Anglo-Catholic conspiracies?

The author of More On Anglican Papalism seems to have bitten off a little more than he can chew when attempting a criticism of English Anglo-Papalism. It just doesn’t seem to match what I have experienced in my native country. Admittedly, my first contact with that tendency in London only happened around 1979 and not in the time scale he mentions (1900 to 1960).

The motivating premiss is the same: those who don’t convert to “ordinary” novus ordo Roman Catholicism, like he has done, are at best insincere and trash at worst. There should be no traditionalist groups or ordinariates – just the flat boring fare of “viable” American parishes. Indeed, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever.” I digress by comparing “corporate” Catholicism with Orwell’s dystopia! My world view is Romantic and Mr Bruce’s is Classical (or what has evolved from classicism).

The criticism revolves around several points:

  • Anglo-Papalism was a clerical movement, not a lay movement,
  • Latin was used instead of English,
  • It was a refuge for gay priests,
  • Anglo-Papalists were involved in the occult,
  • These problems were at the root of the “disappointing outcome of Anglicanorum coetibus“.

I have the book by Michael Yelton and read it quite some time ago, so will not go into that now. I will merely rely on first-hand knowledge and memories of what I have read about the period whose last year coincided with the first of my own life.

The Church of England in all its “churchmanships” (snake-belly low to sky high) is as much of a clerical and bureaucratic organisation as the Roman Catholic Church. The ecclesiastical structures correspond more or less with the pre-Reformation Church. The laity have tended to be consulted more through parish vestries and councils. Anglo-Catholicism of all colours was more an effect of cosmopolitan city life and cultural Romanticism, not in the country where ordinary folk were (and still are) conservative. Most country churches were restored in the nineteenth century to Tractarian standards, but remained “middle of the road” in terms of liturgical services and doctrine. Anglo-Papalism is mostly confined to London, Brighton and one or two other south coast towns. In London, the main parishes involved were St Alban’s Holborn, St Magnus the Martyr near London (not Tower) Bridge and St Mary’s Bourne Street. All Saints Margaret Street was more English and less pseudo Roman Catholic. To my knowledge, only Bourne Street and St Magnus had Mass in Latin. The others were using the English Missal before adopting the Novus Ordo or the Alternative Services Book in the 1970’s.

The claim that Latin in the liturgy was widespread (other than choral music) is exaggerated. I never came across it personally in the Church of England.

Homosexuality is widespread in the Anglo-Catholic movement, and some parishes fit the caricatures. Perhaps in recent years it has calmed down somewhat as efforts are made to preserve the credibility of the parishes concerned as incumbents come and go. The celibate priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church too has traditionally been a “refuge” for homosexually inclined men, whether they were “active” or refrained from having relations with other persons for the integrity of their priestly vocation. I have known some pretty disgusting priests in the Church of England, but also in the Roman Catholic Church. It is a matter for bishops to deal with, and I am just not interested in the lives of other people if they are not causing harm or molesting children and adolescents. In the end, it seems to be a non sequitur.

As for involvement in the occult, spiritualism, communication with the dead, etc., I have never come across it in England (or anywhere else). I don’t know where Mr Bruce got this idea. Perhaps it needs to be studied. Occultism, theosophy and other related themes were in fashion in the late nineteenth century, a by-product of the darker instincts of Romanticism. I know of no formal link between such groups and Anglo-Catholic parishes. I have read conspiracy theories involving the Oxford Movement and the Catholic movement in the Church of England, something not far removed from the idea of Newman and Pusey belonging to some dastardly secret society – clearly nonsense.

These “problems” are far from being established even with Church of England Anglo-Catholicism (Papalism), and so it would be difficult to blame difficulties in the ordinariates on them. The problems came as much from the ambiguous approaches of Rome, the TAC and the former Anglican Communion clergy. For example, I have not heard of any problems due to homosexuality, since most of the clergy involved are in stable marriages with wives and families. The real problems are to be identified with the difficulties Pope Benedict XVI had with the more “conservative” elements of the Roman Curia, not to mention certain associations of “liberal” clergy now coming to light.

