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, 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...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Eldad, Medad and separated brethren

Last Sunday's Old Testament reading was from the Book of Numbers.  It tells the story of Eldad and Medad who were among the Jews in the Sinai.  While 70 of their number went out to the tabernacle with Moses and there received the spirit from God and the commission to prophesy, Eldad and Medad stayed behind in the camp, separated, apart.

And yet, these separated brothers received the same spirit and began to prophesy.

Then the reading goes on,

So, when a young man quickly told Moses,
"Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp, "
Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses' aide, said,
"Moses, my lord, stop them."
But Moses answered him,
"Are you jealous for my sake?
Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!
Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!"

I am not a biblical scholar, not even close.  Maybe I have made an error about this story; I need to read more.  

However, when this aloud at mass, I thought about those Christians, and the many men and women of God, who are separated, who are outside of Mother Church.  Many are prophesying and have not been blessed by the spirit of God.  Surely, however, a few have been like Eldad and Medad, prophesying and blessed, and these latter include many Anglicans.  I think of course about the Blessed Cardinal Newman, among others.

I am greatly pleased that the Church has not reacted like many have wished, like a modern Joshua, son of Nun in the story above.  Rather, the Church is looking for those separated twos, threes, and more, and finding them, is using Anglican Use, the Anglican Ordinariate, and its many other tools to bring them into the group.

I need to study more about these two – Eldad and Medad.  Please make suggestions to me in the comments.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cardinal Newman's Idea

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman
I have been following the debate on the Catholic identity of the Ateneo de Manila University and I immediately recalled my English lit class in "Godless" University of the Philippines where we had to read selections from John Henry Newman's "The Idea of a University". Our devout Methodist professor required us to really understand it. Newman is considered as one of the sylists of apologetic literature and the Essay in English.

All the quotes in this post were cut and pasted from Newman's essay. Now that I have made the attribution, I wish to be absolved of the sin of plagiarism!

The Oxford don and Anglican priest, John Henry Newman  is the most famous of Anglican "returnees" to the Roman Church. He is also one of the greatest theologians in 19th Century England.  As a consequence of becoming a Roman Catholic he had to leave Oxford. For those of my friends who are associated with the University of the Philippines, this is like being banished from UP and cutting all ties with alma mater because you chose another idea which almost everyone in UP thinks is ridiculous!

But that was long before the ecumenical movement and Vatican II. Now you have Roman Catholics in Oxford and even Roman Catholic seminaries/colleges are associated with Oxford and grants degrees by authority of Oxford. The present Chancellor of Oxford Chris Patten is a Roman Catholic.

After his conversion, Newman was  suspected of heretical views at worst, or at the mildest, bringing in an Anglican column in the English Catholic Church. This was the charge of cradle Catholics and fellow converts from Anglicanism. His Anglican friends essentially deserted him. Despite all these suffering, the suffering of the intellectual, Newman was made a Cardinal by a pope. Another pope, Benedict XVI declared that he is worthy of veneration as a blessed. Newman is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

It was in English 2 class that I read   Newman's "The Idea of a University". My professor wanted to bring home the point what Liberal Education really means and Newman's essay is a good starting point. Since UP's strength is on this liberal education. UP is secular and thus the university is protected by law from the influence of Religion on its administration and teaching. This doesn't mean that students and professors cannot practice their faith. But the relevant question especially with the status of liberal education in Church run or associated universities, is whether there is space for liberal education, even if what is taught goes against Church doctrine. This is the same dilemma that Newman faced when he ran the Catholic University of Ireland.

Newman essentially sided with the fact that the Church is Catholic enough that in a university even these ideas can be taught and debated, free from interference even from bishops and clergy, allows for the discernment of truth. Newman also understood that a university Catholic or otherwise is not a religious seminary or a venue for purely teaching catechism.

"That it is a place of teaching universal knowledge. This implies that its object is, on the one hand, intellectual, not moral; and, on the other, that it is the diffusion and extension of knowledge rather than the advancement. If its object were scientific and philosophical discovery, I do not see why a University should have students; if religious training, I do not see how it can be the seat of literature and science."

Or that non Roman Catholic ideas cannot be taught

"The Church has ever appealed and deferred to witnesses and authorities external to herself, in those matters in which she thought they had means of forming a judgment: and that on the principle, Cuique in arte sua credendumShe has even used unbelievers and pagans in evidence of her truth, as far as their testimony went. She avails herself of scholars, critics, and antiquarians, who are not of her communion. She has worded her theological teaching in the phraseology of Aristotle; Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, Origen, Eusebius, and Apollinaris, all more or less heterodox, have supplied materials for primitive exegetics. St. Cyprian called Tertullian his master;  St. Augustin refers to Ticonius; Bossuet, in modern times, complimented the labours of the Anglican Bull; the Benedictine editors of the Fathers are familiar with the labours of Fell, Ussher, Pearson, and Beveridge. Pope Benedict XIV. cites according to the occasion the works of Protestants without reserve, and the late French collection of Christian Apologists contains the writings of Locke, Burnet, Tillotson, and Paley. If, then, I come forward in any degree as borrowing the views of certain Protestant schools on the point which is to be discussed, I do so, Gentlemen, as believing, first, that the Catholic Church has ever, in the plenitude of her divine illumination, made use of whatever truth or wisdom she has found in their teaching or their measures; and next, that in particular places or times her children are likely to profit from external suggestions or lessons, which have not been provided for them by herself."

