Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Letter to Fr. X

Today I wrote a brief letter to a colleague whose identity I must keep hidden as so far the missive is not on his site. Being Sunday a late response is to be expected of a busy parish priest!
The letter is a response to his extremely enthusiastic acceptance, in advance as it were, of Pope Benedict's offer of an ordinariate within the Roman Catholic Church for ex-Anglicans. I believe that the letter raises crucial questions as to whether there is any radical change at all in respect of conversations between Anglicans and Rome over ecumenism. Like me he is a keen member of the Anglican organisation "Forward in Faith".

I wrote:

'You ask, Fr., "why not want to accept Pope Benedict's offer?"

'I too would regard myself as a "Catholic-minded Anglican" although with a very Evangelical background in past years. However the offer does not apply to Catholic-minded Anglicans but to future groups of newly converted Roman Catholics who used to be "Anglican-minded"!

'So I have a problem in the matter as an Anglican priest for over forty-six years. In order to accept I have to accept also that my present Anglican orders are the result of Anglican ordinations which were "completely null and avoid" as "Apostolicae Curae" defines them.

'Pope Benedict's offer is a very gracious one, no surprise as given by one who spoke years ago as Cardinal Ratzinger of "the continuing stream of genuinely Catholic life and practice which has existed within Anglicanism throughout its history." However it is, as noted above, not to be construed as accepting groups into the Roman Catholic Church as Anglicans but rather to allow ex-Anglicans a familiar culture within an ordinariate.

'The dilemma faced by "Catholic-minded Anglicans" such as you and me is that the instant I wish to take up the offer is also the instant in which by implication I too declare our Anglican ordination to be of none effect. As a parish priest I would simply have to resign.

'Some seem to be arguing that this would not be so during any negotiations with the various Anglican groups. However the matter of Anglican orders isn't negotiable at present. hence the stark dilemma we face. Those who think their Anglican orders are valid cannot accept these proposals, such a mind-set being unacceptable from a Roman stand-point today.

'The side effect of the announcement is that we are all busy thinking things through again. That, surely, must be welcome, so thank you!
Every blessing,(my guardian uncle used to live in xxxxxx just round the corner from you.

Ted Baty(The Reverend Doctor Edward Baty, aka "Fr Ted")'

I guess I ought to write the substance of this to all "Forward in Faith" clergy - alas, a task rather beyod me!


What they actually said

This is by way of a little documentation about Anglican/Roman Catholic unity matters in the light of the excitement over the latest offer from Rome.

Firstly, Pope Leo XIII (Apostolicae Curae, 1896): "... ordinations performed according to the Anglican rite have been and are completely null and void".

Archbishops Benson and Maclagan (Canterbury and York respectively) 1897 "... in overthrowing our orders, he [Leo XIII] overthrows all his own, and pronounces sentence on his own Church".

St. Pius X (Successor as Pope to Leo XIII) gave an assurance to the Anglican divine Dr. Briggs that "this decision of his predecessor was not infallible".

Cardinal Ratzinger (the present Pope) spoke warmly of "the continuing stream of genuinely Catholic life and practice which has existed within Anglicanism throughout its history."


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