Tuesday 21 December 2021

Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment: Anglican Orders

Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment: Anglican Orders

Anglican Orders

  Since there have been some meetings in Rome in which a call has been made for 'Rome' to reconsider the matter of Anglican Orders, perhaps I might offer one or two remarks.

Firstly: I suspect the motives of those involved. Possibly, some of them hope to set aside the negative judgement of S John Paul about the 'ordination' of women. Because, believe me, if Rome were suddenly to say "OK; we accept male Anglican priests" the discrimination involved in this would cause a great wave of anti-Roman animus in Anglicanism which would trump even the anti-Romanism of the 1500s. 

So this iniative is probably an oblique move to subvert the Church's teaching on the impossibility of women validly receiving the Sacrament of Order.

Secondly: since Anglicans officially (see below) accept the equivalence of their ministries with those of the Protestant ecclesial bodies, it would be illogical for the Catholic Church to accept Anglican Orders while continuing to reject the ministries of Protestant ecclesial bodies.

So this initiative is probably an oblique way of subverting the entire teaching of the Catholic Tradition on the Sacrament of Holy Order.

Thirdly: We need to recall exactly where we currently are in regard to Anglican Orders.

(1) It was the view of pope Leo XIII that Anglican Orders were null and void, in the sense that they were not identical with the sacerdotal Orders which the Church considers herself to inherit from the Apostles. That is still the official juridical view of the Catholic Church.

(2) What is often not noticed is that this is also now the view of the Church of England.  Since the 1990s, the Church of England has entered into formal relationships with ecclesial bodies which undoubtedly lack Catholic Orders. The 'Porvoo' arrangement inserts her into the Porvoo Communion in which, even where there is a quasi-episcopal structure, that 'episcopate', in Norway and Denmark, can make no claim to Apostolic Succession (as Professor Tighe has demonstrated, the same is almost certainly true even of the Swedish Church, of which more optimistic judgements had previously been officially made by the Church of England). And ordinations in Scandinavia are not exclusively performed by Bishops (but sometimes by cathedral deans). (It is also worth looking at the published text of the Anglican-Methodist Covenant, in which, instead of even a perfunctory attempt to show that the Methodists believe the same as Anglicans about Holy Order, there is ... believe it or not!! ... a cheerful assurance for Methodists that Anglicans don't believe anything different from what Methodist legal documents teach in their careful repudiation of a sacerdotal priesthood!)

(3) Faced with a very similar threat in the 1940s (at that time, the threat was posed by the 'CSI', a proposed pan-Protestant body called the Church of South India), Dom Gregory Dix, a robust defender of the validity of Anglican Orders, wrote: "As regards the question of Orders, what these proposals amount to is an official Anglican admission that Pope Leo XIII was right after all in his fundamental contention in Apostolicae Curae. In spite of face-saving phrases about 'the Apostolic Ministry' and the future confining of the act of Ordaining to men styled 'Bishops' [in fact, the Porvoo Scandinavians did not even undertake this], we would be committed to a formal declaration that by 'Bishops, Priests, and Deacons' could be meant only the new sixteenth-century conception of the Ministry disguised under the old titles ... And, whether we like it or not, that would be to justify Leo XIII in the teeth of all our own past history. Thus, if these proposals were to be put into practice, the whole ground for believing in the the Church of England which I have outlined would have ceased to exist ... "

(4) The other major Anglican theologian who mounted a persuasive defence of Anglican Orders was Dr Eric Mascall. He wrote: "When the preface to the Anglican ordinal declared that its purpose was the continuation of the threefold ministry which had existed 'from the Apostles' time', it was pointing to a concrete recognisable entity ... there was a lot to be said for avoiding theoretical statements ... and for pointing instead to the concrete reality which it was intended to perpetuate ... To the question 'what does ordination effect?' the fundamental answer is given ... by pointing to priests. ... defining it by telling you where it is and inviting you to go and look at it."

Well, the Church of England has, since the 1990s, certainly made quite a business of pointing to concrete realities and defining her views on priesthood by telling us where it is and inviting us to go and look at it. And where her formal, synodical pointing finger points to is to Denmark and Norway and Sweden.

(5) But Scandinavia is a long, long, long way ... well, perhaps not so very far away. But Scotland is undoubtedly even closer. And the "Columba agreement" ...  We all know how "Columba" will end: another of these concordats the essential meaning of which will be that Anglican priests are identical to Protestant ministers; that an ecclesial body without an episcopal polity is no less "Church" than a body that thinks it has one. The Church of England has been saying this, ever more often, with greater force, and with regard to geographically closer or more significant bodies, ever since the poor little Jerusalem Bishopric so upset S John Henry Newman ... through South India in the 1950s ... and Scandinavia in the 1990s. How many times does the C of E have to say the same thing before those of its members who call themselves "Catholics" realise that it really does mean what it keeps on and on saying?


