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.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

From the East to the West, Christ is Lord of the Cosmos!

The Western Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King since Scripture warrants it. In Christian iconography it is traditionally represented

In the East as the Pantocrator. This Greek word means that all that happens is made possible by Christ and Christ alone. He rules the cosmos and has total sovereignty over it.

The Pantocrator in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

In the West as the Christ in Majesty, Christ is seated like the Latin Kings and rules over all.

Christ in Majesty in the Codex Bruschal (1220)

The Sovereignty of the Christ over the cosmos was not achieved by violence, deceit, bribery and obviously not by democratic elections! This Sovereignty is because Jesus is the Christ. It is his very essence.

A good old priest told me that in the end we have to give our account of what we have done to a Pantocrat. Jesus is Lord, Jesus is King, Jesus is Saviour and rules over what we see and cannot see! The Universe is a pantocracy even if physicists demonstrate there may be many of them. Christ is ruler of them all.

Even if Christ is Pantocrat, he humbled himself, became man, lived amongst us and atoned for our sins. This is the greatest contradiction in history.


Almighty and everlasting God,

whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son,

the King of kings and Lord of lords:

Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin,

may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

American Ordinariate to be established on New Year's day 2012

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington DC as the CDF's delegate on the establishment of an Anglican Ordinariate announced that Pope Benedict XVI has approved the establishment of the American Ordinariate on Jan 1,2012. Read the details here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Ordinariate as a new way being a church, problems and opportunities.

The Anglican Ordinariate is like a baby. In England it is an 11 month old baby and like a child entering its ones and twos, it will have to learn how to stand and to toddle and walk. Thus as the Catholic Herald observed, the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is in its most crucial time in its history. We have to give laud to the Ordinary, the Rt Rev Msgr Keith Newton for being a good shepherd of the Ordinariate.  Many Ordinariate groups have been received with their pastors and they are sharing Roman Catholic churches in England but they have no buildings of their own. While the Archbishop of Canterbury was supportive of church sharing arrangements with Anglican congregations, other Anglican bishops were not supportive and Msgr Newton has made sure that conflicts with the Anglican church were avoided.

As of this writing, the Ordinariate doesn't still have a "principal church" which is essentially a cathedral. Several op ed writes like Damian Thompson have written about it. As the Herald notes, the principal church is needed in establishing the Ordinariate's identity as a church.  The Herald suggests that the Ordinariate has to do something and not wait for the Catholic bishops of England and Wales to act.

One major problem of the Ordinariate is financial. Just like with any Roman Catholic diocese, it is responsible for supporting its clergy. The main difference is that all of the Ordinariate's clergy were former Anglican priests many of which are married and have families (like Msgr Newton himself) or are retired and in need of pensions.  Many of the clergy have to be housed and have to be given dispensations to find secular jobs to support themselves after they have lost their Church of England entitlements. This should be an eye opener for Roman Catholics who want Rome to dispense with the vow of celibacy for all Latin Catholic priests.  If the Ordinariate whose laity are small are having problems, the wider Roman Church whose parish laity numbers in the thousands will have more problems on this matter. It is very likely that more Anglicans and Anglican oriented Roman Catholics will join and worship with the Ordinariate and thus the Ordinary will have to address the financial problem soon. The Ordinariate is not short of supporters who have contributed some "seed money" but they cannot be expected to contribute for the long run. The Ordinariate must be self financing.

We are just awaiting the erection of the American Ordinariate and this will be much of interest for Anglican Use Catholics, Roman Catholics and Episcopalians in the Philippines. However like in England, the American Ordinariate will face similar problems that what the English Ordinariate now faces. But there is a major difference. The Pastoral Provision allowed the establishment of Anglican Use personal parishes in the last 30 years with their married clergy. Some parishes have grown well like the Atonement parish in Texas. Thus there has been experience in making sure that the Anglican patrimony is conserved in the Roman Catholic Church.

In England as in the US unless the Anglican congregations own their church buildings by title, they are are unlikely to bring their church buildings with them when they leave the Episcopal Church since under that church's canons, the buildings and real estate are held in trust for the Episcopal diocese. Like the Atonement congregration, they will have to build their own churches. In one case the Episcopal diocese and the departing Episcopal congregation have reached an agreement on leasing their church building with an option to purchase. But this likely to be an exception rather than the rule.

