Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bigger Than The Diocese Of Juneau?

A visitor takes exception to my characterizations of the OCSP, saying it's already bigger than the Diocese of Juneau. I'm not sure about this -- just for starters, the diocese says it has 10,600 Catholics. In my view, even with the addition of OLA, any estimate of five-figure membership in the OCSP is still a stretch, and the diocese has roughly a dozen full parishes that own their buildings. I don't see it.

But beyond that, this is an apples-to-oranges comparison. The Diocese of Juneau is territorial, with a sparse population, many of whom are native Alaskans or other off-gridders. This is a true mission situation. The Catholics in the diocese must in many cases make great efforts to get to any mass at all, much less find one that has intinction served in a way that suits their tastes. The only comparable situation in the OCSP, as far as I can see, is the group that meets on an Ontario native reserve, and this is among the smallest and probably the least representative.

Compare that to the OCSP, which is attracting some portion of its membership by poaching cradle Catholics from diocesan parishes. In the case of OLA, it is poaching them by propaganda that tells them the nearby diocesan parishes are liturgically inferior, when the BDW mass is in fact an ugly innovation, and features like compulsory intinction, by violating USCCB policy, constitute liturgical abuse.

I may never get back to the Diocese of Juneau, which I visited twice in my Episcopalian days, but I would much prefer to go to mass with Catholics there than go in, say, Irvine, with people who'd probably never want to set foot in Sacred Heart, Haines.

I would say that not only is the OCSP still smaller than the Diocese of Juneau, but finding a mass in the OCSP is proportionally a much, much harder proposition, and once you get there, it may be quite a bit less pleasant.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

It Was As I Assumed

The upshot of last evening's parish meeting at Our Lady of the Atonement was what I assumed it was going to be, a set of face-saving gestures, but no win for Fr Phillips. He returned to the parish but was immediately designated Pastor Emeritus, doing "the things he likes", whatever those are, but not involved with finance and not in control of the parish. Deacon Emeritus Orr, I'm told, was not present.

It was announced that a new pastor will be selected sometime in 2018. This provision was in the decree from Pope Francis. There will be an external audit of the parish. (This is what would happen in a corporation.) According to Fr Phillips's Facebook post, Fr Perkins, the Vicar General, has been appointed parish administrator. All of this was presented as positives; however, I would say that canonically not much has changed. Fr Phillips has been removed but can now at least putter about the place. But there's an administrator, just not Msgr Kurzaj -- and the administrator is the vicar general himself. Not a trivial matter.

I'm told that the question came up in the meeting as to why there had to be a new pastor. The reply from Bp Lopes was that it was in the decree. (We may assume Bp Lopes was involved with drafting said decree.) No mention was made of Dcn Emeritus Orr's status; the other deacon has the option of joining the OCSP or remaining with the archdiocese.

My regular correspondent gave this opinion: "Fr Phillips is returning to OLA as a winner, having outsmarted Steenson and outsmarted Garcia-Siller and his predecessors."

I don't see it this way. I would compare it to a deposed third-world dictator, having humanely been spared execution but sentenced to prison, being released to live out his remaining years under house arrest. Phillips is toothless and on a short leash, with the vicar general looking into everything and watching Phillips's every move.

The best outcome for him, as interpreted by some observers, would have been for him to be fully restored as Pastor (he's still three years short of canonical retirement), and after a decent interval Dcn Orr returning to active ministry. This plan clearly failed, and failed big time. But the minimal face-saving moves probably thwart the strategy Phillips previously employed against his superiors, agitating the parish with petitions and demonstrations and stirring up his allies in the blogosphere and media.