And if all of these would worry parents that they will damage the Catholic faith of their children. Newman provides the antidote

"Right Reason, that is, Reason rightly exercised, leads the mind to the Catholic Faith, and plants it there, and teaches it in all its religious speculations to act under its guidance."

But Newman cautions about human nature and how it applies reason

"But Reason, considered as a real agent in the world, and as an operative principle in man's nature, with an historical course and with definite results, is far from taking so straight and satisfactory a direction. It considers itself from first to last independent and supreme; it requires no external authority; it makes a religion for itself."

Thus the need for continuing formation in the Catholic faith for Catholics and for those not, formation in their own religious traditions.

This is the idea of any university. In a secular university Catholic, Protestant, Muslim etc students and professors need not worry about losing their faith if they use Reason in the right manner and the secular university need not worry about religious influence eroding its autonomy if it also uses Reason in the same manner. A Catholic university should not be worrying about heresy if the students and the professors have rightly exercised their faculty of Reason.  The problem is when Reason implodes. Then the Devil can do his work, so happily it seems.

And the only defence is that Professors and Students (including the former ones we call alumni) continue to practice the "Discipline of Mind" which is the second to the last section of Newman's "Idea"

Newman's "Idea" is so relevant that in the last selection process for the presidency of the University of the Philippines, one of the nominees quoted lengthily from Newman's essay. It is even more relevant today when we struggle about the goodness inherent with and the usefulness of higher education.

PS: As a member of a university albeit a secular one, I pray to Newman the blessed for intercession. Newman once he is declared as a saint should be immediately declared as the Patron Saint of Catholic Universities suspected of Heresy. He also should be made patron of Ateneo de Manila University along with St Ignatius of Loyola!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pope establishes the Australian Ordinariate

Last June 15, the Holy Father Benedict XVI erected the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross for former Anglicans in Australia and perhaps also for New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the rest of Oceania. It may also be the Ordinariate for South East Asia which is immediately to Australia's north

This is the third Personal Ordinariate for former Anglicans in the world after the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in the UK and the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter in the USA and Canada.. A former Traditional Anglican Communion bishop, the Rev Harry Entwistle was named as the first Ordinary. Rev Entwistle, 72 and an Englishman who settled in Australia served the Church of England and the Anglican Church in Australia as parochial vicar and prison chaplain. He then joined the continuing Anglican Catholic Church in Australia and was consecrated bishop.

The Anglican Church in Australia has a strong Anglo Catholic tradition in all its dioceses except Sydney which is mostly evangelical. Having lived in Australia, I am keenly aware of the devotion of many Anglicans to the Catholic tradition. Also there is a good ecumenical engagement between the Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic and the Anglican Church in Australia especially on matters concerning the poor and the marginalised.

However, following the trend in the older churches of the Anglican Communion, the Australian Anglican church decided to ordain women to the priesthood and episcopate in the 1990s making some Anglo Catholics consider joining the Catholic Church while retaining their Anglican traditions.

The new Ordinariate has its own principal church in Mayland, Perth, Western Australia, the parish of St Ninian and St Chad. Rev Entwistle and his congregation are bringing their church building to the Ordinariate. The church website is a dead link but at least we get to see what their pipe organ looks like here!

Other Australian Anglican congregations and their pastors are expected to join the Ordinariate including a Traditional Anglican Communion congregation, four priests and a bishop from Japan.

The Ordinariate is under the patronage of St Augustine of Canterbury.

Above is a picture of Our Lady of the Southern Cross with the infant Jesus, which I think is the cutest and most adorable ever in religious art!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham

The  Rev Msgr Andrew Burnham of the Personal Ordinariate in England has announced this June 1st that the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham will be off the presses soon. The Customary is the liturgical book of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Some interesting points: The Customary will use the Coverdale Psalms, provides the Anglican offices of Evensong and Morning Prayer available to ALL Catholics (meaning these are authorized rites by Rome) and these offices will closely intertwine with the Roman Office since the readings for both complement each other.

Also Msgr Burnham reveals that Rome has decided on the use of Traditional English as used in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) and also in the 1928 American Book of Common Prayer. Traditional English is prized by Anglicans in the US, England and in the Commonwealth. Before the US Episcopal Church decided to shift to the modern 1979 BCP, Episcopalians in the Philippines used the 1928 BCP. The Episcopal Church in the Philippines in the 1990s had its own BCP but it heavily borrowed from the 1979 American book. Similarly the American Book of Divine Worship as used by the US Anglican Use parishes and the American Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter adopted much of the American 1979 BCP modern language with a Traditional option. The Customary diverges from that in this respect by having Traditional English as the norm rather as an option.

