Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Let's Revisit The Events Of 2011 And 2012 -- II

There's one figure in this story who suddenly disappears, David Moyer. Throughout 2011, he was the ordinary for the Patrimony of the Primate, the jurisdiction John Hepworth established to serve as a "holding tank" for TAC parishes in the US and Canada intending to enter the Catholic ordinariates to be set up under Anglicanorum coetibus. As the St Mary's ordinary, he was the focus for the various complaints and appeals that the dissidents and Andy Bartus were lodging against Fr Kelley.

He made a trip to Hollywood in June 2011, discussed in Mr Clark's statement on the Freedom for St Mary site, to try to resolve complaints about Fr Kelley from the dissidents and Bartus. Mr Clark, as an informed member of the vestry, felt that Moyer reviewed the complaints and determined they had no merit. I've heard via other channels that Moyer in fact reproved Bartus during the course of these meetings. However, according to Mr Clark's account, this outcome simply resulted in a redoubling of the dissidents' efforts to unseat Fr Kelley.

On December 21, 2011, Moyer made an additional visit to St Mary of the Angels to review demands from Bartus and the vestry that he inhibit Fr Kelley. Moyer again found the bill of particulars (included here) too vague and unsubstantiated for him to take action. However, by early December, according to a conversation I had with Patrick Omeirs, a key member of the dissident party, the dissidents had already intended to bypass Moyer and go to Louis Falk, who, retired from any position since 2005, had no authority in this matter. The dissidents do not appear ever to have approached the actual authority over Moyer, John Hepworth.

Meanwhile, Msgr William Stetson, representing Catholic authority to the parish, although at the time the identify of the Ordinary was still unknown, indicated to a meeting that the parish would be received into the Ordinariate on either the first or second Sundays of 2012. Nevertheless, based on later statements by Msgr Stetson to the parish, as well as my earlier discussion with Mr Omeirs, the dissidents had forwarded their accusations to Cardinal Donald Wuerl via Louis Falk, bypassing TAC authority.

The first and second Sundays of 2012 passed, despite Msgr Stetson's assurances, with no further word from Stetson himself or the newly designated Ordinary. In early January, the dissidents appear to have arranged a meeting with ACA Bishop Strawn, who had no authority over the parish. David Moyer warned Strawn away from the January 11, 2012 meeting when he told him "he had no Jurisdiction over, no interest in, nor business with St Mary of the Angels."

However, Moyer disappears from the story soon after this. It's plain that throughout his tenure, Moyer conscientiously followed his episcopal responsibility to shepherd and protect his flock. Even after January 1, 2012, when (in the view of the ACA House of Bishops) the Patrimony of the Primate was dissolved, and (according to the promise made by Msgr Stetson) the parish should have entered the US-Canadian Ordinariate, Moyer alone was for some brief period, perhaps just through force of personality, able to keep the ACA from interfering with the parish.

The next stage in the Moyer story is sometime prior to January 29, 2012, the date on which it was reported that

Moyer said he received a letter from Fr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, informing him that Archbishop Charles Chaput (Philadelphia) has declined to give him his votum (a promise) to proceed toward ordination in the Roman Catholic Church. No specific reasons were stated.
The cause of Archbishop Chaput's decline of votum, and Msgr Steenson's possible involvement in that decision, have been the subject of much speculation, on which I can take no position. On the other hand, the decision to deny Moyer a votum took him completely out of the picture within weeks of his successful defense of the parish from the interference of the ACA. Whether deliberate or not, whether at the instigation of Msgr Steenson or not, that was the effect.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Let's Revisit The Events Of 2011 And 2012 -- I

from what I've come to learn about being Catholic since then. The thing that stands out was that the designation of Msgr Steenson as US-Canadian Ordinary was kept a secret -- at least for those not in the loop -- until January 1, 2012. The record strongly suggests, of course, that Steenson's progress to Rome after 2007 under the aegis of Cardinal Law meant that Anglicanorum coetibus was already in the works, and Steenson's designation was long foreordained.

