Report on Day Conference at St. Agatha’s on 11th July

Fr. John Maunder of St. Agatha’s Ordinariate Church, Portsmouth, has let us have this report by Darel Stutters on their Day Conference on the role of the parish priest:

Day Conference at St Agatha’s

On Saturday 11th July, being the feast of St Benedict, a Day Conference was held at St Agatha’s Church to discuss the role of the parish priest. The two speakers were Fr Nicholas Leviseur from Pembury and Fr Stephen Bould from Folkestone.

Fr Nicholas Leviseur described the present day view of the role of the clergy and the many aspects of the work. A priest could find himself acting as community leader, financial advisor, social-worker as well as caring for the spiritual needs of his parishioners. Unfortunately no single individual can possibly possess all the skills required to fulfil all these roles.

It is easy to have a misinformed and rosy view of the pre-Reformation church. In reality at that time there were also clergy shortages and priests were overstretched. The pre- Reformation church was running virtually all aspects of society and even today we can see traces of the historic role of the clergy in the political and legal life of the country. The church ran the courts, the hospitals, the civil service as well as the spiritual life of the nation. Mgr Mercer pointed out that echoes of this influence can be seen in African churches today which provide much needed health care, education and scholarships to their flock.

The clergy of the pre-Reformation church were assisted by monks and friars who took on the task of preaching. After the upheaval of the Reformation many abbots became bishops. The monastic libraries were subsumed into the cathedrals and the seminaries eventually became our present day public schools.

By 1899 the population of England and Wales had increased from 2.2 million in medieval times to 32 million. There were now over ten thousand parishes but there was still a severe shortage of priests.

The Anglo-Catholic revival and the opening of theological colleges resulted in a well-educated clergy. Those of private means were able to build churches and maintain their independence. Sunday schools and church schools were established during the nineteenth century, but concerns remained about the role of the priest and the neglect of the parish.

Nowadays the level of education among the clergy is much lower. Many do not have the skills to perform their roles. A degree and knowledge of Latin and Greek are no longer required. A great number of priests work alone and there is a risk of isolation and loneliness. The days of a parish with three or more priests are over.

Fulfilling the spiritual requirements of the work can also be problematic. It is difficult for the priest to visit people during the day as only the elderly and the sick will be at home. Parochial activity is often confined to a two-hour window in the evening. Again it is easy to have a false view of the past. Although the Anglo-Catholic clergy had great vision and accomplished tremendous work in their parishes they did not always engage with wider society.

Should the traditional structure of the parish and diocese be called into question? Pentecostal churches appear to be thriving without such structures. Should the church look at the Saxon minster approach? It would enable the clergy to live in community and thus avoid isolation. They could then operate a mission of outreach. The danger of this model is that it could be seen as a response to an external threat and might encourage the clergy to retreat from society. It could however be an interesting format particularly as many churches are redundant and will soon be obliged to close.

Fr David Stafford pointed out that much had been achieved in the USA. The church there is unshackled by tradition and ancient structures. It is easier to be dynamic and build a different type of church.

The Vatican is very concerned about clergy formation. Many clergy in the Church of England have not experienced the discipline and way of life of the seminary. Ignorance of doctrine has been in evidence for a while and some female clergy appear to have abandoned traditional services altogether. The laity who may have been unconcerned with doctrinal matters is now becoming aware of challenges by the secular state to traditional morality.

How should the Ordinariate respond to this situation? It is tempting to go to Anglican services and offer an alternative by direct communication with the congregation but this form of action could be considered “sheep stealing”. Another approach could see representatives of the Ordinariate attending events and meetings. Should the Ordinariate wait for Anglicans to make the first move?

Fr John Maunder pointed out that our society has changed enormously. Although the teaching of RE even in Catholic schools leaves a lot to be desired, vast amounts of knowledge are available on the internet. The laity can instantly check up on the knowledge of the clergy.

Fr Nicholas reminded us of the appeal of a demanding Christian lifestyle. People are not drawn to an easy path. The basics of Christianity must continue to be taught in our schools and the actual requirements of the Faith will draw people to Christ.

Adrian felt that the laity expected too much from the clergy. The concept of the “priesthood of all believers” could also be utilised, particularly if Christians are prepared to work together even if they come from different denominations. Fr Nicholas reminded everyone of the importance of wearing the symbol of the cross as a visible sign of their allegiance.

Fr Stephen Bould took as his theme Cardinal Newman’s motto “cor ad cor loquitur.” Christian communities need to have a heart-to-heart dialogue with each other. Roman Catholic churches, even if they are modern constructs, point to the future and eternity whereas Church of England buildings encourage a step into the past. The Ordinariate is unencumbered with buildings and this absence is both a problem and a blessing, yet the Ordinariate brings the treasures of a rich Anglican past into the Catholic Church. We need to remember that all Christians, even the most Protestant communities, define themselves in relation to the Roman Catholic Church.

At the Reformation the Church of England transferred its allegiance from the pope to the crown. Unfortunately the creation of a constitutional monarchy has resulted in the church following a state agenda which is now very secular. The Ordinariate has the opportunity to speak to the heart of the Anglican Church and present an alternative path. In this way the Ordinariate will fulfil the brief assigned to it by Pope Benedict XVI to evangelise Anglican Christians.

Unfortunately the Society of St Hilda and St Wilfred have set their face against the Ordinariate and Fr Stephen fears this barrier will operate against groups being received in the future.