Unlike traditional Anglican prayerbooks, The Customary uses the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible since this merged the Catholic tradition of the Douay-Rheims and the Protestant King James translations. In 1966 this was the common Bible used by Protestants and Catholics in the UK. In the 1970s the Roman Church in England decided to use the Jerusalem translation but the Ordinariate believes the RSV is a better choice. I myself have the 1966 RSV with the Cardinal of Westminster's imprimatur.

It is understood that the Customary will be authorized for use in the English Ordinariate. Whether it will be authorized for use the the American and the soon to be erected Australian Ordinariate of Our Lady the Southern Cross remains to be seen. But the Customary is an example of Anglican liturgy enriching the Roman one vice versa as it was restored in the Catholic Church. The ecumenical significance of this cannot be understated.

The Customary can be ordered online at Amazon UK.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's not always an evil plot

In a thank you letter sent to donors, Fr. Eric Bergman of the St Thomas More Society of Scranton, and newly of the Anglican Ordinariate, writes:

The (Anglican) Ordinariate has been able to acquire insurance, paving the way for my appointment as pastor of St Thomas More Parish... 

This is a reminder to us, if one is needed, that there are many tasks that lie ahead and many will not be completed easily.  We'll face bumps, detours, and outright failures.  And no one will be at fault.

Just because there has been a bump in the road -- or even a mountain -- doesn't mean that there is a nefarious plot to undermine the Anglican Ordinariates.  Yes, there are some who are outright opposed and are working against the Ordinariates.  There are others who are lukewarm at best and their neglect or laziness will lead to failures.  

Then there are good people, working hard, and they too will meet with failure.  It happens.  We live in an imperfect world. Every failure is not proof of hostile intentions.

In this case, the good people succeeded.  The insurance was purchased, and Fr. Bergman is now an Ordinariate priest.  I am sure that in other cases insurance complications or some similar seemingly mundane task has thwarted progress.  I hope and pray that such problems will be few in number. Further I pledge to assume that failures are the cause of good people not succeeding. I will not act on rumors or speculation that failure means that so-and-so is deliberately undermining the Ordinariates.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

St. Thomas More Anglican Use Parish joins American Ordinariate

St. Thomas More

St. Thomas More is an Anglican Use parish in Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., lead by Father Eric Bergman. The parish was Episcopalian until several years ago when it left the Episcopal Church and left behind the building that the parish had built and maintained over generations.  

Their minister Eric Bergman became a Catholic priest and their parish became an Anglican Use parish, and further becoming a leading parish of Anglican Use especially on the East Coast. They have hosted an Anglican Use Society Conference and Fr. Bergman has traveled far and wide pastoring to interested Catholics, Anglicans and others.  

They recently officially joined the American Anglican Ordinariate and purchased their own building, a nearby closed Catholic Church where the Venerable Mother Maria Kaupas began her American ministry.  

May 9, 2012: American Ordinariate Gets Its First Priest

Fr. Eric Bergman of Scranton Joins Ordinariate; Church Purchased for New Parish

The new U.S. ordinariate for Anglican groups entering the Catholic Church achieved a milestone on May 8, 2012 when Reverend Eric Bergman became its first priest.... 
The group will become St. Thomas More Parish at St. Joseph Church and will be located at the former St. Joseph property in Scranton’s Providence neighborhood starting in late August. The ordinariate purchased the property from the Diocese of Scranton for $254,000, with $200,000 of that amount raised by the St. Thomas More community during a three-week period this spring.... 
St. Joseph was established as a Lithuanian-language parish in 1895 and is a former home of Venerable Maria Kaupas, foundress of the Sisters of St. Casimir, who was a housekeeper at the parish in the late 19th century. A miracle attributed to her intercession is before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints that, if approved, will lead to her beatification. The parish property includes a church, parish hall, rectory, convent, school, parking lot and four garages.
Also in the above press release says this:
Approximately 60 current or former Anglican priests are preparing to be ordained Catholic priests for the ordinariate, with 30 ordinations expected in the next few months....

Here is the news from St. Thomas More in their own words from an email:

Dear Members and Friends,
St. Joseph's, their new home

We are writing to deliver the exciting news that Fr. Eric Bergman is now  a Priest of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, and yesterday our congregation purchased the St. Joseph's property free and clear.  Here is some important information you'll need to know:

LOCATION: For the remainder of the spring and summer our worship and ministries will continue to be based at St. Clare Church and Rectory.  However, please begin using our new location's mailing address immediately for U.S. mail, which will be retrieved there daily:
St. Thomas More Catholic Parish
116 Theodore Street
Scranton, PA 18508

NEW WEBSITE: We have a new website, www.stmscranton.org.  Some of the content is still a work in progress which will be completed in the coming weeks, but the site is fully functional and already contains a good deal of informative content.