The huge problem in hindsight was that parishes proposing to come in from Anglican denominations -- which was the point of the whole thing -- needed a great deal more preparation than they received. Whoever was the shadowy figure in charge of the transition during 2011 appears to have approved the catechesis St Mary's received, which on balance was good, but many things were left unsaid. It was the case at St Mary's, but also clearly at other parishes like St Aidan's Des Moines, that there were good Anglican members who were in what the Catholic Church would call irregular marriage situations.

Nothing was said about this in any detail during the catechism -- it wasn't in the class materials, as far as I can remember -- and, other than an e-mail that went out to the parish in December 2011, nothing else was said. The e-mail basically said very briefly that if you're divorced from a living spouse and remarried, you'd better start working with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. (Wait a moment, shouldn't the Ordinariate be the authority here?)

However, every source I've seen suggests that the process of getting a declaration of nullity from a diocesan tribunal takes at least two years. Since serious announcement of the US-Canadian Ordinariate took place only during 2011, it should have been clear to someone that some members in any former Anglican parish, however sincere they may have been in their intent, were going to be in a situation where they could not be received as Catholics with the rest of the parish. Yet no plans were made for how to deal with this situation.

This appears to have been a major factor behind the decision of St Aidan's Des Moines not to enter the Ordinariate after all in spring 2012. Msgr Steenson traveled to that parish in some effort to clarify the situation, but oddly, even though he must have been aware since 2007 that something like this could be a factor, the most he could do was tell that parish that yeah, that was how things are. They'd already hired a priest who'd take them into the Ordinariate, but they backed out.

I don't think you can blame the Anglican priests who were involved with the process. They'd been working as Anglicans and had been providing pastoral care to Anglicans whose marriages were regarded as OK in that denomination. As far as I can tell, there are Catholic parish priests who do have experience with handling situations where Catholics may (for instance) be returning to the Church after some time away, during which a divorce and remarriage may have occurred. There appear to be viable if difficult pastoral strategies for handling such situations, awkward as they may be, and couples do in fact deal with them.

But, notwithstanding how likely such situations might arise, nothing was done to handle them (or even, apparently, mention them) in the runup to the US-Canadian Ordinariate -- except that Msgr Stetson, the St Mary's chaplain, took a very Anglican approach, if not a Catholic one, in saying he didn't "check passports at the communion rail".

The inception of the US-Canadian Ordinariate was a fiasco, which can be laid at the feet of completely inadequate planning by the authorities in charge. There are other areas where action might have been taken but wasn't.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Why Doesn't St Mary Of The Angels Just Become An Ordinariate Group And Meet At A Diocesan Parish?

A visitor e-mails,
I've been following your blog for some time, and was struck by the fact the St. Mary's group that wants to join the Ordinariate has been meeting in an apartment for 3 years. How come they appear to be waiting for the outcome of their court case to decide to enter the Ordinariate/become Catholic? 3 years seems an awfully long time to deny oneself the Eucharist/being in communion with the successor of St. Peter if one wants to convert to Catholicism. Why not just become an Ordinariate group and rent space in a classroom somewhere in the area?
For a while, I thought this was a viable option, but as I understand it, there are legal and practical obstacles, as well as what I believe is resistance in Houston to the idea.

Legally, the vestry must remain in existence in order to continue the legal case. If the parish were simply to become an Ordinariate group, it would cease to have a vestry. According to the parish bylaws, which constitute the legal document that gives the "Rector, Wardens, and Vestry" their corporate existence, the vestry and voting members of the parish must be Anglican. Should the parish ever enter the Ordinariate, which I think is less and less likely, the bylaws would need to be revised to reflect the change in property ownership and denominational affiliation of the parish.

The members of the vestry have a fiduciary responsibility to keep the parish in existence in its current legal form in order to pursue the case. The property is worth millions of dollars, and they have a moral and fiduciary responsibility not to walk away from it. I think they are making considerable personal sacrifice to do this. Other members of the parish and friends are supporting them, as well as maintaining fellowship and friendship. But the legal issue will probably remain for some time.

