for the trees here – or is my mind still dozing in Greece (It was hot there)?
        I’d suggest that you tell them about both ways into the Church and let them make their own choice.

      3. Quaint antiquarianism in other words. The whole thing is entirely fanciful. If the reformation had never happened, or had been reversed, the English Church would have been conformed to Tridentine catholicism and then disfigured by the Novus Ordo just like the church on the continent. So ‘patrimony’ would be what the RC church in England is today, not some Percy Dearmer La La Land.

        1. But even if that analysis is accurate that’s not a reason to discount a beautiful and distinguished religious heritage no matter how it arose? Is it?

  11. I could warm to it better if I could understand what it is supposed to be and who it is for. So frustrating that I can never get an answer to that. But it seems clear to me that the founders and incumbents of the Ordinariate have interpreted “retain elements of the Anglican patrimony” to be one particular type of Anglican patrimony, to the exclusion of many others. Was that the intention at the erection of the Ordinariate by Rome? I don’t know, and I suspect, not do many others.

    But there is no reason to be hostile to the Ordinariate; it needs a proper mission statement and clarity over its specific purpose.

    1. Have you read the booklet I produced on the Ordinariate for CTS> perhaps if you read that it might better inform you. Or is it that you dont WANT to see a purpose or point to it because it doesnt chime with your desires? Certainly the confusion only seems to arise from the more liberal quarters of the church. People like the Oratorians, and traddies have got it perfectly well.

    2. Bill, you ask what it is supposed to be and who it is for. Firstly, it is for those considerable number of former (and current) Anglicans who asked a means of entering the Catholic Church whilst retaining some of their patrimony. Surely that is clear enough.

      What it is supposed to be, is largely what those people who joined the Ordinariate have made of it. I don’t hear of many people who joined the Ordinariate complaining that it is not what they wanted.

      One question does remain, and that is: Why have so many Anglicans who said that they wanted a way of joining the Catholic Church not taken up the Ordinariate offer? The answer must be, either they are taking a long time in making up their minds, or they were not sincere in the first place.

    3. The distinctive Anglican patrimony must include the Book of Common Prayer and the Authorized Version of the Bible. These are two irreducible elements.

  12. I think M V is probably correct, but without the Reformation there would also be no concept that Catholicism is foreign.
    If the Ordinariate merely exists to convince Anglicans that the Catholic Church is not foreign by presenting them with an acceptable English face for the Church then maybe there is something about la la land about it?
    What is more important to us, our Catholicism or our Englishness?
    You can say what you like about the Irish, and I often do, but they never gave up their Catholicism like the English (with a few heroic exceptions) did!

    1. If you go to China you will find artistic depictions of a Chinese Christ. In Nigeria Mother and Child are shown as black skinned. Here in Europe we are drawn to the nonsense of blue eyed blond Jesus. there is nothing la la about speaking to people in thier own dialects and customs. It is, in fact, vital to healthy evangelisation. What is more this is recapturing history that has been lost and telling them about themselves. Not at a cost to the universal but to ensure the universal is also local. If a German Pontiff understood the point I wonder why many others do not.

      1. Thats not quite what the German Pontiff thought. His greatest action, for which history will remember him was ‘Summorum pontificum’. The ordinariate thing was a naive blunder based on all sorts of misconceptions. He had been famously annoyed that Basil Hume had thrown cold water on a tentative proposal by Graham Leonard for something akin to the ordinariate in 1992. In his wise experience he recognised that a lot of Anglo Catholic clergy were basically a pain in the backside in their own church and would continue to be a pain in the backside wherever they went. Benedict saw the chance to regain that lost opportunity but, like others in the Vatican, had only the most romantic view of Anglicanism – Anglican chant, Stanford in C etc. All stuff entirely repudiated and scorned by the pain in the backside brigade, who lost no opportunity showing off their ‘Roman’ credentials – even restyling their vicarages ‘presbyteries’ or ‘clergy houses’.

        Maybe Im wrong. But here is the challenge for you. Here am I, a traditionalist Prayer Book Catholic, no longer feeling at home in the Church of England. Persuade me why the Ordinariate is where I should be. Stop making assumptions about my motives.

        1. What you post about Pope Benedict is just delusional fantasy and total rubbish. Pope Benedict has voluntary provided for the ongoing life of the Ordinariate from his personal finances- that is not the action of one who considers himself to have made a naive blunder but rather one who plays a long game and delights in having established a movement of the new evangelisation that he believes will bear fruit.

          As regards convincing you. Well perhaps you could help me understand your actual problem by explaining what you see in the current Church of England and its direction that is lacking in the Ordinariate and life of the Catholic church?

          Often the reality- when you boil beyond the rhetoric and defences given- can be a practical rather than theological consideration. Many stay for the safe pension, hidden perks, better housing, status etc or – let us be brutally honest in regard to many of the Anglo_Catholic brethren- the ability to live with your same sex partner in the vicarage. All are real concerns but not really stuff we can deal with. If you are not willing to sell all you have then, like the rich young man, comfort will keep you Anglican.

          But if the problem really is theological or spiritual then tell me what it is and we can try and debate it.

          1. Delusional fantasy maybe, but well documented. The reported story is that Basil Hume was not sympathetic to Graham Leonard’s suggestions of a kind of Ordinariate arrangement and provoked the ire of one Cardinal Ratzinger who thought it a wasted opportunity. ‘The Roman Option’ by Bill Oddie (1997) refers.

    1. No obviously not. But that doesnt mean all the negative voices have a point worth hearing. We might consider the rather lamentable and bitter comments of certain Anglo-Catholics who did not come over. Which is the camp from which you regularly snipe- having never had one positive thing to say on here. But one does begin to wonder, given how irrelevant and pointless you assure us the Ordinariate is, why you keep coming back to this blog for over 5 years watching so earnestly. Methinks she doth protest too much….

  13. MV, your suggestion that wiser Catholics realised that Anglo-Catholic clergy were mostly “a pain in the backside” and best avoided is far from the truth.

    Many former Anglican clergy are now occupying senior positions in the Catholic Church, and are doing an excellent job. I think that there are 500 or more ex- Anglicans who are active priests. In some dioceses, they are amount to about a quarter of the clergy, and many would say that the include some of the best clergy. Certainly, the Catholic Church would be in a mess without them.