My regular correspondent observed, "[W]hatever hanky-panky Fr Phillips was up to, the diocese was prepared to put up with it for decades, until it foresaw no longer being in a position to benefit from it. Then, a last-ditch and failed attempt to exercise some discipline. A sorry spectacle, IMHO." But it doesn't look like Bp Lopes will make equivalent mistakes. My regular correspondent notes,

I agree that things are not as they were for Fr Phillips. But neither is he rusticating at a fringe parish, which was the best that was predicted for him if Abp G-S had his way. The idea of a Pastor Emeritus is not found in either the Anglican or Catholic traditions. [Nor is Pope Emeritus!] Former clergy are usually expected to give the place a wide berth. This is a special deal just for him.
Another factor could well have been Cardinal Law's advancing age and his replacement as delegate for the Pastoral Provision -- and the decline of the Anglo-Catholic blogosphere. Between them, this probably made the moves Bp Lopes made possible.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Intinction In The Episcopal Church

Looking for other information on the 1979 BCP, I ran across this well-constructed catechesis on the website of St Paul's Episcopal Parish in Riverside, IL. In the context of earlier discussion of intinction here, I found its outline of Episcopalian views on the practice especially pertinent:
Intinction (i.e. receiving the Body and Blood of Christ together by dipping the Host in the Chalice) has a history of controversy in the Episcopal Church. Many Bishops and Priests strongly oppose it, and the Prayer Book rubrics specifically designate the Ordinary (diocesan bishop) of each diocese as the final authority in this matter and, under him, the Rector of each parish.

In the Diocese of Chicago intinction was absolutely forbidden in 1941 by Bishop Conkling. In 1954 Bishop Burrill restated that total prohibition. In 1971 Bishop Montgomery forbade intinction except on single occasions in extraordinary situations but never as a normal or on-going practice. The most recent and thus the now-binding directive from the Bishop requires the clergy of this diocese “to do everything possible to discourage it.” (Under no circumstances whatsoever is a communicant ever permitted to dip a Host in the Chalice him/herself.)

Theologically and liturgically intinction makes no sense. The reason for receiving Holy Communion under both Species is to drink from the Chalice. As the eminent liturgical scholar, theologian, and C.T.U. professor Father Edward Foley, OFM.Cap. has said,“Christ commanded that we ‘drink this’ not dip it. ‘Are you able to drink the cup that I drink’ is the commitment Jesus asks of us. That is why we receive the Chalice: to drink from it. You don’t get any more Jesus by receiving the Precious Blood!” No one must receive the Chalice except the celebrating Priest or Bishop. If a communicant does not wish to receive the Chalice, Holy Communion may always be received under one Species, and when one receives the sacred Host one receives full Holy Communion: the full Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ (Doctrine of Concomitance).

Intinction is fully permitted in the Catholic Church, but it seems to me that, as the discussion above makes clear, it isn't really part of the "Anglican patrimony". Indeed, since it seems at least to require special liturgical vessels, I haven't seen it so far in any Catholic mass I've attended. Yet I'm told that compulsory intinction is the norm at both OLW and OLA, both now key parishes in the OCSP.

The rationale, as best I can make out, is that it's intended to force communicants to take the host on the tongue, not in the hand. This is also not the usual Anglican or Episcopalian practice -- only in the highest Episcopalian parishes have I seen the host administered on the tongue, and this would almost certainly be a post-Oxford Movement affectation -- and in any case voluntary. Normally Episcopalians of any persuasion receive the host in the hand.

According to the USCCB,

The General Instruction asks each country's Conference of Bishops to determine the posture to be used for the reception of Communion and the act of reverence to be made by each person as he or she receives Communion. In the United States, the body of Bishops determined that Communion should be received standing, and that a bow is the act of reverence made by those receiving. These norms may require some adjustment on the part of those who have been used to other practices, however the significance of unity in posture and gesture as a symbol of our unity as members of the one body of Christ should be the governing factor in our own actions.

Those who receive Communion may receive either in the hand or on the tongue, and the decision should be that of the individual receiving, not of the person distributing Communion.

So, as far as I can see, intinction is not part of the precious Anglican spiritual patrimony that the ordinariates push. In the US, communion kneeling and on the tongue is not the posture endorsed by the USCCB. Use of intinction to compel communicants to receive the host on the tongue is in direct violation of USCCB policy. Anglican tradition doesn't justify the practice, either. Is the OCSP itself separate and not just unique?

What About Dcn Orr?