I've put the question to a former Anglican member of the parish clergy, who has since become Catholic and as far as I'm aware still intends to become an Ordinariate priest (but is apparently waiting indefinitely for a green light), why the Ordinariate does not recognize some type of group-in-formation that could, in fact, meet in some way at a diocesan facility. The direct answer I got was that any Ordinariate activities in California would be under the supervision of Andy Bartus, and Bartus does not envision such a thing ever happening in the case of St Mary of the Angels. Nothing new, Cardinals Manning and Mahony said the same thing, and I have more respect for the Cardinals.

The bottom line appears to be that some combination of inertia within the Ordinariate, visible in many other areas besides St Mary's, and internal politics appears to prevent any official recognition of a St Mary's group. That would also need to happen but is unlikely. I would have to say that this issue is as powerful as the legal issue as well, and it would be up to Houston to clarify the situation, which so far it has not done.

There's a third question, and that's whether the optimism of 2011-2012 concerning the erection of the US-Canadian Ordinariate has been borne out by events. It seems to me that the outcome of Anglicanorum coetibus has been a disappointment by just about any standard. There are six or eight successful parishes, which were in existence and successful under other jurisdictions before the US-Canadian Ordinariate was erected. The others among three dozen or so total are struggling.

One of my serious concerns is that all their minimal resources appear to be going into vestments, incense, and music, basically, to satisfy small, inward-directed cliques. Since they aren't in dioceses, they're exempt from diocesan appeals, which means they don't do much to make the world a better place, except to feed a sense of exclusivity among the members. I can't recommend that anyone be part of such a thing, and I'm not sure if many in the current St Mary's group, whom my wife and I love and respect, would wish to do so.

I believe they will prayerfully and maturely reflect on the courses open to them, but I very much doubt they will eventually go into the Ordinariate, if the Ordinariate in fact survives any significant length of time.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Anglicanorum Coetibus Society

I spent much of my working career in the information technology field, doing things like computer security or disaster recovery planning that I couldn't have trained for in college because the fields didn't exist at the time. But one thing I noticed was that almost as soon as the fields came into existence, people started saying "Gee, what we need is a professional organization for computer disaster recovery planners", and the next thing you knew, there would be an Association of Professional Computer Disaster Recovery Planners or whatever.

While nobody in 1967 could have envisioned the need for the APCDRP and its Board of Directors, I sure knew the types who'd rise to the level of Board member even then -- self-promoters have existed at all times and in all places. The same, I fear, applies to the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society:

Over the summer, the Board of Directors has been having intense discussions about the mission of the Society and these discussions are continuing. The first fruits of our deliberations are now ready to be shared.
The pomposity is visible: they're ready to SHARE SOMETHING with us! Oh, boy, they've decided to change their name!

But I never accepted invitations to join the boards of organizations like the APCDRP or the like -- I had, frankly, too much work to do in actually planning how a company could recover its ATMs or billing or whatever from earthquakes, hurricanes, race riots, snipers, or whatever. That stuff was important. The stuff the board of the APCDRP did wasn't.

Here's why they'd throw me off the board of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society as soon as they'd discovered the mistake of putting me on it, assuming that somehow happened:

  • Over its life of 35 years, the "corporate reunion" movement, although it's always optimistically expected Anglican parishes to become Catholic in significant numbers, has never developed workable strategies for protecting those parishes from lawsuits by their former denominations, notwithstanding the fear of these is a serious impediment to the purpose of "corporate reunion".
  • By the same token, the movement has never developed a workable answer to the question of how to provide pastoral care to members of parishes who do not wish to become, or have obstacles to becoming, Catholic, notwithstanding this has been a common objection raised by clergy and members of the parishes' former denominations in their discernment process.
  • But even if the movement were to develop workable strategies to address these questions at this late date, the remaining number of potential parishes interested in Anglicanorum coetibus is probably insignificant, so much so that the effort of trying to do something like this now would be a waste of time and energy.
  • There do not appear to be serious guidelines on the actual financial requirements to maintain a group in the Ordinariates, much less any realistic assessment of the financial demands of taking over a church building. What are minimum viable sizes? What are minimum budgets? Indeed, why not provide example budgets? But again, the remaining/existing groups and parishes have probably learned this by experience, and there are so few remaining candidates that the effort would now be a waste of time.
  • What is the future of the "corporate reunion" movement? As a member of an Episcopal parish, I knew clergy who were serious enough to ask whether this or that outreach program was cost-effective, if nothing else in terms of clergy time to supervise it. I see no serious appraisal of the "corporate reunion" movement anywhere, much less among Board members, the most recent incumbents among whom would probably see a recommendation to disband the activity as a threat to their self-importance.
At basis, frankly, I've come to see both the "continuing Anglican" and "corporate reunion" movements as poor stewardship verging on the irresponsible.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