    1. I’m sure that is right but the question that Fr. Ed asks is, nonetheless, one that deserves consideration. In the city in which I live there is a very old established Anglo- Catholic church. The incumbent certainly uses the Latin rite. He nay even celebrate in Latin. I know from a friend who is an employee of the Anglican diocese that this has been causing some concern but that the Bishop who has now moved on wouldn’t take it up with the chap in question. At said church they are busy bigging up the Year of Mercy and have had a pilgrimage to the Holy Door in the Catholic Cathedral here. Their Facebook page goes on about St John Paul and Mother Theresa as well as featuring one bloke in another parish who was bragging about having been ordained to the diaconate by JP2 and so, when JP was canonised he said he was entitled to wear some bit of frippery if I remember correctly (said bloke had clearly subsequently had a change of heart). The parishioners are given to turning up at the Corpus Christi procession (to which they are of course very welcome) with their clergy wearing full (and very antique) Roman vestments and joining in the procession of the Catholic clergy without apparently asking which the MC was furious about. They have just taken their young people to Lourdes. They are precisely the sort of church you would have thought would have been in with a bucket at the Ordinariate because they have always been a bit apart from the Anglican establishment here anyway so far as I can tell. But no. They go on and on in a pathetic – in the true sense – wannabe mode. And why don’t they come over? I don’t think the same sex partner is an issue there although I know for a fact that it is in at least one other similarly minded parish locally. My Anglican pal says that, when asked, they and many others like them who she says would obviously be much more at home in the Catholic Church make it clear that they don’t want to lose their pensions. It would make Newman rotate in his grave.

      1. I’m not feeling that this description is 100% authentic, though a few elements are familiar. Pensions are no more than deferred payment, so no one forfeits the pension he is entitled to if he leaves, or is forced to leave, the ministry.

    1. Many of the laity are very wedded to buildings. Catholics go to Mass whilst Anglicans go to church! Also they do tend to need a steer from clergy and, where that hasn’t happened, sometimes for selfish reasons on behalf of the clergy, they remain.

    2. I wouldn”t know about the lay people Bill but I suspect as with all these things it’s to got a lot to do with leadership as Fr. Ed points out. And so far as not losing what pension you have already built up MV is right. But pension and other financial provision within the Catholic Church will not be as generous. In addition those who leave the C of E to join the Catholic Church are no longer still part of the English establishment. Anecdotally some of my dealings with Anglo Catholic friends indicates that this seems to be part of what still anchors them. Bless them they love going to Rome (who doesn’t!) and being photographed in clerical kit in various places . I even see regular approving references to goings on in the Ordinariate here and in the USA. But they don’t seem to be willing to give up their official ties with places like Westminster Abbey. As far as what I she described as not being 100% authentic I have simply reported what I know is factually correct but to make it the more stark the Catholic cathedral to which this church made its Holy Door pilgrimage is about five minutes walk from the church in question and it has a regular celebration of the Ordinariate liturgy. Of course if the congregation and clergy of the church came over via the Ordinariate in large number they would lose their connection with their church building and I understand that that would be a wrench. But what is more important. Stones and mortar even old and beautiful stones and mortar or the truth?

  14. Very, very fair point about the relationship between clergy and lay people in the C of E. It is very different to the Catholic Church situation.

    In some more extreme cases a C of E parish can look from the outside like a personality cult involving a vicar and a band of willing/niave lay followers. Possibly because of (1) the way clergy are selected for parishes in the C of E compared with the Catholics; and (2) the bunker mentality that stems from there being so many factions and groups in the C of E.


  15. MV

    The point about ‘prayer book catholic ‘ I am making is this:
    In the mind of most people adherence to Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer and it’s 39 articles which condemn the Mass, Eucharistic adoration and the invocation of saints , purgatory etc. Would appear to be Protestant not Catholic.

  16. The power of Google tells me that Frs Woolnough and Starkie came into the Church from “sky high” Anglican parishes, just the same as you, in spite of you holding them out as being examples of a broader input from the C of E into the Catholic Church.

    So to put the question again: is the Ordinariate for all Anglicans? Or just High Church ones? Can non-High Anglicans bring their patrimony (village church, evangelical etc) with them?

    Just give me a straight answer, for Goodness sake!! (I feel a bit like John Humphrys here!)



    1. I don’t know about these individual cases but I would have thought that, in theory, any patrimony which is compatible with Catholic practice and doctrine would be welcome. I would have thought that the difficulty in practice (although I stand to be corrected by Fr. Ed) is that a lot of the evangelical patrimony and most if not all of the liberal “Thinking Anglicans” stuff isn’t. Plus the adherents of those factions are unlikely to want to convert en bloc anyway.

      1. The answer is that those entering the Catholic church via the Ordinariate are gifted an Anglican patrimony which has been scrutinised and passed as fit by the CDW and CDF. That is to say the best of the liturgical and spiritual treasures that are consistent with a Catholic faith. That being Divine Worship Missal, the wonderful Customary with its great emphasis on English saints. Each will bring their own local custom in regard music etc… but what cannot come is the sort of autonomy the C of E permits which, in truth, makes it less one church and more an umbrella for many and various systems of belief.

        1. That’s of course true Father BUT is it the case to your knowledge that any groups have come into the Ordinariate from other than High Church backgrounds? Also you can probably either confirm or dismiss this but I recall reading somewhere not long after the Ordinariate was set up that certain Anglo Catholic clergy who had expressed an interest had had to have it explained to them that, as they were in same sex civil partnerships, they were not eligible for re ordination. Was that really true? Or a piece of scurrilous gossip?

          1. There are many Ordinariate clergy who were never part of Forward in Faith, SSC or any of the obvious Anglo-Catholic societies. Most would have had a high theology of the sacramental etc…otherwise Rome would not have called to them. As to the presence of a large number of people who did not enter into the Catholic church because of moral issues. I am very confident that tells a large part of the story, but not all of it.

          2. The church does not recognise civil partnerships so they are an irrelevance. It is well known that some who were in civil partnerships were r-ordained into the Ordinariate.

          3. If the C of E does not recognise civil partnerships then why does it pay pensions to civil partners of clergy? And if the answer is to satisfy the law of the land then the church needs explain, according to its own rules, how the figure paid out is not zero.

  17. Thanks: so that is a “no” to other Anglican traditions who are interested in joining he Church. They should follow the Diocesan route, correct?

    How can the CDF and CDW have scrutinised any form of Patrimony? They have signed off on books but those are words on a printed page surely?

    I really struggle with understanding all of this. All I ask for is logic and reason please- I see nothing in the governing/founding documents of the Ordinariate that talk about particular TYPES of Anglican patrimony. All that is asked for (as with anyone joining the Church) is for them to sign up to the catechism surely? If an Anglican evangelical signs up to the Catholic catechism then surely their Anglican patrimony is an evangelical one?

    (Bearing in mind that the genesis of this thread was an assertion by Fr Ed that ARCIC is a waste of time and that the Ordinariate is the road to union for faithful Anglicans)

    Sorry to be a pain in the back side



    1. What is so difficult to understand. Anglicans, high, low or middle, were raised on the Book of Common Prayer. All will therefore be familiar with those wonderful ancient prayers rooted in the Sarum tradition and which have been the backbone of English spirituality over centuries. When the Ordinariate came into being a committee of liturgists compiled liturgy that took in the best/most famous aspects – the ones that were not in contradiction to Catholic teaching. What then emerges is a helpful treasury of Anglican prayers and practices that becomes the life of the Ordinariates. What was not offered was a free for all in which protestants, liberals or high church men could pick and choose favourite things and indulge their personal whims. That sort of praxis is to be left behind.

