Diversity?? (1) [with clarifications]

Posted by Fr John Hunwicke on 25 January 2017


(1) There are restrictions on who can formally join an Ordinariate. But there are no restrictions on worshipping in an Ordinariate church.
(2) Our Lady of the Atonement has hitherto been a personal parish of the Archdiocese with borders coterminous with those of the Archdiocese, and has been part of the Anglican Use, the original set-up devised by Ratzinger for formerly Anglican parishes coming into Full Communion with their own liturgical heritage, long before the Ordinariates were set up.

Many readers will have read of the disgraceful treatment which the Anglican Use Church and Parish of our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio has received at the hands of the Archbishop of San Antonio.

The Pastor of that Church, Fr Christopher Phillips, founded the parish with a handful of refugees from the Protestant Episcopal Church of the US of A back in the early 1980s. It has grown into a flourishing and enormous complex in which both the Church and the Academy are packed to the rafters. Splendid Liturgy prevails in the Church, and when I visited the Academy a year or two ago for their Commencement, and nosed around a bit on the ground finding out the facts for myself, I was enormously impressed by the atmospherically high academic standards … including the large amount of Latin taught. And by the remarkable standards of student piety and devotion in Church. The whole set-up is vastly impressive. When, perhaps, you recollect that most of my working life was spent in a college with academic and Classical ambitions and a claimed Catholic culture, and that I am a critical and cynical old body, you might concede that I have some right to have an opinion and not to have it dismissed out of hand.

The Parish, now that the American Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter is up and running and flourishing under the admirable Bishop Steven Lopes, naturally wishes to join its brethren of the Anglican Patrimony in the Ordinariate. But the Archbishop resents this and has put in a replacement pastor while Fr Phillips is sent off for Reflection and Prayer. The parishioners, several of whom alerted me to what is going on, resent this and suspect that the ‘temporary’ sidelining of Fr Phillips is, in fact, final. It seems to be their impression … how am I to know where they got it from … that such a slippery way of acting is the sort of thing you expect from Catholic bishops.

“We want our priest and our Church back”.

The said prelate acknowledges the strengths and excellences of the Atonement set-up, although the letter he sent to the parishioners deftly contrives to suggest that everything was built up by his own predecessor (who died recently) and makes no mention that Fr Phillips might have had anything whatsoever to do with it all. The Archbishop professes to intend to maintain the Parish’s Anglican Patrimony for those who come from Anglicanism; suggesting by this sinister qualification that he does not think it right that the large numbers of cradle Catholics (including many Latinos) who worship there should be exposed to the perils of the Anglican Patrimony and the enormities of Anglican-style liturgy.

Why? Any Catholic of any Rite is entitled to worship in any Catholic Church and Rite he desires. Why is it necessary to discourage Latin Catholics of that diocese from attending Ukrainian Rite or Anglican Use or Melkite Rite or Extraordinary Form liturgy? Is the Archbishop afraid that they might discover something he would rather they did not know? Or a spirituality by which he would rather they were not fed? Or a culture which makes him feel threatened?

Otherwise, he makes vague and unspecific comments about the Parish being out of sync with the Diocese. If this man had an Anglo-Saxon sense of Natural Justice he would be man enough to let it be made public what his case against the Pastor is, so that the parishioners had the materials to form mature and adult judgements. All that stuff about Discernment and the Sacrosanctity of Conscience appears to have flown out of some window.

But here we have yet another example of the sad need which a certain sort of sad Catholic cleric seems to have to keep the laity safely and permanently infantilised; a damning reflection on their poor relationships with their lay people and on a profoundly “pre-Conciliar” mind-set towards them.

As Cardinal Ratzinger memorably said about the English Catholic bishops in the 1990s, “What are they so afraid of?”

I have a lot more to say on this.

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4 comments on “Diversity??


    Posted by Fr John Hunwicke on 26 January 2017

    I am sick to death of having my worst fears proved right … daily. Just a few days ago, I wondered on this blog what Bishop Fellay, of the SSPX, faced with a decision about the offer Rome has left on his desk, must be making of Pope Bergoglio’s petulant and vindictive onslaught upon the ancient and venerable Order of Malta and its Grand Master (please remember to pray for him and for the Order). And we all know of the suffering inflicted on the young and vibrant Franciscans of the Immaculate. It seems that whether you are a ‘military’ order fortified by a centuries-old tradition of Catholic loyalty and service, or are a brand-new group inspired by a new charism of the Holy Spirit, there are people Out There who just can’t wait to Get you. I also had reason, a few days ago, to mention the way in which the intransigence of some bigoted Latin bishops in America in the 1930s led to Ruthenian Byzantine Rite communities in the USA departing into schism. Going back earlier, I might have mentioned the damage done to ancient Christian communities in India after their reintegration into the Catholicon.

    And now the Parish and Academy and Pastor of our Lady of the Atonement are getting ‘the Treatment’. A peaceful, happy, united community whose only sins have been to have a distinctive spirituality and to have flourished and to be financially very sound; to have fed thousands of Catholics with the Sacraments and the Word of God and to have taught generations of children Christianity and Prayer and traditional Catholic culture.