The Ordinariate also faces opposition within the Roman Catholic Church from conservative and liberal factions who regard it with suspicion. Members of the Ordinariate should not be dismayed by such reactions but should work to unblock channels of communication and dialogue.

Fr Stephen spoke at this moment of the power of the Last Gospel at the conclusion of the mass. Its message was empowering and motivational and an inspiration to those present.

The Ordinariate must recognise that the structures of the Church of England influence the Roman Catholic hierarchy and even non Christians such as Muslims and Sikhs! Unfortunately this influence can lead to religious leaders, even in the Roman Catholic Church, modelling themselves on the Church of England structure and thus becoming part of the establishment.

Many religious festivals are in danger of becoming secularised, for example Christmas is viewed as a celebration of the family. Islam is not immune to these influences.

Adrian reminded us that Pope Benedict, in opening the door to us, did not see it as being of benefit purely to us. Our presence and the treasures of our Anglican prayer and scholarship also strengthen the Catholic community. Indeed it is our duty to warn the Roman Catholic Church in England when we think it is in danger of falling prey to the perils of the experiments taking place in the Anglican Communion.

Although the Ordinariate is open not only to those Christians with links to Anglicanism but also to Catholics who have not completed their initiation to the sacraments, the vital mission of the Ordinariate is to remind Anglicans that their real home lies elsewhere, in the see of Peter rather than the Canterbury Communion.

Darel Stutters

(N.B. I do not know whether the proselytising tone in parts of these talks, especially in the conclusion, is a true reflection of the opinions of Fathers Leviseur and Bould or rather of the compiler of the report, but I would very strongly warn against all forms of proselytism, especially “evangelising Anglicans”.

It is not our task to tell Anglicans where their home should be but to live our life of Anglicans in full communion with the See of Peter unequivocally and for all to see and to offer a home for those who of their own accord (and of course with the prompting of the Spirit) come to seek full communion for themselves.

David Murphy)

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34 Responses to Report on Day Conference at St. Agatha’s on 11th July

  1. Viola Hayhurst says:

    When the author writes that “Fr David Stafford pointed out that much had been achieved in the USA. The church there is unshackled by tradition and ancient structures. It is easier to be dynamic and build a different type of church.” Not really and it depends largely on the geographical region of the particular Diocese. In New England the old civil wars between the English, Irish, French and other European immigrant groups “crossed over the pond” and are alive and well, with such ironies as that of the Irish Boston Archbishops who until recently would place Priests in French Canadian parishes in Maine that not only hated the French but did not know the French language. Very telling are the reports of the School teaching nuns in Connecticut that had to separate their young charges by a line drawn down the school house halls to separate the Irish boys from the Polish ones — mimicking their dads who used to wait until immediately after Mass to tackle each other on the Church Steps! Because of the shared hatred of anything or all things “British” this unfortunately is one of the major determinants of the lack of support of the Ordinariate in the New England Dioceses.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Viola,

      You wrote: European immigrant groups “crossed over the pond” and are alive and well, with such ironies as that of the Irish Boston Archbishops who until recently would place Priests in French Canadian parishes in Maine that not only hated the French but did not know the French language.

      Your allegations about Irish archbishops of Boston unfortunately make absolutely no sense whatsoever. The Archbishops of Boston have had no jurisdiction whatsoever over assignment of clergy in Maine since Bishop David Bacon took possession of the Diocese of Portland in Maine in 1855. (Pope Pius IX had canonically erected that diocese two years earlier, but travel and communication were not so easy in those days as they are today.) Further, the last two Archbishops of Boston — Cardinals Humberto Medeiros (1970-1883) and Bernard Law (1984-2002) were neither Irish nor of Irish descent.

      You wrote: Because of the shared hatred of anything or all things “British” this unfortunately is one of the major determinants of the lack of support of the Ordinariate in the New England Dioceses.

      I don’t see any lack of support for the ordinariates in Catholic circles here in New England. In fact, to the contrary, the present Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, has been very supportive of Fr. Jurgen Llias and St. Gregory the Great Church, of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, — and he and his predecessor have been equally supportive of the Congregation of St. Athenasias canonically erected as a chaplaincy under the so-called “Pastoral Provision.”

      The fact that there are not more ordinariate congregations in New England appears to rest squarely in the lap of Bishop Brian Marsh of the Anglican Church in America (ACA), which is the province of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) here in the States. At a time when the TAC was seeking ecclesial communion with the Catholic Church via ordinariates, Bishop Marsh not only clearly did not prepare the parishes of the ACA Diocese of the Northeast (DNE) for such a move but apparently propagated anti-Catholic and anti-ordinariate message therein. Significantly, NONE of the parishes of the DNE joined the ACA’s former Patrimony of the Primate for parishes intending to move into the ordinariate.

      I cannot speak to the situation of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Priory in Raymond, Maine. The ACA DNE web site still lists this priory as being affiliated and in good standing, but I have also heard reports that the priory is applying to join the ordinariate. One key factor here would be the training of the priory’s clergy: my guess is that they have not completed a full program of Anglican seminary formation, and thus may require more extensive training than the preponderance of the clergy received so far. I do hope that the priory will come into the ordinariate in due course.

      Norm.