      1. About 85% of the Prayer Book is translation from the pre-Reformation Sarum services, as we catholic minded have always liked to remind our evangelical brethren in the days when everyone used the Prayer Book. The other 15% is of purely protestant conception. A distinguishing feature of Mgr Burnham’s new Ordinariate mass is the general confession and comfortable words in the middle, which owes nothing to Sarum at all, but is derived entirely from continental reformation sources. Proctor & Frere, ‘A new history of the Book of Common Prayer’ refers.

    2. Hmm.
      Via a vis MV’s assertion that some clergy in civil partnerships have been reordained into the Ordinariate can you give chapter and verse MV? Not naming names obviously but giving generic details i.e. How many whether they were required to separate from their partner before ordination etc. Presumably Fr. Ed could comment on whether this is true as well. I am only aware of one case where, when it was discovered he had entered into a green card type civil partnership some years earlier to give residency rights to another bloke, said cleric was immediately suspended. That was a “marriage of convenience” anyway. Just on another topic you said that you did not think my description of the local Anglo – Catholic Church was 100% authentic. I struggle to understand what you meant by that because I can’t think you were accusing me of making things up. Could you enlarge on what you meant because I am puzzled at present.

      1. This is scurrilous gossip and no more. After the unfortunate incident in which a very straight cleric, sticking his fingers up at the civil partnership laws, foolishly used one to gain a friend a passport (for which he paid a heavy price) all clergy were carefully checked lest any further scandal was shown. It wasn’t.

      2. I know the church to which you refer. I do not think that the clergy of any Anglican church, whatever its pretensions, would gatecrash a Corpus Christi procession in the manner you have described. Even if they were invited to attend, they would not usually in this country, be invited to robe. It may well be the case that the vicar of that church took part in the procession as a member of the congregation, along with some of his people, and was wearing a cassock and biretta, but then that vicar always does, every day, and whatever he is doing. The Bishop of London is sympathetic to, and highly regarded by Anglo Catholic clergy. He has no objection to the Novus Ordo service per se, but has requested that his clergy conform to the Common Worship service (which is almost word for word the same anyway) or the BCP. Many have complied.

        1. I can assure you that both clergy who were in attendance turned up in cassock , cotta and stoles and did indeed join in the procession of the clergy duly vested because I witnessed it and the MC confirmed to me some time afterwards that he had not known they were going to do this and by the time he realised it was too late to do anything about it. There were no birettas .So far as the use of the Latin rite is concerned again I have merely reported what I have been told by someone who very definitely knows .

  18. Are there any statistics regarding Ordinariate Catholics in terms of the kind of Anglicanism they aspired to before their entry into the Church?
    Also do we know what proportion of converts from Anglicanism came into the Ordinariate as opposed to those who just became ‘ diocesan’ Catholics in the old way?

    1. That’s what I wonder too David. The obvious assumption is that all those who have joined the Ordinariate were from previously “HIgh” parishes whether or not their clergy prior thereto were members of various Catholic Anglican societies. It may be that Fr. Ed simply doesn’t know which is fine although I would have thought he would have at least had an idea. I don’t see there is anything to be bashful about if all those who have come in through the Ordinariate door were indeed Anglo Catholics; they seem to be the only ones who were keen on unity even if a large proportion of them have had their bluff called. As it were.

      1. I know of at least one active member who came from an evangelical background and several from middle of the road/rural backgrounds

      2. The Ordinariate ought from the beginning to have been promoted among ordinary Prayer Book Anglicans who have been abandoned by the Church of England. Sadly, the whole enterprise has been hijacked by those of the Catholic party who never had much affection for or familiarity with classical Anglicanism, and a great opportunity has been missed.

  19. Any true Anglican whose beliefs are reflected in the 39 articles would not want to join the Ordinariate as they would be unable to agree with RC doctrine. Mary b is quite right in her comments above. That is why ARCIC is important as it enables each side to better understand the other’s point of view.
    Despite our differences we do hold the basic Christian beliefs about the Incarnation and Resurrection in common, and I think we should be working together to confront a pagan and secular world, rather than merely recruiting members from other churches.

    1. You say Anglicans hold the basic beliefs about incarnation and Resurrection. How then do you explain the famous Bishop of Durham who denied these central tenets but remained in post? Or indeed the former vicar of Sheringham whose leaflets denying almost every central tenet of basic Christianity caused me to write in complaint to his bishop only to be told ‘his liberalism is a valued part of Anglican belief- which proved a final nail in the coffin of my personal membership. Or else the presence of a great many ‘Sea of Faith’ clergy who do not actually believe in the Virgin birth but are promoted and accepted freely. Am not being difficult for the sake of it but highlighting how impossible it actually is to speak of ‘Anglican belief’ when what exists is less one uniform church of shared belief but rather a State operated machine for holding together congregations of different beliefs.

      1. Why do you complain of those who snitch on you to your superiors when you were happy to do the same to the vicar of Sheringham.

        It might also be recommended to find out what Bishop Jenkins actually said rather than relying on the caricatures of the press. You did not like the way the same press misrepresented Pope Benedict, after all.

        1. I did not complain because he hurt my feelings- rather I felt any bishop would want to know that a clergyman drawing a stipend was actually attacking the faith. If you cannot see the difference it might be because you also confuse personal feelings with vital doctrine.

      2. Yes there are Anglicans who do not believe, just as there are Roman Catholics who hold heretical views, I met plenty in Chile, but true Anglicanism holds to these basic tenets, see:


        THE Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.”


        CHRIST did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of Man’s nature; wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth, until he return to judge all Men at the last day.

        What do you find heretical in those articles?

        The Church of England is not a state operated machine, but part of the true catholic church which includes Baptists, Methodists, House church members and even Roman Catholics. The days are long gone when one denomination can claim to be the true church and insist that unity is only possible by submission to its leadership.

        1. House churches are part of the Catholic church? By what authority? Come to that by what authority are any of the break aways operating? Who holds them to account? Who ensures what is being taught is sound and how? Where is your evidence to show that the articles are taught and have continued relevance beyond your own desire? Certainly they were not mentioned, even once, during my entire formation as an Anglican minister at Westcott house, being footnotes of historic interest. Again, am not being mean, but trying to tease out the real problem here. And yes Catholics are in danger today of falling into the same trap in many places.

          Ultimately it boils down to authority. Or else we believe in a billion different faiths all determined by personal whim.

    2. Ive got two commentaries on the 39 articles sitting next to each other on the shelf, Baz, written for use in our theological colleges in the days when they actually taught anything useful. One by W H Griffith Thomas gives a thoroughly evangelical interpretation of them, while the other, by E J Bicknell, is entirely catholic in its approach. Remember that in his notorious Tract 90, a certain J H Newman demonstrated that the Articles were completely compatible with the teaching of Trent.

      1. My point to Fr Ed is that there are many Christians who believe in the basics of the Christian faith, but are not Roman Catholics. If the RCs consider we are Christians, then we are part of the church. His continual sniping at the Church of England, where as you say there are varieties of approach and a great deal of tolerance for different understandings of the faith perpetuates the myth that there is one true denomination and a load of heretics outside it. I suspect Griffith Thomas and Bicknell would be united in their interpretation of articles 2 and 4. and week by week we join in affirming our faith in the words of the Nicene creed. The C/E tolerant attitude whilst allowing varieties of expression to me typifies the more Christian way of dealing with these issues and will be far more effective in evangelism than demanding that everyone has to submit to the authority of the Bishop of Rome.