NEW EMAIL ADDRESSES: Our email addresses now conclude with our new domain name, stmscranton.org.  Our old stthomasmoresociety.org domain name will eventually be phased out, so please do start using our new addresses...
SAME PHONE NUMBER: The office phone will remain the same: 570-343-0634

Thank you so much for you faithful support, and please watch for a mailing soon regarding how you can help us reinvigorate our new property as a vibrant center of Catholic worship, teaching, ministry, and evangelization.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Eric Bergman, Pastor
Paul Campbell, Administrator & Music Director

Press release from the Ordinariate: http://usordinariate.org/ord_news_Scranton.html

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sagada gets its first Roman Catholic church,

The CBCP announces that the only Anglican/Episcopal town in the Philippines, Sagada will get its first Roman Catholic place of worship. Sagada may be the last town in the country  to have a Roman Catholic church. This doesn't mean that Sagada is not a Christian town in fact it is. Sagada is a mission town of the Episcopal Church. In 1904 the first Christian mission was established there with the Rev Fr John Staunton as first priest-in-charge. By 1911 it was a flourishing mission. Rev Staunton was staunchly Anglo Catholic and his spiritual journey was one of our first blog posts here.

Thus as the present vicar of Sagada says that the people of Sagada are Catholic. In a large sense this is true. They are in the Anglo Catholic tradition  so close but yet separated from the Catholic Church. Despite the rapid changes in society of the 20th century, two world wars, national independence, martial law, a democratic restoration, environmental crisis, secularism etc, the people have fully conserved the Anglo Catholic traditions of Father Staunton. And part of this is a strong Marian devotion. Roman Catholics who have visited the place and prayed at St Mary the Virgin may have noticed how more Catholic the Sagada people are than most Roman Catholics!

Nonetheless Sagada faces the challenge of  tourism that will affect the traditional values of its people. Ms Danilova Molintas has written about it here. A Roman Catholic presence is needed in furthering Christian witness in this town, especially for the lowlanders who come here to find meaning and spiritual direction. Also, there must be a place where Catholics can celebrate the sacraments. The Roman Catholic presence should never be seen as competition to the Episcopal/Anglican presence and witness here. The Catholic presence should be seen as a complement or even a celebration of the Anglican/Episcopal witness of Fr Staunton, without which there would be no church here.

The Episcopalians tell us that the Roman Catholic church here will be dedicated to Our Lady of Mt Carmel. This is an appropriate title for Mary under this title encourages us to be contemplative, exactly the reason why a lot of people stay in Sagada for a while.

Carmel also has its roots in the English Church. The scapular is said to have been received by St Simon Stock from the Virgin herself. Formal devotion to the Lady of Mt Carmel started in Cambridge, England in 1374. From Cambridge, devotion to Carmel spread to the European mainland, to Spain and her colonies including the Philippines.

So in these days of Anglicanorum coetibus, the Lady of Mt Carmel among the pines of Sagada is a sign or portent of things to come. Are Anglicans and Roman Catholics with their own eyes are seeing the fulfillment and completion of Father Staunton's work?

Palm Sunday is a sign of our sinful fickleness which will see its logical end on Good Friday.

And here is the Collect for Palm Sunday according to the Anglican Use of the Catholic Church

Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love
towards mankind, hast sent thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ
to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the
cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his
great humility: Mercifully grant that we may both follow the
example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his
resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who
liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dr Rowan Williams stands down, Coptic Pope Shenouda passes away

The biggest ecumenical news in the past two weeks are the resignation of Dr Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury beginning next year and the death of Coptic Pope Shenouda. Both events will have ecumenical ramifications.

Dr Williams resigned as Archbishop largely because he wasn't able to hold the Anglican Communion together. A brilliant theologian and a man of deep spirituality, Rowan seemed to be the wrong man for the job. His waffling on many issues did not get him support from the conservatives who accused him of favouring gay unions and from the liberals from his backing down from supporting  liberal positions like his alleged waffling on the Church of England's decision to ordain women as priests.

However it wasn't completely Rowan's fault. The fracture lines in Anglicanism had been there ever since the church province by province decided to ordain women starting in the 1970s. The more traditional provinces in Africa and Asia dominated by an evangelical ethos, still do not ordain women. In Australia, the Sydney diocese refuses to ordain women. Debate on women's ordination hasn't died down in the Anglican Communion since then. The Church of England is likely to pass legislation allowing women to be bishops. The conservative evangelical and Anglo Catholic parties of the CoE demand that a structure be in place for Anglicans who for good conscience cannot accept women clergy.

The tragedy here is that the Anglican Communion wasn't able to fully benefit from Rowan's intellect, charisma and good naturedness. If he were Archbishop of Canterbury in a more genteel age, he would have brought the Anglican Church even closer to the Roman Church. While this was Rowan's vision, it did not make much headway due to the divisions within the Anglicans themselves even with Pope Benedict XVI's direct encouragement for the Anglicans to stay as one communion. In the end Vatican ecumenists have concluded that the unity game was lost and Rome offered a lifeboat to fleeing Anglicans in the form of an Anglican Ordinariate.

Rowan Williams will take on the mastership of Magdalene College, Cambridge. We hope that he finds peace here after all academia is where he feels most at home and a college fits his contemplative call. The next Archbishop of Canterbury has the huge task of keeping the communion together while making sure those who do not share the general theological sentiments of the majority have a place to stay.

