In his lead story in the May 2013 issue of “New Directions” , Fr. Philip North gives an interesting analysis of what he perceives as the rejection of Anglicanorum Coetibus by the majority of the Anglo-Catholic movement in the Church of England.
Fr. North is currently the Team Rector of the Church of England Parish of Old St Pancras in London. He is a member of the Company of Mission Priests and was Priest Administrator of the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham from 2002 to 2007. On 19 October 2012 he was designated the next Bishop of Whitby, but on 16 December 2012 it was announced that he had withdrawn his acceptance of the post because of the irreconcilability of his stance on women priests and bishops with the views expressed by people in the Archdeaconry of Cleveland. This poses the all-important question as to whether Anglo-Catholics can in good conscience serve as bishops of the Church of England at the current time.
Here is the excerpt from Fr. North’s article dealing with the Ordinariate, in which he suggests that Anglicanorum Coetibus was the answer to his prayers and those of many other Anglo-Catholics, and that rejecting this offer should have profound consequences for those remaining in the C of E (the bold type and underlining are mine):
… For years many Anglo-Catholics dreamed of a structural solution from Rome, an easy way of slipping across en masse and achieving our ecumenical goal through conversion rather than convergence. Well, our prayers were answered. That offer is now on the table. And we have declined it. The implications of accepting that offer and joining the Ordinariate are very clear. The people who have done so have shown great integrity and courage. But not joining the Ordinariate has equal implications. It is just as much a positive and life changing decision. The Holy Father has put an offer on the table for us as traditionalists and we have said no.
That means that we have re-committed ourselves to an Anglican future. The bitter half-life we have lived since 1992 is no longer available to us. Nor is it acceptable to go on indefinitely limping along with two opinions, constantly threatening to leave and then never quite doing so. In many ways that is the most damaging option (of) all and it has meant that entire ministries have been put on hold. We must stay or go. If we think the game is up, the project has failed, we have lost the debate and the Church of England has embarked irreversibly along the course of state Protestantism, then we have no excuse any longer for remaining. But if we stay we must do so joyfully and positively, contributing richly and constructively to the life of the wider church. For we have so much to give and the Church of England has so much it needs to receive.
Essentially Fr. Philip’s article is a call to the many undecided in the Anglo-Catholic movement to finally make up their mind and to act courageously, either joining the Ordinariate or remaining consciously and with a renewed sense of purpose in the Church of England. The latter path will be the more difficult (the easy option of just staying put no longer exists, according to Fr. North).
I very much agree with his position. Fr. North is one of those who from the beginning has stuck to his position of rejecting Anglicanorum Coetibus for very clear reasons and enjoys my admiration. I wish him and others the strength they will need in remaining in the C of E with all the consequences Fr. North implies.
One thing is clear, though. There is no need for us to cease being friends. There must be no talk of betrayal or of cowardice. We are all members of the Anglo-Catholic movement, whether in union with Peter or in the Anglican church, and are stronger if united!