Pope Paul VI to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Michael Ramsey

"(B)y entering into our house, you are entering your own house, we are happy to open our door and heart to you." - Pope Paul VI to Dr Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Regular quarterly Evening Prayer


Just last week, we had our second regular quarterly Evening Prayer, this time at the Cubao Cathedral. Previously we have said Evening Prayer at the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice, the Catholic parish on the University of the Philippines Diliman's campus.  Going forward and until further notice we will be holding an Evening Prayer service roughly around each quarterly embertide (Advent, Lent, Pentacost, Holy Cross).  If there is enough interest, we will increase the frequency.  

The exact date and place will vary depending upon availability and upon the university's vacation schedule.  Typically we will expect to hold the service at UP Diliman's parish, most likely in one of the chapels or offices, not in the main sanctuary.  Watch our Facebook Page or our Facebook Group for details and updates.  Best would be to give your cell number (or email address) to either Bruce Hall or Ben Vallejo so that we can send you a personal invitation.

Each Evening Prayer will follow the pattern that we have established: a brief greeting and explanation of the service, the service itself possibly including a short sermon, and a post-service gathering either there at the location or at some nearby restaurant or coffee shop where we will discuss current developments with our small group, the Anglican Ordinariates, and related topics.

See you in September!


For those who are unfamiliar with embertides, an ancient practice of the universal church, some links:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Harrowing of Hell updated

"He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead"

Filipino Christians call it Black Saturday by tradition since their understanding is that "God is dead" between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The term probably came from the Americans when they introduced the English language.But the God made Man isn't really dead. In other Christian societies, these days of the Easter Triduum is called Easter Saturday or Easter Even. The Spanish-Filipino term "Sabado de Gloria" is more in line with the ancient understanding. Black Saturday isn't black but the Saturday of the promised eternal glory! Christ descended into Hell but what did he do there? The ancient icons of the Eastern Church show him liberating Adam and Eve, who brought the downfall of the human race, out of hell. He snatched all the sinners from there. And there is more to this snatching than meets the eye.

The title of this post is not to scare the your wits but to recall an ancient understanding on what Easter really means. Easter has much to do with being snatched from certain death. Filipino Christians mainly recall their own mortality on All Saints Day but at Easter we have to recall our death and the way we can get out of it. This idea was conserved by the English Church from its very foundation by Saint Augustine of Canterbury and is now part of the Anglican understanding. The mystical tradition of reflecting on this harrowing became developed in the medieval English Church and survived in part the Reformation. However in the recent decades especially after the Second Vatican Council, this understanding has been downplayed in the Roman Church and also in the Anglican Church. Fortunately it still is central to Eastern Christianity's belief about Easter as seen most clearly in its icons.   The term "harrowing of hell" comes from the Old English word "hergian" which means to despoil or to snatch. Thus before Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, he descended into hell ("the dead" in modern usage). I am old enough to recall the use of "Hell" in the Apostles' Creed and I always asked why did Jesus have to go to Hell. He didn't commit any sin, did he?

The English Abbot <a>Aelfric of Eynsham</a> (955-1010) used the term "harrowing of hell"in his homilies. Since then a rich tradition has developed about the concept even as it was taught by the early Church fathers. The Eastern Church believes that Jesus snatched Adam and Eve, now forgiven and brought them to Paradise once more. The icon above shows risen Jesus Christ snatching Adam and Eve from the tomb.  This is what the Eastern Church understands about the Resurrection. It is the real snatching of us sinners from Death! The Roman Catholic Church understands this in a slightly different way as said in the Catechism. Christ released the just who preceded him from death and perpetual exclusion from heaven. Many Protestants believe that in Jesus descending to Hell, he broke Satan's power forever.

As for my earlier question about what "hell" means, the meaning has changed in the last 1000 years. The word came from the Norse "hel" which means underneath. Now it means a place for the damned. But whatever the meaning is, Jesus Christ the Risen Lord has triumphed over hell and death.

