Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rome to gain five new members currently masquerading as bishops

It is all out in the open now, official and formally announced: five English bishops are to move to the Anglican-but-really-Roman ordinariate. They are the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham; the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Rev John Broadhurst; the Bishop of Richborough, the Rt Rev Keith Newton (i.e. three 'flying bishops'); and two retired bishops, the Rt Rev Edwin Barnes and the Rt Rev David Silk (a Down Under connection here as he was once Bishop of Ballarat in Oz). I am afraid my title is not as crisp or as humourous as Clayboy's: 'When flying bishops crash'! He makes this astute observation of the situation these bishops have been in:

'Then again, I am uncertain of the descriptions of these five as “leaving the Church of England”, since I’m not sure to what extent they were really in it anymore. The last time I listened to Andrew Burnham he already prayed the Roman Office and said the Roman Mass, and so did many if not all of “his” clergy. Indeed, as far as I could tell the only Roman custom he disagreed with was the marriage of priests and bishops, and the only Roman teaching that was in error was the one that said he and the male clergy were no more priests and bishops than the female clergy.

To what extent can you be an Anglican when you hold that half of those ordained each year in the Church of England are not ordained, and the ceremony is half-pretended and all tainted? So I’m not sure whether they had mentally left some years ago, and the paperwork is only now catching up with their hearts.'

Cranmer would like to ask some questions of these bishops - I imagine many other Anglicans would like to ask them too:

'You were all ordained priests and have ministered as bishops in the Catholic and Reformed tradition of the Church of England. Time and again you have given absolute assurance to the people of God about the validity and efficacy of the sacramental ministrations you have offered which were guaranteed by your historic succession from the Apostles, and the unbroken laying on of hands sustained through the Reformation period and continuing in the traditions of the Anglican episcopate to the present time.

You all are now required to be ‘re-ordained’ as Roman Catholic priests. Although you may exercise a degree of ecclesial authority as granted by the Pope, no man who is married may be a bishop on the Roman Catholic Church.

Were the many sacramental ministrations over which you presided – eucharistic celebration; the ordination of deacons and priests – nothing but theatre?

Do you now take the view that Anglican orders are ‘utterly null and absolutely void’?

Are those men whom you have ordained (one very recently) truly and assuredly ordained?

Has your ministry within the Church of England been based upon fictitious claims?

Is such reasoning of such inconvenience that you will simply ignore these questions and now assert that the Church of Rome is the One True Church and the Church of England is not a church ‘in the proper sense’?

Just wondering.'

I have a couple of questions myself. Reading the various announcements (e.g. head to Thinking Anglicans for easy access to them all), one question concerns the remaining ministry of the bishops who have indicated they will resign on 31 December 2010:

Would anyone wish to be ordained or confirmed by one of these bishops between now and 31 December 2010? (I am generously assuming that until today they have believed their orders not to be null and void!)

Another question, this time for all Anglicans, concerns the nature of Christian unity, for which, let us always recall, our Lord himself prayed. First, read this from the bishops announcing that they have hitherto been masquerading as bishops:

'The Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum cœtibus, given in Rome on 4th November 2009, was a response to Anglicans seeking unity with the Holy See. With the Ordinariates, canonical structures are being established through which we will bring our own experience of Christian discipleship into full communion with the Catholic Church throughout the world and throughout the ages. This is both a generous response to various approaches to the Holy See for help and a bold, new ecumenical instrument in the search for the unity of Christians, the unity for which Christ himself prayed before his Passion and Death. It is a unity, we believe, which is possible only in eucharistic communion with the successor of St Peter.'

Note that they are bringing their discipleship and not their ministry into full communion. That is accurately said. My question is this:

If unity is not only possible in eucharistic communion with the successor of St Peter but possible by other means (i.e. as we Anglicans not in communion with the successor of St Peter must believe by definition), what is the character of Christian unity for which Christ himself prayed before his Passion and Death?


Brother David said...

Not much will really change for them Peter, as leaders of the Ordinariates they shall still be able to play at dress up and masquerade as bishops!

And any of the five who are not presently married, because he was never married or is widowed, (divorcés need not apply for any of the above) can perhaps one day be a real bishop.

Peter Carrell said...

Brilliant point, David: there is nothing to stop the masquerade continuing!!

liturgy said...

"If unity is not only possible in eucharistic communion with the successor of St Peter but possible by other means (i.e. as we Anglicans not in communion with the successor of St Peter must believe by definition), what is the character of Christian unity for which Christ himself prayed before his Passion and Death?"

We need to be cautious to prevent the slipping into even asking the questions from a Roman perspective (as IMO you do above). The Orthodox position is that every bishop is a “successor of St Peter".When so reframed, an Anglican “not in communion with the successor of St Peter” is an oxymoron.

Peter Carrell said...