        1. Problem with that Fr. B is submitting to the Bishop of Rome is precisely how Catholics believe Christ set up his church! So whilst there can of course be respect and tolerance for separated brethren of goodwill you can’t actually demand that the Catholic Church stops actively calling people home without asking it to deny what it believes to be its very purpose; to unite all mankind in Christ under Peter. So far as the vicar of Sheringham is concerned ( lovely part of the world btw) you would surely concede that heterodox beliefs amongst the laity are very different to patently heretical views being actively promulgated by the clergy whose sacred charge it is to defend and teach them with clarity? That can’t be somewhere where the Anglican Church has a differing view to the Catholic Church. Can it? On a different topic Fr. Ed you mention those who have entered the Orcinariate from evangelical or middle of the road backgrounds. I understand that this may be where they started life in the C of E but where did they finish it? I.e were they high low or middle when they applied to join the Ordinariate? Again there is no need to be evasive or bashful about this. The question is being asked from genuine curiosity.

          1. Father, that’s just not true. I’m sorry but you cannot possibly describe yourself and your congregation at St Barnabas as being “in the middle” just before you entered the Ordinariate. Neither were Fr. Starkie or Fr. Woolnough. Irrespective of where they began in Anglicanism they and you were all committed Anglo Catholics when you took up the Ordinariate offer as only a moment or two of googling will reveal. You run a good and interesting blog but resorting to dissembling when you want to prove an assertion ( which doesn’t even need to be made in the first place) is neither edifying nor honest. Even more importantly it risks putting off those who might she interested in entering the church whether by the Ordinariate or diocesan route and hence is to be doubly disapproved of.

          2. I never stated that I or St. Barnabas were middle of the road. But I do know of one or two clergy in the Ordinariate who were.

          3. You seem to assume that to be united under Peter entails submitting to Rome. In the Orthodox churches each bishop is Peter; he is not concentrated into one successor in Rome.

      2. But wasn’t that when he was still doing the intellectual gymnastics necessary to equate the Articles with Catholicism.
        It didn’t take one of the greatest intellects of the nineteenth century too long to realise he was on a hide into nothing.
        For Newman, his ‘submission ‘ to Rome was the hardest and bravest thing he ever did, but he had to be honest and true to his great mind.
        He often, even after he was a cardinal, went to listen to evensong in St. Paul’s because he truly loved his Anglican Patrimony.
        It is the true measure of this great man that he left the familiar to embrace what appeared to be foreign and alien because in his heart of hearts he knew that Rome, warts and all, was where truth lay.

        1. He didn’t go to listen to evensong at St. Paul’s. It was forbidden then for Catholics to attend Protestant services. The alleged weeping for lost patrimony took place outside a parish church in Birmingham when JH was taking an evening stroll.

  20. I think we have approached the end of this particular cul-de-sac, in which Fr Ed (aided and abetted by other contributors on the blog – albeit not that much aiding and abetting is needed!) has managed to portray the Holy Catholic Church as the ecclesial equivalent of Lyndon Johnson’s tent. None of this I’m afraid is consistent with the notion of the Ordinariate being a means of unifying Christianity (or “true believers”, if you will).

    Bottom line is, since we as Catholics recognise the validity of properly executed Christian baptism there can only be one Church (ie the one founded by Christ), which – yes – includes C of E, Methodists, Baptists et al. By definition.

    Authority and orders are a different matter. And when it comes to orders, the Church tacitly recognises the value if not the legitimacy of Anglican orders. If it didn’t, the Ordinariate wouldn’t exist and Fr Ed would be on the other side of the tent wall (presumably arguing vociferously that outside of the tent is the place to be, because the Pope is too liberal etc etc etc).


    Bill (NB not “liberal”)

    1. Bill,
      Whilst we share a common baptism with other Christians, membership of the Catholic Church involves an assent to, and a sharing in, the the sacramental life of the Church.
      The Church acknowledges the validity of baptism (if done in the name of the Trinity )by other Christians because baptism can be done by anyone. Similarly the marriages of baptised Christians of other denominations are valid because the ministers of that sacrament are the bride and groom.
      However the other sacraments must be administered by a validly ordained bishop or priest. So the sharing of a common baptism does not include us all in one church. Only the Catholic and Orthodox communities constitute real churches. All the others are ecclesial communities which lack the marks of the church.
      As regards Anglican Orders, they can only be valid ( and even then they are illicit), if there has been a bishop with valid orders (usually an Old Catholic or Orthodox)present at an Anglican Ordination. In addition to this both the said bishop and the ordinands must have the intention of ordaining and being ordained as sacrificing priests in the Catholic sense.
      I know this comes over as dreadfully legalistic but it does no good to ecumenism to deny the facts.

    2. I thinks it’s more accurate to say Bill that all the baptised are members of the Christian church (of course) but only those in communion with the Pope are members of the Catholic Church. Fr. Barry’s analysis that any Christian is de facto a membe of the Catholic Church is one which isn’t even expounded by the Church of England I don’t think let alone the Catholic church. And I think what Fr. Ed has been driving at is that Anglican patrimony itself is a generic thing so that all Anglicans who come into the Ordinariate have it . Which I’m sure is also true. That doesn’t alter the fact that it appears to be the case that all those who have come in have been Anglo Catholics which is not surprising. What is ironic is that, in a posting about the importance of facts over emotions Fr. Ed appears to have ended by glossing over this particular fact so as to suit his narrative that all shades of Anglicans have entered the Ordinariate which appears to be demonstrably untrue. As I have pointed out above having done a very swift bit of research following Fr. Ed’s last assertion about this.

      1. I’m using the word “Catholic” in the original sense of “Universal”, not as shorthand for ‘in communion with the Bishop of Rome’. The Church of England uses the word “Catholic” in that sense every time we say the creeds. That Catholic church includes Christians of every denomination as it is the Body of Christ.

        1. Well Fr. B those churches of the C of E who say the traditional creeds might mean this every time they say the Creed (s) but what about those churches which reckon they are Anglican but don’t say the Creeds at all or say their own version of them? What about Non-Conformists, members of the Salvation Army who don’t baptise, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons? Are they all members of the Universal i.e. Cathoiic Church? If not why not?

  21. “This is scurrilous gossip and no more. After the unfortunate incident in which a very straight cleric, sticking his fingers up at the civil partnership laws, foolishly used one to gain a friend a passport (for which he paid a heavy price) all clergy were carefully checked lest any further scandal was shown. It wasn’t.”

    What that guy did was illegal – not “unfortunate” or “foolish” and it is wrong to dilute the seriousness of it (or to present as some kind of “martyrdom”) by presenting it as anything other than what was: a disgrace.

    1. It was a disgrace and he was duly punished. It was not, however, a sexual civil partnership as the original smear was suggesting.