The pre-Reformation English Church celebrated the "harrowing of hell" in many mystery plays and in the iconography of parish churches. Even the Rood Screen may have a picture of what this means and that is very close to the understanding of the Eastern Church. Sadly the Reformation almost did away with these and in the resulting Calvinist inspired iconoclasm, many representations were lost.

Nonetheless, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer collect for Easter Even or Holy Saturday echoes what the ancient tradition from the East means. In the collect it is prayed that in order to be saved we have to be buried with Him, pass through the grave and the gate of death and rise in our glorious resurrection, because Jesus rose from the dead!

This understanding is now largely lost to us. We live in a secular world where hell is no longer real since we have lost the meaning of what sin is. And the hells we have made by our works (wars, environmental destruction, injustice, corruption, abortion, disrespect for human life and dignity etc have numbed us. Now will the Risen Jesus snatch as from all of these? How can our Christian faith harrow these hells and release us? The Anglican tradition is a gentle reminder of what is really at stake for our souls. The English Church before and after the Reformation and through the Catholic revival has nurtured many mystics who have dwelt on this reality. The Personal Ordinariates in one sense will restore this understanding to the Roman Catholic Church, as the Eastern Church restores it to the West.

The message of Easter is that Jesus has risen from the dead, destroyed sin and death and shows us the way to eternal life. So death where is thy sting?

Salvation is literally the snatching of the sinner and the fallen from death and thus from Satan. A very old understanding (dating back to earliest days of the Church) of the Paternoster is that the English "deliver us from evil" which is a literal translation of the Latin "libera nos malo" really means "snatch us from the clutches of Satan". Satan as traditionally believed, has us in a tight grip that only Christ can snatch us away. This snatching is forceful as if Christ was wresting the sinner which belongs to Him from the robber that is Satan.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mass of the Ordinariate Use

The Mass according to the Use of the Ordinariate was first publicly celebrated in London last October 10 by the Rt Rev Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. The Mass which substantially incorporates the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and the Roman Rite, was the result of more than 30 years of efforts to include Anglican use within the Roman Rite first in the Catholic Church in the US and with Anglicanorum coetibus, through the Vatican's Anglicanae Traditiones commission.  The Book of Divine Worship (BDW) which includes much of the American Book of Common Prayer, provided the example of how Anglican liturgy can be successfully incorporated into Roman Catholic life.

However unlike the US Anglican Use, the Ordinariate Use includes options from the Tridentine Mass. The Ordinariate Use also has several differences from the US Anglican Use since the latter drew much from the Episcopal Church's 1979 Book of Common Prayer. In fact the BDW can be considered as a successful effort to incorporate the Episcopal Church's liturgy to Roman Catholic parish life in the United States. The Ordinariate Use draws more from the earlier Anglican Books of Common Prayer and restores much of the usages (some derived from the pre Tridentine Roman Rites) of classical Anglicanism. As a result of the liturgical movement beginning in the late 19th Century, Anglican liturgies incorporated prayers from the Eastern Church. The Ordinariate Use, removes many of these usages proper to the Eastern Church and restores the older Latin usages in the Mass.

Ordinariate clergy are not required to exclusively use the Ordinariate Mass but will have the option to use the Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. However, Ordinariate clergy will be expected to be familiar with the Ordinariate Use.

How the Ordinariate Use will be accepted in the US Ordinariate will have to be seen. Many parishes in the US Ordinariate and the diocesan Anglican Use have been accustomed to the BDW which has been used for 30 years.  Another question is whether the US Anglican Use will remain a legitimate option in the territory of the US Catholic Church.