Pope Shenouda is one of three bishops today who can be legitimately called "Pope".  The Coptic Church is one of the oldest in Christendom and has 11 million members in Egypt.  Shenouda was on the Coptic papal throne for 41 years. He opposed President Sadat's policies in the 1970s leading to his internal exile. Pope Shenouda also made historic visits to the Vatican thus cementing ecumenical relations. He also forged close relationships with the Mubarak regime and the Islamists who in later years became a significant voice in Egypt.

With the Mubarak regime gone and the parliamentary rise of Islamist parties, the next Coptic pope is likely to play a significant moderating influence in Egyptian society.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Home! part 1

The first installment of the lecture given by Dr Benjamin Vallejo Jr to the Catholic students ministry of the University of the Philippines, January 25, 2012, Delaney Hall, UP Diliman. 


Who are the Anglicans?

I always believed that Anglicans do not convert to become Catholics. They just come home. After all the word “Anglican” means “of England” and could also be used to describe the Catholic faith as practiced by the English, especially before the Reformation. But then the Reformation happened.

Father Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk nailed his 95 theses on the west door of Wittenberg Church on October 31, 1517, a date so important in Church history which the Protestant Churches celebrate as Reformation Day. The theses are nothing but academic points of debate on certain church practices that Fr Luther found unacceptable. It is true that the Medieval Roman Church has abused its power to care for souls. Fr Luther objected the “sale of indulgences” simply because another priest Johann Tetzel made the whole idea of praying for the souls in Purgatory a business transaction. The Church needed the money to finish constructing St Peter’s Basilica.

If one day if you have the chance to visit Rome,  I bet that you will marvel at the priceless expression of the Catholic faith in St Peter’s especially in art but was St Peter’s worth the Reformation that made it possible?
Perhaps all Christians whether they be Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox or Anglican may have asked the question. St Peter’s is both a sign of our division and our unity as Christians. St Peter’s Basilica can both repel us with its ostentation and the cost of dividing the church but still unite us since all of this was made for God’s glory. But still we are drawn to St Peter’s and to  most of all to St Peter. St Peter is probably the wimpiest of the Apostles, yet even if he denied the Lord and was hesitant to lead, the Lord selected him and gave him a great responsibility. He was already old when he was crucified like Jesus but upside down exactly on the place where St Peter's Basilica stands today. Jesus foretold of this and even in his weakness Peter accepted the commission.  And for that the great church is built on Peter's grave.

The Church is built on Peter since he received that important commission from Christ which you can read or better yet hear in the Gospels at Mass. What we recall of that commission is the "Keys" and that Hell won't prevail over the Church. But the Reformation made it more difficult to see that truth since there was a Holy Catholic Church but she was run by sinners and the holy alike. But most of the time, it was the sinners who were on top.  But it is Faith that allows us to see beyond the shadows and darkness, thanks to the witness of the Saints, whose vocation was really authentic reformation. For that truth many Catholics gave their lives and for me the most notable would be Thomas More and Cardinal John Fisher, who gave their lives when the Reformation came to England. Many followed Peter to martyrdom. Thus England has been blessed by the witness of hundreds of martrys some of which are known only to God. Of these we know probably at most 80, forty of which have been canonized as the "Forty Martyrs of England and Wales". 

King Henry VIII in 1536 since he had no male heir would do anything to annul his marriage to Queen Catherine who gave him only a daughter. For this he in a series of acts of parliament, separated the Church in England from the Catholic Church and made himself the “Supreme Head of the Church” in England. This is a new title for the Pope never had considered himself as the “Supreme Head” which is a title only for Christ. The Pope as we all know, even today is the Bishop of Rome (his most important title) and with it “Vicar of Christ”, which means only that he only acts in the name of Christ. King Henry appropriated a title which is not by the law of God, his. For this More and Fisher lost their heads and became Catholic saints. 

The Ecclesia Anglicana or the Church of England was created by the King’s wish. It considered itself as a continuation of  the Catholic Church but reformed by doing away with the perceived abuses of the Pope. The doctrine of the Catholic Church was held and Henry did not tolerate the Lutheran doctrine (much earlier the Pope granted his the title Fidei Defensor).  But the Reformed doctrine was influential among the aristocracy who benefitted from Henry’s dissolution of the monasteries. The English people resisted the Reformation for at least three generations that by the time of Queen Elizabeth I in 1558, a religious settlement had to be made since the people had shed much blood in matters of religion.  Mary I, Elizabeth’s elder half sister brought the English back to the Roman obedience but it was not to last. The Reformation had made its impact. The Church of England will have the Queen as “Supreme Governor”, a title roughly equivalent to the Pope’s title as “Vicar of Christ”.  Elizabeth’s title was granted by Parliament while the Pope was by Christ through St Peter’s. And as a result of the religious settlement Anglican belief would be defined in such a way that it is possible for it to be understood in both the Roman Catholic and Protestant sense.  The result is a large degree of ambiguity. This is so evident in the Anglican belief in the Eucharist which I shall touch on later.