Mr Bruce rightly makes a distinction between Anglo-Papalists and Anglo-Catholics, the latter using vestments and other Catholic trappings but conforming to the Prayer Book. The use of the Anglican Missal and the English Missal was more blurred and across the board than Mr Bruce thinks. This is the case in continuing Anglican jurisdictions like the ACC and the TAC.

It is interesting to note that Anglo-Papalism saw itself as a pro-uniate movement, a “turnkey” movement that had only to be recognised and regularised by Rome when the time was right. This aspiration certainly motivated the English ordinariate, since most of the clergy were of this tendency. In the Continuing Anglican world, Archbishop Hepworth, believed to be a major player until about 2011, was of this tendency – but is also a former Roman Catholic priest and not a “cradle” Anglican. Looking at it all from the outside, it seems irrelevant to all outside Anglo-Papalist circles. None of the other Continuing Churches were remotely interested. See A response from the ACC to Rome’s Offer to Former Anglicans by Archbishop Mark Haverland dating from 9th November 2009.

One thing Mr Bruce seems to have forgotten is a by-product of the more marginal tendencies of Anglo-Catholicism / Papalism – irregular bishops (episcopi vagantes) deemed to be validly consecrated according to Augustinian criteria and using their “lines of succession” to confer orders on Anglican clergy that Rome would have to recognise. These activities were going on in the 1890’s and 1900’s on account of the bull of Leo XIII Apostolicae Curae proclaiming that Anglican orders were invalid, thereby halting the uniate movement in its tracks. The ephemeral Order of Corporate Reunion still has a more or less virtual existence. Present-day independent bishops and churches come in all shapes and sizes, and I will go into this subject no further.

Certainly, these points merit research and nothing can be over-simplified.

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Fr Stephen Smuts is back

On 20th September this year, Fr Stephen Smuts of the TAC in South Africa revived his blog: It’s Been a While… There are also some other articles on the blog since then.

Fr Smuts is particularly interested in biblical archaeology. He has also written on the question of Islam in the west.

This is a good development, and I wish him the best after his long hiatus for doing his ordinary parish work and taking stock. He also tells us that priests are needed in South Africa, and I happily relate that fact here. Welcome back, Father!

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When the King goes crazy

It happened in England in the late eighteenth century:

It would seem that the same thing is happening in Saudi Arabia – Power Grab in Riyadh Likely After Saudi King ‘Hospitalized for Dementia’.

I have the impression that historic events are taking place these days. I cannot forget the Feast of our Lady of the Rosary and the Battle of Lepanto. Then I consider how Russia is getting on with the job of flushing the terrorists and jihadists out of Syria, Irak and Afghanistan. Let us be careful of the temptation of hero-worshipping, but from what I read, I can only admire Putin and his courage in the face of the liberal west.

Now it is Saudi Arabia, that country that pretends to be modern, yet tortures and executes people like we Europeans stopped doing in the eighteenth century in the name of humanity and decency.

Now it seems that the governments of Afghanistan and Irak are asking help from Russia.

May divine grace illuminate and console us, bringing us to hope in a better future.

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Moderate Terrorists

putin-vs-daeshI jot this down with some trepidation having read the news about Russia doing more harm to ISIS / Daesh in one day than the Americans and British in a year. The latest whingeing and whining from Washington is that Putin is attacking “moderate” terrorists (supposedly the “good guys” trained by the CIA to fight against the Assad government) as well as Daesh.

Following these historical events, I am inclined to give more credence to the view that considers that the US have been fighting proxy wars in the Middle East, Afghanistan and elsewhere using terrorists and mercenaries trained and financed by the American taxpayer. If this is so, the mask is falling away and we face an entirely different world than what we have known since World War II. Europe will need to look to new leadership, and perhaps work to rediscover its Christian roots.

At any rate, Syria is something like much of Europe in 1945, and Daesh terrorists will soon be bits of pink flesh spattered against devastated walls, swinging from the gallows, or having French fits on scopolamine or sodium pentathol (or whatever they use these days) as they eagerly tell all they know about their mates. I hope and pray the refugees of Syria will be able to return home, rebuild the desolation of many generations – and obtain humanitarian help from as many of us who can give it.