Photos of the inaugural mass can be seen at the UK Ordinariate's Flickr site.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Rev Dr Joseph Palmer Frary (1939-2013)

The Rev Dr Joseph Frary (right) photo courtesy of Skep CSMV Sagada
Fr Joseph Frary passed away last July 12, 2013 at the age of 74, in Cathedral Heights, Quezon City after a serious illness. He supported the Anglican Use and provided hospitality for our meetings at his residence at St Andrew's Theological Seminary in Quezon City. He believed in a Catholicism but one that was more than its Roman expression. He never wavered from his commitment to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, although he was much saddened at the divisions that has happened in the Anglican churches. Towards the end of his life, he wanted to gather all that was good and holy in Anglicanism and spread them around, the "Anglican Virus" he called it. Anglicanism for him is like a dandelion flower going to seed, the seeds are blown with the wind, land on suitable ground and germinate, while the dandelion flower will be no more. This suitable ground may be the other churches. It is in this way that he viewed Pope Benedict XVI's "Anglicanorum coetibus" and the Ordinariates or even a Pentecostal congregation rediscovering liturgical worship through Anglican traditions (He showed me a book he was reading about that). While he said that  he doesn't expect the majority of Anglicans to swim the Tiber, it was just a matter of time that things Anglican will be reincorporated in the Catholic Church and grow, like the Anglican dandelion seed or virus that will infect Roman Catholics. He was prophetic since the new translation of the Mass in English has some "Anglican ways". In fact one of the lectors in our university Catholic parish told me that they were told that in the new translation "we have to say the Lord's Prayer, the Anglican way"! The Catholics he had faith will end up as better Catholics in general, Roman Catholics in the particular.

In his meetings with his former students, many of whom are now Episcopal priests in mission territories, he told them to be appreciative of the Ordinariate and to pray and support Pope Benedict's idea. Not that it will be a kind of "poaching" (which Fr Frary understood is not)  but that it will spread the grace of holiness through the beauty of Anglican liturgy which Catholics should be enriched with and Anglicans will have to rediscover. One of the Episcopal priests told me this during the wake.  And this priest wished us to continue with what we are doing now in memory of Fr Frary.

Fr Frary was born August 26, 1939 in Farmington, Maine, USA. He studied philosophy in Bowdoin College and graduated in 1963, cum laude with a thesis on the Ontological argument. He was ordained in 1966 after studies in Bachelor of Theology from the General Theological Seminary in New York. He then served several Episcopal parishes in New York and New Jersey. He earned an MA from Fordham University and a PhD on the "Ontological Argument and Modern Debate" from the same university.  He then joined the Society of St John the Evangelist. He also served as a missionary and educator in the Church of Melanesia in the Solomon Islands. He arrived in PH in 1979 to serve as a professor in systematic theology at St Andrew's Theological Seminary and teaching philosophy in Trinity College and theology at Maryhill School of Theology.

In 1986 he accepted an appointment to teach in St Michael's Theological Seminary in Korea. in 1991,he moved to Japan to teach English in a women's college. In 1998 returned to PH to resume teaching at SATS which he did until illness overtook him. He authored many papers in philosophy and theology. A dedicated teacher in seminary and outside, he never turned away any student who wanted to learn (and that included me, in my case about monasticism). I was surprised to see him tutoring a high school student in Shakespeare one day. The student was from a public school that catered for the poor students.

For that reason, Fr Frary is well remembered by his students, "not a bad public" as St Thomas More once said. A great teacher is known best by his students and God. Not a bad public really. The wake proves Thomas More was right and always will be!




Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pope Francis and the Anglican ordinariates

According to Archbishop Gregory Venables, the  former Primiate of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, then Cardinal Bergoglio and now Pope Francis told him over lunch that the Ordinariate "is unnecessary" and that Cardinal Bergoglio "valued Anglicans in the Church Universal"

We agree with the Pope.  The Ordinariate is unnecessary if only had Anglicans stuck to Scripture and Tradition. Unfortunately the Anglican Communion introduced many innovations to its life as a church that are not consistent with the Apostolic tradition preserved by the Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental churches. That many distressed Anglicans petitioned Rome to be let in as whole communities while preserving their Anglican heritage, was the main reason why Pope Benedict XVI decided to promulgate Anglicanorum coetibus.