    2. Absolutely so and I, as a lawyer, am surprised he wasn’t prosecuted although he may have been and it wasn’t published. But that is unfortunately part and parcel of the rich tapestry of human/church life where you will always get the odd maverick cleric and which is very different to the hierarchy knowingly ordaining into the Ordinariate actively homosexual Anglican clergy who were in disclosed civil partnerships. And I don’t think what Fr. Ed said in any way portrayed what happened to said cleric as a martyrdom. Rather as a prattdom!

  22. Thanks David (and Mary) for the comment on baptism.

    If you look at my post I have dealt baptism and ordination with each separately. There IS only one Church – so anybody validly baptised is that that ONE church, albeit many will be separated.

    If you like: baptised validly, but illicitly. If you try to explain any other way you are claiming there to be more than one church, which there can’t be.

    Ordination: not a cigarette paper between what you and I have said David. My point was that whilst there is no recognition of validity, there must be recognition of the value; otherwise it would simply not be possible to execute super-fast-track ordinations as we have seen in the Ordinariate.

    1. Agreed of course about the validity of baptism. I think that makes you a member of an ecclesial community though if you adhere to one of the separated churches if we are being technical about it. It doesn’t make you a Catholic.

  23. I apologise Father if I have misjudged you. Who amongst the Ordinariate was middle of the road then? I am interested in this as a phenomenon. Did they come over alone or with their parishes?

  24. Fr B. T. And Bill,

    There is no such thing as a Universal church of all the baptised.That is a pure fantasy of wishful thinking.
    Christendom is divided. Pretending otherwise is false ecumenism.
    Granted all baptised Christians are brothers and sisters but some are ‘separated brethren’.
    VaticanII states that The True Church subsists in the the Catholic Church and that other Christian bodies have elements of the truth but only the Catholic Church has the fullness of truth. This is what the Church says about itself and this is what Catholics believe.
    Obviously non-Catholics don’t agree with this but let’s get real!

  25. Mary – I suspect “one or two” will become “none” fairly soon, a bit like the claim re the number of vocations emanating from the village of Pembury back in late August. Like you and Fr Ed I would like it to be different but the facts speak for themselves.

    Father, if you can take some advice please just stick to your ministry and resist the urge to make these claims. People are just too switched on to believe them.

    All the best


    1. Why so rude Bill? When I imagine you could barely name a handful of our clergy. Actually a good number of Ordinariate clergy were in rural ministry which, by its nature, is a far cry from town shrine ministry. People like Jack Lusted if you want names. Peter Andrews studied at Westcott and was ever central in his churchmanship- Bob White was at a flagship civic high parish most of his ministry. There are others.

        1. There is a difference between good manners and spirited debate. Most of us can see that immediately and Bill had the good grace to apologise

  26. Agree with all that David. But tell me – how many Churches are there – one, or more than one?

    And if as Catholics we recognise baptism of eg C of E people – which Church are they baptised into?

    All the best


    1. None. The Catholic church is clear that there are people living in Ecclesial communities which are sufficient to grant baptism and be called Christian but which lack the fullness to be called an authentic part of the Church.

  27. Sorry re rudeness. Exasperation I think. I do stand by the advice in my email though; the picking and choosing and spin to fit your broader narrative diminishes the obvious really good work you do otherwise.

    We both know that baptism is common across all denominations and therefore there is and can only be one Church. Within that construct there are heretics and schismatics (to use old language) – or “ecclesial communities” (to use new language) but: one baptism, one church. The question of authenticity doesn’t really come into it.


    1. Bill,
      I don’t want to be uncharitable but are you being deliberately obtuse?
      If a common baptism creates one universal church would you please tell me where it is, how it is organised, where it is based, how it is organised, governed and made effective and how it’s teachings differ from the hundreds of existing and recognisable Christian denominations.

  28. There is indeed ,as many have said here ,only one Church . All of those who are validly baptised are members of that one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
    For Catholics – in the generally understood use of the word – the link with the bishop of Rome, the successor of St Peter,is an essential part of being a full member of the Church. It is through the validly ordained bishops in communion with the pope,that we have the guarantee of the validity of the Sacraments.

    However the Church (RC church) no longer sees those who are not in full communion,as cut off from God’s grace.It values both the part which individual Christians,as well as constituted Christian communities such as the CofE,make in the world and in the good examples of Christian living which so many people give.

    As Catholics – in the generally accepted understanding and use of the word – we are sad when we hear of those who do not or have not given good example,irrespective of whether they are Catholic or Anglican or any other group of Christians.

    Although each one of the baptised has an individual baptism,they are all baptised into the community of Christ’s followers and family which is,of the course the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    I don’t know if it is theologically correct but I like to think of non-Catholic Christians,as sort of out of town members of the Church,who don’t pay dues,don’t turn up to meetings and don’t have full voting rights.

  29. Wow! That was quite a lot of chat.
    Not sure what Our Lord would make of it all.
    Surely the difference between Anglicans and Catholics is the belief regarding the true presence in the Eucharist .
    Anglicans believe it is a commemoration
    Catholics believe he is physically present body and blood in the host.
    One is a remembrance the other is a miracle, huge difference.
    Pretty much the rest is flim flam .
    People are free to make their own choices,but if they are Catholic
    That is one of the main tenents of their faith.
    Within that there are differences in ways of worship
    But they are all doing the same thing just in different ways
    As long as they do so with respect and according to the teachings of the church

    1. If we are to believe in the principle of ‘lex orandi, lex credendi’, then a cursory study of the Latin Mass and the Communion Service will show that Catholics believe it is a commemoration too, and that Anglicans believe that Christ is present in the elements of the Eucharist. “Haec quotiescunque feceritis in men memoriam facietis” v. “Grant us so to eat the Flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ and to drink his Blood that….”. What individual members of both those communions might really believe might be something quite different though.

      1. Come on MV how many Anglicans who are not of the Anglo Catholic mould believe in the Real Presence? Precious few as you well know and, although it may be argued that a few (due to shocking catechesis, more than a few?) Catholics don’t either, that has never been the official teaching of the Catholic Church. To return to where I started posting on this thread the Anglo Catholic Church in my home town professes impeccably Catholic teaching about the Real Presence on its website and Facebook page. It’s own Anglican Cathedral which is a very short walk away from the church in question talks about the bread and wine being “symbols”. So why hasn’t this Anglo Catholic Church taken up the Ordinariate offer? You tell me MV. And, if you don’t know, as you might not, then hazard a guess.

        1. It is interesting to note when ‘symbol’ was infiltrated to the Eucharist. The word does not appear in the early texts (Latin, Greek -and I understand the Coptic) where the wordings are very specific. The insertion seems to be a early post-reformation invention and in defiance of The Lord’s own words in respect of his sacrifice.

        2. Probably because in the Church of England we recognise one another as Christians and can be in communion with one another even though we disagree about the exact way Christ is present in the Eucharist. Would that other churches were as tolerant and our divisions could be more easily healed.