      • Viola Hayhurst says:

        In response to Norm’s comment’s …..
        Norm – to answer your comments — 1) You evidently are not aware of the historical and still ongoing conflicts in the State of Maine between Irish Catholic and French Canadian Catholic parishioners. So much so that the latter when they built their Cathedral in the French Canadian Catholic centered City of Lewiston, Maine had hoped that they would be permitted to split off and form their own Diocese under an administration which would include a French Canadian Bishop. To date neither Portland nor Boston has complied with their request and the Diocese of Portland has yet to have a French Canadian Bishop. A more recent expose of this conflict was documented in 1906 ….source. “An Incident between the French Canadians and the Irish in the Diocese of Maine in 1906”. Kenneth B. Woodbury, Jr. The New England Quarterly Vol. 40, No. 2 (Jun., 1967), pp. 260-269. Published by: The New England Quarterly, Inc. Article DOI: 10.2307/363771. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/363771…. bears reading!
        That this conflict was not limited to Maine is seen as well in this Fall River, Massachusetts document —to quote,
        “In 1884, a Fall River newspaper reported that French Canadian Roman Catholic parishioners had locked their newly-appointed priest out of their church. When the priest finally gained entry to the building, he was confined to the vestry and then threatened with further violence. The priest’s “offense”? He was Irish, and the French Canadians would, as one of them proclaim, “stand on the brink of hell” before they would submit to an Irishman.” “In response to their parishioners’ rejection of the Irish priest, the bishop closed the French Canadian parish.” Source http://www.massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=360

        And 2) to return to your comments on Maine, I am fully aware of the contentious relationships between Bishop Marsh and his Catholic counterparts. I am also fully aware of many others— predominantly Roman Catholics — who went over to the Anglican Church in opposition to the irregularities accrued after Vatican II who want very much either as a body or individually to come back to the Roman Catholic Church through the Ordinariate. I am as well very aware of the current missionary status of the Diocese of Portland as it is continuing to lose life-long church families. I am furthermore acutely aware that since such “discerning” groups must work first within their own geographical based Diocese … Portland has largely given them a deaf ear. The administration is simply too busy attempting to keep their own ship from further sinking that they cannot add on any additional burdens and they have advised these groups of just this. The Archdiocese of Boston certainly appears to be an exception to the rule here and has resolve its historical conflicts with the British….. selectively and seemingly so. First —-Bernard Law and his allowance of the Anglican Use within his archdiocese was a significant one. And now with the Personal Ordinariate, I am very aware that Jürgen Liias through his “grace and Christian duty” was ordained into the Deaconate by the present Bishop of Portland. Liias at that time had…. and to his credit ….. in effect “ all of his eggs “ in order — not only was he assured of a sound retirement and a committed group who were willing to follow him but he as well had already established an ongoing relationship with Monsignor Steenson. However even here this Ordinariate group is still wandering throughout the Boston area attempting to find a friendly home and some of the “discerning “ in Portland have sort this group out as well for help or at least for “tea and sympathy “as ….. ships that are still ” awaiting”.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Viola,

        You wrote: 1) You evidently are not aware of the historical and still ongoing conflicts in the State of Maine between Irish Catholic and French Canadian Catholic parishioners.

        I am not personally familiar with the situation in the Diocese of Portland, but I am well aware that such conflicts among ethnic groups within the Catholic Church were quite commonplace here in the States, especially a century ago. In many dioceses, the erection of so-called “national parishes” — personal parishes that provided pastoral services in the languages of many of the immigrant communities — also averted direct conflict between the various ethnic minorities. Still, there were instances in which the pastoral response of various dioceses to the needs of various ethnic minorities was lacking. The most notorious of these gave birth to the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC), which obtained valid apostolic succession from the Old Catholic Church in Europe.

        And yes, the “us vs. them” mentality in such situations often persists through succeeding generations, and there are undoubtedly pockets where it continues until the present day. It’s one of the reasons why the PNCC remains in schism.

        You continued: So much so that the latter when they built their Cathedral in the French Canadian Catholic centered City of Lewiston, Maine had hoped that they would be permitted to split off and form their own Diocese under an administration which would include a French Canadian Bishop.

        I presume that you are referring to the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston, Maine. The church looks magnificent in the photos, but it never became a cathedral so it is not appropriate to refer to it as such.

        As to splitting off from the Diocese of Portland, Lewiston is so close to Portland that it would be nearly impossible to divide the diocese with Lewiston becoming the see of a new diocese. Also, a diocese with less than 200,000 parishioners is not exactly large enough to divide.

        You wrote: To date neither Portland nor Boston has complied with their request and the Diocese of Portland has yet to have a French Canadian Bishop.

        This matter is not in the hands of either the Diocese of Portland or the Archdiocese of Boston. In the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, the authority to erect a new diocese rests with the pope, exercised personally.

        Of course, the pope probably would ask the opinions of the current diocesan bishop (in this instance, the Bishop of Portland), the metropolitan of the respective ecclesiastical province (in this instance, the Archbishop of Boston), the president of the episcopal conference (in this instance, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), and the apostolic nuncio if he were to consider the erection of a new diocese in Maine. None of these, however, would have a veto.

        You wrote: “An Incident between the French Canadians and the Irish in the Diocese of Maine in 1906”. Kenneth B. Woodbury, Jr. The New England Quarterly Vol. 40, No. 2 (Jun., 1967), pp. 260-269. Published by: The New England Quarterly, Inc. Article DOI: 10.2307/363771.

        An incident that happened over a century ago is not exactly recent.

        Of course, I recognize the reality that “bad blood” can — and, in some quarters, probably does — persist.

        You wrote: I am also fully aware of many others— predominantly Roman Catholics — who went over to the Anglican Church in opposition to the irregularities accrued after Vatican II who want very much either as a body or individually to come back to the Roman Catholic Church through the Ordinariate.