We also agree with the Pope that we value Anglicans in the Universal Church. The Catholic Church has valued and continues to value the Anglican Communion that the Second Vatican Council declared that it "occupies a special place" even if separated, in the life of the Church.

The troubles facing the Anglican Communion are of great concern to the Church and to the popes.

We have to place the then Cardinal Bergoglio's statements in their proper context. The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of South America is one of the traditionalist provinces of the Anglican Communion.  It shares many theological positions with the Catholic Church and has worked closely on pro life and human rights issues in Argentina and most recently against the Argentine government's decision to legalize same sex unions.

In contrast some Anglican churches in Europe and North America have given the green light to bless same sex unions in church.

If Cardinal Bergoglio had been an archbishop in North America then he would have had a different point of view.

Now as Pope Francis, we are confident that he will support the three Anglican ordinariates in their evangelical witness.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pope Francis changes Holy Thursday plans to celebrate Mass in prison | National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis is bringing changes to the Maundy Thursday mass.  Here is a story in the American National Catholic Reporter: Pope Francis changes Holy Thursday plans to celebrate Mass in prison.  In says in part:

VATICAN CITY
Pope Francis has decided to celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper in a Rome juvenile detention facility and wash the feet of some of the young detainees.
It marks a change in venue of the previously scheduled March 28 Holy Week event from St. Peter's Basilica to Rome's Casal del Marmo prison for minors.
While the practice of his predecessors has included washing the feet of priests or laypeople, the ceremony was normally held in either St. Peter's Basilica or the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
The Vatican said that, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis used to celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper -- which reflects on the call to imitate Christ by serving one another -- in prisons, hospitals or shelters for the poor and marginalized.

This is good and humble. It is important on Maundy Thursday for the highest in the church to reach down to the lowest and wash their feet.  It is a reminder of both lessons of Holy Week: (1) we are called to serve everyone including the low with our whole body and soul, and (2) everyone is guilty of the crucifiction.

Christ wasn't crucified by a small, conspiratorial cabal, but by the crowd and even his own apostles.  Peter, that rock upon whom the church is built, abandoned and denied Christ.  No matter how good we think we are, we are not good enough.  No matter how much status we have in society, we are not good enough.  We killed Christ.  Our goodness, our status, our ordination will not save us.  Only His mercy will save us.  Will we recognize our utter unworthiness in time to submit with utter abandonment of status to His will?  Pope Francis's decision reminds us that only utter abandonment of status followed by submission will save us.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A dry martyrdom

The Pope got old and tired and thus he wanted to retire. That is in essence what Pope Benedict XVI did  this week to the utter surprise of the cardinals and to the shock of the rest of the world.

The Pope has no military force to speak of, only a tiny corps of Swiss Guards who offer protection for him. The Swiss Guards are more known for their Michelangelo designed dress that is a big Vatican tourist attraction than for anything else. The Pope doesn't wield real political power outside the walls of the Vatican but he has spiritual power by virtue of the commission he received from Christ and even more immense moral authority and power, again by virtue of the Divine. For his is not a secular office, but a spiritual one. And yet he is tired.

The secular world thinks of retirement as a time when one gets to enjoy life, play golf, island hop etc. This is especially if one got a good deal in superannuation and one had the luck that these retirement contributions didn't fade with usual financial crash. Benedict had none of that. He doesn't have a salary and so no pension fund. He has no condo investment to spend the remaining days but a monk's cell in the Vatican.

And so Benedict has hinted that he will go into seclusion as a monk. This is how it used to be. In the earliest times of Christianity, bishops who retired (and escaped martyrdom) went to the desert to be contemplatives.

The secular world doesn't understand what contemplatives do and what contemplation means. And yet secular people yearn for the contemplative life. They think it will make them get nearer to the Divine. That is true and so they seek all sorts of spiritualities and even come up with new ones. The Jedi spirituality inspired of Lucas' films is an example of seeking contemplation, of course in the Bright Side of the Force whilst trying to understand the Dark Side which is always with you.