In the meantime, the hype about CIA trained and financed “moderate terrorists” reminded me of this old story. Perhaps they go down to their underground bunkers to drink tea and have parish council meetings and cucumber sandwiches with the Vicar. The mind boggles. Here it is:

Anglican Extremists Attack Shopping Centre

A group of Anglican extremists have attacked Cackwater shopping centre in Gutborough. There are no casualties, although several people are reported to be “quite confused”.

The attack took place at midday outside the local branch of TK Maxx. A bomb, made from cake mixture and “hundreds and thousands” was left in front of the store and exploded, leaving two men splattered and one man needing counselling. Shoppers ran for cover, fearing that the cake-bomb was the first of many, but were disappointed.

Shortly after the attack, a video appeared on the Anglican fundamentalist website claiming that “all those who do not worship the Lord shall lead a rather average life” and that “if you do not follow the path of Jesus Christ, then I shall wag my finger at you”.

The alleged leader of the Anglican Fundamentalist group, Valerie Bin-Liner, said that the campaign was aimed at “all those who don’t attend church, i.e. everyone”. Police have been tracking Bin-Liner for the last two years, and have as yet been unsuccessful. Sightings have been frequent; latest reports say that she is hiding out in a box room in Cheltenham.

Anglican fundamentalism is growing in the UK. A group of women were arrested two months ago after putting excessive amounts of sugar in the tea of supposed “disbelievers”, while another woman was arrested after trying to ram her bicycle into the side of a nightclub.

An elderly man escaped the clutches of police officers after an attempt to hijack the number 51 bus to Gropple town centre. The driver, who has undergone counselling to recover from the harrowing experience, said “he approached me and said that he had a cake-bomb strapped to his waist and that I should divert the bus to Scrimpton. Naturally, I did as he asked – it was only the next village, and he appeared quite determined. The passengers were almost frightened – both of them. I kept my calm and drove the bus to Scrimpton, where he said ‘thank you’ in a menacing manner, and got off the bus. That’s when I called the police.”

Locals in Gutborough, however, are fearing another wave of Anglican attacks, and have been advised not to eat any cakes until the situation has eased.

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Long haired priests

I hesitated writing about this, as it concerns something so trifling as not to merit much attention. Some people do ask the question, as attested by my stats page – Are priests allowed to have long hair? I suppose I can say something as I am a priest and have long hair. Obviously, canon law makes no mention.

It is customary for monks to have shaved heads or tonsures, with or without a crown effect. Eastern Orthodox and Uniate monks following the Byzantine Rite have long hair and beards. But that is a question of custom and traditions.

Apart from that, it is simply a question of conventions and fashions in the western world. Fifty years ago, long hair on a man signified his anti-establishment position, and nowadays, it is quite common even among men working in companies and the world of politics. Short hair came in at around the end of the nineteenth century and became de rigueur from the first world war to the 1960’s. It has been revived in fashions over the past twenty years in the form of military style haircuts. There was a time in my life when I cut mine very short in a crew cut.

In France, long hair on a man tends to have associations with a left-wing ideology or alternative living whilst very short hair is often associated with political conservatism or authoritarian ideas. It seems to be more or less that over most of Europe. I don’t know about Eastern Europe. The USA has its conservative and democratic tendencies, though I am told that there are southern red-necks with long hair and beards. Distinctions do get quite blurred at times. On priests, there is a definite notion of short hair being associated with authoritarian and nationalistic ideas. American Evangelicals are generally insistent that men must show the conservative image of the family man in a suit and with short hair – something like the 1950’s fashion.