In light of the recent announcement, several visitors have asked me not to drop coverage of the "civil demand" made concerning potential abuse by Dcn Orr and other potential issues. This did go to the archdiocese, which continues to have legal liability and canonical responsibility for victim support, at least for instances that took place prior to the transfer. However, with the transfer of Fr Philips (and I assume, as a parishioner, Mr/Dcn Orr) to the OCSP, I'm not sure what this does to further investigation. It appears that the transfer has fully restored Fr Phillips as pastor of OLA, considering that the announcement of the parish meeting comes from him.

Several visitors have told me they're aware of situations in their families of actual abuse, as well as apparent evidence that might confirm why Mr/Dcn Orr might have had undue influence over Fr Phillips. With nothing in the public record, there's little more I can do. I'm told that some families have been deterred from reporting actual abuse in the past due to fear of reprisal. I can't minimize this fear, although if the fear is primarily one of being "de-fellowshipped" or "shunned" by the OLA parish, I would suggest being at OLA is spiritually dangerous irrespective of who groped whom.

I have certainly heard first-hand accounts from people who reported unwanted advances by former Dcn Orr against their children to Fr Phillips, which he discounted and minimized. If these instances were not reported to the archdiocese, I would strongly urge those families to report them now to the OCSP's safe environment coordinator. I believe the OCSP should be aware of a pattern of such conduct. The same applies to actual instances of abuse, which at least one correspondent has reported have taken place in addition to the one noted by the archdiocese. (If the legal and canonical responsibility remains with the archdiocese, I would still suggest the instances be reported to both authorities and then follow the advice they give.)

Basically, while telling me about it can provide some background to what seems to have been a nightmarish atmosphere at OLA, I'm not the place to report this. To ensure accountability on Fr Phillips's part and protect children in the future, this needs to be investigated by appropriate authorities (and in accordance with Church policy reported to law enforcement). Anyone who's aware of instances of abuse and doesn't report it is responsible for the situation not getting better. There's not much I can do to help here, though I continue to pray for those involved.

Decree From The Holy Father

A visitor yesterday gave me the heads-up that this was on the way, but several people have forwarded this to me since:
Dear Friends,

Bishop Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter has asked that we have a general parish meeting tomorrow evening (Tuesday, March 21) at 7:30 p.m. We will be meeting in the St. Anthony Hall. You may enter through the main doors of the church and go down the hallway past the courtyard, or you may enter the exterior door where the portable classrooms are. Bishop Lopes has receive [sic] the Decrees from the Holy Father which were issued in reponse [sic] to our petition, asking that the parish be transferred to the jurisdiction of the Ordinariate. Bishop Lopes will be here to explain what it means for us, and he will also answer any questions you might have.

If you would, please spread the word about the parish meeting. There are parishioners who are not on the email list I am using, and I want to be sure everyone possible knows about it.

It appears that our difficult situation has been resolved, and I look forward to us being together as one parish family.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips

My view all along has been that this was a foregone conclusion, with some media accounts making the point that Bp Lopes is well-connected with the CDF. However, I've also said that if this goes through, it makes no real difference. I've heard widely varying versions of OLA's membership. Coupled with widely varying versions of the OCSP's membership, at best, OLA's admission will double the size of the OCSP, which means the entire OCSP will still not be larger than a single medium-large diocesan parish.

Except that the diocesan parish might have three priests. The OCSP has a bishop, a vicar general, several other paid staff, and 60-odd priests, for most of whom it can find no assignment, and nearly all of whom it can't support. This goes to my view that the OCSP is actually a clone of several "continuing Anglican" denominations, and given the attitude and formation one sees among some OCSP clergy, it may be a risky business for communicants to rely on cathechesis from them or on counsel they receive, in the confessional or elsewhere. I would avoid Fr Phillips as I'm sure he would avoid me.

I would also say that from what I've heard, the Archdiocese of San Antonio still has several parishes that offer good music and a reverent OF mass. My wife and I went through a period of trying to find a parish that offered a middle-of-the-road atmosphere of reverence, and we found one without too much difficulty that didn't involve much driving. It appears to me that some families have already been chased away from OLA, while others may find themselves having to make a new choice.