The Ordinariate is thus a new way of being an old church. We say new since Anglicanorum coetibus is really a radical way of uniting a separated church. But those separated are returning to Tradition which while old is forever new. The Ordinariates need our prayers!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Married clergy and the vocations problem

The first post on this blog was about married priests in the Anglican churches in the Philippines and how this created a minor controversy in the wake of the Vatican announcing Anglicanorum coetibus  two years ago. But before we proceed we have to make some things clear

The official facts:

The Catholic Church has married priests in the Eastern Catholic Churches. A majority of parishes in the Greek, Ukrainian, Ruthenian churches are staffed by married clergy.

The Latin rite of the Catholic Church (which comprises the vast majority of Catholics) requires that all priests should be celibate (meaning unmarried). However the popes have dispensed with this obligation especially for married ministers of Protestant and Anglican churches called to the Catholic priesthood. A majority of clergy which were given this dispensation were from the Anglican Communion.

The Eastern (Orthodox and Catholic) Churches and the Western (Latin) Church do not allow married men to be consecrated bishops. In the Eastern churches, the bishop is also a monk and since monks are celibate, the bishops must be too. Also the bishop is traditionally seen to be married to their dioceses. In the Eastern Churches a widow may be consecrated as a bishop. In the Roman Catholic Church we know of one cardinal, an former Anglican priest, Cardinal Henry Manning of Westminster, who was a widow. Upon his death and among his cardinal's regalia his staff found that he had a locket with his late wife's picture.

The Latin Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches permit the ordination of married men as deacons. The Latin Church considers married deacons as permanently in the diaconal calling, while in the Eastern Churches they might be ordained as priests. In the Latin Church, the decision to do this lies with the national bishops conference. In the Philippines, the CBCP has not given the go signal but 20 years ago, the subject was brought before the Plenary Council of the Philippines. Deacons like priests and bishops are in Holy Orders

Married and celibate vocations have been honored in the Church since her founding. They are to be considered equal and of complementary value.

And here are some more

It is said that a married clergy will help solve the clergy problem. However even the Protestant churches have suffered a lack of vocations as our society becomes more secular. The Prime Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, the Most Rev. Edward Malecdan has said that enrolment in the ECP's St Andrew's Theological Seminary has dropped in recent years.

It may be financially hard for a particular church to support married clergy and their families. The Ordinariate in England is facing a financial challenge to support its clergy all of which are former Anglican priests and many of them have families. The support for them should come from the diocese and in this case the Ordinariate. In the Philippines, Roman Catholic dioceses find it increasingly difficult to support secular priests, especially retired one and even the parish church buildings since then dioceses depend mostly on mass stipends. Fr Raymond Arre of UP told me that since the parish church is a national cultural treasure, the parish has to make sure the church and its artworks are well maintained and this entails increasing costs on top of supporting the priests and parish staff.

The Eastern Churches in the USA also face the same problems as they ordain married men for service in that country. In the Philippines, poor communities may find it difficult to support a married cleric and his family.

It appears that vocations to the clerical state in the Catholic, Anglican/Episcopal and Protestant churches have been decreasing and this isn't due to the religious traditions they have (clerical celibacy or a married clergy) but to the increasing secularization of Filipino society. Perhaps one solution is to revive spirituality among the youth. One Anglican UP graduate sent me a private message on Facebook and he told me that his Episcopalian grandparents who were devout Anglicans were the reason why his uncles and a brother had religious vocations. One uncle became a vicar general of a Roman Catholic diocese and his brother became a Roman Catholic priest!

It is the family and how the family lives out its faith traditions that is the seedbed of religious vocations to the Catholic Church and this religious tradition need not be Roman Catholic at all.

My personal take on the matter is that I value the call to celibacy and to the married state as equally valuable since they are premised on being faithful. If one is single and in the lay state, then there is no choice but to be celibate. If one is married then one is no longer celibate but has to be faithful to his/her spouse and family. As I said the family is the seedbed of religious vocations.

In a secularizing Philippines, it is increasingly hard to live out these Christian callings.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Should the Church of England be disestablished?

This analysis by Abp Cranmer the blogger is interesting. This is about the recent proposal by UK Prime Minister David Cameron to allow the UK Monarch to marry a Roman Catholic and to allow the firstborn daughter of the Sovereign to ascend the throne even if she had brothers. Under current laws on succession (300 years on the books), the male has the right to succeed even if he has an elder sister. Princess Elizabeth now Queen Elizabeth II of the UK for 59 years assumed the throne since she had no brothers only a sister, the Princess Margaret.

Prime Minister David Cameron essentially got the approval of the governments of the Queen's other 15 realms in the latest Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia. The Queen is Queen of these independent nations. She shares her crown with these nations. For instance, in Papua New Guinea she is not the Queen of England, but the Queen of Papua New Guinea. Under the Statute of Westminister any change to the Succession Laws should get the approval of these independent nations, whose parliaments will pass similar legislation to change the succession.