Porvoo, not the ordination of women, was the point at which I realised that the Church of England was not a body in which I could have a permanent home; after that, the practical question was simply how to get out, acting corporately rather than as an individual; a question so graciously answered by Benedict XVI.  

The Church of England officially agrees with the judgment that Leo XIII made, that its orders are no different from the orders of all the Protestant bodies. Those who retain a Catholic doctrine of Holy Order, and still remain in the Church of England, can only do so by saying that the Church of England, and Leo XIII, were both wrong; and that "I understand Catholic teaching about Sacramental validity better than did Leo XIII; and, although the C of E says that its ministry is equivalent to Protestant ministries, I know better."

Logically tenable ... but what a very uncomfortably ego contra mundum position to hold! I know, because I've been there!

New Liturgical Movement: Notre Dame 2.0 and Missale Romanum 2.0

New Liturgical Movement: Notre Dame 2.0 and Missale Romanum 2.0

Notre Dame 2.0 and Missale Romanum 2.0

Notre Dame Cathedral has once again been in the news quite a bit. (I promise my readers that this article will come around to the subject on all of our minds, namely, the attack on the Roman Rite that was intensified by the CDW document released this past Saturday.) On the side of good news, Sharon Kabel at OnePeterFive takes us through the wondrous things happening in the course of Notre Dame's painstaking structural restoration, in the categories of wood, acoustics, metal, glass, stone, structure, digital, and emotion. What a building and what a project! The artisans, art historians, and craftsmen obviously love the medieval masterpiece that they are privileged to study and repair. On the side of bad news, Auguste Meyrat at Crisis tells us that (surprise, surprise) Catholic churchmen are in cahoots with liturgical and artistic modernists to produce an interior of hair-raising horror. Jeanne Smits, the Paris correspondent of LifeSiteNews, furnishes details about the plan, which apparently has received preliminary approval, in spite of the impassioned protest of over a hundred major French cultural figures. One can only hope and pray that better counsels will prevail, as they did for the replacement of the spire and the outside renovation.

In an interesting article published last April at PrayTell, James Hadley made a brilliant case for architectural traditionalism and against artistic modernism. He quotes Jorge Otero-Pailos, Director and Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, who said that "heritage is a social process of making and remaking culture by interacting in and with sites and objects inherited with previous generations." Hadley comments:
While this in part is true, it also wrongly gives the impression that both heritage and culture are things we create based upon what we value or dis-value at any given moment. It implies that heritage has no inherent force or stability by which we "should" value it. As a result, contemporary society is left unfettered to destroy or remake past monuments as we see fit. We are simply playing at making new transient meanings and values based upon our shifting priorities and allegiances at the moment.
He then turns to the Vatican's Pontificia Commissione per i Beni Culturali della Chiesa for guidance. The commission's body of directives on how old ecclesiastical buildings should be treated
understands ecclesiastical heritage not firstly as high artistic achievement, but as material witness to Christian belief. The object itself (be it a sculpture or building) expresses Christian belief, but more importantly, it records and projects the faith of the community which created it – it is the witness of the witnesses. Christian heritage is theologically rooted therefore in those who have seen and confessed Christ as Lord, and is theologically oriented to continuing that witness in the present. In this way, the pertinent question for church heritage is not how may we act upon it to our own ends, but how may we become present to its inner world of meaning, what in Italian is known as valorizzazione. In this paradigm there is a very real sense of communio with and between the present church, the object, and the Christian community of the past. To tamper with the material object, is to change the record of witness. A communion suggests respect, listening, and investigation. Not hubris, hegemony, and alteration. Oddly, no one would contend that in order to understand the past and make it relevant one should enter an archive and rewrite, erase or destroy documents. But this is exactly what we continuously do in the built environment (our church buildings bearing the brunt), and in so doing we falsify and destroy the underlying witness. In this process of alteration we ultimately erase ourselves since we are constantly born out of our pasts.
Hadley notes that most of the proponents of super-modern renovations to Notre Dame (thankfully all rejected) believe that moderns are inescapably stuck in modernity and cannot relate any more to past styles as if they were present languages. Citing Catholics who believe that the right approach is to "innovate for God," to show that the community has something "new" to say, he remarks:
In a post-Christian West the necessary reflection called for by the Notre-Dame tragedy is not a question of "innovation" but of reclamation and witness. Reclaiming and fortifying our witness by understanding our past. When the fire broke out at the cathedral, the nearby monastic Fraternit√© de J√©rusalem began signing the Litany of Saints in their church invoking the aid of French Christians of old whose faith had built Notre-Dame. They continued the litany until the flames were extinguished…. What I see at stake now is the preservation of the very possibility of religious imagination. It seems to me that what Christianity should be proposing at this time is not "innovation" but deep engagement with our past, by calling upon the people, faith, and wisdom, that created that which we postmodernists are now playing at. After all, the term innovate in its earlier Latin form meant more to "renew" than to "change." One is hard pressed to innovate with empty hands. We need our architectural and artistic past and we need to relearn it urgently.
The end of Hadley's article is an eloquent appeal to abandon modern hubris and to sit at the feet of our ancestors in the Faith, who have something to teach us, who have indeed much to tell us that we have forgotten, to our impoverishment. Perhaps most of all, we need to be broken out of our temporal snobbery and the hidden heresy of perpetual progress. Every age is an age of progress, regress, and stasis, in different respects; and yet the most important truths, the truths by which we live and die, remain the same.
It now must be said again explicitly; Our ancestors, histories, material cultures, and built environments, have the right to be what they are. To not be re-interpreted, or reinvented. To exist today in their integrity without our pushy or hubristic updates, additions, and re-contextualization meant to sooth, temporarily mesmerize, or aggrandize ourselves… What this demands of us is humility, recognition that we are not inherently progressive in any positive way, that modernity is not innately better, that the junk we flood the earth with today, is not more enduring and meaningful than the artistry and faith of our past. We like the Russian Orthodox reformer of the 19th century, Ivan Kireevsky, cannot insist that the way forward is to change a past because we have forgotten it (Kireevsky, Fragments, 248-43). We must instead go to that place our ancestors built and learn to see it as they did, and thus bear testimony to it as eyewitnesses. And such is the case of Notre-Dame in Paris. Its restoration lies not in our changes to it, but in our submission to its form, wisdom, and witness.

