13 June 2012

Giving up on the Ordinariate?

When a friend learned that I was withdrawing my application for membership in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter and its Ordination process, she asked if I were giving up on the Ordinariate.  Quite to the contrary, I shall pray for the Lord God to prosper everything that is of Him that is within it.  The Church will be enriched by those entering in the USA and Canada, and many will find the real home for which they have been longing.

The Lord has given me a different vision and course to take for now, but I can envision a future where I am a member of one of the Personal Ordinariates.  There are many places in the Catholic Church where I am very welcome, but the new US Ordinariate is not where I need to be.

As a former Angican priest and a member of some years in an Anglican Use Parish in Texas, I have seen the best and the worst of the Pastoral Provision.  I remain enthusiastic about Anglicanorum coetibus.  However, I was given a very different vision from the Lord of what He requires and expects from Catholics of Anglican heritage than what one finds in the advent and development of the US Ordinariate in its organisation.

One wag has suggested that the Ordinariate will be that perfect marriage of the worst of Catholic secrecy and Anglican navel-gazing.  The central and fundamental problem is the lack of any expression of a clear vision or a willingness to embrace all Anglicans desiring to enter and all previous Anglican Use Catholics.  Also, there has been a great dishonouring of some of the faithful and some of the clergy who have built up the Anglican Use parishes.  All of this will stunt the growth of the US Ordinariate and set its new DNA at odds with the vision of Pope Benedict XVI expressed in Anglicanorum coetibus and subsequent norms.

One could say 'vision' is the main issue but it is not simply generating a mission statement or vision statement and congratulating each other over having done so.  No, vision is far broader and more significant.  There is no expressed vision for the US Ordinariate beyond a vague "living out" of Anglicanorum coetibus, and that is not enough.  Without a vision one is left with the satisfying of the personal tastes of those in charge, and that is a recipe for catastrophe to be avoided at all costs.

Some would say, as they always do, that it is too soon.  But on the contrary, the vision and missionary objectives should have been set before the whole thing was inaugurated.  Why didn't it happen that way?  None of the men involved seem to have ever planted a new church, and apparently none of them have been in charge of a new business start-up.  Naturally, they will only replicate the DNA of their own experience and values, and those values are certainly Christian but they are not missionary, "missional", or that of the New Evangelisation enunciated by Blessed Pope John Paul II.

The US Ordinariate is clearly not set up to lead but to follow.  Though it could make rapid strides in the New Evangelisation, its leadership prefers to take baby steps.  If one bears that in mind, then a big hurdle can be overcome for those who may be disappointed in what they are encountering.  But let us be clear, those baby steps are important and need to be celebrated when taken.  For those for whom those baby steps are enough then the US Ordinariate is a good fit.

The Ordinary is a historian and scholar and not a missionary.  (The grace of office and the grace of state do not make one a missionary.)  The gifts and skill-sets are different, and one must pray that the very special gifts possessed by the Ordinary will provide what the new clergy and new people need at this time.  

Without a vision the people perish, and to simply say you are "living out Anglicanorum coetibus" is completely meaningless.  Without a missional orientation and a clear expression of comprehension of the Anglican patrimony ... who are its people and clergy first and foremost -- all included, no exceptions ... then there can only be a very limited embodiment of what Pope Benedict XVI had hoped to provide to the Church and the world through his extraordinary gift.

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Without a clear vision, one is usually left with reactionary responses to problems.   Time for some folks to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest Christifideles laici among other things... and learn to embrace the gifts and talents being brought forward by the laity with an eager desire to serve.  Any leader who says to such willing people, No thanks for we've got that covered, has profoundly missed the mark.   Learn to make use of such people.  You will be held accountable by the Lord for those driven away from the bosom of the Church otherwise.

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The vision of this blog is to advocate for the Catholic best of the Anglican experience and for its relevance and life within the Catholic Church and a recovery of those treasures within the Catholic past that have been neglected or overlooked.