    The bully-boy culture which is such an evil corruption in some members of the hierarchy of the Latin Church is all the more unsavoury when its persecuted victims are Christians who have made sacrifices (in some cases, great) to enter into full Communion with the See of S Peter. I once spent a pleasant and instructive afternoon reading through in his Bullarium the wise and sensitive provisions made by Prospero Lambertini, Benedict XIV, for the protection of the diversity represented by Byzantine Rite Christians in unity with Rome. And Benedict XVI did everything he could to defend, by the creation of protected structures, Anglicans returning to the Seat of Unity. Not to mention his careful provisions in Summorum Pontificum for the protection of those who use, or desire to use, the authentic liturgical Patrimony (never abrogated) of the Roman Church. (Needless to say, the Wolves have now got these dispositions in their sights. We were fools if we ever thought they wouldn’t.)

    But not every Roman Pontiff is endowed with the same clarity of vision and the same plain good sense as the Two Great Benedicts. Nor is every Latin Bishop … or every Archbishop. It’s not so much, nowadays, that they resent ‘Eastern Rites’. Painfully, gradually, unwillingly, grudgingly, most of them have finally accepted that the Catholic Church can, in S John Paul’s words, be allowed to have Two Lungs. Now, the inclination to ‘Give Them a Good Stomping’ kicks in mostly with regard to Latin Rite Christians who don’t knuckle under to the liturgical monoculture of badly corrupted post-conciliar rites performed in accordance with the silly and illiterate fads of the 1970s.

    And, as we are increasingly seeing day by day, any priest who shows any signs doctrinally of resisting the modern equivalent of what Blessed John Henry Newman neatly if ferociously called an Aggressive Insolent Faction, runs the risk (depending on the varying whimsies of different bishops or religious superiors) of being badly beaten up. Don’t contradict me because I have been closely associated with victim clergy.

    Some of us thought that in joyfully embracing full Unity with the See of S Peter and with the Saints of all the Ages, we would become part of a Catholic whole which was less culturally narrow-minded and parochial than the separated communities we were brought up in; a pluriform and rich family of diversity-within-orthodoxy. As far as this pontificate has, so far, shown itself, how wrong we were. As far as the current management of the Archdiocese of San Antonio is concerned, how wrong we were.

    May God soon grant us a pope — whether Bergoglio or someone else — who will give us back our joy and gladness, and gently, wisely, guide his Venerable Brethren, starting with the Archbishop of San Antonio, back to understanding the true diversity (always subject to the Church’s authentic Magisterium) of many traditions in the One Tradition.

    If such welcomed Diversity is not an integral ingredient in what is meant by “Ecumenism”, I would like to know what is. Surely “Ecumenism” cannot mean the sort of mind-set which animates the Archbishop of San Antonio. Is the Invitation to Separated Brethren simply a demand “Submit yourselves and come close so that we can kick you”?

    The ‘case’ of our Lady of the Atonement is another litmus paper testing the honesty, or lack of it, with which the Catholic Church professes to engage with the Lord’s call to Unity.

  2. Atonement update

    Posted by Fr John Hunwicke on 26 January 2017

    A day or two ago, the word was going around that other diocesan pastors were being told that Fr Phillips met the Archbishop and was asked to resign but he did not; so that the ‘canonical clock’ was now running on 15 days, after which, if Father did not resign, the Archbishop would remove him. The reason given for this was that when the Atonement was established it was done with the understanding that it would eventually “become Catholic like the rest of us”, but that Fr Phillips had resisted the Archbishop’s wishes and now had gone behind the Archbishop’s back to try to steal the parish away into the Ordinariate.

    As Professor Tighe authoritatively points out on one of the earlier threads (I urge readers to turn his explanation up; it’s in two halves [see comment below]), Oriental Rite churches are not under Latin dioceses but, where available, under their own dioceses (‘eparchies’). When the Holy See erected the American Ordinariate of the Chair of S Peter, this was analogous to creating a new Oriental eparchy, so it is hardly surprising that the ‘Anglican Use’ parishes should gravitate to the ‘Anglican Patrimony’ structures which the Holy See had thus put in place. As a matter of fact, this is what has happened, uncontentiously, elsewhere.

    The position of a ‘diocesan’ Anglican Use parish such as the Atonement is not juridically identical with that of churches of Oriental rite, but, in human, religious, sociological, pastoral, and demographic terms, there are naturally extremely close parallels.

  3. William Tighe said on 26 January, 2017

    Practisinglawyer wrote:

    “I don’t get this. I understand that this is a diocesan parish, but is Fr Phillips an Ordinariate priest or a diocesan priest? If the latter, why is he using Ordinariate liturgy; if the former, how is the Archbishop (who would not be his Ordinary) entitled to send him off for “Prayer n Reflection”? Maybe, to answer my own question, he has submitted to a request from the Abp as an alternative to being removed from the (non-Ordinariate) parish.”

    I attempted to post a brief comment in response to this earlier today, but it vanished into the internet ether; and I forgot to copy my response first. I will attempt to do so again, while noting that other commenters have also responses.