After King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I, the Roman Church had to meet the challenges of the Reformation in the Council of Trent which successfully reformed the Church in what historians would rather inaccurately call the Counter Reformation. The Anglican Church will go on its separate way and developing its own distinct liturgies and spirituality. Yet in this separate way, many elements of Catholic Church belief and practice were preserved. The Anglican Church preserved the ministries of the bishop, priest and deacons but the Eucharist was said in English and no longer in Latin. Anglican clergy can be married while Roman Catholic clergy can’t. The Roman Catholic Church insisted on Latin until after the Second Vatican Council when the Mass could be celebrated in the vernacular languages. Thus in a way the Catholic Church followed the Anglican reforms in liturgy, although 500 years late.

With England becoming a world power in the 17th to the early 20th centuries, she planted Anglican Churches in her colonies including what became the United States. These churches eventually became independent of the Church of England headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. They became the Anglican Communion since they are in communion with Canterbury. In the United States, the Anglican Church is called the Episcopal Church since this church had its first bishop consecrated by the Scottish Episcopal Church (which is not under the Church of England).  When the Philippines became under the Americans in 1898, The Episcopal Church sent its missionaries to the Philippines and later on the Anglican/Episcopal church in our country became the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP). The ECP is notable in our church history since right from the start in 1902, she refused to convert Roman Catholics instead focused her missionary efforts on non-Christians. The first Episcopal Bishop of the Philippines the Rt Rev Charles Henry Brent would not “build an altar over another”. Of all the non- Catholic (Protestant) missionaries in the Philippines, only Bishop Brent recognized that Roman Catholics were Christians too!

But with so much in common even if we are separated, it would be inevitable that many Anglicans would feel an affinity for the Church of Rome. Thus in the five centuries of separation, Anglican theologians would take great care in differentiating what they believed in from Protestantism while maintaining their difference from Roman Catholicism. They believed they are the middle way or in Latin “Via Media”.  Fundamental aspects of Protestant (Puritan) practice were suppressed as well as Roman Catholic devotions like those to the Virgin Mary. The Anglican Church is the church of the English state and any excessive emphasis on Protestantism (Puritan) or Catholicism was considered a threat to the state. Elizabeth I famously said she “won’t look into men’s souls” which meant that one can hold Roman Catholic or Puritan beliefs as long as one keeps this private.  If not Elizabeth I considered these grounds for treason.  Many martyrs both on the Roman Catholic and Puritan side lost their heads for their conscience since they rejected the idea that they should live their faith in private.

Of course the Via Media won’t hold as John Henry Newman realized. The Rev Dr Newman, perhaps the most renowned 19th century Anglican theologian or Divine as the English would say it, was one of the founders of the Oxford Movement in the  mid 19th century which sought to restore the Catholic element in the Anglican Church.  The Oxford Movement restored to the Church of England the Devotion to the Blessed Virgin especially in her title of Our Lady of Walsingham. It also restored a more sacramental way of celebrating the liturgy.  Thus many Anglicans today have a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother.  While this led many Anglicans to believe in many things Catholics believe in, but even so Newman in his studies and prayerful reflection realized that the idea of a Church of England would make no sense unless it is united with the Church of Rome, where she came from.  [It was a Pope, St Gregory the Great, who sent St Augustine to Canterbury to preach the Gospel to the English].  Newman also rejected the idea that the state should have anything to do with Christian doctrine. Newman became a Catholic, was ordained to the Catholic priesthood and became a Cardinal. Pope Benedict XVI beatified him in 2010. It was not only Newman who came home but many Anglican clergy and laypeople, some very famous, some are celebrities but most are ordinary men, women and children. And they are still coming home as of this minute. They reached the same conclusion as Newman did more than 150 years earlier.

And most of them don’t consider themselves converts but just people who came home!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Grace that Drops from Above

This week of Christian Unity, on January 25, the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul,  at 6 PM at the UP Parish, I am asked by the Catholic Chaplain of the students of the University of the Philippines, Fr Mike Ty to talk about where I came from in my pilgrimage.

This is an act of God's grace which comes to me from above. Almost exactly a year before we said the First Anglican Use Evening Prayer in the same Roman Catholic Church.

I am so busy with mundane things of the world, that sometimes I can't move on my continuing pilgrimage but I recall a poem of George Herbert, the Anglican Mystic and priest

The Temple (1633)


"O come! for thou dost know the way:
Or if to me thou wilt not move,
Remove me, where I need not say,
                                       Drop from above."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The American Ordinariate's teething pains

The US Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter is not even 15 days old and yet it appears that some problems have began to manifest themselves. This involves how the Anglican Use parishes established through Blessed Pope John Paul II's 1980 Pastoral Provision will transition from being under their local diocesan to the Ordinariate. The presence of these Anglican Use parishes and groups makes the US Ordinariate much different from the English one. In England, the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham did not bring whole parishes from the Church of England but "groups of Anglicans" or in Latin Anglicanorum coetibus! Thus the Ordinary, the Rt Rev Monsignor Keith Newton need not worry about translating parishes from one ecclesial jurisdiction to another and getting the approval of the bishops. All the Ordinariate groups start from all at the same starting line. They don't have their own buildings save for one or two groups and most will have to share existing Roman Catholic church buildings with Roman parishes until they are financially capable of having their own. The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams was gracious and generous enough to offer church sharing arrangements with the departing Anglicans but the Anglican and English Roman Catholic hierarchies did not find this acceptable. Perhaps it is for the better. The English Ordinariate will be served well by becoming self financing as early as possible.