All I can say is pray and take heart. My correspondents are in my prayers.

Monday, March 20, 2017

What Do They Bring To The Party?

A visitor has very cogently reminded me of a point I need to make before I say anything else about syncretism:
When you take up what the movement brings to the Church other than alternative lifestyles for the clergy, I do hope that you will consider the numbers of both lay and ordained former Anglicans now laboring diligently and quietly in the mission and ministry of the Catholic Church.
There are many former Anglican Catholics among my correspondents, and they're surely among the group to which my visitor refers. There are also many who've come in via the Pastoral Provision or Anglicanorum coetibus -- I would point to David Moyer as one who seems to have been called to subordinate strong personal preferences to a much larger purpose, but he's by no means the only one, and I certainly don't mean to imply that all OCSP clergy are in the Phillips mold, or the mold of those who seek to emulate him. But some are. The numbers of former Anglicans who do labor diligently, I'm sure, far outnumber those in the OCSP of any persuasion no matter what. Many thanks to my visitor for urging me to point this out.

I didn't realize this at the time, of course, but this blog got its start about 1980 when, late in the evening at an Episcopalian confirmation class, I suddenly thought to ask the priest about something I'd been seeing on the local news: another Episcopalian parish nearby, St Mary of the Angels, had been making a big point that it was "Anglo-Catholic". What, I asked, did "Anglo-Catholic" mean?

His answer: "These are people who want the prestige of calling themselves Catholic without paying the dues you have to pay actually to be Catholic."

It's occurred to me all along that the whole Anglo-Catholic project represents a series of exceptions -- or, expressed differently, exemption from dues, or, expressed differently, substitution of private judgment, or, expressed differently, resistance to authority. Since I've been writing about OLA and Fr Phillips, my traffic has roughly quadrupled. Not everyone is pleased with what I've reported here, I think because Fr Phillips is thought of as the major figure in the Anglican ecumenism movement. But Fr Phillips himself is a bundle of exceptions. He's a married priest with a family. He owns a house next to the parish property. He doesn't bother to attend diocesan conferences and retreats. A visitor points out that, appointed pastor of OLA prior to the last revision of canon law, he is probably there permanently, but, as he himself expressed it, as a practical matter, he can't be relocated no matter what.

My regular correspondent notes,

I would imagine that virtually none of the former "continuing" Anglican parishes which make up the majority of OCSP groups were able to provide their priest with a rectory. I would imagine that most of the clergy who came into the Church by this route own a house. In the absence of a pension plan this would have seemed a prudent option.
But this underscores the huge exception that has to be carved out for all these former Anglicans -- the OCSP is unable to support the vast majority in any case, house or not. What are the unpaid priests assuming they can get in exchange for no money? But as children can be mere facts on the ground for women who use them to manipulate men, domestic circumstances make it impossible to relocate any of these married priests. Irrespective of canon law, they're de facto all in permanent appointments.

The liturgy is a big exception. Ugly and unsatisfying, the puzzling thing about it is that the uniate mass was never authorized by any body, Anglican or Catholic, before 1983. It is simply not Anglican patrimony. It was used in some Anglo-Catholic parishes without any sanction in the 20th century -- but in that, it represented resistance to authority! Some patrimony.

The idea of parishes voting themselves into or out of their diocese or the OCSP is congregationalism, and it's on display in the OLA case. It's significant that my regular correspondent cited "continuing" parishes as a justification for Fr Phillips's situation -- and if the CDF rules in favor of OLA, it will simply be acknowledging the enormous exception involved in Anglicanorum coetibus. In effect, the Church looked the other way when the "continuing" parishes voted themselves out of their former jurisdictions, but it welcomed them into the Church once this was done. But OLA shows that if one of these broadly speaking "continuing" parishes "wants" to change jurisdictions, the principle is still there.

I've made no secret that I think Cardinals Manning and Mahony were correct in refusing to accept St Mary of the Angels as an Anglican Use parish. Cardinal Mahony's point was on target: if the parish couldn't accept TEC's authority, what made them think they'd accept Rome? OLA's history strongly suggests the parish and Fr Phillips have been a headache for the successive Archbishops of San Antonio. I'm not sure why Bp Lopes wants this headache.