That is a good point, Bosco. My question could be reframed as 'unity not by sole means of communion with the Bishop of Rome' and your response is 'by communion with successors of St Peter i.e. bishops.'

That still leaves the question of bishops not in communion with me (such as the EO bishops), and the question of which bishops matter to be in communion with (all the bishops of all the Anglican offshoots in North America?).

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

More Than a Via Media makes points on this that connect with what you're saying here quite nicely, Peter. The posting is entitled, "+Fulham's statement - catholic bishop, catholic eucharist?"

Peter Carrell said...

I guess that final mass will be said with fingers crossed, hoping that something valid happens :)

Brother David said...

I guess that AB Jensen of Oz will be proud. The CoE gets its first lay presidency eucharist!

liturgy said...

You will have to explain this “finger crossing” further to me please, Peter. Either John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham, accepts the Roman teaching that his orders are absolutely null and utterly void or he does not.

If he does accept this teaching, not only can he not “hope that something valid happens”, he knows in fact that nothing valid can. In fact he is guilty of sacrilege by, as a lay person, knowingly impersonating an ordained person and pretending to lead a Eucharist and knowingly misleading Christ’s faithful that this is a sacrament.

If he does not accept the Roman teaching he needs to declare this now and see whether the See of Rome will accept him into their fold on that understanding.

He cannot, with integrity, be vague and ambiguous about it. That is an Anglican quality he is leaving behind.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
He would be finger crossing that God is in fact present whatever he has or is about to sign up to as his confession of faith.

Anonymous said...

Revd Bosco's got a very good point: if the bishops already believe what they are required to believe in order to enter the RC church, shouldn't they abstain from any and all priestly/episcopal functions in the CofE until they have crossed the Tiber?

Peter Carrell said...

This is my hypothesis: the currently Anglican bishops do not believe in their hearts that their orders are null and void.

Here is a further hypothesis: many Roman authorities do not believe in their hearts that Anglican orders are null and void. (Evidence: expect to see prompt ordinations of these bishops as Roman priests without requiring them to go through massive amounts of training and discernment).

liturgy said...

I’m with Ed.
Peter, I’m struggling with your “logic”.
How can the RC’s ordaining Andrew Burnham and John Broadhurst be in any way evidence that their current “orders” are “valid”?!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
By the letter of Roman law these people must be ordained as though never ordained before.

But the never ordained before in the Roman church receive education and training of a length which (I am suggesting, but on the basis of what has previously happened to other Tiber swimmers) will be drastically shortened in these people's cases.

That shortening, I am suggesting, is a de facto recognition that the prior ministry in the C of E is being recognised by the Roman church. I am venturing the hypothesis that some Roman leaders (both in Rome itself, and in the neighbouring parish) do not really believe in their hearts that Anglican ministry is 'null and void'.

If my logic is unclear, that's okay. Don't worry about the 'evidence'.

My primary point is that the English clerics on at least one matter, the ostenisble nullity and voidness of their orders, do not believe what the letter of Roman law says they should believe.

liturgy said...

The only thing you can conclude from your point, IMO, is that the training that has been provided for Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst, and Keith Newton may be regarded adequate for ordination.

“My primary point is that the English clerics on at least one matter, the ostenisble nullity and voidness of their orders, do not believe what the letter of Roman law says they should believe.”

I see absolutely no evidence of this, nor on what basis you conclude this. Your primary point is ambiguous – it may refer to the ordaining RC bishops, who, by the very act of ordaining, are affirming the nullity and voidness of Anglican orders. Or it may refer to the faux-bishops, who by submitting to ordination, very visibly declare their belief in the invalidity of their orders.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
Let me have another attempt at clarity!

It seems reasonable to conclude that the five C of E bishops who have signalled their intention to be received into the RC church (and, seemingly, with hope if not promise of ordination into the priesthood of that church) will continue to celebrate the C of E eucharist to the date of departure in the belief that it is valid.

It seems unreasonable to believe that the day afterwards they will believe that these (and all previous eucharists prior to now which they have presided over) have been invalid.

Therefore I conclude that whatever visible manifestations of accedance to RC doctrine they may give, in their hearts they will not believe one point at least of it, namely that their orders in the C of E have been 'null and void.'

liturgy said...

Clear you may be, Peter, and dissembling they may be, but I cannot see any via media between their either ceasing to preside at the time they realised Rome was the truth, or to decline being re-ordained once they cross the Tiber. Declining to make windows into these men’s souls is a decidedly Anglican solution that these men are now foreswearing. You do not explain why they have not followed the line of integrity, and resigned or ceased to preside immediately, but rather announce a mock-mass as a final farewell.

Peter Carrell said...

I only have power to explain one or two mysteries behind the windows into men's souls, Bosco, and must leave the remaining mysteries about lines of integrity to others. As for the mysteries behind the windows of women's souls, I claim no powers at all :)