Saturday, January 21, 2017

I'm Sure There's Backstory

to what's going on in San Antonio, but I'm far away from there and can't easily judge. One interesting aspect is that Fr Z hasn't mentioned it on his blog, although he tends to stay away from any specifics relating to Anglicanorum coetibus other than the occasional link to Fr Hunwicke. (UPDATE: He mentions it briefly here, anonymously in the context of several other priests suspended for no apparent cause.) There is no mention of it in yesterday's daily news on Church Militant TV. Both have been quick to note adverse developments relating to traditionalist parishes like Holy Innocents Manhattan, and I would be surprised if either hasn't been sent a copy of the archbishop's letter.

Apparently there have been occasional comments on Facebook relating to "gustavo and his social justice/mariachi mass cronies" and describing the new priest-in-charge as a "radical environmentalist." However, Abp Garcia-Siller, as far as I can tell, doesn't top the list of liberal bishops least friendly to traditionalists. In 2013, he celebrated a BDW mass ad orientem at Our Lady of the Atonement, and a comment there notes a "generational shift to the newer, younger bishops, who are much more tradition-friendly".

I also checked on the new parish administrator, Msgr Kurzaj, who is from Poland and was interviewed in 2014 at the time of St John Paul's canonization.

[H]e credits the late pope for constructing new alliances between the Catholic Church and other religions, inspiring youth to embrace their faith in deeper ways, contributing to the downfall of communism in Eastern European and the rise of liberation theology. He also traveled worldwide to connect to Catholics more broadly than his predecessors.
i believe this should read that John Paul contributed to the downfall of liberation theology, not the rise of the downfall. It appears from the article and from the archbishop's letter that Msgr Kurzaj is close to the archbishop. Polish Catholics, however, are generally regarded as conservative. So I have a hard time thinking that the issue here is a mariachi-mass Mexican liberal stifling a victimized but right-thinking Anglican Use parish.

This blog links to my post from yesterday and has comments on both sides of the issue. I don't see how putting in a new parish administrator who is a great admirer of St John Paul and his work in Poland and elsewhere is evidence of an anti-John Paul agenda.

The comments note that I'm an Anglicanorum coetibus skeptic. I would have to say that as far as I've been made aware, a number of factors, certainly including disagreements with Msgr Steenson, led to Our Lady of the Atonement's reversal on the OCSP in 2012. A question I have, and a question I'd rather forcefully ask if I were the archbishop, would be why the presence or absence of one individual would make such a difference in the parish's decision -- "no" in 2012, "yes" in 2016 solely because someone else is now in charge.

The archbishop supported Fr Phillips in 2012, but I'm not sure why he should automatically change his mind four years later just because Fr Phillips did. As Fr Z puts it, a bishop's job is to say "no". We'll;have to see if Fr Z or Michael Voris weighs in -- but if they don't weigh in, that's significant as well.

Friday, January 20, 2017

News From San Antonio

Thanks to a visitor for providing a copy of this letter from Archbishop of San Antonio Gustavo Garcia-Siller to the Our Lady of the Atonement parish.

Several months ago I heard that there was some difference between Fr Phillips and the Archbishop over whether Our Lady of the Atonement would leave the Archdiocese to join the OCSP. If Fr Phillips were still an Anglican, I assume this letter would be equivalent to a notice of inhibition. This is probably not good news for Fr Phillips, nor indeed for the OCSP or Bp Lopes.

My inclination is to support the authority of diocesan bishops.

What's The Audience?

Houston has recently sent out two glossy brochure-like publications, the 2016 Year In Review and the Pastoral Letter A Pledged Troth. Along with the press release written by Mr Jesserer Smith of the Fishwrap, this clearly represents a new approach in OCSP communications.

My regular correspondent attributes this to Ms Faber, the recent Vice-Chancellor and Director of Communications and Strategic Planning, and suggests that the prior house organ, the Ordinariate Observer, has gone by the board. I've observed already that glossy brochures aren't a new-media approach to publicity and don't seem to be consonant with such successful current Catholic efforts as those from Michael Voris or Fr Z.

However, my correspondent notes that the Pledged Troth letter has excited quite a bit of old-media notice, in The Catholic Herald, where Bp Lopes's face smiles out at us grandly upstaging Msgr Newton, in the Fishwrap, in Crux, and via the Catholic News Agency.

Our best estimate, published many times here, is that OCSP membership is somewhere in the low four figures, and as of this year, the total number of parishes, quasi-parishes, and groups-in-formation is declining. So Bp Lopes is clearly playing to an audience outside the OCSP, and much bigger. At what point will he simply leave the OCSP behind? On the other hand, glossy brochures and press releases authored by old-media hacks are not the way to build a name for oneself in a contemporary environment.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Visitor On Fussy Liturgy

Regarding yesterday's post, a visitor notes,
I was at a funeral for an old friend in his Episcopal parish on Saturday, and, priestess notwithstanding, the ceremony with full Eucharist was beautifully done, with BCP '79 Rite II liturgy, organ hymns, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, Onward Christian Soldiers, etc. It was so nice that my very Episcopal-skeptic wife approached the altar for a blessing, even. In regards to the OCSP liturgy, I have said for some time that if they had made it so that it felt just like Episcopal church used to in the days before the world went crazy, I'd love going there. But they didn't and I don't.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Multiplying Entities

My regular correspondent sent me a link to Bp Lopes's new pastoral letter giving the OCSP's guidelines on Amoris Laetitia. Over the latter, as a new Catholic, I take no position, although authorities suggest that it is ambiguous enough to make taking a position difficult under any circumstances. However, the letter quotes extensively from the BDW, and since the BDW is largely not available online, I found the quotes interesting.