          1. Surely when Anglicans broke with Rome they requested not ‘to be in communion’ – so how can you then attack Rome with a straight face for simply and politely recognising what was asked for? It would be like somebody requesting a separation, leaving the marital home and then blaming the ex spouse for not sharing a bed with them?!

          2. Fr how can disagreeing about something as fundamental as this possibly be right? It goes to the very heart of the faith surely? If your plea is for other churches to be more tolerant then surely you are pleading with them to accept any shade of opinion about this very fundamental issue as being of equal validity. Is that really what Christ intended?

          3. ED, your analogy breaks down in that the ‘divorce’ occurred hundreds of years ago and present day Christians cannot be held responsible. To Mary b I would say that there is an agreed ARCIC statement on the Eucharist, which both churches have agreed. In Ed’s terms, is it not better to get into bed together than hurl insults across a great divide.

          4. But it isnt a historic issue. Pope Benedict made an offer to the Church of England to enter into communion only a few years ago. It was roundly and coldly dismissed. Thus showing that the protesting spirit is alive and well. Thus showing that those condemning the church for not getting into bed, still refuse the offer of marriage. Once differences have been reconciled- then we will be ‘in communion’ and the fruit will be unity around the altar. Until then we cannot put the cart before the horse and still have work to do. What you propose is to pretend we are all in communion even when we are not. This would be dishonest and it would cheapen, surely, what communion is all about.

          5. Pope Bendict’s offer wasn’t for a coming together, it was a hostile takeover bid. It insisted on re-ordinations and acceptance of the RC catechism. No true Anglican could accept that. There are many important truths of the Reformation which cannot be washed away, but that is no reason why we cannot share the Eucharist. I think of a Norfolk resident who worked in London during the week. Brought up RC he went to RC mass in London, and took communion in his Anglican parish church on Sunday. I was told of an RC churchwarden of an Anglican parish who attended the Anglican church for the fortnightly services and went to RC mass alternate weeks.
            When Gus was baptised, you welcomed your parents to receive at St Anselm. There was no clap of thunder because something terrible had happened. It was natural for fellow Christians to share in that way.
            All Roman Catholics are very welcome to receive the Sacrament in our churches, it’s a pity it is not reciprocated.

          6. Please explain how an invitation offered to those requesting unity was, in any way, hostile?
            Please explain how offering said people their own liturgy, customs and patrimony was a takeover?

            Which truths of the reformation do you refer to?
            How could unity possibly occur without acceptance of a shared faith?

          7. “The Lord who thus comes to his people in the power of the Holy Spirit is the Lord of glory. In the eucharistic celebration we anticipate the joys of the age to come. By the transforming action of the Spirit of God, earthly bread and wine become the heavenly manna and the new wine, the eschatological banquet for the new man: elements of the first creation become pledges and first fruits of the new heaven and the new earth.”

            Fr. B this is one of the relevant extracts from the agreed ARCIC statement. As you must know it bears as much relationship to what most non Anglo-Catholic Anglicans believe as a suggestion that the presiding minister could levitate.

            This by contrast is an extract from the section on Holy Commnion on a well known Anglican Cathedral’s website:

            “We are lead in prayer and reflection and we share Holy Communion – taking bread and wine (a symbol of Christ’s body and blood) in remembrance of him.”

            Without a load of mental juggling these two statements are simply incompatible and even if, by extreme sleight of brain, you do manage to reconcile them, the elephant in the room is that the overwhelming majorty of Anglicans, clerical and lay, think that the bread and wine is just that. If they didn’t presumably the evangelical wing wouldn’t put left overs out for the birds.

            The ARCIC stuff was always very worthy but simply ignored the on the ground reality, possibly at least partly from ignorance/naivety on the part of the Roman delegation and on the part of the Anglicans a failure to grasp that the Roman faction actually took all this stuff seriously. Willam Oddie reported in these terms on an exchange he had when he was still an Anglican at a conference at which one of the ARCIC documents was being voted on:
            “At lunchtime, standing at the bar with a number of clergy, I asked how they had voted; they had all voted affirmatively. I then asked them if they had read the document. None of them had; and most of them, it became clear, had little idea of what it contained. “Well”, I asked, puzzled, “why did you vote for it, then?” “The point is,” one of them replied, “the important thing is unity. The RCs are frightfully keen on doctrine. You have to encourage them: so I voted for their document”.

            The truth is that there is a fundamental divergence of belief about the Eucharist between Catholics and most Anglicans and indeed within the Anglican Church itself no matter what intellectual dodging around there may be and it would be far more honest to admit that. Which is not an insult becasue there is no need to hurl insults. Just to recognise that there is this divide and to work together, taking all that into account insofar as we can.

          8. Fr B. It is a bit rich of you to criticise the Catholic church because it insists “on….. acceptance of the RC catechism” in respect of those persons seeking to enter it. Doesn’t the Anglican church have something similar in respect of would be converts?

          9. Mary b writes “the overwhelming majority of Anglicans, clerical and lay, think that the bread and wine is just that. If they didn’t presumably the evangelical wing wouldn’t put left overs out for the birds.”
            I am not denying that this anecdote may have happened, but it is not normal practise. Firstly these days most Anglicans use wafers bought from the same suppliers that RCs use, and therefore there are no leftovers to be put out for the birds. Secondly I don’t think Mary has any clue about what the majority of Anglicans think. I do know that what she says is not official Anglican teaching. Article 28 reads “THE Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another; but rather is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.”.
            Finally the Prayer Book makes clear what is to happen after communion. It states “And if any of the Bread and Wine remain unconsecrated, the Curate shall have it to his own use: but if any remain of that which was consecrated, it shall not be carried out of the Church, but the Priest, and such other of the Communicants as he shall then call unto him, shall, immediately after the Blessing, reverently eat and drink the same.”
            Relations between Christians are not helped by these types of myths and opinions which bear no relation to what the Church of England actually teaches.

          10. When Cost of Conscience conducted a very wide survey of clergy beliefs, back in the 1990s they discovered that belief in the real presence was very low among Anglicans. The survey also highlighted how diverse beliefs within the Church of England are- which explains why most of its formal documents can be read a number of ways. Certainly in Tunbridge Wells only St. Barnabas and possibly Charles the Martyr would reserve the sacrament and treat it like anything other than bread and wine. All the others would balk at the notion and would firmly describe it a memorial meal. So Mary B is on the money here. And if the church does teach what you suggest – why does it allow for some churches to use bread rolls and throw the crumbs out after? Which happens in a great many places.

          11. Actually Fr. B I do have more than a clue about what Anglicans believe because my Dad is one, several of my husband’s friends are Anglican clergy, several more of our friends have strong formal connections with the local Anglican diocese/their parish churches and I worked for a long time professionally with one of the officers of said diocese. The variety and breadth of belief is extremely wide not just about the Eucharist but generally . And this seems to be not just confined to those of my acquiantance as the divergent quotes I have copied into my posting under reply illustrate.
            One of those people (not my Dad!) articulated views that were not just heterodox but also didn’t correspond with any heresy I had ever heard of. Plus “We at St Blogs think that Jesus was a very special man”. To which I responded “What like Gandhi?”.(!)
            Only those Anglo-Catholics amongst our acquaintance believe in anything like the Real Presence. And even those others who think that “Jesus is around in Holy Communion somehow but not in the Real Presence sense” are unable to explain clearly what they mean or what the Anglican church teaches.