        The Vatican probably takes a very dim view of such groups coming back to the Catholic Church through the ordinariates. The ordinariates are not intended to be vehicles by which those who made conscious decisions to leave the Catholic Church can circumvent the usual process of return, intended to ensure satisfactory resolution of the issues surrounding their departures.

        You wrote: I am as well very aware of the current missionary status of the Diocese of Portland as it is continuing to lose life-long church families.

        I am not sufficiently familiar with the situation to speak to the sort of exodus of families from the Catholic Church in Maine that you allege. As best I can tell, the Catholic population of the Diocese of Portland in Maine seems to be fairly stable. As far as I know, this diocese has always had missionary status.

        You wrote: I am furthermore acutely aware that since such “discerning” groups must work first within their own geographical based Diocese …

        No, groups who wish to come into an ordinariate do NOT need to contact the local diocese for anything. The Ordinary may ask the local diocese to provide a “mentor priest” to work with a group after the group submits its request if there are no ordinariate clergy in the vicinity, but the inquiry and initial request go directly to the ordinariate. In matters that require input from the local bishop, it is the ordinary who asks the diocesan bishop for his opinion.

        You wrote: And now with the Personal Ordinariate, I am very aware that Jürgen Liias through his “grace and Christian duty” was ordained into the Deaconate by the present Bishop of Portland. Liias at that time had…. and to his credit ….. in effect “ all of his eggs “ in order — not only was he assured of a sound retirement and a committed group who were willing to follow him but he as well had already established an ongoing relationship with Monsignor Steenson.

        Well, having one’s act together clearly is an important criterion for acceptance of clergy from Anglican bodies into an ordinariate.

        >> 1. The Vatican does not want clergy coming into an ordinariate and then leaving due to financial issues.

        >> 2. The Vatican does not want ordinariate congregations collapsing due to lack of membership.

        Either of these problems would discourage other clergy and denominations from considering ordinariates as a possible vehicle for reconciliation with the Catholic Church, and thus would be a disaster for the real goal of ecumenism.

        You wrote: However even here this Ordinariate group is still wandering throughout the Boston area attempting to find a friendly home….

        That does not strike me as a fair characterization of the situation surrounding the move of St. Gregory the Great Church from Beverly to Stoneham here in Massachusetts. There is no reason why that community could not have continued to worship at St. Margaret’s Church in Beverly, as St. Margaret’s Church, which is now a mass site of a parish formed by merging three parishes in the city, is seriously underutilized. I’m guessing that the motivation for the move is that it’s either (1) a more central location for the current members or (2) a location where the Church of St. Gregory the Great and the Congregation of St. Athanasias might be able to come together upon the (probably fairly imminent) retirement of the chaplain of the latter. As far as I know, St. Gregory the Great Church is now stable and has no plans for further relocation. One move does not exactly constitute “wandering throughout the Boston area.”

        If you and others in the Portland/Lewiston area of Maine wish to join the ordinariate, my recommendation is to get together and submit membership application forms to the ordinariate, with a concise cover letter stating that the group wishes to form a community of the ordinariate and identifying a point of contact for the whole group. My guess is that such an inquiry will receive a reply.

        Norm.

  2. William Tighe says:

    “It is easy to have a misinformed and rosy view of the pre-Reformation church.”

    That is certainly true; however, what follows is seriously misinformed in the opposite direction; in particular, here:

    “In reality at that time there were also clergy shortages and priests were overstretched. The pre-Reformation church was running virtually all aspects of society and even today we can see traces of the historic role of the clergy in the political and legal life of the country. The church ran the courts, the hospitals, the civil service as well as the spiritual life of the nation.”

    In fact, (a) there was a great oversupply of clergy before the Reformation, and the numbers of clergy increased steadily until the 1530s: (b) while the clergy “ran the Church courts,” they did not run the Common Law courts, and there were serious conflicts of jurisdiction between the two systems – and from the 1510s onwards Common Law lawyers and judges invented novel forms of procedures to draw cases into their courts away from Church courts (as, e.g., in actions concerning defamation and slander) which had previously attracted custom due to their greater efficiency; (c) far from “running the civil service” the predominance of laymen in the civil service (apart from holders of a few high positions such as the Lord Chancellorship) had been established by the early 15th Century, and increased steadily subsequently; and (d) hospitals, like almshouses, were predominantly run by clergy before the Reformation, and as to “the spiritual life of the nation,” well, what else would one expect?

    Anyone wishing to seek accurate information about such matters should read the five chapters that constitute the first section of *English Reformations: Religion, Politics and Society under the Tudors* by Christopher Haigh (Oxford University Press, 1993): Haigh characterizes himself in the book’s preface as professing “a kind of Anglican agnosticism,” so he can hardly be accused (although he has been) of writing “Catholic history.” These initial chapters discuss the condition, structure and position in society of the English Church in the ca. 65 years preceding 1529.

    There is also an older study, Peter Heath’s *The English Parish Clergy on the Eve of the Reformation,* originally published in 1969 and republished a decade ago, which dispels some of the “misinformation” which, as this conference shows, is still being disseminated on the subject.

  3. T Graham says:

    Having been at Portsmouth I can clarify that the speakers were quite down on proselytising. I would have summarised Fr Bould’s talk something like: the Ordinariate’s uniqueness depends upon its instinctive understanding of the role of Anglicanism in the formation of the projected and powerful idea that is “England”, and that it has to act from this insight, rather than trying to find an identify within the fault-lines of contemporary English Catholicism. Its feeling for Englishness (as something formed in part by Anglicanism) gives it a potential power to evangelise the general English populace, not merely to attract the disaffected Anglican churchgoer.