The changes which appear minor to us Filipinos and other non-Brits, have immense constitutional implications for the Commonwealth and the UK. The Monarch in England has a religious role

as clearly seen in this historic video of the present Queen's coronation in 1953 in Westminster Abbey. She is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and her coronation was within the context of the Anglican Eucharistic celebration. Obviously she should be a communicant of this church. She may worship at nearby Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral (which she has done on special occasions upon the invitation of the Cardinal Archbishop), but she still has to be a member of the Established Church. History gives us an example. Low churchy Queen Victoria was not amused by Anglican panoply and she preferred the Scottish Kirk instead.

The Cameron succession proposals require amendments to what the BBC says a "raft of legislation" which essentially forms the backbone of Britain's unwritten constitution. Cameron however insists  that the amendments won't dispense the Monarch from being required to be formally Anglican.

Which raises some practical issues. In families with mixed religious traditions, the children by convention are raised in the faith of the mother. However the Roman Catholic Church goes even further. The Roman Catholic Church requires that upon marriage, the couple agree to raise the children as Roman Catholics whether the man or woman is the Catholic party. In many cases things do work out. I do know of friends who are married to non-Catholics and the children alternately on Sundays go to Protestant church and then to Catholic church. One famous Filipino ex-secretary of health and later senator had the solution "If we wake up early enough on Sundays, we go to the 6 AM mass and if not, we go to the 9 AM service".

Usually when the children come of age, they are free to choose their religious affiliation. It may not be the affiliation of their parents! However most kids are not destined to be King or Queen (except perhaps of their tiny condo unit!) and they won't have any problems in running their little realms in terms of religion. The only problem they will have is paying the bills which the British royals never had to worry much about, at least the Queen!

In the case of the children of the Anglican Monarch married to a Catholic consort, what Church would the would the heir apparent affiliate? If the royal family were to respect Catholic sensibilities, then the heir should be Catholic and he/she would have to change religion upon succeeding the departed Monarch.

Thus the Cameron proposal really affects the whole raison d' etre of the Anglican establishment. The British and the Commonwealth will have to know what the reasons are, whether these are for the right reasons and not just for short term political gain as many critics have written. Things will be made easier if Cameron insisted on disestablishing the Church of England. But that would make the whole constitutional house of cards fall for the status of the Monarch is what holds it all together as one Catholic blogger has it The reason is that the whole constitutional arrangements of the UK are premised on the Monarchy having a religious character. In short the British Monarchy is the last  institution of religious significance in Britain if not in Europe, excepting the Papacy of course. Europe has become aggressively secular and this is not of the humanistic kind. There is an increasing concern that Christianity is being persecuted in Britain. For example Roman Catholic adoption agencies may face fines since in conscience they cannot leave orphans to care for by same sex couples.

Roman Catholics are divided on Cameron's proposals. While the proposals appear to end the last legal liability in England for Roman Catholics, some Catholics are wary. Many recognize that the Established Church fosters and witnesses for the Faith which even the present Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster accepts.

While these constitutional proposals for Britain seem to be remote for Filipinos, we have to remember that we inherited our charter of liberties from the English (from the same laws Cameron's parliament want amended) through the Americans in their Bill of Rights. The civil liberties we enjoy were a product of English struggles in the 16th century. As Pope Benedict XVI reflected on his speech to the British establishment in Westminster Hall in September 2010

"This country’s Parliamentary tradition owes much to the national instinct for moderation, to the desire to achieve a genuine balance between the legitimate claims of government and the rights of those subject to it. While decisive steps have been taken at several points in your history to place limits on the exercise of power, the nation’s political institutions have been able to evolve with a remarkable degree of stability. In the process, Britain has emerged as a pluralist democracy which places great value on freedom of speech, freedom of political affiliation and respect for the rule of law, with a strong sense of the individual’s rights and duties, and of the equality of all citizens before the law. While couched in different language, Catholic social teaching has much in common with this approach, in its overriding concern to safeguard the unique dignity of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God, and in its emphasis on the duty of civil authority to foster the common good."

And the Pope continued

" By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy."

" I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square. I would invite all of you, therefore, within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason at every level of national life."

The Pope is saying that all these liberties are possible since the state recognizes the sovereignty of God.

And I pose the question, if the secularists succeed deleting references to God in our Constitution, will our nation fall apart like a house of cards? It will. Like England the identity of the Philippine nation is rooted in a religious tradition, predominantly but not exclusively Christian.