More Protestantism

Another of Frederick Kinsman's indictments of Anglicanism is what he calls "congregationalism", which of course is a synonym for Calvinism, the Reformed theology that underlies the Anglican settlement. I'm not sure if the Catholic authorities that have underwritten the "corporate reunion" movement, either in its Pastoral Provision or Ordinariate form, have ever understood Anglicanism from this perspective.

The whole point of either "corporate reunion" style has been to take in Anglican parishes as, in effect, intact congregations with their clergy. In fact, this has almost never worked out as envisioned, and St Mary of the Angels is probably one of the best examples of what can go wrong with the whole idea.

  • The decision by a congregation to become Catholic in a body is never unanimous. As a result, there is a great deal of bitterness and animosity, which aren't good for the souls of anyone involved.
  • There is no provision for the pastoral care of those who do not wish to become, or have obstacles to becoming, Catholic. Msgr William Stetson, a major figure in the movement as a close confidant of Cardinal Law, was reduced to saying in 2012 that he simply wouldn't "check passports at the communion rail", a violation of canon law if he were aware of actual exceptions. In over 30 years of the movement, it's been unable to provide any better solution.
  • Anglican denominations, either The Episcopal Church or "continuum", historically almost never yield up congregations without a bruising fight. Neither Anglican Use nor the US-Canadian Ordinariate have had any effective plan to deal with such contingencies.
  • It is an acknowledged property of Anglicanism that the "high church" faction, in effect the only market from which the "corporate reunion" movement seeks candidates, has always had elements of self-deception whereby adherents feel they're "Catholic enough", or indeed, better Catholics than diocesan Catholics. We see this expressed by Ordinariate figures like Fr Hunwicke now. This doesn't help relations with diocesan Catholics.
  • The whole idea of congregations breaking off from Anglican denominations, in practice often spectacularly unsuccessful, is essentially Protestant. I simply can't disagree with the question Cardinal Mahony raised with St Mary of the Angels when he became Archbishop and inherited that problem: if the parish rebelled against The Episcopal Church, what would stop it from rebelling against the Catholic Church?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Revisiting The Hunwicke Kerfuffle

Last week I mentioned in passing the controversy over the 2011-2012 delay in Fr John Hunwicke's ordination as a Catholic priest in the UK Ordinariate. Interestingly, some of the posts that originally referred to the delay have been deleted (for instance, not-here), presumably to keep a unified, positive spin on Ordinariates. A surviving contemporary reference to the delay can be found here.

However, a visitor has sent me links to a series of eight posts at Fr Hunwicke's blog from 2010, beginning here, in which he gets snarky about Apostolicae curae, the 1896 encyclical in which Pope Leo XIII declared Anglican orders null and void. It appears that in a series of posts between August 16 and 23 of this year entitled Ecce Sacerdos Magnus! he's taken up his issues with Apostolicae curae once more.

Naturally, I'm not qualified to discuss the theological fine points, although Apostolicae curae was current at the time Frederick Kinsman went through the process of reconsidering his own vocation. He certainly endorsed the idea that Anglican orders were invalid due to defect of intention. (I assume that if I go to confession without the intention of repenting my sins, that sacrament is invalid. If I accept ordination without acknowledging the proper ecclesiastical authority, isn't that sacrament also invalid?)

Kinsman also raises the problem with Anglicanism in which it substitutes private judgment. It's hard to avoid thinking that something like this is happening with Fr Hunwicke. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, but as I said last week, whatever he's doing, he appears to be pushing the limits. As far as I can see, he was doing the same thing in 2010.