    Fr Nicholas, if I am not mistaken, was quoting largely from Heath’s book: I don’t believe he said that the clergy were running the civil service etc. completely, but that many people in such positions were still (as a formality) in orders of some kind. His point, as far as I can remember, was that the numbers from pre-1535 point to a failure of the clergy in certain functions, such as preaching, which the friars had taken up; and therefore to ask how the current shortage of priests – with the expectation that a priest should fulfill a myriad of functions – could be met today. Could any lessons be taken from this period as to how the church functioned? It was very much an open question to which the audience were invited to respond with ideas.

  4. Joseph Golightly says:

    David. With 785,000 anglicans attending services on a Sunday out of 25,000,000 who are apparently baptised it does seem to me that proselytising is vital otherwise the Christian Church is going to see terminal decline. Surely there should be some outreach to the 24,215,000 and if the established church is failing then the Catholic Church must step into the breach

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Joseph,

      You wrote: With 785,000 anglicans attending services on a Sunday out of 25,000,000 who are apparently baptised it does seem to me that proselytising is vital otherwise the Christian Church is going to see terminal decline.

      When one looks at the big picture, one realizes that the goal of ecumenism is to heal schisms — that is, to restore the full unity of the church. In this context, it becomes clear that proselytising — that is, efforts to recruit members of other churches to come into the Catholic Church individually — is counterproductive in at least two ways.

      >> 1. Those who would come are the members of other denominations who are most sympathetic toward the Catholic Church and toward the purpose of reconciliation. Bringing them into the Catholic Church would leave a remnant that was more hostile toward the Catholic Church and thus more opposed to reconciliation.

      >> 2. Such efforts also breed distrust among the leaders of other denominations, who are trying to build up their own bodies, making them less willing even to enter into discussions.

      For these reasons, the magisterium of the Catholic Church has taken a very strong and principled stand that condemns proselytising by members of the Catholic Church under any and all circumstances.

      The current policy promulgated by the magisterium of the Catholic Church is, on the one hand, to receive those who freely ask, of their own accord, to come into the full communion of the Catholic Church but, on the other hand, to refrain from soliciting members of other churches to do so.

      Norm.

      • Viola Hayhurst says:

        Norm my reply , to yours …..again …. first….thanks for clarifying the role of the Diocese Bishop in Personal Ordinariate matters… appears to be a lot of confusion here. Alas St. Gregory the Great is in the process of moving AGAIN from St. Patricks in Stoneham to Saint Anthanasius in Reading. I would so welcome them to share space with Saint Athanasius at St. Lawrence – Chestnut Hill, Boston. As already an “individual member” of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter , such shared space would sure make my own commute easier. And I come by my membership all in order — as a former high church Episcopalian and a convert to Catholicism … a bit of me always held a soft spot for the Anglican way. Not only were my mother’s Maine ancestors those High Church of England members so threatening to the Boston Puritans in the Sixteenth century but on my dad’s side — all recent C of E immigrants to the USA. Sadly the Diocese of Portland like so many is facing a steady decline of worshipers . An article describing this condition and as well as the predicament of the French Catholic churches in Maine was recently published … a good review ….http://bangordailynews.com/2015/03/31/religion/people-have-lost-their-sense-of-sin-catholics-in-maine-cope-with-internal-external-changes/

  5. Proselytising is strongly opposed by the Catholic Church. As Professor Feulner says in his latest article in the journal ‘Liturgy’: “Any kind of proselytism or active enticement of members of other Christian denominations is clearly to be rejected”

  6. T Graham says:

    On proselytising: so one can’t encourage a baptised Christian to enter into union with their Lord in the Eucharist, enjoy the fulness of catholic faith, and receive the bishop ordained by the Apostles and their successors as their father in Christ? Would this be “active enticement”? One could caricature the stricture on proselytising thus: I am allowed to think smugly to myself about how I am in a wonderful position as a catholic Christian, swimming around in rivers of divine truth and grace, but am supposed to pretend to other Christians that they needn’t join me. It seems to me that one needs to distinguish, when banning “proselytising” as an activity, between different ways of persuading people: but completely to forbid the persuasion of individuals in what is supposed to be the cause of Christ seems a mad contradiction.

    And regarding the policy of ecumenism, I can’t think of anything more calculated to wreck Rome – CofE dialogue than Anglicanorum coetibus. Converting individuals is far less divisive – if one is bothered about being divisive, that is.

    • Dear Mr. Graham,

      To begin at the end, naturally Anglicanorum coetibus can be viewed as a belligerent act – and is still seen so by some within the C of E. But we must not cease to explain that it is very much the opposite. The Anglicans who requested AC were leaving the C of E anyway – don’t forget that in the 90’s as many as 750 (!) priests left Anglicanism, and that was without a structure within the Catholic Church to receive them. What AC did was to recognise their Anglican faith history (being an Anglican nourished you in the faith!) and open the Catholic Church wide to receive not only these individuals but also their Anglican heritage (we are making an enormous step towards the Anglican Church by incorporating into our own Church many Anglican elements). Archbishop Welby’s invitation to a Catholic religious community to live and pray in Lambeth Palace is also a step in a similar direction.