Money is the biggest problem of the English Ordinariate. There is a need to find stipends for the priests a majority of them married and with families. Many of the priests are supported by English dioceses since they do extra work for them. Some priests were received having long retired from the Church of England and they lost their pensions and the Ordinariate just like any Catholic diocese will have to provide for them. The English Ordinariate does not have its own cathedral since the Msgr Newton and the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols believe the Ordinariate does not have the means to maintain one at present.

In contrast the American Ordinariate has a cathedral from day one. This is the Church of Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston TX, which is one of the more successful Anglican Use parishes in the US with a growing congregation. The other successful Anglican Use parish is the Our Lady of  the Atonement Church which has a growing congregation too and is financially viable that it runs its own parochial school. Some of the Anglican Use parishes (around 5 or 6) own their church buildings, some are Anglican Use groups which may have their own priests and some comprising of laypeople and ministered by a Roman Rite priest. One Anglican Use group is a former Episcopal religious order, the All Saints Sisters of the Poor in Maryland. One Anglican Use group is a Cathedral Parish of the Traditional Anglican Communion which is in the process of joining the Ordinariate. Some groups are using existing Catholic parish buildings or are renting or are in the process of building their own.

Whatever the stage of development of these groups or parishes are in, they attract a significant number of cradle Roman Catholics,  with not a few lapsed Catholics who are attracted to Anglican spirituality. And this has become a sticky problem when the groups or parishes transition to the Ordinariate. Anglicanorum coetibus makes it clear that the Apostolic Constitution is meant for those who were or are Anglican and they have to make their desire in writing if they wish to become part of the Ordinariate.

Existing Anglican Use parishes have to apply as a corporate body to join the Ordinariate and the oldest and if not the most successful, the Atonement parish has applied but permission has not been received. This has generated a lot of exchanges in the Anglican Use yahoo group which I believe is an example of impatience on the part of Anglican Use people. People have speculated that there is a difficulty since a majority of the parish are cradle Roman Catholic! This lead its curate the Rev Fr Christopher Phillips to respond with

"Yes, we certainly have a large number of people from non-Anglican backgrounds
who attend OLA; however, when the total number of families is considered, that
number is far from overwhelming. A fact which seems to be forgotten is that our
parish has been in existence for more than a generation. A very large number of
our young families are people who actually grew up in the parish. Are they
"cradle Catholics"? Yes, but they are "cradle Anglican Use Catholics." Also,
there many families in which one of the spouses was Episcopalian, and a
spiritual home has been able to be found in which the former Episcopalian is
very happy, along with the whole family. We have a steady stream of people being
prepared to be received into full communion -- in fact, our inquirers' classes
are offered throughout the year, with a new series beginning as soon as the
previous one is finished, and these classes always have an excellent enrollment.
Many who complete the classes are incoming Anglicans; others are from other
protestant denominations, but who have found a home in the Catholic Church
through our parish. Over these past few weeks I have received four new families
into the Catholic Church, and I have several others who are nearly ready.

Yes, there are Catholics in the parish who have no Anglican or protestant
background in either spouse, and who are here only because they were searching
for a more formal and dignified celebration of the Mass -- and they are all
welcome. I am happy to have them in our parish family. But they are not the
overwhelming majority, by any means."

The Atonement parish I believe is a preview of the future Roman Catholic Church with the Anglican Communion restored in and with her. This future is being created in our own seeing! Of course the Ordinariate will attract cradle Catholics. Will the Ordinariate refuse them complete association? I hope not for that will be a pastoral disaster! Also there will be non Catholics and even non believers who will ask to be baptized in the Ordinariate and so their children will be cradle Anglican Roman Catholics.

The pastoral situation on the ground is that there are a number of cradle Roman Catholics who have an Anglican parent or even grandparents and they received the Catholic faith through their prayer life and witness. Are they not cradle Anglicans too?

This is so true in the Philippines on both the Episcopal Church and Roman Catholic Church sides. There are Episcopalians who worship in Roman Catholic parishes and there are Catholics who worship in Episcopal parishes. None of them would wish to formally convert and this is a pastoral issue that has to be approached with good sense, charity and sensitivity. The Episcopal National Cathedral of St Mary and St John reports that many Roman Catholics support the cathedral's ministry especially to the poor. Many Episcopalians support Catholic ministries to the poor and especially on environmental issues.

And exactly here we find the Anglican Use Society of the Philippines. We will be linked in some ways with the American Ordinariate for historical reasons but we will be within our Roman Catholic dioceses.

As the Catholic Bishop of Cubao, the Most Rev Honesto Ongtioco told the Anglican Use Society of the Philippines "We cannot stop the Holy Spirit in these matters!"