    OLA was founded as the first “Anglican Use” parish in 1983, under the “Pastoral Provision” for former Episcopalians wishing to become Catholic and yet retain some aspects of their Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony, which was promulgated by Rome in 1983. It applied only to the United States. The American (including Canada as well as the United States) Ordinatiate of the Chair of St.Peter, the second-erected of the three current Anglican Ordinariates, was erected in 2012 (the English Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was erected in 2011; the Australian Ordinariate of the Southern Cross was erected in 2012). The Anglican Use parishes’ liturgy was the “Book of Divine Worship” which incorporated aspects of the 1979 Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer into the Roman Rite “Novus Ordo” liturgy; the current “Ordinariate Liturgy” is a revised and amplified version of the rite found in the Book of Divine Worship, drawing on Anglican sources beyond that of the 1979 Episcopalian prayer book, and has been authorized for use not only in the three ordinariates, but in those parishes and congregations which remain “Anglican Use” parishes and congregations within their respective Roman (Latin) Catholic dioceses.

    Fr. Phillips is a married priest (a former Episcopalian clergyman) of the Archdiocese of San Antonio. As such (if my understanding is correct) the only parish in that archdiocese which he is eligible to serve as parish priest is OLA. Once the CSP Ordinariate was erected “Pastoral Provision/Anglican Use” parishes and congregations could seek to transfer to that ordinariate (with the approval of their Latin Catholic ordinary, which it was expected would be forthcoming). It is my impression that most, if not all, of those “Pastoral Provision/Anglican Use” parishes which had church buildings of their own (e.g., Our Lady of Walsingham, Houston, Texas, and St. Mary the Virgin, Arlington, Texas, to give but two examples) did so, with the blessing of their Roman (Latin) Catholic bishops – and that despite the fact that a large percentage of the regular attenders of these parishes were from a Roman Catholic background; those that remain within Latin Catholic archdioceses or dioceses as “Pastoral Provision/Anglican Use” congregations are mostly (OLA being the only exception of which I am aware) relatively small congregations meeting in Roman Catholic church building, often with their pastor ministering to Latin Catholic groups or congregations, and so to some extent dependent upon the favor and support of these dioceses and their bishops.

    I am not a canonist, nor versed in memory with the details of the documents by which the CSP Ordinariate was erected, but I know of no stipulation in them that an Anglican Use parish or congregation had to make a decision within a set period of time whether it would seek to transfer to the CSP Ordinariate, not that any decision by such a parish or congregation to remain an “Anglican Use” parish was a once-for-all and irrevocable choice. Perhaps more to the point in this instance, I am not aware that the fact that a large proportion of the regular congregants at an Anglican Use parish or congregation may be Roman Catholics, or otherwise not eligible as individuals to be accounted as or to become lay members of the CSP Ordinariate, can in any way act as an inhibition on an Anglican Use parish in a Roman Catholic archdiocese or diocese seeking to transfer to the CSP Ordinariate, although such individuals would (I presume) remain Roman Catholics, canonically speaking. The regular presence and attendance of such people at, e.gg., Our Lady of Walsinghan, Houston, or St. Mary the Virgin, Arlington, does not appear to have caused the bishops of the respective dioceses of which they were formerly parishes to hesitate about allowing them to leave their jurisdiction and to enter that of the CSP Ordinariate.

    The situation strikes me as analogous (but not identical) to that of congregations of one or another of the non-Roman rites of the Catholic Church outside of their home territories; parishes of Chaldean Rite Catholics in the United States, for example, were originally under the authority and jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic bishop or archbishop within the geographical bounds of whose dioceses they were located, but once a diocese (or eparchy) for such a group was erected it was only natural and to be expected that such parishes would become part of this new entity, and it would be very strange for any Roman Catholic archbishop or bishop to attempt to retain his jurisdiction over such parishes, even if a considerable portion of those who attended the services there were Roman (Latin) Catholics.

    Unlike these non-Roman Catholic churches/rites, the Anglican Ordinariates are not ecclesiae sui juris, canonically separate churches from the Latin Church of the Roman Rite, but a recognized and authorized “separate entity” within the Roman Rite. I do not know whether a Roman Catholic bishop has the authority to refuse the reasonable request of an Anglican Use parish under his jurisdiction to transfer to the Ordinariate – which was created, after all, to give institutional recognition and protection to the liturgical and spiritual patrimony which Anglican Use parishes are meant to embody – but it seems mean-spirited to do so for financial reasons, and absurd to claim as a reason for doing so “because of the pastoral concerns I have for your parish’s ecclesial communion” (as the Archbishop of San Antonio’s letter states) – as though in seeking to leave the jurisdiction of his archdiocese OLA were seeking to leave the communion of the Catholic Church. Such a claim recalls some of the reasons why American Roman Catholic bishops in the late 19th/early 20th centuries tried to prevent the formation of “Eastern Rite” Catholic parishes in their dioceses, as though anything “not Latin Catholic” were really “not Catholic at all” or that the mere existence of such Catholic-but-not-Roman/Latin entities would “confuse the faithful.” It was a bad reason then, and remains a bad reason now.

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