The only good thing about the "continuing" movement in the Church is its small size, its limited appeal, and its likely short life span. But as my visitor points out, the vast majority of former Anglicans haven't come to the Church with a "continuing" mentality.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

What Happened In 2012? -- II

This post will cover versions of personal conversations with Fr Phillips regarding the reasons for OLA's sudden reversal over joining the OCSP in May 2012. I believe that, in opposition to inevitably politic public statements, the reasons he gave in private reflect an exclusive preoccupation with his career and personal circumstances. I repeat what I said yesterday, I've come to recognize that both the Pastoral Provision and Anglicanorum coetibus are simply the syncretistic wing of the unproductive and moribund "continuing Anglican" movement.

A visitor reports,

I need to begin this by saying the Fr. Philips NEVER had a kind thing to say about Archbishop Flores, Archbishop Gomez OR Archbishop Garcia-Siller. Even though he feigns attention on wealthy Hispanic benefactors, in private he speaks very disrespectfully of "Meskins" as he calls them. He also looks down on any other parish in the city. He never attended, (nor did Orr), any Archdiocesan mandated retreats, conferences, or activities. They would laugh when parishioners bragged about going to mass at another parish earlier in the day but then coming to the Atonement for a "real mass", later in the same day. [Er, if mass is so important, why waste the time going to the "fake" one when you could go to two masses at OLA?]

It's important to remember that once Anglicanorium coetibus was published there was immediate anticipation and speculation about who the Ordinary would be. Because of its size and stature, much of this speculation centered around the Atonement. There was a conference held at the parish to answer questions about the impending ordinariate. This conference was attended by people from all over the country. The "Buzz" on the street was that Fr. Phillips was the odds on favorite to be the Ordinary. He did everything he could to present himself as the leading contender. He relayed stories to me about how people told him "they don't care what Rome says he (Fr. Phillips) was OUR Ordinary..." Deacon Orr spoke openly about his own impending role as the "Archdeacon" of the Ordinariate. He would travel the country showing the other parishes how the mass was to be said, in the light of Fr. Phillips's creation. [I've heard in e-mails that Fr Phillips has apparently told people that he wrote the BDW mass.]

Fr Phillips attended a meeting on Anglicanorum coetibus at St Mary of the Angels in December 2010, just before my time there, and pretty clearly represented himself as a major figure in the movement, if not ordinary-in-waiting. I mentioned a blog post from him made from this meeting in a previous post here, where a question arose about his report that he had just celebrated mass there. (Huh? said mass for a bunch of Anglicans?) According to Fr Kelley, whom I asked about it when the issue came up, this didn't happen. I was also somewhat irked that in the post, Fr Phillips pumped his protégé Andrew Bartus but never mentioned his host, Fr Kelley. I've always thought of Fr Phillips as something of a blowhard and grandstander.

The visitor continues,

After some time the Ordinariate was announced with Msgr Steenson as the Ordinary. I remember asking Fr. Phillips about him. Fr. Phillips told me he considered Steenson to be a nice enough fellow but rather "limp-wristed". I don't think he meant to imply that Steenson was gay, just weak and ill equipped for the position. I got the feeling Fr. Phillips figured he could manipulate the weak-minded Ordinary so the parish moved in that direction.

At this point, after a few days, Fr. Phillips made it known that the Parish was going to move to the Ordinariate. Soon, the Archdiocese got involved, inquiries were made and the parish was polled for demographic data. I remember Fr. Phillips meeting with the Archbishop and it was obvious the situation was being pondered by the Chancery. During this time the Atonement bulletin, written and published by Jim Orr himself began scurrilous attacks on the Archbishop, still relatively new to the Chair. This went on for several Sundays. I always wished I had hung on to one of those bulletins but sadly, I did not. It was the same clap-trap; "The Archdiocese is only interested in the money and property of the parish and will 'steal' the property from the parish, if given the opportunity" - It was all portrayed as a "land-grab". Orr even had printed and distributed new missalettes stating that the parish was part of the Ordinariate.