On page 1, the epigraph quotes from the BDW

I take thee, to [sic] my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.
I don't know if there has been any additional redaction over the "to my wedded wife" part, but otherwise this appears to have been lifted verbatim from the Church of England 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The US 1928 BCP is similar. The preferred version in the TEC 1979 BCP is
In the Name of God, I, N., take you, N., to be my (wife) (husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.
These are the vows my wife and I took, which the Catholic Church recognizes, and which, frankly, as an English major with further graduate work in the area, I like much better. The Catholic version is
In the United States, couples can choose from two different versions of the Catholic wedding vows (The Order of Celebrating Matrimony #62). The standard version goes like this:
Priest (or deacon): Since it is your intention to enter the convenant of Holy Matrimony, join your right hands and declare your consent before God and his Church.

Groom: I, (name), take you, (name), to be my wife. I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life.

Bride: I, (name), take you, (name), to be my husband. I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life.

The alternative version is:
Groom: I, (name), take you, (name), for my lawful wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

Bride: I, (name), take you, (name), for my lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

I have a very serious reservation about "thereto I plight thee my troth". Let's face it, the only other time a normal person in the 21st century is going to talk this way is in a high school Shakespeare production -- and, of course, in doing that, they're play-acting, using language specifically reserved for play-acting.

Alternatively, if you're convenient to Kissimmee, FL, Buena Park, CA, Schaumburg, IL., Hanover, MD., Lyndhurst, NJ, Myrtle Beach, SC, Dallas, TX, Lawrenceville, GA., or Toronto, ON, you can attend a Medieval Times tournament complete with four-course dinner, where I assume such language or something like it is also on display.

20 Years ago, I saw a good example of the Precious Spiritual Treasures of the Anglican Patrimony: here's a wedding party boarding the Napa Valley Wine Train complete with fully vested Episcopal priestess. At least nobody will plight their troth on this thing -- but I wonder if that marriage has lasted.

Or, come to think of it, you can plight your troth at an OCSP parish.

Obviously, a wedding celebrated with contemporary but serious and elevated language is just as valid as one where people plight their troth -- but the more, in these times, we can focus clearly on what's actually being done and what it really means, the better.

On the other hand, I assume that so very few marriages are witnessed in OCSP parishes that the whole issue is moot.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Anglo-Catholicism And New Media

I was looking at commentary covering President-Elect Trump's radical understanding of media -- Twitter just a part of it -- and it occurred to me that my own media consumption changed during 2016. After we retired, my wife and I subscribed to cable and got Fox News, which took us off 25 years of PBS. But over the past year, I get less and less news from Fox, which called the November election as badly as anyone else in legacy media. I now rely much more on YouTube commentators, some of whom were very close in calling Trump's performance in places like Wisconsin and Michigan.

This led me to ask whether Anglo-Catholics are succeeding at all with new media. Interestingly, there are numerous traditionalist Catholic outlets on YouTube, for instance Michael Voris and Sensus Fidelium. On blogs, Edward Feser's latest post links to about a dozen posts elsewhere on the dubia concerning Amoris. Fr Z's blog is immensely popular.

Anglo-Catholics? Essentially zilch -- I have no urge to look at either Fr Hunwicke or Mr Chadwick, both of whom strike me as peculiarly English in their stuffiness and self-reference. The others have basically given up. A bad sign, it seems to me. That goes as well for the incredibly lame 2016 Year in Review from Houston.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A Question That Won't Go Away

I was thinking about recent news analysis concerning a major non-profit foundation, and one issue struck me that might be applicable to the St Mary's situation. As best anyone can determine, the Bush group drained all the bank accounts belonging to St Mary of the Angels (including the funds derived from the apparently fraudulent 2014 mortgage) before being evicted from the property. We don't know what happened to those funds -- the best we can surmise is that members of the group were advised to make checks for future donations payable to something called the Perseverance Mission.

There are numerous implications of what may have happened here, but the one that sticks is that the Bush group appears to have taken funds from a tax-deductible entity -- the bank accounts belonging to the St Mary of the Angels parish -- and put them into some sort of entity that, as far as I can see, is not tax deductible. I'm not sure what the effect would be of reporting this to the IRS -- it could result in problems for the continuing corporation and its vestry, after all. However, there are certainly issues with what happened to funds amounting close to $1 million which have disappeared with no accounting.

I do see in the December 2016 Northeast Anglican of the ACA Diocese of the Northeast, in its report of the diocesan synod,

Chancellor Jones reported that he submitted his recommendations to the Diocese of the West for changes in their diocesan canons.
So clearly the DONE, and presumably by extension Bp Marsh, continue to concern themselves with legal issues in the Diocese of the West. (Interestingly, the moribund DOW has its own Chancellor, but he seems to be subordinate to Mr Jones. For that matter, it's been pointed out to me that Owen Williams, canonically just the episcopal visitor, is subject to removal by Marsh. Doesn't seem like Marsh trusts anyone in the DOW.) I would guess that the unspecified changes in the diocesan canons of the DOW relate in some way to closing the St Mary of the Angels barn door after the horse has left.

But if Belchertown is concerning itself with DOW legalities, wouldn't it be a better idea to work out a strategy for disengaging from the legal liabilities inherent in the St Mary of the Angels case? Just for starters, what about payments made to Owen Williams by the Bush group, which could at minimum include living and automobile expenses for what amounts to a non-deductible purpose? Shouldn't the ACA and the DONE be looking to protect itself from contingencies here? Doesn't sound to me like any glib assurances from Mr Lancaster should suffice, either.