The American Ordinary, Fr Jeffrey Steenson has huge task ahead of him. Also we have to pray also for the Rt Rev Msgr Keith Newton of the English Ordinariate. The two ordinaries are the few men in the vineyard whose crop is ready for the harvest.

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for the ordinaries and us. Amen.

Monday, January 9, 2012

AU Philippines meets with the Roman Catholic bishop of Cubao

L to R, Fr Raymond Aree, Bp Ongtioco, Fr Joe Frary, me and Bruce Hall
After quite some time of getting all our schedules right, the Anglican Use Society of the Philippines finally met with the the Most Rev. Honesto Ongtioco DD, the bishop of Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines. Bishop Ongtioco earlier gave permission for the Anglican Use Society of the Philippines to hold evening prayer meetings at the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in UP Diliman under Fr Raymond Arre. We updated the bishop on the slowly growing membership of AU Philippines and the great help that social media has been in giving AU Philippines stronger legs.

We also told the bishop on how Bruce, Fr Frary and I unexpectedly came together. It is probably of God since it is quite a long shot to for all of us to come together. But it did happen. After all how many Anglican Use Catholics are in the Philippines?

Fr Frary told the bishop that with the fragmentation of the Anglican Communion, it makes good pastoral sense to spread the Anglican "virus" to the wider Church, not only in the Roman Church but to other churches as well. This is especially in the West where Fr Frary noted that the near collapse of Christian heritage and culture is not solely attributable to secularism but to something else, perhaps more sinister.

We also discussed at great length what the Ordinariates are and how this will change the way Roman Catholics as a church, a more Catholic Church than it was in the past, a church that will bring all people (Protestants, Anglicans, Orthodox, non-believers etc and of course lapsed Catholics) who wish to do so, be part of her once more.

To all of these Bishop Ongtioco said "We can't prevent the Holy Spirit in doing these things!" He also said he was very glad that there is an Anglican Use Society in the Philippines. Bishop Ongtioco struck me as a down to earth bishop, with wit and humor and good cheer as well as great pastoral sense. It is no wonder the diocese has made strides in catechesis and strengthening its parishes.

The bishop supports our plan to have quarterly evening prayer meetings with the next one scheduled for Mar 21. The bishop also required us to use the Book of Divine Worship since it is a Vatican approved liturgy.

We also made it clear that the identity of the Society is Roman Catholic. As Bruce emphatically said "We are Anglicans in communion with the Pope in Rome"

After merienda "morning snack" we toured the Romanesque Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. I haven't been to this church in years and I was awestruck by the artwork by the diocese's artists. It as if we entered the gate of heaven (medieval cathedrals gave that impression) with that starry vault of the nave. The cathedral's stained glass windows are not yet complete. But once they are, this church will reflect how the 21st century Catholic Church has recovered what was lost without  being dated! Anglican traditions definitely will help the wider Church do the same.

Cubao Cathedral's nave

The Immaculate Conception window

St Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila

soon to be canonized Blessed Pedro Calungsod

The Four Evangelists at the transept.
Truly the Diocese of Cubao is "the light on top of a hill"

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Please pray for us.

The Most Rev Honesto Ongtioco DD, Roman Catholic bishop of Cubao will host a meeting for the Anglican Use Society of the Philippines on the feast of the Black Nazarene, January 9 so we can plan our future directions. Please pray for the meeting's success.

Our Lady under the titles of Walsingham and Piat, pray for us!
Saint Augustine of Canterbury, pray for us!
Saint Lorenzo de Manila and Blessed Pedro Calungsod, lay catechists and martrys, pray for us!
Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, pray for us!
Saint Elizabeth Seton, pray for us!
Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!
Blessed Pope John XXIII, pray for us!
Blessed Pope John Paul II, pray for us!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The American Ordinariate is established, Rev Dr Steenson is the first Ordinary

On January 1, 2012, the Holy Father established the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter in the United States. The Ordinariate is for Anglicans/Episcopalians wishing to be part of the Catholic Church while retaining distinctive aspects of their liturgy and tradition.

The Pope named the Rev Dr Jeffrey Steenson, former Episcopal Bishop of the Rio Grande as the first Ordinary. Rev Dr Steenson is a noted scholar of the early Church Fathers, served the Episcopal Church for 25 years as a priest and 3 as bishop. In 2007 he was received in the Catholic Church and was ordained as a priest under the Pastoral Provision in 2008. Dr Steenson is married with three grown children.

Rev Dr Jeffrey Steenson
The formation of Anglican congregations wishing to enter the Catholic Church is a prime focus of the Ordinariate. Already several Episcopal parishes have signified their intention to join the Ordinariate. It is expected that the several Anglican Use parishes (which are under the local Latin Rite bishop) will join as well. The Principal Church or cathedral of the Ordinariate is an Anglican Use parish, Our Lady of Walsingham, in Houston, Texas. Answers to uestions on what the Ordinariate is and who can be part of it are found here.

The name of the Ordinariate is very significant and it reflects on how close to the Pope's heart is Anglicanism and the Anglican Communion.