      Thus, when I was visiting my mother’s old C of E church recently, I was able to tell the priest how now, in many Catholic churches across the world, Evensong is being celebrated. I told him how the Collect for Purity and the Prayer of Humble Access are being prayed every day in many Catholic churches worldwide. Is this a belligerent act? Of course not, it is an act of generosity, a call to Union not to individual disaffected Anglicans but to the whole Anglican Communion.

      Then to the question of proselytising: of course noone is encouraging you to be smug, to think of yourself as something better. Of course you can talk of what you have found, but in this way: “I have found peace, holiness and truth since becoming a Catholic” and not: “What on earth are you doing remaining an Anglican? Come to the Catholic Church and experience peace, holiness and truth”!! Do you see the difference? The former is living your faith and talking about it. The second is arguing, persuading, cajoling, even attacking or insulting. The second is proselytising.

      Similarly if you arrange an event only for Anglicans and invite only Anglicans, this is proselytising. If, however, you organise a “Called to be One” day open to all and you invite everyone, this is completely acceptable practice.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      T Graham,

      You asked: On proselytising: so one can’t encourage a baptised Christian to enter into union with their Lord in the Eucharist, enjoy the fulness of catholic faith, and receive the bishop ordained by the Apostles and their successors as their father in Christ? Would this be “active enticement”?

      One obviously should share one’s own faith with those of other denominations. A person who comes to the conviction that the “eucharist” in the Catholic Church is not the same as the “lord’s supper” in his or her own church inevitably will ask to come into the Catholic Church of his or her own free will. A person who has not yet come to that conviction is not yet ready to come into the full communion of the Catholic Church, and coercion is an exercise in futility or, worse yet, will bring in somebody who has not sincerely come to the fullness of Christian faith as taught by the Catholic Church.

      You wrote: It seems to me that one needs to distinguish, when banning “proselytising” as an activity, between different ways of persuading people: but completely to forbid the persuasion of individuals in what is supposed to be the cause of Christ seems a mad contradiction.

      We need to be careful here. Hard core sales pitches seldom really work in spiritual matters.

      A man convinced against his will
      Is of the same opinion still.
      (Adage; source unknown)

      Share your faith with a smile. Don’t sell it.

      You wrote: Converting individuals is far less divisive – if one is bothered about being divisive, that is.

      First, you can only convert those who are not already of Christian faith. Those who already profess the Nicene Creed, or at least who accept all of its tenets, already believe substantially what the Catholic Church teaches.

      And, second, bringing a believer into the Catholic Church from another denomination does nothing whatsoever to restore the unity of the church. Rather, such actions merely move the line of schism to a different place. The Lord’s will, rather, is to put an end to the schism that separates us from our brothers and sisters in Christ.

      BTW, this is fundamentally a doctrinal matter. Note the following paragraph in the dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium on the church, promulgated by the Second Vatican Council and thus intrinsically infallible (internal citations removed).

      15. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God. They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.

      The decree Unitatis redintegratio on ecumenism, promulgated by the same ecumenical council on the same day, decompresses this paragraph and gives much more insight into the mind of the council fathers when they promulgated it.

      Norm.

      • T Graham says:

        Isn’t the distinction between the good and the bad here the word “coercion”? My worries are the following.
        (1) The direct question – e.g. don’t you see the importance of the Eucharist? – might be a lot less coercive than “sharing” one’s faith in a way that insinuates that the other person is lacking something. A direct approach can be more respectful and honest, and less psychologically coercive than something less confrontational. That would depend on one’s relation with the person, and above all one’s intention in saying what one was saying. For this reason, it doesn’t seem right to label the direct approach as always bad, and the indirect “what a lovely faith I have” as always good. We can agree that some form of proselytising is bad: but what makes the bad form bad is the question I am posing.
        (2) Lumen gentium refers to different kinds of Christians – some of it applies to the Orthodox with whom we are in schism, some of it to all baptised Christians. So while it seems silly to encourage the Orthodox to leave their church, there are other bodies without sacraments, without orders, and with very odd doctrines indeed, what used to be called heresy. So LG doesn’t apply to everyone equally, and part of speaking the truth is pointing out serious error. Failure to do so benefits no-one.
        (3) I think EPMS (below) is right to say that it would be better to reach the unchurched. Large numbers of these people, however, will be baptised Anglicans, Catholics or evangelicals who have lapsed after childhood, or whose parents were nominal Christians only. Are we really going to encourage a lapsed Anglican to go back to their own church when that is a parish with a female bishop, a gay vicar and no recognisably Christian liturgy or doctrine?

        I’m all for Anglicanorum coetibus, and for Mr Murphy’s interpretation of it above. But my point was that its practical effect has been to kill off CofE-RC dialogue. Thus (whatever the rights and wrongs of corporate vs. individual switches of ecclesiastical allegiance) in ecclesiastical politics it seems to have caused a lot of antagonism; and I would therefore suggest that whether or not other Christians get very annoyed is not always a sure guide as how the Church should act.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        T Graham,

        You asked: (2) Lumen gentium refers to different kinds of Christians – some of it applies to the Orthodox with whom we are in schism, some of it to all baptised Christians. So while it seems silly to encourage the Orthodox to leave their church, there are other bodies without sacraments, without orders, and with very odd doctrines indeed, what used to be called heresy. So LG doesn’t apply to everyone equally, and part of speaking the truth is pointing out serious error. Failure to do so benefits no-one.

        The starting premise here actually is Ephesians 4:5-6: There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father who is over all, and works through all, and is in all. The immediate implication is that all who are validly baptised (and, of course, not apostate) are our brothers and sisters in faith, even if they belong to another denomination. It does not get much clearer than that.