Contemplation means leaving all that rat race behind and yet having the rat race within the monastic cell. I am not a monk but I come from a Christian tradition that has a monastic quality that laypeople live whilst in the world. Oh how I value those quiet times which at the end of the day is a must. But quiet means not disturbed. For it is during these quiet contemplation, that we face the magnitude of our unworthiness due to sin.

Anglicanism's spirituality has this contemplative nature and in the Mass of the Anglican Use, the Prayer of Humble Access which is always said in a contemplative manner before receiving the Sacrament, says it best. We are not worthy that even the dogs have more right to the crumbs!

"We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen."

Benedict as a tired man felt he wasn't worthy. Indeed he is like the rest of us. However he took his office like Christ took his cross while we are just exhorted just to do so. Many of us will shirk at the cost of bearing the Cross choosing instead to bear the very light cross of our imaginings.

The Pope got worn down by the battle against a secularism that is based on relativism that eventually kills what makes as human. But the Pope is just but human and it is time that a much younger bishop takes the Cross.

But taking the Cross means eventual crucifixion and the hope of rising again. And there won't be Simon of Cyrenes on our via dolorosa. A Baptist minister the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King understood it very well as he was moved by the Spirit. "The Cross is something you bear and eventually die on." He was right. There is no other way.

And so Benedict retires to a monk's cell, with his Cross and as the Mystics all have experienced (we know since they wrote about it) that the Devil is within the same cell also.  Benedict will need our prayers even more, more so than when he held the papal office.

This is not the retirement we secular creatures look forward to.

But the Cloud of Witnesses will be there to intercede. England has produced so many, Europe, Africa, Asia also and in our dear Philippines we have many too.

Yes the Church militant will get tired in the battle but cannot rest. I am not really a fan of Marian private revelations but it appears that the messages of the Lady of All Nations focus on this and the prophecy has passed. But the seer, a woman in Amsterdam who received the messages say of the Pope, a bishop, Westminster Abbey and the wearying struggle and the need to fight. Perhaps the seer saw Benedict and Rowan Williams in the Abbey. The messages have been approved by the local bishop as of supernatural origin. The Lady of All Nations mentions the role of the Anglican Church in this struggle several times.

Even then, the battle is on us.

Prayers will be said where God has called us in our state of life.

Benedict is living a dry martyrdom in his mission to spread the Faith and the Reason needed to live it according to God's will. And this in all meekness and charity. He was ridiculed, misunderstood and became tired.

Let us pray for like the Pope we are not worthy of all these grace.



Monday, February 11, 2013

Burying King Richard III of England

Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet kings of England was found buried underneath a city council parking lot in Leicester, England last August 25. The parking lot was once the site of Greyfriars, a Franciscan friary and church dissolved by Henry VIII's Reformation. A male skeleton was found buried in what was once the church's choir. The skeleton was that of a man in his 30s and was scoliotic. Based on sketchy written accounts of his death in the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485 that sealed the fate of the Wars of the Roses, the king fell off his horse and bludgeoned and hacked. Stripped of his clothes and strung across a horse, his body was paraded and then buried in the Franciscan friary. The Wars of the Roses resulted in the victory of the Lancasters and the ascent of Henry Tudor as King Henry VI. His son became the famous multi-matrimonial Henry VIII, founder of the Church OF England.

Tudor propaganda has given Richard a bad press. He was portrayed to be an evil, scheming king, hunchbacked and deformed. No doubt Shakespeare's "Richard III" made the libel almost for the ages until the skeleton was found during what can be called archaeology's biggest successful sleuthing in years.

DNA tests and evidence confirmed the identity of the skeleton as that of the king and Leicester University who led the research with funding  support from the Richard III Society made the announcement last February 4. This was made possible with DNA samples from one of the king's direct descendants, a Canadian living in London.

