I am told that the French-speakers of Belgium are more French than the French, yet at the same time they maintain a certain de-haut-en-bas contempt for their co-linguists south of the border. The French are rather puzzled about this, but simply give a Gallic shrug and mutter about l’ennui du Nord.
I have detected a similar attitude between Roman and Anglo-Catholics, which has at turns amused and irritated me. When I celebrated those Sarum Masses (links to which you can find on the left) fifteen years or so ago, for two humiliating years running I was given a peculiar alb that was the right length in front (so I saw nothing wrong), but absurdly short at the back; the hem (and apparel) did not even descend below the chasuble end. A snort from some Anglo-Catholic congregants was reported to me: ‘typical Romans; can’t get anything right!’ This in the face of what was, actually, (forgive the immodesty) a very well organized and beautiful celebration. Again, there was simply the desire to cut us down to size, to put the Italian mission in her place, among the immigrants, peasants and fools.
Of course, this is perfectly understandable from many points of view. But many of my co-religionists fear that this de-haut-en-bas attitude is actually what some Anglo-Catholics mean by ‘patrimony’. A sort of religious apartheid. I think that for many, this fear is greater than the fear that the hand of the conservative/traditional wing of the Church be strengthened.
Looking around the various Anglo-Catholic blogs and websites, few of the bloggers show much sign of this attitude, but there are flashes of it, and they annoy me considerably, mostly because they sow discord just when we need to be building bridges. Comments I have read and disliked range from the ‘went to a Roman Mass last week; gosh it was awful; just what I expected’ to ‘Very much looking forward to being in communion with a gentleman like Pope Benedict, but gosh, I’m not looking forward to the job of educating the paddies in what Catholicism is really about’.
I restate; most writers do not take this attitude, some are commendably, touchingly, humble and grateful. But future Ordinariates are not going to exist in isolation: for a long time now, Anglo-Catholicism has been ploughing a very lone furrow. Well, now you’re going to have a loving family around you and a new home: this isn’t the time to be criticizing the soft furnishings; it’s a time for making friends.
To return to the analogy; yes, the Flemish-speakers may have decided to dispense with the Walloons, but France has offered a new semi-autonomous province. Let’s all be kind; on the one side, welcoming and generous; on the other, not looking gift-horses in the mouth.
I’m planning to explore this a bit in some future posts, with particular reference to liturgical style; this post is just coughing the bile out of my chest so that I can be more objective here on in.