Then, out of the blue, Msgr. Steenson meets with Fr. Phillips and the very next day EVERYTHING changed. It was such an abrupt change of direction and focus, I asked Fr. Phillips what was going on. He was shaken. He said Steenson had made it clear that it was arrogant for Fr. Phillips to have purchased a home next door to the parish because he could be transferred to anther parish within the Ordinariate at any time. Joanne had previously made it clear she was NOT moving so Fr. Phillips was completely vulnerable to Msgr. Steenson. He told me, "for the good of the parish" he decided it would be best to remain within the Archdiocese. There was no other reason, the good of the parish was not involved, other than Fr. Phillips view that the parish could not exist without him. There was really no other reason - Fr. Phillips told me these things himself. All other explanations, intimations and justifications were concocted after the fact, "spin" to pacify the minions, who had been publicly fed with the hatred of the Archbishop (their now Father-In-God).

I say this because almost immediately Fr. Phillips published a blog post, explaining, in loving, glowing sentimentality how much we loved being a part of the Archdiocese as a Pastoral Provision parish and so on. He referred to Archbishop Gustavo as our "Father-In-God". It was enough to make your stomach turn, if you knew the whole story.

Some time ago I posted about another version of the dealings between Fr Phillips and Msgr Steenson:
A reliable source has provided an account of what appears to have been the real story on Our Lady of the Atonement. As it happens, during the first part of 2012 as Steenson was traveling to receive a parish into the Ordinariate, a group from that parish had picked him up at the airport and was driving him to town. Several people were in the car. Remarkably, Steenson got involved in a cell phone conversation while in the car with several witnesses in earshot and began explaining to whomever was on the other end that he intended to force the retirement of Fr. Phillips after a year and replace him with one of his younger priests, presumably a member of the Nashotah House clique with whom he surrounded himself. One of those in the car conveyed this information to Fr Phillips.

My source continues:

This came shortly after OLA's parish council had voted to enter the Ordinariate even at the price of relinquishing the title to their church and school property to the Archdiocese of San Antonio (with the Ordinariate congregation to have the indefinite use of the property), and just after they learned that this "compromise," which they thought had been a "hard bargain" originating with the San Antonio archdiocesan authorities, had actually been suggested to the archdiocese by Steenson himself. The parish council reversed itself immediately, and decided to remain within the SA archdiocese[.]
From this account, it appears that the parish did accept the conditions that Fr Phillips found objectionable in the e-mail I quoted yesterday -- but I can't rule out that any account from Fr Phillips may be embroidered to suit his own purposes.

I do find both versions of Msgr Steenson's role credible. I don't, based on this, think Steenson had any reservations about how Phillips ran the parish, Dcn Orr, or anything else that might have been a justifiable concern -- this was simply Steenson, an insecure careerist, meeting Phillips, an ego-driven opportunist. The OCSP wasn't going to be big enough for the two of them. Given the character of "continuing" Anglicanism as a pretty homogeneous movement, this isn't much different from the conflicts and intrigues surrounding the likes of Falk, Grundorf, Seeland, Hepworth, Gill, Marsh, and the rest.

But the problem of Fr Phillips's residence represents something I believe nobody thought through in drafting the Pastoral Provision or Anglicanorum coetibus. Celibate Catholic priests normally live in rectories, owned by the diocese. They may or may not own homes elsewhere, but typically not near the parish property, and often for vacation or retirement. In earlier years, celibate Catholic priests might expect stability in assignments, at least after age 50 or so, but the shortage of priests in recent decades has limited this, and the USCCB recognizes rotation of priests on 6- or 12-year cycles as a normal practice.

In this as apparently many other areas (like attending otherwise mandated meetings and retreats), Fr Phillips feels he's a special case. He owns a house right next to the property, gol dang it, and he's entitled to conduct himself as a proper Episcopal priest and stay as long as he likes. Msgr Steenson may have had his own motives for questioning Fr Phillips here, but he had a real point.

What else is the movement bringing into the Church besides alternate lifestyles for clergy? I'll have more to say on this.