Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Anglicanorum Coetibus As A "Continuing Anglican" Phenomenon

I've said a lot less about the US Ordinariate here than about the ACA and other "continuing Anglican" quasi-denominations, but someone remarked to me yesterday that he'd considered himself an "opportunist" in seizing on St Mary's attempt to go into the Ordinariate as a way (I suppose he meant an easy way) to become Catholic. Actually, of course, there's been nothing easy about it, and relatively few parishioners from 2011 who'd intended to go into the Ordinariate have actually become Catholic (my wife and I will be received this coming Sunday via the RCIA process).

I did notice in my bookmarks the other day, though, this link to a highly optimistic post at the now-inactive Anglo-Catholic blog:

Let’s assume that the 36 groups currently on the map in the U.S. would enter a newly erected American Ordinariate with an average Sunday attendance (ASA) of 2500, which I think would be an incredibly conservative estimate. . . . In all, this would make an American Ordinariate—in a worst case scenario—larger than 21 of the domestic dioceses of The Episcopal Church. [emphasis in original]
This post is from February 2011, about a year before the erection of the US Ordinariate, but it's also just a little over two years ago. I count 24 parishes total on the website of the US Ordinariate, of which three are in Canada, which wasn't the situation envisioned in the February 2011 post (that post expected 30 parishes in Canada alone).

Of the 21 US parishes, some number are missions and meeting between Roman masses at Catholic parishes; very few have their own buildings. Unfortunately, this puts the Ordinariate as of now -- and I simply don't know how many additional parishes are in the backlog -- at roughly the same standing of size and iffiness that applies to the ACA, the APA, the ACC, the APCK, the UEC, etc etc etc. The only upside is there's only one ordinary, as opposed to the half dozen or so that we'd see in each of the other groups.

Not only that, but the sentiment among Catholic observers in Los Angeles was that the admission of St Mary of the Angels to a Catholic Ordinariate would be a positive development for traditionalists within the Catholic archdiocese, many of whom support the Latin mass where it's available. However, Msgr Steenson has issued a statement emphasizing that it is not the primary purpose of the Ordinariate to celebrate the Latin mass, which is reasonable in itself, though it does raise the question of what the purpose of the Ordinariate actually is. (I would point out, though, that Msgr Steenson is not a scoundrel, as opposed to his counterparts in the "continuum", and the clergy and laity in the Ordinariate are not being had in the same way that those in the "continuum" are.)

The thing my wife and I miss about being Episcopalians is the organ and the hymnal. Partly from experience and partly via EWTN radio, I see that it's possible, especially in cathedrals, to hear the organ played in Catholic churches to accompany traditional Christian hymns, Latin unnecessary. The mass is going to have certain essential wording in English no matter what, and from what I understand, the Ordinariate Book of Divine Worship will owe a great deal to the Episcopal Church's 1979 prayer book in any case.

So what, after all, is the Ordinariate for?