Could anyone read this impassioned plea for preserving the architectural integrity of Notre Dame cathedral and not think immediately of the even greater claim made on us by the greatest work of art known to the Western world—the Roman Rite of the Mass, and its panoply of attendant rites—whose integrity was so violently assaulted after the Second Vatican Council? Just go back and re-read the quotations from Hadley, but having in mind the liturgy instead of Notre Dame. There is a nearly one-for-one equivalency of concept and praxis.

This, in turn, reminds me of one of the most splendid passages in the writings of John Senior:

Whatever we do in the political or social order, the indispensable foundation is prayer, the heart of which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the perfect prayer of Christ Himself, Priest and Victim, recreating in an unbloody manner the bloody, selfsame Sacrifice of Calvary. What is Christian culture? It is essentially the Mass.
       That is not my or anyone's opinion or theory or wish but the central fact of 2,000 years of history. Christendom, what secularists call Western Civilization, is the Mass and the paraphernalia which protect and facilitate it. All architecture, art, political and social forms, economics, the way people live and feel and think, music, literature―all these things, when they are right, are ways of fostering and protecting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
       To enact a sacrifice, there must be an altar, an altar has to have a roof over it in case it rains; to reserve the Blessed Sacrament, we build a little House of Gold and over it a Tower of Ivory with a bell and a garden round it with the roses and lilies of purity, emblems of the Virgin Mary ―Rosa Mystica, Turris Davidica, Turris Eburnea, Domus Aurea, who carried His Body and His Blood in her womb, Body of her body, Blood of her blood.
       And around the church and garden, where we bury the faithful dead, the caretakers live, the priests and religious whose work is prayer, who keep the Mystery of Faith in its tabernacle of music and words in the Office of the Church; and around them, the faithful who gather to worship and divide the other work that must be done in order to make the perpetuation of the Sacrifice possible—to raise the food and make the clothes and build and keep the peace so that generations to come may live for Him, so that the Sacrifice goes on even until the consummation of the world.
The raging flames that burned up the spire and roof of the great medieval masterpiece of Notre-Dame in Paris, the fire that gutted its harmonious additions and renovations, provided us with a palpable image of what was done to that even greater masterpiece of medieval art (so to speak), the traditional Roman Rite, in the decade from about 1963 to 1973. The cathedral, after all, was created to house the Host and to provide a worthy space for the sacred liturgy. There would be no Notre Dame, no Chartres, not a single one of the great cathedrals, without the usus antiquior, as Marcel Proust recognized (see his important 1904 essay Death Comes for the Cathedrals, recently published by Wiseblood Books with commentary by John Pepino and me, tying it in to the traditionalist movement today).

It is therefore the very same instinct to wish to see Notre Dame restored to her glory and to wish to see the Roman liturgy restored to its glory; the same intuition that tells us there is something radically wrong with deconstructing and reconstructing our central act of prayer according to modernist or post-modernist proclivities.