Friday, October 23, 2009

It Depends on What You Mean by "Forward"

There has been some consternation among bloggers both Anglican and Catholic about what's happening at the Forward in Faith UK general meeting. Fr. Jeffrey Steel blogs about it today at De cura animarum. He writes, in part:
To be perfectly honest, it almost feels like a bluff has been called. Sitting and listening to those speeches made me sad and realise that for many in the C of E, the issue that alone makes them 'feel' Catholic is being against the ordination of women or so it seems. Let me state clearly that I did not leave the C of E over women's ordination or homosexuality though in regards to both of these issues I hold the Catholic orthodox line. I became Catholic because being Catholic was true, the primacy of Peter and his infallibility is true and the lack of the Magisterium in Anglicanism leaves the priest with nothing other than his (or now her) own opinion. I am afraid that this sort of approach has nothing to do with true Catholicism. This approach has nothing to do with the theological idea of communio in the writings of the Holy Father either.
I have a great deal of sympathy for this--my own reasons for conversion were similar. Indeed, women had already been ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal church when I was a member of it, but that was not really what tipped me off that the boat was about to start sinking. It was rather the bizarre individualism that is the artifact of the phenomenon Fr. Steel mentions here, the lack of any sort of counterpart to the Magisterium.

But on the more personal level I also feel very deeply the same sort of sadness that Fr. Steel mentions in his post:
Many might ask me why I care. The answer is, because our Holy Father and pastor just extended a hand of welcome for reunion and reconciliation beyond what any could imagine and they have to think about it...I hope the Vatican isn't listening to that assembly.

What I feel is most problematic is that so many claim to have been praying for the very thing that the Holy Father has given and even more and now what is in reality a lovely piece of fish seems to be treated as if it were only a stone.
When I think back to the mid-1980s, when I was myself yearning for this very thing (along with some of my Anglican friends), I can't help feeling a little like a parent watching a talented young child drop out of medical school to join the circus--if I had had back the then the opportunity that they have now, etc.

Some might suggest that it is far better, for those who are not fully prepared to accept the Magisterium, to stay out of the Church, rather than to join it and become irritating dissenters. After all, some may say, there are enough of that ilk in the Church already, and some of them cause real harm. My own view is that those who do choose to make the conversion will make it for the right sorts of reasons--the sorts of reasons that prompted Fr. Steel to make the change, or Fr. Al Kimel. Such persons only strengthen the degree of orthodoxy in the Church by their presence in and contribution to it.

The folks at Forward in Faith seem remarkably reluctant to move, well, forward, preferring to remain in the stasis of separation. What the advantage of this could possibly be only they can imagine.

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