        Now, there is a clear distinction between denominations that have valid Christian baptism and cults that do not. The magisterium of the Catholic Church has made a clear determination that the baptism performed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, popularly called the Mormon church, does NOT constitute Christian baptism and, indeed, is not sacramentally valid. However, the Catholic Church DOES accept any baptism performed (1) by immersion or pouring, or even by sprinkling if it is done one by one, (2) accompanied by the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The practice of baptism in Protestant bodies conforms to this norm. And it is important to understand that even Protestant bodies, in which only the sacraments of baptism and marriage are valid, nevertheless do not lack the true presence of Christ, for Christ is present (1) where two or three are gathered in his name and (2) in the divine Word of God, which is sacred scripture, in addition to being wholly present in the eucharist. It is certainly true that we share valid sacraments with the churches of the Orthodox Communion, the ancient oriental churches, the churches of the Union of Scranton, and the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), and thus in some sense are closer to them in the spiritual life than to Anglican and Protestant bodies, but our bonds with the latter are not altogether lacking.

        You wrote: I’m all for Anglicanorum coetibus, and for Mr Murphy’s interpretation of it above. But my point was that its practical effect has been to kill off CofE-RC dialogue.

        Actually, that is not true. In fact, dialog via the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) is still very much ongoing.

        But what has put a chill into that dialog is the change in discipline in the Church of England regarding ordination of women, the episcopal ordination of clearly unsuitable candidates in other provinces of the Anglican Communion, and the blessing of homosexual unions, in a manner that equates them with marriage, in other provinces of the Anglican Communion. These actions pose major theological obstacles to reconciliation that simply did not exist two decades ago.

        Norm.

  7. EPMS says:

    I would imagine that the vast majority of the tens of thousands of people received into the Catholic church every year in North America fall into two categories: people who are marrying a Catholic, and people who who have never been practising Christians, or at least not practising adult Christians. This second group is unfortunately growing rapidly. Of course one should speak positively of one’s own experience in the presence of other committed Christians, but to concentrate one’s evangelistic efforts on them when there are so many sheep without a shepherd seems perverse, to use one of my characteristic expressions.

  8. EPMS says:

    Viola Hayhurst: Is the pending relocation of St Gregory the Great public knowledge? I find no mention of it on the website.

    • Viola Hayhurst says:

      Awaiting the final approval by their Archbishop but other than that it is a given. Glad to note that tomorrow ( 11:30 AM, DST, they shall be gathering at St. Lawrence for a joint service with the Anglican Use….. but apparent logistics and distance are keeping any permanent relocation here at bey. But the idea of a “downstairs” and “upstairs” association is a bit charming!

      • Viola Hayhurst says:

        By ” tomorrow” meant Sunday, August 2. Of course one has to be aware that while some private news can be sent viral, obviously some is just that , “private” !

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Viola,

        You wrote: Awaiting the final approval by their Archbishop but other than that it is a given. Glad to note that tomorrow ( 11:30 AM, DST, they shall be gathering at St. Lawrence for a joint service with the Anglican Use….. but apparent logistics and distance are keeping any permanent relocation here at bey. But the idea of a “downstairs” and “upstairs” association is a bit charming!

        My understanding is that the majority of St. Gregory the Great Church will be on retreat, and that going to St. Lawrence Church to worship with the Congregation of St. Athanasias is an option for those who could not participate in the retreat.

        But I can’t imagine that worshipping at St. Lawrence in Chestnut Hill on a stable basis would be convenient for the members of St. Gregory the Great Church. The present locations of these congregations are about twenty miles apart, by car, and there is essentially no public transportation connecting them. In fact, a move to Reading probably will be more convenient for the preponderance of the members of St. Gregory the Great Church, since it is considerably closer to Beverly, where the group originated, than the present location in Stoneham. I don’t have any official word that such a move is in the works, but the most likely motivation for such a move is that the present location is not convenient for the majority of the parishioners.

        Norm.

  9. EPMS says:

    St Lawrence? Where is that? Is this an alternative to St Athanatius, Reading?

    • EPMS says:

      Sorry; I see that is where the Anglican Use congregation worships.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: St Lawrence? Where is that? Is this an alternative to St Athanatius, Reading?

      There seems to be some confusion of names here. Reading is a suburb located about ten or fifteen miles due north of Boston. Chestnut Hill, home to Boston College is a neighborhood on the border of Boston and the suburb of Newton on the west side of the city. The two areas are about twenty miles apart, by car. There is a parish in the town of Reading named St. Athanasius, and there is also a chaplaincy for former Anglicans erected under the pastoral provision named the Congregation of St. Athanasius that is part of the Archdiocese of Boston. These entities are not related at all. The latter holds its Sunday masses at St. Lawrence Church in Chestnut Hill.

      The Archdiocese of Boston closed the parish of St. Lawrence in Chestnut Hill about three decades ago, but the receiving parish continues to hold one Sunday mass there for the convenience of parishioners who live nearby. The Congregation of St. Athanasius moved its Sunday masses there because (1) it was fairly central for members of that congregation and (2) the church, being underutilized, could accommodate its Sunday masses at a reasonable time of day.

      Norm.