In France, we have the hangovers from the 1960’s like Fr Guy Gilbert, who also wears biker clothes and whose vocation is specially towards the pastoral care of recovering drug addicts and wayward young men. There are a few others from that generation. I was born in the late “baby boomer” era and was less affected by the 1960’s “cultural revolution” than my brother. Nevertheless, I was a child throughout the 1960’s and was influenced to an extent, especially around 1971. I belong to a conservative Church, in which quite a few of our priests have beards (eg. Bishop Damien Mead, Fr Robert Hart, Canon Don Walker, etc.). One thing I find in the ACC is a spirit of tolerance in matters outside doctrine and morals that is more difficult to come by in the traditionalist RC world. It is very appropriate when on duty as a priest and in a cassock (clerical suit) to be tidily turned out – and so I tie my hair up in a simple ponytail like gentlemen did a couple of hundred years ago.

Those who are against priests or any men growing their hair from a Christian point of view generally go by I Corinthians xi.14:

Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

The context of this epistle seems to be more a question of men imitating women or going around in “drag” as we would say nowadays. Most long-haired men I know or correspond with are entirely masculine, and some are interested in motorcycles, sports and keeping fit. Most men on the homosexual scene have short hair, even those who are “camp”. Perhaps in first-century Greece, long hair on a man meant that he was being effeminate. Not in our time. I am certainly not interested in all the paraphernalia of feminine life I see in our bathroom (and my wife is much simpler than many other women) like hair dye, various styling and “brushing” devices, creams, cosmetics and oils and then their clothes and hygiene devices. It is a question of balance and being reasonable. St Paul simply meant that there should be a reasonable distinction and role play between men and women. We should not forget that the custom in the Eastern Orthodox Church is for priests to have long hair and beards, but they remain masculine.

There is a lot of rubbish going around about some people affirming their identity by clothing fashions, hair and being of one kind of “sexual orientation” or another. Some say they were “born longhairs”. We are only long-hairs if our hair is long. We have our sensitivities and temperaments. I am drawn to the Romantic world view and tend to see myself as transcending time and fashions. Perhaps I might be blamed for “playing God”, but such is not my intention. Other men are free to do what they want, even shave their heads if they want. We need to find our patria within ourselves and in what is real. That can be the secret garden that no one else can violate or it can be partly manifested by what we do in life. It is not easy in a world that is governed by fashion and conformity. Long hair on men, presently, is neither fashionable nor unfashionable. We live in a free world.

I have come to see my priestly vocation in a different way. I live in the wrong place to have a normal parish ministry as a priest of the ACC. I have been into these questions before. Life is life, and all I can do is to be ready for any good work, or to follow God’s will as, when and if it manifests itself in some recognisable way. One lesson I have learned is that a priest has to be himself and not seek to please others. Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, and everything else will be added. How? It takes a lifetime to find out!

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Series on the Sarum Use

This is little more than a heads-up on a series of articles on the Sarum Use by Rad Trad, the first of which is The Sarum Rite I: A Brief History. The historical view is important, but I notice the possible reasons why Sarum disappeared from use.

The loss of the Sarum rite to the Catholic Church is one of the great liturgical tragedies of the Counter-Reformation that has nothing to do with Ultramontanism, positive law, or minimalism. The loss of Sarum was Henry and Elizabeth’s theft of England’s great treasure, a theft beyond any form of taxation.

Not quite accurate, because Henry VIII hardly touched the liturgy. English recusant Catholics adopted the Roman rite, brought in mostly by Jesuit missionaries having been trained in Rome. Following the Roman rite became a symbol of fidelity to the Pope rather than the Reformation. Ultramontanism as understood in its nineteenth-century and anti-liberal context was not an issue of the decades around the Council of Trent.

A historical assessment might be possible in comparison with the situation in France where (in spite of the wars of religion) the state Church remained in communion with Rome but with a strained relationship. Anglicanism turns out to be an extreme form of Gallicanism when separated from the Protestant influences and theology. Henry VIII broke with Rome; Louis XIV did not. Most French dioceses had their own uses until the mid nineteenth century, although many of these uses had undergone reforms in the early eighteenth century under the influence of Jansenism. The missals of Paris and Rouen were made to contain the Roman ordo missae, and many of the propers were modified as Dom Guéranger bewailed in Institutions Liturgiques. We can suppose that had Henry VIII maintained a line similar to that of the French Church, the same thing would have happened to the English uses.

