Friday, November 17, 2017

Some Thoughts On 1993 And 2006

The 1993 meeting between TEC Bishop Pope and Ratzinger, and the 2006 meeting between TEC Bishop Iker and Law, revisited yesterday, are prompting me to reflect on the essntial miscalculations behind Anglicanorum coetibus. In the accounts we have of the 2006 meeting, it is much clearer that some influential people in the TEC Diocese of Fort Worth had it in mind to take the entire diocese over to Rome -- but there would be major unmet criteria involved.

As of 2006, there was no structure under which the diocese could be admitted or governed as a Catholic body, nor a formal pathway for petition. Cardinal Law told the Fort Worth group to "make a proposal", but he allowed things to remain there for two years. Meanwhile, the draft of Anglicanorum coetibus from 1993-4 remained in Benedict's desk, and there's no evidence that Law, who must certainly have known about it, mentioned it to the Fort Worth group.

On the TEC side, entering the Catholic Church would have required a vote of the diocesan convention -- this is what in fact did happen with the decision to go into the ACNA. Beyond that, the diocesan standing committee would have to have been on board with the idea of bringing it up. The entry on "standing committee" in the TEC Episcopal Dictionary of the Church concludes ominously,

It also receives the bishop's resignation.
Bishops can also be suspended or deposed under TEC disciplinary procedures. It's hard to think that the overtures from the TEC side in 1993 and 2006 were anything other than blowin' smoke, inchoate at the very best -- had the presiding bishop or the standing committee heard of their import, there seems little question that either Pope or Iker would have been removed forthwith. It's worth comparing the extreme care with which Jeffrey Steenson engineered a simple resignation in 2007 to the recklessness of the 1993 and 2006 meetings.

Iker in particular took six priests with him to Rome in 2006, any of whom could have unintentionally blurted the substance of the meeting to the wrong parties. He then allowed these priests to spend two years in a freelance effort concocting a half-baked "proposal", which Law also seems to have allowed them to do without providing any background on the draft of Anglicanorum coetibus that might have given them some guidance.

By 2008, reality seems to have caught up with Iker to the extent that he saw that even the rumor of a proposal to the diocesan convention that they would petition to become Catholic would result in his removal, and he backed off the actions of the priests he'd allowed for two years to live in never-never land. But this naturally also speaks to the quality of those priests.

The more I think about this, the more I shake my head at the amateurishness on both sides in developing what became Anglicanorum coetibus. Further to this, my regular correspondent notes of Wayne Hankey, one of the figures in the 1993 meeting,

Anything involving Wayne Hankey must be highly suspect. He is a brilliant and charismatic man but also unscrupulous and manipulative. As I perhaps previously mentioned, he lost his previous academic post and his ACC license over a relationship with a male student. One could argue homophobic over-reaction but that would not take into account his provocative recklessness which I think came from a bad place. A long time ago now but I suspect he has never lost the conviction that the rules do not apply to him by virtue of his superior gifts. Clarence Pope and others in the original negotiations who looked to him as an ally are undermined in my estimation by their confidence in him.
Bp Lopes seriously understated the situation in his September interview when he said,
Initially, there was perhaps a presumption – warranted or not – that there would be a continuous stream of whole parishes entering into the Ordinariate. This is actually very difficult for a number of reasons. There are complicated questions of property and ownership, and many people are very attached to their parish churches. There are other issues of pastoral life when only a percentage (even when it’s a large percentage) of a parish decides to seek full communion with the Catholic Church.

These issues might have been resolved more favorably had the whole enterprise been less half-baked and not so absurdly understaffed, at least not with capable people. It seems to me that Bp Lopes is actually speaking from an understanding of why at least one whole TEC diocese, not just some individual wealthy parishes, couldn't make it in. Instead, what we clearly have now is a dozen ex-Episcopalians here, a dozen there, coming in for their little services in basement chapels. I think the CDF must somewhere recognize this is not worth anyone's time.