    2. I think that Joe may be forgetting that there are many, many Christians who are not in full communion with the Church of Rome AND who are NOT Anglican.
      Joe indicates that the presence of Christ in the eucharist is the big difference between Catholics and Anglicans. I’m sure that Fr Ed would be able to tell him that a good number of Anglicans believe in much more than a commemoration during the celebration of the eucharist.

      Is it true that all the rest is ‘flimflam’ ?

      In one of the most direct passages in the Gospels about how we may attain entry to the Kingdom of Heaven, we are reminded that it is in giving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, a welcome to the stranger, clothes to the naked and visiting the sick and those in prison, that we will be recognised as being worthy of eternal life.

      In churchspeak (RC) these are called the corporal works of mercy. Those who do not carry out these actions may be consigned to eternal punishment.

      I might think that ultimately it is here that we can say that all the rest is flimflam.

  30. Not being obtuse. The one universal organised church is the Catholic Church, founded by Christ, headed on earth by the Pope. Any validly baptised person has to be a member of that Church, albeit they may be separated from it by choice or accident of birth.

    Any other analysis suggests that you claim Christ to have founded more than one Church, which he categorically didn’t. Either that or you don’t recognise the validity of C of E baptism for some reason?

    Nothing of what I have said is obtuse – simply logic and fact.



    1. Bill,
      The other ‘churches’were founded by men; HenryVIII, Luther, Calvin ad infinitum. Only the Catholic Church was founded by Christ. Other Christians are not members of the Catholic Church.

    1. A clear reference to the Gentiles who would eventually join the same Catholic church founded on peter as the Jewish brethren

      1. Yes Father, Jesus was most definitely at the time referring to the gentiles.
        But, as is the case with most of Our Lord’s sayings and parables which relate to His own times and to the Jewsish people, is there not also an underlying and prophetic implication for our times and for the Church?

  31. David – I think we are getting there on this one, albeit slowly…..did Christ create two churches? One called Catholic and the other called Other Christian or something?I know the answer to be ‘no’. Can there therefore be more than one Church in 2016? Also ‘no’.

    So how can any validly baptised person be anything other than in the Church founded by Christ?

    Read para 1267 of the Catechism if it helps.

    One Church, one baptism, but lots of heresy, separation, degrees of communion etc etc.


    1. “validly baptised”
      There is the key. Vatican II formalised what was already a prevalent view in the various Catholic Churches. I remember it being discussed in school R E lessons in the 1950s. Whereas the Church does recognize the validity of Baptism given by many other denominations, it recognizes that not all denominations (or individual ministers) have the same understanding of and/or intention in their baptisms or even accept the sacramental nature thereof. Among other things Baptism must be given in the name of the Trinity. Where there is any doubt, the Church takes the safe option and gives a conditional baptism. The opening being ‘If you are not already Baptized ….’. It is correct to say that Baptism in the full Church sense can ony be given once.The Catholic Churches’ acceptance of other denominations’ Baptism is much wider than many would be aware of. The opposite cannot be said of some entities who do not accept Baptism by any other body. Jehovah’s Witnesses come to mind immediately. Interestingly, the faith or lack thereof of the ‘Minister’ is not relevant, only the intention behind the use of the words and the water.

      Perhaps surprisingly, to many, is the following entry in the Catechism:-

      1256 The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon.(57) In case of necessity, anyone, even a non-baptized person, with the required intention, can baptize (58) , by using the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes. The Church finds the reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation. (59)

  32. Can I just suggest that someone good and looks at the catechism and sees what it says about other Christians and whether they are members of the a catholic Chrich or not. That should settle this argumanetbonce and for all at least for those of us in full communion with the Bishop of
    Rome. Can’t speak for what other Christians may say about it but that is up to them. I would go and look it up myself except I can’t just at the moment.

  33. 121 comments must be something of a record.
    Is there something subconsciously competitive about keeping this church membership discussion going . I wonder will it run and run or will we just get fed up?

  34. It’s a big subject but I try to explain as concisely as I can. Up until the Second Vatican Council, the magisterial teaching has been that the Church founded by Christ IS the Catholic Church united under the Successor of St Peter (i.e. Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Churches in communion with it). There was doubt over the validity of any sacrament conferred outside the Catholic Church, and those who wanted to become Catholics often had to undergo full or conditional baptism. In Vatican II, in the document Lumen Gentium – the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church , the Council Fathers introduced a new word ‘subsistit in’ (subsists in) to describe the relationship of the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church, ‘The one Church of Christ …. subsists in the Catholic Church.’ What this means is that while the fullness of the Church exists in the Catholic Church, ‘many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure.’ So while the Church of Christ finds its visible existence in the Catholic Church governed by the successor of Peter, ‘the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using other Churches and ecclesial communities as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church.’ So the Roman Catholic Church today accepts the validity of baptism conferred by other churches and ecclesial communities, which makes us capable of receiving other sacramental graces, but since it does not recognise Orders conferred by ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation, it doesn’t accept the validity of their Confirmation and Eucharist. You can therefore say that officially the Catholic Church accepts Anglicans and Lutherans etc as Christians, receiving divine grace and living a life of holiness, they are not (yet) members of the Catholic Church. This understanding conforms with the doctrine that means of sanctification and life of grace are available outside the visible structure of the Church.

  35. Pat – thanks for this – the Church accepts all C of E baptisms as fully valid. Hence all (including “Fr” Barry) are in the same Church as me and all (including Fr Ed) do not need conditional baptism when they convert.

    Mary – I did quote the authorities – para 1267 of the catechism – in my previous post.

    I reckon we can do the double ton on this one…….c’mon everyone!


    1. Bill,

      Several people including Fr. Masaki, have clearly explained to you the situation regarding membership of the Church. Yet you still claim you are not being obtuse.
      If all the baptised truly constituted one church then what would be the need for seeking unity with other Christians, and what kind of church could embrace the multitude of conflicting doctrinal issues?
      How can heretics and schismatics and Catholics be united in the same church ?
      Since the split with the Eastern Chuches and the Protestant Reformation Christendom has been divided. How can you claim that there is only one universal church?

    2. A misunderstanding of the nature of Baptism and reading too much into my comment perhaps?
      Baptism is the door opener. Church membership is a different matter. To take Communion in any particular denomination (if they allow you) is a signal that you accept the teachings of that cenomination. Personally, you may have a different view but that does not alter the fact. The C. of E. was deliberatly taken out of communion with the Catholic Churches (and at the same time most Orthodox Churches) in order to strengthen the position of the crown.
      In another misearble outcome of the East-West split, many Orthodox Churches have some doubts about Baptism by others and the Russians say only theirs is valid. They seem to have been fed a ‘doctored’ history of events for so long that they have lost touch with their origins and seem to be in the course of splitting the Orthodox Churches in the same way that the Eastern Churches split from the Petrine Office.