The loss of the Sarum Use (as with York, Hereford, etc. too) was caused by the total break between England and Rome. In the wake of the French Revolution, French Catholics had to affirm their identity. The Liberal movement moved them away from aspirations to restore the Monarchy and the bishops in place in France. Ultramontanism was the result, and the movement spread and coincided with Pius IX’s rejection of Liberalism after his return to Rome from Gaëta in 1848. Also with Dom Guéranger’s influence, the Roman missal replaced most of the diocesan uses other than Lyons.

Rad Trad is partly right, but we do well to go into a comparative approach, which he has doubtlessly done on other occasions.

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Just the sort of thing that makes religion nonsense

porcoReams have been written about the notions of truth and ideology, the latter word being extremely ambiguous and difficult to define with any accuracy. Many of us grew up in the latter half of the twentieth century, only a few years after the demise of Hitler and Stalin. The absolute nature of authority could only be subordinated to the use of critical reason. The tragedy of Germany could have been avoided had this highly cultured people been more critical of the lie that was constructed on Hitler’s conspiracy theory concerning the Jewish people and their purported role in the outcome of World War I in 1918. The whole tragedy hinged on a notion of infallibility of the one with authority: Der Führer hat immer Recht, Il Duce ha sempre raggione, Russian clocks are always right, and so forth. We are reminded of the absurd episode in 1870 when Pope Pius IX notoriously exclaimed “Tradizione! La tradizione son’ io!” in response to objections made by Cardinal Filippo Maria Guidi of Bologna. The idea in the Pope’s mind was perhaps inspired by Louis XIV as he in his turn affirmed L’Etat c’est moi. The idea returns again and again, even in a Don Camillo film in which the Communist major Peppone answers an objection by saying that the only authority he knew was the People, and he was the People. Surely, this was written as a satire to this constant claim to absolute authority.

It is in this context that I have readily read Döllinger’s famous book on the Pope and the Council and the English translation of August Bernard Hasler’s Wie der Papst unfelbar wurde (how the Pope became infallible). One of the greatest intuitions of the Modernists was historical criticism, using our reason in matters requiring such.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the ideology of infallibilism rears its ugly head from time to time. This morning, I found Fr Hunwicke’s article The pope and the Spirit. He as a Roman Catholic priest has to be careful what he says and is bound to assenting to the definition of Vatican I in the way Newman worked it out. We Anglicans are free to affirm that papal infallibility is abject nonsense and discredits the very notion of faith if allowed to stand. After the brief ray of light from 2005 until 2013, a period that paralleled the pontificate of Benedict XIV in the eighteenth century, we are back to the nonsense of the cult of the Pope, at least in the minds of some.

Looking at Fr Hunwicke’s article and his reference to one Monsignor Pinto, I would imagine that such buffoons are in the minority, even in the Roman Curia. Many simpler people can be brought to believe in the mumbo-jumbo of Wiccan witchcraft and in the most irrational. The cult of the Pope is a very real drift in popular religion leading to  absurdity and the caricature of itself. Infallibilism is a perfect apologia for atheists and most people who have concluded that it was all nonsense. Evelyn Waugh perfectly portrayed it in Brideshead Revisited and the contrast between Charles Ryder, Rex Mottram and Brideshead who was the sanctimonious git who had tried his vocation with the Jesuits.

The rational defence of faith is called apologetics, establishing the credibility of a proposition. Such a discipline is largely exhausted, and Modernism in the 1890’s and 1900’s was designed to try to clean up apologetics through the use of historical criticism and contemporary scientific knowledge. Both historical criticism and scientific knowledge has progressed since then. Faith and mystical experience are above such empirical criteria, but not the notion of the leader being infallible. It is always the drama of mysteries being beyond and not against reason. It is an insult to be asked to believe in something that is absurd and patently wrong.

We have certainly arrived at a historical watershed at which the whole notion of Church and faith will be rejected or understood in a way that can resist the criticism of materialism and religious fanaticism. Where is it all going to go? Good question…

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