Now that he has been exhumed, it is time to give him a Christian burial befitting a former sovereign. Here is the controversy. The King willed that he be buried in York Minster, but the government of the day and the Church of England has decided to bury in in Leicester Cathedral in what is likely to be ecumenical rites. Richard's descendants have petitioned that their ancestor be buried in York, but the Cathedral has rejected this.

The other question is what funeral rites should be done? Some Catholics and a few Anglicans say that he be buried according to the rites of the Roman Church since he was Catholic and there was no Anglican Church then. There was a Church in England which was established and had English peculiarities but that church was in communion with Rome. Henry VIII broke away from the Church in England and established the Church OF England, a totally separate and Protestant body from the Catholic Church headquartered in Rome.

Some Anglicans say that their church should do the honours since theirs is a continuation of the Church IN England albeit reformed. Of course this is debatable. Nonetheless none of Catholics and Anglicans could countenance an ecumenical ceremony. The British establishment and surprisingly the restored Roman hierarchy in England agree that Britain is now a multi-faith society.

One suggestion is to let the Ordinariate do it. But that is a long shot since Richard was not a member of the Anglican Ordinariate, which is really an oxymoronic situation since there were no Anglicans before the Reformation and obviously there couldn't be former Anglicans then!

So it should be Catholic rites then. But what rite? The modern Roman Rite or the old Sarum Rite or the Tridentine Rite? Some say the Sarum and some say the modern Roman Rite. Nonetheless, the modern Roman Rite sounds with the new translation Anglican anyway! So why not the Sarum which was the rite used in much of England then?

The problem is no one knows for sure whether it is licit to celebrate the Sarum Rite. Also some Catholics and Anglicans insist the York Rite be used since that is a rite peculiar to York (that is if the Dean and Chapter of York Minster agree to the burial in their church). But who can celebrate the Mass in the York Rite?

And so alas poor Richard. He rested in peace unknown in Leicester and now he is the focus of contention!  York and Leicester Cathedrals think he can become a historical tourist attraction and also Westminster!

But it is traditional that if the remains of a person is to be buried it is in the rite of the person's faith, if we know what faith that is.  Burying Richard III in Anglican or even ecumenical rites is absurd. It is like burying  WWII Japanese soldiers remains in a Christian rite knowing that they were Buddhist!








Sunday, January 27, 2013

Conference next week in Houston

The American Ordinariate, which includes Canada, will be holding a conference next week, Saturday, February 2 until Sunday, February 3, in Houston.

It will feature Archbishop Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington; and Msgr. Steve Lopes, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Secretary to the Anglicanae Traditiones Commission and will mark the first anniversary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

If you are anywhere near Houston, or can get to Houston, attend. Given the speakers, the anniversary and the location in the home state of the American Ordinariate and of Anglican Use,* it promises to be an impressive even foundation event with attendance by many of the key figures of Anglican Use worldwide.

The symposium will be streamed live on Saturday from 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Central Time at  www.archgh.org/live

More information can be found at the American Ordinariate's website specifically at http://usordinariate.org/symposium/

*The world's first Anglican Use parish, Our Lady of Atonement, was founded in Texas three decades ago.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Church of England votes down a proposal for women bishops. What it means to us Catholics

The Church of England (CoE) in its recent General Synod voted down a measure which would allowed for the consecration of women bishops. To be more accurate, it was the laity of the Church of England in Synod who voted it down with 132 ayes and 47 nays. The measure enjoyed clear majorities in the House of Bishops 44 ayes, 3 nays  with 3 abstentions and the House of the Clergy 144 ayes, 45 nays. Church law requires that for measures like these changing the doctrine and polity of the church, all houses of synod should pass it with a 2/3 majority. In the laity, it failed by just 6 votes. The outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams pleased passionately to Synod to pass the measure and the newly appointed Archbishop, Justin Welby on the outset said he will vote in favour.

I support the reformers in the sense that the Church of England has had female clergy since 1992 and it makes no sense if a woman can be a priest then she can't be a bishop. In the Catholic Church we don't have such as thing! Not I mean we have women priests (we don't since our Church has no authority to ordain women), but that we have a class of priests which are permanently barred from receiving the mitre.