  36. Lets go for it! Seriously though Bill I think that is conflating being a Christian i.e. being validly baptised with being a member of the Catholic Church. The whole point is, isn’t it, that other Christians aren’t. They are members strictly speaking of ecclesial communities because there is actually only one Church; the Catholic one – see what Fr. Masaki has said above about them having valid baptism but not being members (yet) of the Catholic Church. That seems to me to be in line with what Lumen Gentium says but , that said, I will admit that the wording of the bit of the catechism to which you ahve made reference is confusing.

  37. OK! You’ve got me Mary B and David (and Fr Ed)…but in my defence I am trying to provide some challenge to the thinking rather than being obtuse as such. When I reflect on what I have said and yours and Mr Masaki’s responses, we aren’t actually far apart in reality – in fact in some respects just describing a different side of the same coin. For example in describing somebody as a heretic, or describing an act as an act of heresy, one must inherently be acknowledging that person’s relationship with the Catholic Church, ie that they are part of it?

    The Football Association doesn’t describe somebody playing cricket as a heretic – it’s just a different sport! But somebody playing football wearing a pair of tennis shoes and riding a bicycle would be heretic (if you see what I mean?…bad example…maybe).


    One thing that is of interest in connection with Catholics/separated brethren/ecclesial groups/heretics is the question of infant baptism. Case study: a child (C) of a mixed marriage is baptised (validly) in a C of E church by one of its ministers. Mum’s parents are active in the local C of E church and mum wants to keep with a bit of tradition. Although she was baptised C of E, mum is not a churchgoer, has no knowledge of the C of E or Catholicism or Christianity generally etc – she’s never received Communion in the C of E, or been confirmed., nor indeed been in a C of E church for as long as she can remember (possibly since baptism).

    Dad (Catholic) is cool with it, he’s not really into religion and hasn’t been since his teens. Two years later Dad rediscovers his (Catholic) faith and takes C along to Church. Mum gets interested in church stuff, starts going to Mass at the Catholic Church with husband and C.

    Question: which of these three is a Catholic and why?


  38. Dad is a Catholic by baptism into the Catholic Church which also of course makes him a Christian . Mum and child are validly baptised Christians irrespective of level if engagement with religion since baptism but both would need to be formally received to become Catholics and to be able to receive the other Catholic sacraments. Mum and child also need to be instructed, child in an age appropriate way. All Dad needs to do is to go to confession. A fairly straightforward scenario really and one which is played out quite regularly in real life. I know of at least one such case.

  39. Don’t you think that the various arguments rehearsed here at some length go round in circles ?
    As a visible institution there is, as Pope Paul VI called it, an organism called the Catholic Church. All those who are in full communion with the pope are members of it. Those who are not in full communion with the pope are ,at best, imperfect members or indeed not members at all.

    Since the period of the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church has recognised that the Church is actually much larger than that visible institution or organism. The present catechism teaches that (1271) ‘Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion amongst all Christians.Those who believe in Christ and have been properly baptised are put in some,though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church … they have a right to be called Christians,and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.’

    As to the question of which of the three members of the one family are Catholics.
    Yes, it is clear that only the Dad is a Catholic , in the sense of being a member of that visible institution. However ,it would seem from the way that the situation is described , that he would have to be reconciled with the community (by reception of the sacrament of Penance),while his wife and son would be formally ‘reconciled’ with the Catholic community by a public profession of faith.

    1. The difference Andrew is clear from the the wording. Dad has to be reconciled I.e. come back. Mum and Juniir have to be received i.e. come in. Yes it’s coming in to full communion from the imperfect communion they were previously in but I think it would be the case that only full communion constitutes membership.

    2. Worth remembering.
      The word ‘catholic’ means ‘universal. The Greek term was used to indicate that Christ founded His Church to be open to all who wished to enter. It is later that we seen the fragmentation arising from the way individuals sought to twist things to their way of thinking (pride?). That is why communication with the Petrine Office is important.

  40. A very clear answer Andrew – thank you.

    The child has not reached the age of reason (and as a two year old can barely speak let alone make a profession of faith).

    Without a doubt- he or she is a Catholic.

    1. Of course he isn’t Bill.. Unless you are saying that a young child who has been baptised segues seamlessly into the Catholic Church if both or even one of his parents formally joins/comes back and starts taking him/her to Mass. Which I don’t think you can be because it is totally illogical. Or unless you are returning to your previous point that very baptised person is a Catholic really which I thought you had conceded. Every single authority cited establishes that he is not. Naturally the manner of reception of such a young child without s profession of faith will be different to that of an adult or a child who has reached the age of reason. I don’t know how it works in those circumstances and Fr. Ed who has received a number of families will no doubt be able to say what the church prescribes. But it is absolutely clear that what the Church teaches (as opposed to what we/ you/anyone might like to believe in which case you may as well and at the risk of ruffling feathers go off and be an Anglican) is what has set out so clearly by Fr. Masaki. It is that anyone child or adult who is baptised but not into the Catholic Church with the intention that that baptism takes effect to put the person concerned into FULL communion with the Pope is not a Catholic but is of course a Christian.

  41. Thanks Mary. My main agenda is to get us all into the 200 club 🙂

    I won’t ask the same question about two non-practicing Catholics who have their child baptised in the C of E and then rediscover their faith when the child is still small….

    As to going off to be an Anglican: not gonna happen (unless a proper merger/takeover happens in my lifetime). But I have a great fondness for the C of E and am generally curious about “our beloved sister church”; am just proud and grateful to have been born as a Catholic. I not ever going to get into the “who can bash the Anglicans the hardest” regime – on this blog or elsewhere….not….ever.

    Have a great weekend everyone


    1. We are getting there Bill! I ‘m not trying to bash Anglicans just pointing out that in the Catholic Church there is always an answer. In the Anglican Church there isn’t or at least not one that is universally acknowledged as authoritative. As for the two lapsed who then rediscover their faith, as I have said, I don’t know what the reception or initiation process would be for their child. Fr. Ed may be able to tell us but it is certainly not the case that the child of two Catholics who has been baptised “out” is per se a a Catholic as you were suggesting. Same response to Andrew. There is clearly some point at which the Catholic Church recognises that a Christian has become Catholic. With an an adult it is the declaration at the reception ceremony. With a child I don’t know but there must be a transition point.

  42. I can’t say for definite here, but let us suppose that the child has been validly baptised ,irrespective of the denomination of the cleric who conducted the baptism. What would be the difference between that child and another child
    baptised possibly by a Catholic priest in the expectation of later receiving the other initiation rites of the Catholic Church. ?

    Both of these children,both validly baptised,would still receive the other initiation rites of confirmation and eucharist before they would become full adult members of the Church.

    Perhaps the Catholic parish priest would, however, wish to check for Catholic records,the place and time of baptism.

    This is what we normally do here – not in England – when there is an adult, already baptised, who wishes to come into full communion with the Church.

    In the same way for anyone claiming to be a Catholic the place and time of baptism and confirmation would be checked before proceeding with a Catholic marriage ceremony.

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