      • Viola Hayhurst says:

        Norm —- in your most recent post, you must be referring to their Graymoor Retreat which was held earlier in the summer. On August 2, both shall indeed be gathering to worship together at St. Lawrence in Chestnut Hill. That is ; the Personal Ordinariate of Saint Gregory the Great shall be the guests of the Anglican Use congregation. My opinion —since it is much easier to use the MBTA (Mass. Bay Transit Authority) system to get into Boston than the reverse — this may be a good “look over” for both.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Viola,

        You wrote: My opinion —since it is much easier to use the MBTA (Mass. Bay Transit Authority) system to get into Boston than the reverse — this may be a good “look over” for both.

        Ah, the location of St. Lawrence Church is not exactly the most convenient for MBTA access. It’s right where the Reservoir trolley line takes a big detour away from Beacon Street, missing the church by about a mile.

        Having said that, some level of collaboration between these two congregations does make a lot of sense. Whether a merger can work or not is another question entirely.

        Norm.

      • Viola Hayhurst says:

        Norm — you are looking at an old map of some sort. A MBTA bus ( # 60) stops at the very front door of Saint Lawrence”s. You can as well take the Green line T ( C-Branch to Cleveland Circle ) and it is a easy walk over to the church as well. I have done both !

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Viola,

        You wrote: A MBTA bus ( # 60) stops at the very front door of Saint Lawrence”s. You can as well take the Green line T ( C-
        Branch to Cleveland Circle ) and it is a easy walk over to the church as well. I have done both !

        Yes, I’m aware of the bus stops on Route #60 — but many MBTA bus routes have sparse schedules on nights and weekends. And in any case, the need to take a bus to a subway line to another subway/trolley line to another bus is not exactly convenient. One typically would lose an hour or more in the connections, and the chain of fares would add up quickly since there are no free transfers from subway lines to bus lines.

        File under: “Avoid like the Plague.”

        Norm.

      • Viola Hayhurst says:

        Norm … then you have to be aware of the schedules in order to make a good connection and as far as the transfer from the “T” to the bus…….with the MBTA “Charlie Card” they are indeed either reduced or “free”…. Bostonian’s and their visitors often find public transportation a much better alternative than driving your own vehicle in this very congrested city !

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Viola,

        You wrote: Bostonian’s and their visitors often find public transportation a much better alternative than driving your own vehicle in this very congrested city !

        Living just ten miles to the south of downtown Boston, I find the city’s public transportation to be a royal hassle — so much so that I try to avoid going into the city for anything. There’s very little reason to go into the city because there are plenty of good restaurants and quality entertainment — even live Broadway theatre! — out in the ‘burbs. But for the relatively infrequent events and appointments that require a trip into the city, I usually drive instead.

        Norm.

      • Are you planning to start worshiping at St Athanasius, Norm, since you are only a few miles away?

      • Rev22:17 says:

        David,

        You asked: Are you planning to start worshiping at St Athanasius, Norm, since you are only a few miles away?

        I have no plans to do so.

        >> 1. Not being of Anglican/Episcopal heritage, I have no particular desire to celebrate mass according to the Anglican liturgical tradition. I have a very good situation as a member of the “extended community” of the Abbey of Our Lady of Glastonbury.

        >> 2. St. Lawrence Church, where the Congregation of St. Athanasius worships, is perhaps about ten or twelve miles north northwest of my home as the crow flies, but “you can’t get they-ah from he-ah” — as the roads go, it’s about 30 miles (!) each way. I actually have a more direct, and hence shorter, route to St. Patrick’s Parish in Stoneham, where St. Gregory the Great Church currently worships. The Abbey of Our Lady of Glastonbury also is about ten miles from my home, but the route to get there is pretty direct.

        >> 3. I’m also very involved with the Catholic campus ministry at my alma mater, for which I serve on a lay advisory board composed of faculty, staff, and alumni, and I’m not able to get to mass there as frequently as I should. And again, it’s only fifteen miles by car from my home to the campus.

        I would like to visit both the Congregation of St. Athanasius and St. Gregory the Great Church whenever I can fit visits into my schedule just to see what is happening, but I’m not sure how soon such visits might be opportune.

        Norm.

  10. EPMS says:

    More, much more to the point is why there is no (readily apparent) information about this on the St Gregory website. The August calendar shows that the mass will take place in Stoneham as usual from 9-10:30, which may indeed be the case, but it is a small parish I gather and if there are two options this Sunday one might expect one or both to be rather sparsely attended. What will be the impact on a first-time attender who has ventured out based on what he has found on the internet? Let’s not even contemplate the impact if the 9 am mass has been cancelled. The official OCSP website is of course awash with incorrect information about the time, place, and even existence of Ordinariate worship, but if one finds an unbroken link to a parish website, or googles it afresh, the expectation should be that information there is current, accurate, and complete.

  11. Viola Hayhurst says:

    In a nut shell. The substitute pastor could not make the 9: 00 AM Mass, August 2, as was planned hence that Mass had to be cancelled with the option of joining the Anglican use congregation at 11:30 AM at St. Lawrence. The Sunday afterward, August 9, St. Gregory does plan to be holding their Mass again at 9 AM in Stoneham. This should clarify things and for additional information each congregation does have both email and as well telephone contact information.

  12. A parish which reaches out to its new worshipers takes down such information as eMail address and telephone numbers, to add them to the mailing list. It is one of the first things that I experienced at Most Precious Blood, London Bridge. And an, if necessary daily, up-dated website is essential. I don’t know how many times I have tried to find out by internet the times of various Easter and Christmas services and drawn a blank, and have gone on the offchance and arrived late – this is totally unnecessary.

    David Murphy

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