[PS: I won't dwell on the issue of the validity of Anglican orders. Anglicans save for a few have a different idea from the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox on what being a priest really means]

Of course some Roman Catholic religious orders, the Jesuits in particular have statutes prohibiting them from receiving episcopal orders. But the priests being Jesuits is not the reason and in fact the Pope can overrule Jesuit rules and make Jesuit bishops. History has shown there are Jesuit bishops.

In the CoE we have the opposite case. Women priests cannot be bishops because they are female! As Dr William Oddie wrote, a woman is a priest if she can be a bishop. If she can't be a bishop then she ain't a priest!

The crux of the matter is simple. A bishop is simply a priest who has the fullness of being a priest. He/she can ordain new priests and make sure priests can become bishops by being a consecrator of bishops and thereby assuring that the historical continuity of bishops remains unbroken, this is aside from dispensing the sacraments including celebrating Mass. A priest can celebrate Mass anytime and hear confessions anytime/anywhere only if he/she has the faculty or permission from a bishop. So in churches with an episcopal polity like the Orthodox, Catholics and the Anglicans, the role of the bishop is important. The bishop also is the focus of unity in the Church.

Do we mean a woman cannot be a focus of unity? Of course not. In many places and societies and most likely in your own family, it is a woman who guarantees unity.

But the Church of England by voting down this proposal, should make us rethink what priests really are.

The Evangelicals and the Anglo Catholics who have joined forces in scuppering the women bishops measure believe that they had to do so since the Bible says a man can only head a family( our wider family is the nation and then the Church) and that especially for the Anglo Catholics, the CoE has no authority at all to change what the Roman Catholics, the Orthodox and the Oriental Christians have believed for 1979 years. These churches have no women clergy and never will. The Evangelical and Anglo Catholic positions are valid and while not equal are very complementary. There are Roman Catholics who believe a Vatican III will change the rules. I have to douse cold water on that. Today we are more ecumenical than we were during Vatican I. We won't change the rules without at least informing the Orthodox..And we very well know that the Orthodox understand than most Roman Catholics like us don't fully realize, THE RULES CAN'T BE CHANGED. And so the Pope stands by the Orthodox on these matters.

It is a matter of authority. Who has the authority anyway to make these decisions? The Evangelicals appeal to the Bible while the Anglo Catholics stand by Tradition and how this is confirmed by the Bible. Changing understanding of any of these is unconscionable for them.

For Catholics a priest should be male since  a priest offers the same sacrifice that Christ did at Calvary.  This sacrifice cuts across time it is not bound by time. The sex of a priest is not incidental to this idea since Christ is male. Thus the traditional doctrine that a woman cannot offer the same sacrifice.

Back to the synod decision's fallout. The English political establishment will do everything to make the CoE conform to the UK's "equality legislation" including removing the right of Anglican bishops to sit in the Lords.  Despite the theological eccentricities of Anglican bishops, they are the only ones in Parliament that witness against the non humanist secularism engulfing Europe, the USA and now also the Philippines.

We have to remember that the CoE is an established church. Parliament can do anything to it as it sees fit!

Forcing equality legislation on the CoE means in theory forcing equality on the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Church and make them ordain female priests in England.  This is a violation of freedom of conscience. And so we are back to the days of Sir Thomas More. Conscience...still...for the dissenters of the Church of England and for the faithful of the Roman Catholic Church in England as well as their faithful Orthodox brethren.

Of course David Cameron's government won't send dissenters to the Tower to have their heads lopped off. Secularists have become more civilized than that.. there is a more deadly thing called a lawsuit!

Please say your Rosaries for the Church in England.

Our Lady of Walsingham
 Sts John Fisher and Thomas More
St Margaret Clitherow
St Edmund Campion
All ye Holy Men and Women England and Wales, thy Martyrs, the flowers of England.
Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman

Pray for us...