Sunday, July 22, 2018

On The Other Hand. . .

I've had a couple of comments saying that of course, Rome did not change any doctrine to accommodate Anglicans. My regular correspondent said,
Whatever criticisms I have of the Ordinariates, I do not believe that their members have chosen to join them rather than simply become diocesan Catholics because they have mental reservations about the Catechism or Catholic doctrine. Mrs Gyapong regularly makes the point that each member of her parish had to "sign on the dotted line" that they accepted those teachings, whereas in her journalistic work she constantly runs into lifelong Catholics who have simply decided to set aside aspects of Church doctrine which they do not understand and/or cannot accept. It is a truism that converts to anything are more rigid than those who have always been whatever, and I do not see why it should be less likely to be the case here. The vast majority (about 80%} of those who convert to Catholicism in diocesan parishes do so because they are marrying a Catholic. I would be more likely to suspect a person in that situation of cutting doctrinal corners than a typical former Protestant joining the Church through AC.
But whatever Mrs Gyapong may make people sign, she herself, as I've noted here, has clearly asserted that the Anglican Patrimony exempts certain Catholics from the need to avoid near occasions of sin. In the post I linked, I noted that some people actually agreed with her, and I asked then
How well do Mrs Gyapong, those who agree with her like my visitor, and other OCSP members -- including clergy -- understand the sacrament of penance and the act of contrition?
Now, a cradle Catholic may say, "I go to mass every Sunday, but I don't agree with the Church's teaching on abortion." That's one thing, and at least it's honest. But Mrs Gyapong is apparently saying, "I agree with every jot and tittle of the Catechism, but I say the Anglican Patrimony exempts Catholics from the need to avoid the near occasions of sin." That's another thing, and if nothing else, it's ignorant, and while someone like Mrs Gyapong may feel she accepts everything with the fervor of a convert, she has no idea of what "everything" actually is. At some point, this is the fault of OCSP clergy.

Let's look at this from another perspective. Whether from the cradle or as a later convert, a Catholic never stops becoming more Catholic. This is part of the call to holiness, and it's in contrast to the evangelical "born again" idea, that if you've been "born again". that happens just once, and you're good thereafter.

Certainly right now in the US, there are many resources available to Catholics who want to become more Catholic. These include the Ascension Presents YouTube channel, parish Bible study, Relevant Radio, EWTN, Magnificat, and the sacraments, including daily mass and frequent confession. How many OCSP members are even aware of these? How many OCSP communities are able to sponsor a Jeff Cavins course on DVD, for instance? Isn't the Hebrew Patrimony infinitely more important than the Anglican?

If they see the benefit of going to a diocesan parish to get such benefits, what's the point of the little DW group? If they're staying within their little group, they're calling themselves Catholic, but they're missing the benefits of a real parish and a real diocese -- and keep in mind that there are probably fewer than half a dozen "real parishes" in the OCSP.

Another issue that I'm only beginning to recognize is that although Rome did not relax any doctrines for Anglicanorum coetibus, within a short time of its erection, the OCSP began to radically reduce the requirements for ordination. The original concept was that existing groups would come in with their clergy and, in many cases, their property, and certainly as of 2010-11, the idea was that these would be prosperous TEC or ex-TEC "continuing" parishes, with their existing vestries and experienced rectors in mid-career.

Almost immediately after 2012, these cases were the rare exceptions. Instead, the model has become gathered groups of people who may or may not be Anglican, with some disaffected cradle Catholics, led by a motley collection of Anglican clergy whose careers couldn't get started as Anglicans, or others with minimal Anglican credentials for whom the OCSP is a port of last resort. An MDiv is clearly not a requirement for the OCSP; Fr Beahen was ordained without one just last month.

I don't see how this rag-tag gaggle of losers can do much for their little flocks of the disgruntled, the disaffected, and the desultory. The Church has't changed its doctrines, but I don't see how most in the OCSP can learn what they are.

My correspondent offers the example of converts whose proximate motivation for converting is marrying a Catholic. While a priest may suggest that marrying a non-Catholic isn't the best idea, the ordinary of the Catholic party has the authority to grant a dispensation, and a baptized non-Catholic partner does not have to convert. So even in cases of prospective marriage, this is an entirely voluntary decision, and there's no reason to assume a convert isn't signing on to the whole Catechism.

I would also say that my experience in RCIA was that among those going through it in anticipation of marriage (more like 40-50%), most were cradle Catholics who simply hadn't been confirmed, not converts. In either case, this would indicate that the participants were undertaking the step voluntarily, seriously, and with the intention of strengthening their marriage bonds through the Church.

But as long as we're on RCIA, diocesan catechists are licensed and have a three-year formation period. Does the OCSP even license catechists at all? If so, how many licensed catechists are in the OCSP? I've heard that the Athens, GA group is going through RCIA at a diocesan parish, which of course is a good idea, but I don't have the impression that it's a general practice in the OCSP. How otherwise are new members catechized? By some newly minted jerk who studied all 66 books of the Bible in his evangelical seminary?

Which brings up another question: if the OCSP doesn't follow diocesan standards for catechists or catechesis, isn't this a de facto relaxation of doctrine?