Monday, November 08, 2010

Sharing What?

The day of opportunity is drawing close for our Anglican brothers and sisters considering moving into the Ordinariate so generously provided by Pope Benedict.

There seems to be considerable confusion over some aspects of this, not least in respect of where they will worship.

Many seem to have the idea that the Church of England will cheerfully and willingly and immediately hand over the parish church in which they worship. The idea is all too common and all too misguided.

For starters, the Church of England is bound to conduct worship in its churches and to provide pastoral care for the parishioners of every parish. That won't change because the local congregation and their clergy have become Roman Catholics. In most cases I guess that a new Vicar will be appointed and the Anglican patrimony continue to be articulated in full in that place.

Predictions as to the rate of decline in the Church of England provision in such cases ought to be avoided. We can never know.

Far more interesting is the suggestion that churches might be shared, for instance Cof E at 8 a.m. and 9.30 a.m. along with evensong at 6.30 p.m., with the ordinariate Mass at 11 a.m. and Vespers at 4 p.m.

It sounds very cosy and might work. However, given the friction at present between the various lobbies, I have some doubts as to its working so smoothly everywhere.

It brings up also the question "Why not use the local Roman Catholic church?" I realise that a short sharp answer in many cases might be "Because it is a long way away." In general I have the rather staid view that Anglicans worship best in Anglican churches, and Roman Catholics likewise in theirs.

In the case of the countryside, church sharing would be a very good option, allowing the small, ordinariate congregations to worship alongside their, probably equally small in numbers, Church of England fellows. Indeed there could be happy arrangements with alternate Sundays provided by each congregation. The only flaw would be the clause in the Ordinariate provision which precludes, as I understand it, other Roman Catholics from joining in with the Ordinariate.

In any case, let's hope that Chrstian love may prevail everywhere and the present rancour be deposited where it can vanish.

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