So, after some deliberation, he was ordained after about a year's delay. My own view is that Fr Hunwicke is an Anglo-Papalist of the Protestant sort and is acting in a very Protestant way. Although the "Protestantization of the Catholic Church" is a subject that frequently comes up in different contexts, I have some concern that the Ordinariates represent yet another way for this to happen.

Friday, August 21, 2015

More On Women's Ordination In The Church Of England

In response to yesterday's post, a visitor responds,
[J]ust about all the former Church of England clergy (and most of the laity) who comprise the English Ordinariate all came from the Forward-in-Faith/UK organization, which was formed early in 1993 in the aftermath of the unexpectedly successful November 1992 vote for woman priests ("unexpectedly successful," because proponents and opponents alike reckoned that it would not achieve the requisite two-thirds majority in favor in the House of Laity, but Archbishop Carey['s] rhapsodical discourse about how woman priests would transform the CofE and give it "power to evangelize" convinced - perhaps the better word is "moved" - a handful of dopey Evangelical synodsmen who had intended to oppose it to vote in favor of it). Its purpose from the beginning was to oppose WO, provide "a safe sacramental refuge with secure Holy Orders" for opponents, to secure a supply of like-minded bishops to serve their constituency ("Provincial Episcopal Visitors" or PEVs, popularly "flying bishops:" one, the Bishop of Beverly, in the Province of York; two, the bishops of Ebbsfleet and Richborough, in the Province of Canterbury; and the Bishop of Fulham, one of the assistant bishops [the English term is "suffragan bishops'] in the London diocese, acting in the same capacity within that diocese) & last (and mostly unstated) but not least to form a sufficiently cohesive and united constituency that when the secular pressure for woman bishops became irresistible, they could either obtain ironclad guarantees of their position within the Church of England, or could secure a group departure, perhaps even with property.

It didn't work out that way, of course, probably because about 25% of the active clerical and lay members of FiF did not agree with the leadership that "Rome is the answer:" a few were perhaps interested in a Continuing Anglican solution, a larger few in a "Western-Rite Orthodox" solution, and many more in somehow walling off themselves and their parishioners from any "taint" of women clergy. Even among the 75% who at FiF meetings were willing to applaud whenever speakers made pro-papal remarks, or roar out the "fight song" of "A Code of Practice WILL NOT DO!" (meaning they would not accept merely written guarantees of their position within the Church of England, but demanded a semi-separate church-within-the-Church-of-England with its own bishops), when push came to shove, and they were offered rather less than a code of practice, around half of them remained, or have remained to date, within the Church of England (some no doubt because of their same-sex-partnered status). Another reason, perhaps, was that FiF claimed to be an organization open to all sorts of anti-WO people in the Church of England, it never had more than a very few Evangelical/Protestant members: its whole tone and ethos was "spikey" through and through; and conservative English Anglican Evangelicals regard Anglo-Catholicism (whether "papalist" or not) with theological aversion, and have their own, rather small, anti-WO organization, "Reform."

My own overall impressions remain the same: there was discontent at various levels of intensity toward women's ordination in many Anglican denominations, but only in the US were there any significant defections into a "continuing" movement or, before 2009, any concrete provision for "corporate reunion" with Rome. However, I like the Frederick Kinsman perspective: Anglicanism is a Protestant denomination that has allowed a faction to maintain an illusion that they're Catholic. The issue of women's ordination was cause for disillusionment, but the response among the disillusioned faction in the Church of England was uncertain and feckless.

"Continuing Anglicanism" was an almost exclusively American phenomenon, and the Anglican Use Pastoral Provision was aimed exclusively until 2007 at laity and clergy of the US Episcopal Church. The discussion in the 1993 meeting between Clarence Pope, Jeffrey Steenson, and Cardinal Ratzinger, initiated by the US Cardinal Law, appears to have focused again on the US Episcopal Church, a faction of which Pope and Steenson specifically represented.

An unanswered question is when and under what circumstances the 1993 Law-Pope-Steenson proposal was specifically extended to cover Canada, the UK, and Australia under Anglicanorum coetibus.