Barney Zwartz (Religion Editor, The Age) must be thrilled to bits to finally be handed a religion story big enough for the front page of his newspaper (and which doesn’t mention the abuse scandal anywhere…). He has the Holy Father to thank for that much at least.
His story is quite a good round up. Two comments that interest me. First from Bishop Michael Putney, who is the Chair of the ACBC Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations. On thing that has been overlooked in much of the discussion is that it isn’t the Pope or the Roman Curia who will be responsible for setting up these “Anglican Ordiariates” – it will be the local Bishops Conferances. So Bishop Michael’s comment that for such an ordinariate to be established in Australia “”a handful” of converts would not be enough, but ”hundreds” would” is telling. Still, given the proposed structure, even if an ordinariate was not set up for Australia in particular, there could still be an Anglican Ordinariate parish in Australia, under the authority of an Anglican Catholic Ordinary somewhere else in the world. The other funny thing that Barney reports is the rather droll reply of Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier, whom Barney asked asked “how many priests he thought might leave”. The reply? ”I wasn’t calculating on losing any…”
Then there is Muriel Porter’s opinion in the Op-Ed piece The Vatican finally gets its Revenge on Henry VIII. True to form, she sees the whole thing as a Catholic “problem with women” and interpretsthe whole issue in terms of “leadership”. We’ve said enough on that point before.
The Editorial in today’s edition of The Age raises interesting questions which have already occurred to us here at SCE and, me thinks, to a lot of Latin Rite Catholic Bishops in the English speaking world.
Would the ordinariate therefore attract not only disaffected Anglicans but also some English-speaking Catholics? At present those who want to leave the Roman rite without leaving Rome have only the Uniate Eastern rites as options, but an Anglican rite would make the leap culturally easier in English-speaking countries.
But most interesting is a piece that is unfortunately no longer available on the Internet, and that is an Op-Ed piece by a journalist from The Guardian, Andrew Brown, entitled “Tradition Trumps Modernity”. It really is a terribly good read, so if you get a hold of a copy of today’s paper… Anyway, the opening paragraphs will have to suffice more or less. He writes:
When it comes to elegant funerals, no one can beat the Vatican. Look at the phrases with which it buried all hopes of reunion, or even significant negotiations, with the Anglican Communion, by announcing that it would now welcome whole groups of Anglicans, with their own bishops, liturgies, and even – if they must have them – wives, to become Roman Catholic piests:
“Without the dialogues of the past 40 years, this recognition would not have been possible, nor would hopes for full visible unity have been nutured. In this sense, this apostolic constitution is one consequence of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.”
It’s not just one consequence. It is the only lasting one. One of the things that this development means is that the Roman Catholic Church is no longer even pretending to take seriously the existence of the Anglican Communion as a coherent body.
Well, you can agree or disagree with that, but if one were to allow Brown’s metaphor, then at least one ought to say that while the Catholic Church may be providing the funeral rites for “all hopes of reunion, or even significant negotiation with the Anglican Communion”, it cannot be accused of killing them. Murder is a mortal sin, while burying the dead is a corporal act of mercy.